10 Things You Should See and Do in Tokyo
Planning a trip to Tokyo may be daunting due to the sheer volume of sights to see and things to do. The streets make you feel like you’ve stepped into a Sci-Fi movie yet you’re also surrounded by temples and museums. We’ve compiled a list of things for you to include in your Tokyo intinerary that you simply can’t miss out on!
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1. Feast on all Tokyo has to Offer
Don’t be afraid to walk into any food establishment in Tokyo. Whether you choose to dine in a food court or a Michelin-starred restaurant, it is hard to find bad food in Tokyo. Must-try foods are:
A trip to Tokyo would not be complete without trying sushi. For those on a budget, standing sushi bars are the best places for anyone to go to if you want to fill your stomach for cheap. Prices in standing sushi bars can range from ¥1,000-¥3,000 per person. On the opposite end of the spectrum, omakase is popular and is priced upwards of ¥10,000. The itamae (sushi chef) uses the fish that is in season and the meal depends on the ingredients the restaurant has. It is a unique way to try different types of sushi as customers are leaving the decisions up to the itamae.
3-Michellin Star Chef, Jiro Ono
An example of omakase style dinner
Ramen is the iconic noodle soup dish which is widely popular in its home country and all over the world. Eating authentic ramen in Japan is a bucket list item for tourist. Although the Japanese consider ramen to be fast food, many restaurants in Tokyo use fresh ingredients and homemade broths. This simple yet delicious dish is not to be skipped on the food itinerary! With over 6,000 ramen shops in Tokyo, you are spoilt for choice on your trip.
Easy to order machine
Foodie or not, everyone knows wagyu beef is the most famous beef in the world. This melt-in-your-mouth beef will cost you three times the price of European beef in Japan and is referred to as “the most expensive beef in the world.” Enjoying the Japanese delicacy is on food bucket list for every visitor to Japan.
With increasing popularity, Matcha is the familiar green substance you see on every foodie’s Instagram. Matcha is a powdered green tea which is used to flavour various drinks and desserts. As Matcha originated in Japan, there are plenty of dessert shops where you can find this treat!
Matcha Crepe Cake
Matcha Molten Lava Cake
Matcha Ice Cream
2. Watch the Tuna Auction at Toyosu Fish Market
After the closure of the famous Tsukiji Market in 2018 another market opened up in its place, the Toyosu fish market. The Toyosu market is almost double the size of its predecessor and two large buildings are used for selling wholesale seafood and one for fruits and vegetables. Entry to the market is free but you will need to get a visitors badge if you want to watch the famous tuna auction. Toyosu is also full of small restaurants and street vendors selling fresh sushi from the market.
- Opening Hours: 5:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. (wholesale hours) Some restaurants only open from 7 a.m. The market is closed on Sundays and some public holidays.
- Address: 6-Chome-3 Toyosu, Koto City, Tokyo 135-0061, Japan.
Main area where tuna auction happens
Street-food in Toyosu
3. People Watch in Shibuya
Shibuya Crossing is the main intersection in Tokyo where more than 250,000 people cross every day (2,500 every time the lights turn green). Shibuya Station is the main transportation hub in Tokyo as it is surrounded by office buildings and shops. In order to get a view from above to see the spectacle, you can stand on the Shibuya Bridge and look below.
In addition to the iconic Shibuya Crossing, located outside the Shibuya subway station stands the Hachiko Statue is also a spot in Shibuya that is not to be missed. The story behind the statue is of an Akita dog named Hachiko hence the name of the statue. Hachiko would come to this spot every day to greet his owner. After Hachiko’s owner passed away, Hachiko continued to go to the same spot at the same time to wait for his owner until Hachiko also passed away. The statue was built to commemorate Hachiko, celebrating devotion and friendship.
4. Immerse Yourself in the Art: TeamLAB
TeamLAB is the place for you if you enjoy art museums, mesmerising lights and music. teamLab is a group of artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians, architects and graphic designers who put their skills together to create teamLAB. There are two exhibitions: Planets and Borderless. Visitors can interact with the exhibitions and completely immerse themselves in the art.
- Entrance fee: Adult ¥3,200; Child ¥1,000
- Opening hours: Mon-Thu 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Fri-Sat (and holiday eve) 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sun (and holidays) 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. (*last entry 1 hour before closing time and closed on 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month)
- Address: 1-3-8 | Odaiba Palette Town, MORI Building Digital Art Museum: teamLab Borderless, Aomi, Koto 135-0064, Tokyo Prefecture.
