Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is one of the coolest and biggest cities in the world. The capital consists of several small towns that have grown together over the years into one big metropolitan area. When you stroll through the different districts of Tokyo, you will see that each area are so different from another and offer unique attractions and sights.
The Japanese culture offers everything from exciting dining experiences and nightlife to old architecture of temples and of course a fascinating culture. You will also find beautiful Japanese gardens with peaceful nature right in the middle of the central parts of town, which is perfect for those who need a city break.
Tokyo is a place where you will find a huge audience with a passion for Manga, Anime, and photography. Last but not least, the city offers huge skyscrapers and a ultra-modern society that just makes you go ”WOW.”
Tokyo is a city that has it all, and offer something for everyone – regardless of interest, age or wallet.
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Things to do in Tokyo
See the world’s busiest crossing – Shibuya Crossing
One can simply not travel to Tokyo without walking across one of the most famous crossings in the world, Shibuya Crossing. When you’re walking over this particular crossing, you’re going to get that ”Wow! I’m in Tokyo” feeling. This is one of the biggest and most famous sights among tourists when going for sightseeing in Tokyo.
Around 2,500 people cross these streets every time the pedestrian lights turns green, which also makes this one to the busiest crossing in the world. If you’re looking for that real and busy Tokyo feeling, then this is the place for you!
Visit a themed Café
One of my favorite things about Tokyo is that they have so many wacky themed cafés where you can hang out. All around town, you will find themed cafés such as cat cafés, maid cafés, Gundam cafés and even monster cafés. In Tokyo, you will also find pop-up themed cafés which are for a limited time only, such as Pokemon- and Peanuts cafés.
If you’re interested in reading more about the cafés of Tokyo, then you should read my article “My Favorite Themed Cafés in Tokyo.”
Visit Mount Fuji
Mt. Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan, and as you might know, this is also one of the most popular day trips to make from Tokyo. It’s relatively easy to get to Mount Fuji as express trains are operating from the central part of town to nearby areas. The area around the photogenic mountain offers lush nature, fantastic views of Mt. Fuji and great hiking trails.
For all you photographers out there, this is one place that you’re going to love – since the area around Mount Fuji is full of great photo opportunities.
Sing karaoke with the locals
A trip to Tokyo wouldn’t be complete without spending a night at a local karaoke bar. The locals of Tokyo is completely obsessed with karaoke, and therefore it’s a must when it comes to things to do in Tokyo. Grab a microphone, select your favorite song and sing as many songs as your wallet can afford.
This is Tokyo’s most visited shrine that stands on 175 acres of forest in the middle of central Tokyo. It’s a breathtaking forest, where the 365 species of trees have been donated by every single prefecture in Japan.
In my opinion, the shrine itself isn’t so ”WOW” as many people say and write in articles. However, this is still a cool place to visit to see the locals pray, stroll in the forest and participate in the events, rituals, and ceremonies that the shrine arranges every year.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Stroll around in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and enjoy the beauty of nature. This National Garden has many themed gardens, such as a French, English and also a traditional Japanese one. This garden is especially popular during the cherry blossom season when the whole park turns into a pink oasis.
Sumo wrestling at Ryogoku Kokugikan
What could be more ”Japan” than watch a Sumo Wrestling game in Tokyo’s National Sumo Hall, Ryogoku Kokugikan? This is the ultimate, authentic Japanese experience that’s a must when you’re in Tokyo during the tournaments.
If you are traveling with your kids, or if you are just like me and love everything about Disney, then you just have to visit Tokyo Disneyland. Become a child again while you explore all the 43 fun attractions, 54 themed restaurants and 52 shops with Disney souvenirs. This is one of the biggest highlights in Tokyo and also one of those things that you just have to write up on your list of things to do in Tokyo with your children!
Toyko Skytree is the newest landmark and attraction in Town and has a total height of 634 meters. Tokyo Skytree is the tallest tower in the entire country and also the second tallest tower in the world. Up at the observation deck of the Skytree, the visitors can enjoy a fantastic view over the city.
This tower is simply one of the things to do in Tokyo, and a must to visit while you’re in town!
