22 of the best things to do in Tokyo

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Tokyo, the vibrant metropolis that seamlessly merges tradition with innovation, offers a myriad of captivating experiences for travelers. From ancient temples to futuristic technology, there’s no shortage of exciting activities in this bustling city. Tokyo’s unique blend of old-world charm and cutting-edge modernity promises an adventure like no other. Here are 22 must-do things to make the most of your Tokyo adventure.

1. Visit Senso-ji Temple

While Senso-ji Temple itself is a cultural treasure, here’s a unique twist: venture beyond the main hall and explore the quieter areas of the temple grounds. You’ll discover hidden corners where you can sit and contemplate the centuries of history that have unfolded here, away from the bustling crowds. These secluded spots offer a serene atmosphere, making your visit to Senso-ji even more special.

2. Marvel at Tokyo Skytree

To make your visit even cooler, consider going to Tokyo Skytree at night. The city’s lights illuminate like a sea of stars, and you can enjoy a romantic dinner at one of the tower’s restaurants while gazing out at the mesmerizing cityscape. If you’re an astronomy enthusiast, Tokyo Skytree also offers stargazing events with high-powered telescopes on special occasions.

3. Explore Meiji Shrine

Venture to the nearby Harajuku neighborhood after your visit to Meiji Shrine. Takeshita Street in Harajuku is famous for its unique and sometimes quirky fashion boutiques, offering a chance to witness Tokyo’s vibrant youth culture. And for a serene touch to your day, consider visiting Yoyogi Park adjacent to Meiji Shrine, where you might come across street performers and events, adding a spontaneous and lively element to your experience.

4. Stroll Through Ueno Park

For a more tranquil experience, visit Ueno Park in the early morning or on weekdays when it’s less crowded. The serene atmosphere and the beauty of the park at sunrise offer a peaceful start to your day. Also, if you’re an art enthusiast, don’t miss the Tokyo National Museum within the park, which houses a remarkable collection of Japanese art spanning centuries.

5. Discover the Imperial Palace

While exploring the East Gardens is a must, consider joining one of the guided tours that allow you to access more areas of the Imperial Palace. These tours provide fascinating insights into Japan’s imperial history. Another cool aspect is the Nijubashi Bridge, a symbol of the Imperial Palace. It’s particularly photogenic and offers an iconic view of the palace grounds.

6. Shop in Harajuku

In addition to the well-known fashion scene, Harajuku is home to cozy cafés and dessert shops. Try some of the innovative and Instagram-worthy sweet treats available in the area. Takeshita Street is a paradise for street food enthusiasts, offering mouthwatering crepes, cotton candy, and various snacks with a kawaii (cute) twist.

7. Indulge in Tsukiji Fish Market

Head to the outer market of Tsukiji Fish Market for a sushi breakfast. You can savor some of the freshest sushi in the world, prepared by skilled chefs right before your eyes. Moreover, the market is a food lover’s paradise, offering an array of delectable seafood dishes, from uni (sea urchin) to oysters.

8. Experience Shibuya Crossing

For a unique perspective, grab a seat at the Starbucks overlooking Shibuya Crossing. You’ll have a bird’s-eye view of the famous scramble intersection, and it’s a great spot for people-watching. If you’re feeling adventurous, join the Shibuya crossing, Harajuku, Tokyo tour Go cart tour and see all that has to offer in Shibuya. 

9. Relax in Shinjuku Gyoen

Explore the garden during cherry blossom season or autumn when the foliage is at its most stunning. A picnic amidst the seasonal beauty can make for an unforgettable experience. In addition, Shinjuku Gyoen offers different themed gardens, including a traditional Japanese garden and a French garden, providing a diverse horticultural experience.

10. Visit Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland hosts seasonal events, such as Halloween and Christmas celebrations, with themed decorations and parades. Visiting during these times adds an extra layer of enchantment to your Disney experience. Additionally, Tokyo DisneySea, located adjacent to Tokyo Disneyland, offers a unique maritime-themed park with attractions not found in other Disney parks worldwide. Don’t miss the Mediterranean Harbor for a taste of DisneySea’s distinctive charm.

11. Try Sample Street Food in Ameya-Yokocho

Seek out some of the lesser-known stalls and eateries tucked away in the market’s alleys. You might discover hidden gems serving up delicious local dishes. Don’t miss trying yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), taiyaki (fish-shaped pastries filled with sweet or savory fillings), and takoyaki (octopus balls) from the street vendors. This is the place to embark on a culinary adventure without breaking the bank.

