Among the Top 10 must-see cities in Japan, Tokyo figures first! With its mix of tradition and modernity, the megalopolis has everything to offer an unforgettable experience.
But what to do in Tokyo to fully enjoy your stay in the Japanese capital? Focus on the most emblematic places and things to do in Tokyo !
💙 Why visit Tokyo ?
The capital of Japan is a huge city with many facets and is full of points of interest and things to do for tourists. The contrast between the lively districts and the quiet traditional places is just astonishing! Moreover, Tokyo is the perfect destination to discover all aspects of Japanese culture: traditions, folklore, spirituality, pop culture and the kawai phenomenon! No shortage of things to do in Tokyo!
🤩 Visit the lively districts
Experience the craziness of the capital's most vibrant districts! In the middle of huge buildings, advertising signs and neon lights, experience the frenzy of modern Japan and otaku culture in the most animated places of Tokyo: Shibuya, Harajuku, Akihabara, Shinjuku or Ginza. Also, make use of this opportunity to go shopping and have fun!
🎎 Discover traditions and culture
Despite its modernity and advanced technology, Tokyo has preserved its traditions. Immerse yourself in Japan's past by visiting Ueno, Asakusa and Tokyo's old traditional districts... Discover the matsuri folklore, the peaceful lifestyle of the inhabitants, the arts and the spirituality that reigns in the archipelago.
⛩ Visit temples and shrines
Impossible to visit Japan without checking out the beautiful temples and shrines! Far from the hectic pace of the "hot" districts, the city offers many quiet and relaxing places of worship. Head to Senso-ji, the oldest Buddhist temple in the city. Do not miss the Meiji-jingu, the most popular shrine in Tokyo. Finally, Gotoku-ji and its maneki-neko as well as Nezu-jinja are absolutely incredible.
🎍 Walking in the Japanese gardens
In Tokyo, the most romantic among us will be able to walk and relax in the parks and Zen gardens while enjoying the illuminations in winter or the cherry blossoms in spring. Ueno Park, Sumida Park, Shinjuku Gyoen, Imperial Palace gardens... there is no shortage of green spaces in the capital.
🖼 Discover the history of Japan at the museum
Whether it be the Sumida Hokusai Museum, Studio Ghibli, or Edo-Tokyo, the world's largest metropolis is full of museums to cultivate yourself and learn about Japanese history.
🥢 Taste local specialties
All throughout Tokyo, you can drink and eat local specialties in izakaya (kind of bistro) and enjoy excellent Japanese street food. Don't miss the typical dishes and drinks like the delicious soba, sushi and sake!
✨ Enjoy the nightlife
Tokyo is also nicknamed the city that never sleeps... At dusk, party animals will enjoy the lively districts of Shibuya, Shinjuku or Roppongi where there are many bars, maid cafe, clubs, clubs and karaoke.
🚟 Traveling by public transportation
Trains, subways and buses actively serve the city. Moreover, the capital of Japan is known for its efficient railway system. Tokyoites can easily get around by using public transportation. Did you know that children are used to going to school by themselves? This is not so surprising when you consider that Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, with a very low crime rate. Additionally, the Yamanote line that draws a loop around the city will be quite practical for moving around Tokyo.
⏱ How much time is needed to visit Tokyo ?
Whether you choose to spend your whole vacation in Tokyo or just a stopover before visiting other Japanese cities, the minimum time to visit the capital is five days. That's right, there are so many things to see and to do! And more so if you want to visit the surrounding areas such as Mount Fuji!
🧭 Which districts to visit in Tokyo ?
In the megalopolis, some neighborhoods are definitely not to be missed:
👯♂ Shibuya, the trendiest district
Impossible to go to Tokyo without visiting Shibuya, the most emblematic district of the capital and its impressive crossroads full of people (Shibuya crossing). Fashionistas will fall in love with this high place of fashion and Tokyo youth, precursor of all the trends. Shibuya is the district of excess with its gigantic towers, all dedicated to shopping! When the evening comes, a great atmosphere is guaranteed, with its numerous discotheques and bars.
🦸♂ Harajuku, the spot of eccentricity
Cosplay fans and curious people will appreciate the Harajuku district where you can see manga heroes walking around during the weekend, especially in the famous pedestrian street Takeshita-dori. If you want to unwind a little after shopping, know that a few steps away from the shops you can find the Yoyogi Park and the Meiji Shrine.
🎮 Akihabara, geeks and otakus paradise
Nicknamed the electronic district, Akihabara is the favorite place for technophiles and geeks looking for the latest gadgets. Manga fans will also have a great time. In addition to the countless high-tech stores, the district is known for its maid cafe. (Japanese bistro with cosplay waitresses) and its shopping mall dedicated to otakus, without forgetting the famous Yodobashi store.