Stroll around Akihabara
The area around Akihabara station is known as Denkigai or Electric Town. This particular area is famous for being a center of the Japanese otaku culture. Here, tourists enjoy taking pictures and visit all the famous maid cafés, underground idol theaters, wacky themed cafés, and cosplay bars. If you want to see the otaku fashion and culture in real life, then this is the place to be.
Sensō-ji is the largest ancient Buddhist temple of Tokyo, and also one of the biggest sights in town. Sensō-ji lies in the cozy and authentic part of Tokyo, Asakusa. It’s not only one of the oldest temples in Tokyo but also one of the most beautiful in town. The area around the Sensō-ji temple also includes sights such the local market Nakamisa and the Kaminari-Mon gate, which was built 1000 years ago by a samurai as a sign of peace and prosperity.
Nightlife in Tokyo
After the sun goes down, there’s no lack of activities for you to enjoy in the capital of Japan. There’s something for everyone, whether you prefer clubbing, chilling out, nighttime sightseeing or just enjoying a nice dinner at a local restaurant.
Northeast of Shinjuku station lies Japan’s largest red light district, Kabukicho. This district has hundreds of hostess clubs, bars, restaurants, nightclubs and massage parlors. This area is not the place where you should bring your kids to dinner as there are many adult shops and signs/posters with half naked women.
Ginza is Tokyo’s upscale district and a home to several fancy restaurants, trendy bars, and famous night clubs. Ginza is one of the most popular areas among tourists to party at, but keep in mind that not all clubs and restaurants are as readily available for foreigners.
Roppongi is Tokyo’s most popular district among youths. This area is as popular during the night as it is during daytime and this is also one of the places where tourists like to hang out. Here you will find many tourist-friendly nightclubs, bars, and restaurants.
This area attracts a younger and local audience to Shibuya’s huge number of bars, nightclubs, lounges and restaurants. This area is a little more easy to access for the tourists in town, so you don’t have to bring a local or speak fluent Japanese to get it.
Shopping in Tokyo
I’m totally honest when I say that shopping is far most one of the best things to do when you’re in Tokyo. The city has so much to offer when it comes to shopping – even that much it pleases everyone’s needs.
Whether you’re looking for expensive brands, second-hand clothes, Tokyo suburb fashion or vast stores of international brands, Tokyo got it all!
There are four main shopping areas in Tokyo:
Ginza – Ginza is one of the best areas in town when it comes to glamorous stores and fancy department stores. Here you can find all imaginary fashion stores and also the world’s largest Uniqlo store that has 11 floors of clothes.
Shibuya – Shibuya is the area where you will find all the trendy and international stores such as Forever21, H&M, Uniqlo, and Zara.
Harajuku – Here you will find all the youth stores of Tokyo where you can shop teenage / Tokyo suburb fashion clothes and accessories. This is like the mecca for youth shopping in Tokyo.
Akihabara – If you’re looking for low priced electronics or maybe a new computer, then you should head to Akihabara. Akihabara is also known as Electric Town, just because this area sells Electronics at excellent prices. This is a heaven for any electronic geek out there!
Don Quijote is a discount shop that can be found at several places around town. This fun store sells a variated mix of things such as drinks, luggage bags, Halloween clothes, household goods, makeup and typical Japanese items. Here you can buy the famous ”Panda Coin Bank,” which has gone viral on the internet.
100 Yen Store
At a 100 yen store, you will find many fun and useful items that only costs 100 yen a piece. Here you can find everything you need such as nail polish remover, plates, chopsticks, board games, and matcha chocolate. This is the perfect store if you’re looking for a fun and cheap souvenir to bring home to your friends and family.
Tokyo’s Takeshita Street is one of the most popular places among youths for shopping. This shopping street is situated in Harajuku and is known for its unique shops that are selling the Tokyo subculture fashion. Along with this street, you will also find several 100 yen shops, good-priced restaurants, and shops that sell delicious crepes! This street is very busy and feels almost a bit chaotic with all the people that are hanging out and walking here every day.
World’s largest Uniqlo Store
World’s largest Uniqlo store is situated in Ginza, one of the most central parts of Tokyo. This 11-story building is full of low-priced clothes with excellent quality. Uniqlo is a Japanese brand with a concept of high-quality basic clothing without a ”brand” printed on their clothes.
