Things to see in Tokyo:
I’ve always been infatuated with Tokyo and although this guide is 2 years overdue I still thought I’d make it to help me remember the parts I enjoyed about Tokyo. I would recommend exploring Tokyo in parts ie. Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ueno, Ginza, Meguro, Kichijoji so that you don’t have to spend too much time travelling in one day. I’ve wanted to visit Japan since forever but it took me 24 years before I made that trip. Can you imagine the amount of hype I had towards Japan? Well guess what, it lived up to the hype. It’s definitely true that once you visit Japan once, you will want to go back again over and over again. I spent 1 week in just Tokyo as I wanted to explore each city properly and not just hope from one city to another. 1 week is obviously not enough but enough for me to get a glimpse into how amazing a country can be. These are my top places to visit in Tokyo:
- Kichijoji – Ghibli Museum, Atre Kichijoji, Inokashira Park, Satou Kichijoji,
I loved Kichijoji (and not just because of the Ghibli Museum). Kichijoji is a city outside of the busy part of Tokyo. It is around a 15 minutes train ride from Shinjuku to Kichijoji. It’s a great place for a bit of shopping, for food and to relax at the Inokashira Goen. I also had the best beef ball at Satou Kchijoji. The Ghibli Museum is an added plus. It is around a 20 minute walk from Kichijoji Station but it’s definitely worth visiting. I must confess, I’ve probably only watched Spirited Away and Kiki’s delivery service but I still enjoyed visiting this Museum. After this, I watched Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess Monoke. It was just inspiring to visit the Museum and the fact that you aren’t allowed to take photos inside makes the whole experience 100% better. I can’t wait to visit Kichijoji again. This area needs at least 1-2 days to explore thoroughly.
- Asakusa – Gyu-nabe Yonekyu, Senso-ji, Hozomon gate, Nakamise Shopping Street, Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center
If you Google Tokyo, you will probably find a picture of Asakusa’s Hozomon Gate somewhere. It is an iconic symbol of Tokyo and of Asakusa. This is one of the most crowded tourists destinations in Tokyo and one worthy of its fame. Behind the millions of people, you will find an amazing temple where people come from far and wide to pray for things from school to love to health. If you want a really good view of everything, please head to the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Centers observation floor. There you will be able to see the Hozomon gate as well as the Tokyo Skytree. The view is amazing. Here in Asakusa you will find lots of old eateries that have hundreds of years of history. I don’t have any recommendations as I haven’t tried all of them but if you like beef sukiyaki you should try Gyu-nabe Yokekyu. I would definitely come back here to try more street food (I had this amazing pudding here and also a melon pan) – I will come hungry next time. I would recommend spending an entire day here.
- Meguro/ Daikanyama – Tsutaya Bookstore, Blossoms, Onigly Coffee, Onibus Coffee
One of the more off-the-path destination (kind of not really) is the Meguro/Daikanyama area. It’s a more laid back area with tons of artsy stores, coffee shops and book stores. You could spend a whole day here exploring (which I wish I did). I came during spring as I heard the cherry blossoms near the Meguro river is beautiful and boy were they correct. This is a place you would never get sick of and during Cherry Blossom season the shops have booths set up outside for you to purchase items as well. Would 100% recommend this area off the beaten bath.
- Tokyo Station – Rokurinsha, Glico-ya Kitchen, Tokyo Character Street, Marunouchi Plaza, The East Garden, Imperial Palace
No visit to Tokyo would be complete without a visit to the East Garden and Imperial Palace. Unfortunately I was only able to visit the East Garden as I was again short on time. The East Garden and Imperial Palace is only a short walk away from Tokyo Station. I would recommend exploring The East Garden and Imperial Palace and then going back to the Tokyo Station to explore and eat. They have a Glico-Ya Kitchen and Tokyo Character Street for you to shop to your hearts content. They also have lots of restaurants hidden throughout the train Station. Be careful not to get lost in here. I learned the hard way by exiting and then having to pay more to enter the train station again. It was a hot mess but an adventure no the less.
- Shinjuku – Shinjuku Gyoen, Uniqlo, Shinjuku Loft, Blue Bottle Coffee, Isetan Dining, Don Quijote, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
My hotel was situated in Shinjuku (the APA at Shinjuku Gyeon – very small and not the closest to the main train station – wouldn’t recommend). If you are looking for a view of the Fuji Mountain as well as the entire Tokyo – I recommend visiting the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building as it’s free. It’s around a 10-15 minute walk from the train station but definitely worth it. Go early as the line forms quickly. Shinjuku is an area full of shopping – they have a great Uniqlo, Muji and Don Quijote. I recommend the Isetan Dining for food if you are really indecisive and want to eat everything. They have every kind of food imaginable (if you go at night, a lot of the food is discounted which is great). You can take your food to the rooftop garden to eat. They have some seating at the garden and also some cherry blossoms. You would need 2-3 days to explore the entire Shinjuku thoroughly (at least).