👴Asakusa, the atmosphere of old Tokyo
Despite its modern frenzy, Tokyo has kept its ancestral traditions. Located along the Sumida River, Asakuza is one of the historical places of the city. Known for its ancient Buddhist temple Sensoji, its lightning gate Kaminarimon, and its shopping alley Nakamise-Dori - the district offers many stores as well as beautiful park walks.
⚔ Ueno, the soul of the last samurai
In the authentic and friendly Ueno district, there is a huge park where Tokyoites traditionally celebrate the cherry blossoms in spring. This district is also rich in history and has many museums, including the Tokyo National Museum. In Ueno, you can relax at the park and the zoo, get educated at the museum or stroll along the large shopping street of Ameyoko and its big market!
🙏 Yanaka and Nezu, historical districts
In Tokyo, some places remain as if frozen in time. This is the case of Nezu and Yanaka. In these districts with picturesque lanes, you will find small traditional businesses, handicraft stores and sacred places everywhere. Don't miss the Yanaka Cemetery and the Nezu Jinja Shinto Shrine.
🎡 Odaiba, entertainment mecca
Located on an artificial island, with stores, concert halls, a Ferris wheel and a giant Gundam statue, Odaiba is all about entertainment. Tokyo residents like to spend weekends here relaxing with family and friends. Experience the Yurikamome aerial train to get to the island and enjoy the many attractions.
🏢 Shinjuku, the business district of Tokyo
The economic heart of Tokyo, Shinjuku is known for its busiest train station in the world and its impressive skyline. In this district, you can go shopping, have a coffee or a drink in a themed bar, party, or take a walk in the Shinjuku Gyoen national park.
🤑 Ginza, the Japanese Elysium Fields
If you like luxury stores, and fancy restaurants, then head to Ginza. Walk along the famous Chuô-dori street to admire the big brands with modern design. Enjoy the iconic Kabuki-za theater dedicated to traditional Japanese arts. This chic district with its modern edge is sure to surprise you!
💤 Where to sleep in Tokyo ?
To make the right choice of where to stay while in Tokyo, it is essential to consider three criteria: the location, the atmosphere of the neighborhood and the price of the accommodation. Also, the type of accommodation is important. A traditional inn (ryokan) will be perfect for a new experience. For those who prefer comfort, a hotel remains to be a good option.
🧭 Best located:
Ginza, Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Marunouchi are particularly well-located neighborhoods that are widely served by public transportation.
💰 The cheapest:
Luxury hotels in upscale areas like Ginza are often very expensive. More affordable accommodations can be found, but often more distant. If you have a limited budget, turn to the traditional districts of Ueno or Yanaka accessible by public transport. Finally, Shinagawa, located in the south of the city allows you to enjoy cheap accommodation while taking advantage of a convenient location.
🥳 The most lively:
Love the nightlife? Pick lively neighborhoods like Shibuya, Harajuku or Roponji that comes alive at nightfall. If you are a fan of video games and manga: Akihabara will be the perfect place to stay.
🎏 More traditional:
If you prefer the tranquility and authenticity of traditional Japan, you might prefer Ueno or Yanaka served by the famous Yamamote circular line. Asakusa is also a very interesting place with many traditional ryokan.
👨🍳 What to eat in Tokyo ?
Japanese gastronomy attracts many tourists. Don't miss the typical dishes! Whether in kombinis (convenience store), izakaya (Japanese restaurants) or yatai (street stall), delicious food awaits you!
Recipes for noodles in broth
Hot or cold buckwheat noodles often served with sauce
Salted fritters of eggplant, cabbage, carrots, shrimp, squid...
- Tokyo tendon (tempura-donburi):
Tempura on a bowl of rice with a spicy, sweet sauce
Breaded fried pork with cabbage and rice
Rice ball filled with fish, vegetables or salted plum
Cabbage pancake made of various ingredients (pork, shrimp, egg, tempura, spring onion...)
- Yakitori skewers:
Skewer of poultry, beef, pork or fish with bite-sized pieces
Traditional Japanese ravioli
Fish-shaped cake with red beans
- Dojo nabe:
Stew made with pond loaches (freshwater fish)
No need to introduce this dish based on raw fish and vinegared rice 😉
As you can see, Tokyo is the ideal city to dive into the heart of Japanese traditions while living the otaku madness. It's also one of the best places to discover the History of Japan and enjoy the greatest attractions. Explore the beautiful Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, shop in the lively neighborhoods and don't forget to enjoy the nightlife and the great food in Tokyo!