They have a great selection of jeans, shirts, t-shirts and sleepwear for both men, women and children.
Natsuno, the perfect Chopstick Store
In a walking distance from Harajuku Station lies Natsuno, a store that sells 1000 different styles of chopsticks. A pair of ”Ohashi” (chopsticks) is the best and most useful souvenir that you can buy for your best friend or family member.
The chopsticks are as important to the Japanese people as the coffee mug is to the people of Sweden – and that’s why this is the perfect souvenir to buy!
How to get around in Tokyo
Tokyo is a big city, and to explore the whole town only by foot would take a very long time. The best is to get to one area by subway and then explore the area by foot. The pedestrian sidewalks are safe to walk on, and there’s no problem crossing the streets when the pedestrian light turns green.
The advantage by exploring an area by foot is that you will find hidden gems and see much more than what you would if you only took the subway, train, bus or a taxi.
The subway in Tokyo is modern, efficient, clean and very easy to use. All stations in Tokyo have signs where the directions are translated into English, which makes the journey even easier. Altogether, 13 subway lines crisscross the whole city. These subway lines operate by two companies, the Tokyo Metro line (the biggest one) and the Toei line.
The subway line system is also very easy to understand as all the lines are colour-coded. When traveling with a particular color – you just follow the same colored signs, and they will lead you to the right subway. One thing that you should make sure before you board your train is to be sure of that the train is going in the right direction. On each side of the platform, some signs display both the previous and the next stop, so you can be sure that it’s the right train that you’re traveling with.
In all the subway stations in Tokyo, you will find vending machines that sell tickets. A ticket begin at the price of 160 YEN (for the shortest distance) and increase according to the particular distance that you travel. Children under five years old ride for free and children in the age between 6 and 11 pay half price. It’s also very easy to buy the ticket as the vending machines even give change for 10.000 YEN notes. Insert your money, push the amount for the tickets you want and then collect your change and ticket at the bottom of the vending machine. The amount of your ticket is displayed on a large subway map above the machines or beside them, and there you can figure out your ticket price.
If you’re planning on traveling by subway a lot during one day, then I suggest you buy a ”One-Day Open Ticket,” which you can use as much as you like.
The JR Train is an alternative to the subways. These trains are also color-coded, and their fares start at 130 YEN. In the station of the JR Trains, the process of the tickets is the same.
If you’re planning on traveling a lot with the JR Train lines, then I can be good to consider to buy a ”One-Day Tokunai Pass,” which gives you unlimited fares from 10 am to 6 pm for the price of 730 YEN.
In Tokyo, the buses are not as easy to use as the trains and subways. If you’re traveling by bus, you have to know the routes as they only display the end destination (foremost in Japanese only). In addition to this, the bus drivers don’t speak that good English – and many no English at all.
For those who are in need for a cab, there are many taxi cars around town. If you’re not in need for one, then I would suggest you take the subway instead. To get around with a taxi is very expensive and very unnecessary as the public transport is super efficient.
A regular four-passenger taxi starts their fare around 600-700 YEN for the first two kilometers, and then the fare increase by 80-90 YEN for every additional 300-400 meters that you travel. The fare also increases when traveling at night (around 20 percent more) and if you drive through toll fees during your trip.
Recommended hotels in Tokyo
The Tokyo Station Hotel
The Tokyo Station Hotel is a luxury hotel in central Tokyo, right next to the Tokyo station and very close to the Imperial Palace. From here it’s easy and convenient to get around to every attraction in the city. The hotel itself is very nice and offers a truly luxurious experience – including a spa, a fitness center, and an excellent service.
The rooms are spacious and modern and come with super comfortable beds. Free Wi-Fi access includes in the price. The staff are of the highest class and will treat you like royalty. There are many luxury hotels in Tokyo, but not as affordable as The Tokyo Station Hotel, as you will get the most value for your money and a fantastic location to explore Japan’s capital.
Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel Tokyo
A good mid-range hotel located in the famous Ginza shopping district, close to the Kabuki theater. Millennium Mitsui Garden is a simple 4-star hotel with good standard and friendly staff. A location is excellent if you primarily want to shop in Tokyo. If you want to explore the city, there is public transportation nearby that takes you to almost every single attraction and sight in Tokyo.