5. Be a Kid Again at Disneyland and DisneySea
Although Disneyland is just outside of Tokyo, it would be a wasted opportunity to miss out on a visit to the happiest place on Earth. The parks are only a 15 minute, ¥200 train ride from Tokyo Station with departures every few minutes. Disneyland spans 115 acres and is made up of seven sections. Similarly, DisneySea also has seven sections including an aquarium and waterpark. As both parks are open year-round, it is advisable to go during weekdays and avoid going on public holidays, weekends and school holidays. We would recommend a 3-day ticket if you are planning to go to both Disneyland and DisneySea so you don’t miss out on anything!
- Opening hours: Everyday, 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
- Entrance fees:
Note that park hopping cannot be done with 1 and 2-day tickets, only 3 and 4-day tickets however you are restricted to one park on the first two days of your 3 and 4-day tickets.
- Address: 1-1 Maihama, Urayasu, Chiba 279-0031, Japan.
Cinderella’s Castle, Disneyland
Ratatouille Ride, Disneyland
Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain, Disneyland
Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull, DisneySea
Soaring: Fantastic Flight, DisneySea
6. Look at the Views from Tokyo Skytree
Tokyo Skytree is the tallest building in Japan and stands at 634 metres tall. At the base of the skyscraper, there is a large shopping mall and aquarium. There are also two observation decks in the Skytree at 350 metres and 450 metres where you have a 360-degree view of the city below. Inside the observation decks there are cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops. The elevator that takes you up to the observation decks run at a stomach-churning speed of 600m per minute, the fastest large-capacity elevators in Japan.
- Opening hours: Everyday, 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. (last entry at 9 p.m.)
- Entrance fees: First observatory: ¥2,100 (weekdays), ¥2,300 (weekends and holidays); Both observatories ¥3,100 (weekdays), ¥3,400 (weekends and holidays)
- Address: 1 CHome-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida City, Tokyo, 131-0045, Japan.
Skytree at night
City view from observation deck
Sumida River view from Skytree
7. Stroll Through a Sakura Wonderland (Seasonal)
During the cherry blossom (sakura) season in Japan, tourists flock from all over the world to see the spectacle. Sakura season is in early Spring from March to May. You can see the blooms all over the city and they come in shades of red, pink and white. Families take this time to have picnics in the park (hanami) to see the beautiful flowers.
- Opening hours: 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Entrance fees: ¥200
- Address: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0014, Japan.
- Opening hours: 24 hours
- Entrance fees: Free
- Address: 1 Chome-17 Kamimeguro, Meguro City, Tokyo 153-0051, Japan.
- Opening hours: 24 hours
- Entrance fees: Free
- Address: 2-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 151-0052, Japan.
8. Visit the Meiji Shrine
Inside Yoyogi Park, the Meiji Shrine shows the visitors an insight to the history and culture of Japan. Sake barrels surround the shrine as an offering to the gods. Every year, sake is offered to the gods when the new sake is ready. Wooden plaques (ema) are available to purchase in the shop where you can write your wishes and leave it behind for the spirits. At a Shinto shrine it is customary to follow the ritual: throw a coin into the box at the offering hall, bow twice, clap your hands twice, bow again (once), ring the bell/gong to attract the attention of the Gods and then say your prayer.
- Opening hours: Everyday, 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Entrance fee: Free
- Address: 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 151-8557, Japan.
9. Go-Kart in the Streets of Shibuya
This go-kart experience in Shibuya is a once in a lifetime opportunity for adults in Tokyo. As Japan has no restrictions on go-karts on public roads, you can drive for 1-2 hours on the streets of Shibuya dressed up as your favourite superhero or cartoon character. Whilst you kart yourself around, you can communicate with your friends through a built-in system and capture every moment on a live action camera. Don’t worry about getting lost too because there is also a GPS system built-in to every kart.
- Opening hours: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
- Tickets: ¥8,000 per person
- Departure point: 1-chōme-23-15 Kitashinagawa, Shinagawa City, Tōkyō-to 140-0001, Japan.
- Note: you need a valid Japanese drivers license, international drivers license or SOFA.
Karters dressed up as characters from Mario Kart
10. Take a trip down Memory Lane
Memory Lane started out as an illegal drinking quarter in the 1940s. It became the place to get cheap drinks and food. It provided a social area for locals to gather as they couldn’t afford meat and alcohol in the post-war economy. Memory Lane is also famously known as Piss Alley. This nickname came from the early days of Memory Lane when there was a lack of restroom facilities, so patrons would go to the train tracks nearby to relieve themselves. After the fire that destroyed most of the restaurants in 1999, the Japanese government rebuilt the community in order to preserve a part of Japanese history.
- Address: 1 Chome-2 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0023, Japan.
Memory Lane aka Piss Alley
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