What are the Best Things to do in Tokyo?
It should come as no surprise that one of the best places to visit in Japan is its capital city, Tokyo. This is mainly due to the fact that its world-renowned fame is rightly given, as visitors will have no shortage of things to do on their trip. Tokyo is not only one of the most picturesque cities in the world, it’s also one of the busiest.
Things to do in Tokyo in the Daytime…
1. A Visit to the Ueno Onshi Park
Ueno Onshi is Tokyo’s largest park and home to the Ueno Zoo, the Tokyo National Museum, as well as a number of other art museums in the area. Located just a short distance from the Asakusa area, this park is iconic to Tokyo and a very popular tourist destination.
Though you could probably spend an entire day here, you should at least try to set aside a couple of hours to bask in the scenery. Also, if you happen to visit during the right season, you may even enjoy the view of the colorful leaves from Japan’s famous cherry blossom (or Sakura) trees.
While you’re in Ueno, don’t forget to hop over to Ameya Yokocho (Ameyoko), an open air market near Ueno Station. Here you can take a seat outside one of the Izakaya (small bars) lining the street and enjoy a drink or two, as well as a few local snacks.
2. A Visit to Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Skytree
If you’d like a 360-degree view of the entire city, you could try visiting one of Tokyo’s highest towers. Tokyo Skytree is the city’s tallest tower and stands as the second tallest tower in the entire world, just after the Burj Khalifa, at 634 meters high!
If you’d rather visit a more historical tower for your bird’s eye view of the city, the Tokyo Tower has you covered. This bright orange, Eiffel Tower-like structure stands at 333 meters high and was built in 1958 as a monument to symbolize the recovery of Japan after World War 2.
Whichever tower you decide on, old or new, you can rest assured that the view will be breathtaking.
3. A Stop by the Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa
The Senso-ji Temple is by far Tokyo’s most famous and oldest Buddhist temple. This five-story pagoda located in the traditional side of the Asakusa area not only provides a view of ancient Japanese culture, but also sits at the focal point of the Nakamise Shopping Street, where you can try a variety of local cuisine.
Visiting this 400-year old, red and gold temple and its 1,000 year old pagoda can give you a better perspective of history, while still in the middle of this amazing metropolis. If you arrive at the right time of the year, you may even witness one of the seasonal celebrations conducted on this historical site’s grounds. Also, if you’re looking for a good place to find souvenirs for your friends and family back home, Nakamise street is a fantastic option.
4. Go Shopping in Yanaka Ginza Shitamachi
This old-fashioned shopping street will give you a taste of history while also satisfying your shopping cravings. The street sits in the middle of the Yanaka neighborhood in the Yanesen area. This entire area is famous for its older buildings, temples, shrines, retro arcades, and small restaurants and cafes.
If you’d like a better view of where the locals hang out, Yanaka Ginza is the street you want to visit. The street’s authentic old-Tokyo vibe will leave you with a much better perspective of what locals appreciate about their beautiful capital city. The area is also close to the Ueno Park, so you might even choose to take a 20-30 minute walk from one to the other and get a better feel of the city.
Things to do in Tokyo at Night…
5. Shibuya Crossing and Shibuya Cat Street
Shibuya “Scramble” Crossing is the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. About half a million people walk across the Shibuya Crossing each day! This iconic road crossing, which you’ve probably seen in countless movies or animes, is a must-see when visiting Tokyo.
This road crossing also happens to be in the middle of one of Tokyo’s trendiest districts, Shibuya! One of the most trendy places to visit in Tokyo, Shibuya is filled with large shopping malls, amazing restaurants and cafes, and is an epicenter for Tokyo’s younger residents. You can visit the Shibuya Cat Street while you’re here, which is also known as one of the more hipster or bohemian areas with some very quirky locales.
6. Omoide Yokocho at Shinjuku Station (or any Izakaya Alley)
Last on our list of Top 6 things you should have on your Tokyo Itinerary is visiting any of the Izakaya Alleys. Izakayas are the small Japanese-style gastropubs of Tokyo and the ideal place to catch a drink after work or during your visit.
We recommend the narrow alley of Omoide Yokocho at Shinjuku Station for starters, as this place hosts over 50 small restaurants and bars that seat only about 5-6 people each! Talk about a cozy experience.
7. BONUS: Robot Restaurant, Sumo Fights, and Tokyo Onsens
A few honorable mentions that we won’t go into detail include Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant, a mechanical show with Japanese dancers on top of real big robots. This crazy modern attraction is a futuristic light show that, though quite touristy, will definitely be a memorable experience.
Japan’s famous Sumo Fights are a traditional staple of the local culture. Sumo wrestling is much more than a competition, it’s actually a ceremony to entertain the Shinto Deities. Unfortunately, these only take place 3 times per year, so make sure to plan ahead if you wish to see one of these yourself.
And lastly for our “bonus” section, we would recommend visiting one of Japan’s Onsen or bath houses. A soak in these natural hot springs may help melt your stress or worries away while also giving you a taste of that genuine Japanese culture. Although, note that if you have tattoos, some onsen may frown upon that (considering the long history of Japanese gangs and their full-body tattoos).
Getting Around Tokyo
As you prepare your list of what to do in Tokyo and plan your itinerary, make sure you know how to get around. A reliable car service can save you time and trouble and will definitely come as a breath of fresh air if you don’t wish to waste any time getting lost or fumbling with your luggage.
Getting around Tokyo and making your way from the Narita Airport to Tokyo City, and ultimately your hotel, can be made much easier with the help of a friendly car hire service that provides you with professional English-speaking drivers, especially when they also offer 24/7 customer support. Make sure to book your car in advance and share your itinerary with them so you’ll have one less thing to worry about.
Most of All, Enjoy Your Visit!
Tokyo is a wonderful city and you’ll be guaranteed a great time there if you plan a few things in advance. Making sure you know where your priorities are in terms of ‘where to visit’ and ‘what to see’ will save you a lot more time trying to find your way around and earn you more time appreciating the places you chose.
Oh, and make sure to try the Sushi and Ramen! Don’t worry, you’ll find these in several of the places we’ve already mentioned. Safe travels and enjoy your time in Tokyo!