12. Visit the Tokyo National Museum

Check the museum’s schedule for special exhibitions or cultural events that coincide with your visit. These events often provide a deeper understanding of Japan’s artistic heritage. The museum’s extensive collection includes not only traditional Japanese art but also masterpieces from China, Korea, and other Asian countries. It’s a fascinating journey through the region’s rich history.

13. Enjoy Asakusa's Sumida Aquarium

Combine your visit to the Sumida Aquarium with a leisurely walk along the Sumida River’s promenade. It offers a serene contrast to the bustling streets. Additionally, take a cruise along the Sumida River to see Tokyo’s landmarks from a different perspective, especially stunning during cherry blossom season when the riverbanks are in full bloom.

14. Ride the Yamanote Line

Travel during off-peak hours to get a seat by the window. It’s an excellent way to observe daily life in Tokyo and spot unique aspects of the cityscape that you might miss otherwise. As you ride the Yamanote Line’s loop, consider hopping off at stations like Ebisu or Meguro, known for their trendy cafés and boutiques.

15. Experience Akihabara

Explore Akihabara’s backstreets to discover small, independently-owned shops and quaint cafés. You might stumble upon unique collectibles and retro video game stores. For an immersive experience, visit one of the themed cafés in the area, such as a maid café, where servers dress in maid costumes and provide a whimsical dining experience.

16. Relax in an Onsen

For a truly unique experience, try a “konyoku onsen,” a mixed-gender hot spring, which is rare in Japan. Some onsens in Tokyo offer specific hours for mixed bathing. Additionally, if you’re looking for an onsen experience close to Tokyo, consider visiting Oedo Onsen Monogatari in Odaiba, a hot spring theme park where you can soak in various types of baths and enjoy traditional Japanese games and food stalls.

17. Admire Tokyo's Architecture

Tokyo Midtown often hosts art exhibitions and installations. Check if any art events are happening during your visit to combine architecture with contemporary art. The architectural marvels in Roppongi Hills include the iconic Mori Tower, which houses an observation deck offering panoramic views of Tokyo. Also, explore Tokyo Midtown’s lush Hinokicho Park, an oasis of greenery in the heart of the city.

18. Try Kaiseki Dining

Seek out Kaiseki restaurants that offer seasonal menus. You’ll have the opportunity to savor dishes made with the freshest ingredients of the season. Kaiseki dining is not just a meal but an art form, with each course carefully curated to delight the senses. If you’re interested in exploring different aspects of Japanese cuisine, consider taking a cooking class to learn how to make traditional dishes like sushi or tempura.

19. Visit Odaiba

Don’t miss the “Palette Town” complex in Odaiba, which includes the Giant Sky Wheel. The views from the wheel are especially magical at night when the city is illuminated. Additionally, Odaiba is home to the teamLab Borderless digital art museum, an immersive and interactive art experience where digital art and technology come together in a breathtaking display of creativity.

20. Experience Tokyo DisneySea

Arrive early and head straight to the most popular attractions to avoid long lines. DisneySea is known for its unique rides, so be sure to experience them all. Don’t miss the Mediterranean Harbor for a taste of DisneySea’s distinctive charm. The park’s themed areas, like the Arabian Coast and Mermaid Lagoon, offer immersive experiences that transport you to different parts of the world.

21. Enjoy Cherry Blossom Viewing

To enhance your cherry blossom experience, consider joining a hanami party in one of Tokyo’s parks. It’s a fantastic way to immerse yourself in this cherished Japanese tradition and meet friendly locals. The cherry blossom season usually peaks in late March to early April, and parks like Ueno and Shinjuku Gyoen become picturesque wonderlands. Additionally, explore some lesser-known spots like the Chidorigafuchi Moat, which offers a stunning view of cherry blossoms along the water.

22. Escape to a Cat Café

Tokyo is home to some of the world’s most unique cafés, and among them, cat cafés stand out as a truly distinctive experience. These cozy establishments allow you to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while surrounded by friendly feline companions. It’s a delightful way to unwind, especially if you’re a cat lover, and offers a tranquil respite from the city’s hustle and bustle. Plus, you might just make a few new furry friends during your visit. Cat cafés like “Neko no Jikan” in Ikebukuro and “Calico Cat Café” in Shinjuku are popular choices for this enchanting experience.