Hotel Grand Arc Hanzomon
Grand Arc is an excellent budget option, and despite the low price the hotel keeps a high standard and service. The hotel lies near a metro station and several attractions such as the Imperial Palace and the Ginza shopping district. This hotel is best suited for those who want a simple and affordable accommodation in central Tokyo and instead spend additional money on excursions and restaurant visits.
Alternative and cheaper accommodations
If you have a strict budget or would rather spend the money on tours and activities, then it can be smart to look at other types of accommodation than hotels. Hostel / Hostel are found in several places in Tokyo where you can book a private room to a bed in a simple dormitory. These are significantly cheaper than a standard hotel room and provides in many cases a kitchen, so you can cook your own food to save even more money.
Airbnb is another option that has recently become very popular around the world, and it has also become one of my favorite ways to find accommodation while traveling. On Airbnb, you can rent apartments, rooms in someone’s home and even houses.
Sign up through our link below, and you will receive $ 30 in travel credit that you can use when booking accommodation.
Food and drinks in Tokyo
From the traditional Japanese cuisine to the most fabulous French cuisine – Tokyo boasts an impressive variation of dining experiences. In Tokyo, one can find all kinds of cuisines that vary from budget to luxury. Of course, the majority of restaurants in Tokyo serves traditional Japanese food such as Sushi, Sashimi, Sukiyaki, Yakitori, Soba, and Udon.
Imagine a city that offers all the cuisines you can think of and cool restaurants beyond your imagination – there you have Tokyo in a nutshell.
Do you want to eat the most delicious and cheapest sushi in town? Then you should head to Genki Sushi in Shibuya. Genki Sushi is my absolute favorite restaurant in Tokyo where you order your favorite sushi pieces from a screen above your seat. This restaurant is super fast, super friendly and have the menu in both Japanese and English. You just order what you like on the screen and wait for a few minutes and then your fresh plate of sushi comes to you with the “sushi train” right to your seat.
When you’re in Tokyo, you just have to visit this restaurant for some cheap and super delicious sushi in a super modern Tokyo-environment. The price varies depending on what you order, but the “standard” price for two sushi pieces are 100 YEN, which is a catch in Tokyo!
If you’re looking for a restaurant above the ordinary, then you just have to visit the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo. Every night in a basement in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho district, a dinner show begins including bikini-clad women, giant robots, neon lights, video screens and mirrors. This dinner show is so crazy weird that you have to book a table here during your stay in Tokyo.
Alice in Magical Land
This is one of the many cool themed restaurants that Tokyo has to offer. This is one of my favorite restaurants in the city because it has an Alice in Wonderland theme. The whole restaurant’s decor are inspired from the entrance to the chandeliers and seating areas. Even the food and desserts are decorated to look like characters from the movie such as; the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat, and the White Rabbit. The food is good, not super delicious, but it still worth a visit to be in the Magical Land of Alice.
Good to know about Tokyo
Japanese Yen (¥)
Best Time to Visit Tokyo
The locals of Tokyo will tell every tourist that the best time to visit their city is during spring or fall. During these two seasons, the temperature is mild, and the environment is beautiful. It’s nice to visit Tokyo during the cherry blossom season (spring) and also during the foliage season (fall). But, if you are going during these colorful seasons, then be prepared for crowds of both tourists and locals.
In average, August is the hottest month in Tokyo with a temperature of 16 degrees Celsius, and the coldest month is January with an average temperature of 5 degrees Celsius. In Tokyo, the rainy season starts in early June and last for only a few weeks. At the end of summer typhoon season starts and can bring strong winds and heavy rainfall that can disrupt both trains and flights.
Type A (two flat plugs). A tip for you who travel a lot is to buy a travel adapter. You can buy my favorite adapter HERE.
They say that the tap water is safe to drink in Tokyo. Yes, that may be true, but some people are more sensitive when it comes to new bacterias that are found in the water. My suggestion is only to drink bottled water during your stay in Tokyo, as it’s not worth it if you get sick.