- Harajuku / Ometosando– Yoyogi Park & Meiji Jingu, Gindaco Takoyaki, crepes, Line friends flagship store, Tokyo Plaza – Ometosando,
Harajuku and Ometosando are right next to each other. Both equally exciting but in their different ways. I would never imagine that such a coming place like Yoyogi Park would be situated next to the hustle and bustle of Harajuku. Yoyogi park along with the Meiji Jingu Temple would require at least a half day to explore (for us we got lost and it took a little longer than expected). If you are lucky you will get to see a marriage happen at Yoyogi Park making the whole experience just a little more special. After Yoyogi Park, I recommend spending the rest of the day at Harajuku exploring the many streets and shops. Remember to get crepes at Harajuku as they are known for it. Behind Harajuku are the calmer street of Ometosando. There are so many shops and coffee shops to explore that you will definitely be overwhelmed and realize that you need more than a day to explore all these let along the Tokyu plaza and the Line Friends Flagship store. I would highly recommend spending 2 days exploring this area.
- Shibuya – Shibuya Crossing, Shibuya 109, Shibuya Loft, Shibuya Modi, Tokyu Plaza Food Show
You can’t visit Tokyo without visiting the Shibuya Crossing in Shibuya. My main question is why is the crossing so big but the time you get to cross it so short ><. Shibuya is HUGE and there’s so much to see. Shibuya and Harajuku and complete opposites. Harajuku is like the cool older sister and Shibuya is the hyper younger sister. You can find everything in Shibuya from cosplay clothing to Disney to stationary. The streets here are not straight making getting lost so much easier. You can easily get distracted here by all the flashy lights and stores attracting you in. Personally I prefer Harajuku to Shibuya but I can’t wait to go back to Shibuya as I only spent around 3 hours here and didn’t get the full experience. I would say you probably need a whole day to explore Shibuya.
- ShinOkubo – Korea Street
The Korea Street (not even town) of Tokyo. It is literally a couple blocks of just Korean culture. You will find Korean Corn Dogs, coffee shops with Korean themes and lots of lots of LOTS OF K-pop stores with any kind of merch you can think of. There are stores crammed in basements, on 2nd floors. They are EVERYWHERE. I recommend taking a break and trying a Korean Corn Dog before venturing on to the merch stores. The streets get really crowded here and there are lots of back streets with Korean style clothing to explore as well. Side note if you are looking for somewhere to buy groceries at a cheap price, I would recommend Gyomu Super Shinjuku Store. They are essentially a wholesale place and although they don’t have the biggest selection, their prices are definitely one of the cheapest.
- Ginza – Uniqlo, Department stores, Itoya
Ginza is known for being an area with lots of expensive brands. The department stores here carry very nice brands and are good for window shopping. They also have one of the biggest Uniqlo’s (9 stories tall). It makes for one great photo. On the weekends, they close the main street for pedestrian use only, making it really nice to explore. If you like shopping this is the place for you.
These are my Must visits when visiting Tokyo and I’m sure I’ll find more as I explore Japan again (hopefully in the next couple years). Some places that I visited that I didn’t include include Roppogi, Ueno, Tsukiji Fish Market, Odaiba, Tokyo Skytree and Akihabara. The reason I didn’t include them in my must visits was not because they are not worthy but because I didn’t spend enough time at these places for me to include them and recommend them. Roppogi, I visited at night and saw the beautiful view of the Tokyo Skytree from there but nothing more as it was too late at night. Ueno – I walked through the park and visited the market there but didn’t see anything worth recommending. I didn’t get a chance to visit the Zoo either so I can’t give you a thorough guide. Tsukiji Fish Market – is always on everyone’s list but I only went to the old Tsukiji Fish Market location and didn’t visit the new part. The old part had lots of food and I did a good amount of shopping there but I don’t think I would go again as it was very crowded and very touristy. I visited Odaiba briefly for dinner and saw the knock of Statue of Liberty. There is a lot of shopping to be done at Odaiba but I wouldn’t visit it again as it is quite out of the way and it’s just a huge shopping area with brands I can find anywhere. But the train ride to Odaiba was lots of fun as you could see a lot of famous sites from the train. Akihabara is also another area on many peoples list as it’s filled with manga/anime/gaming related shops and buildings but for me there wasn’t anything interesting. I went to a lot of electronic stores but again didn’t spend enough time in Akihabara to recommend it. Tokyo is definitely a city to be explored. From just the above calculations, it seems like you would need at least 14 days to thoroughly explore the city. Not including the hidden areas. I can’t wait to be back!
Where is your favourite place to go in Tokyo?