Tokyo (東京), is such a big, amazing and alive city. It is our first meeting with Japan, and we must say, we have the best time! Tokyo is Japan’s capital city and the world’s most populous metropolis. There is so much to do and see, so where to start? Tokyo is divided into many areas; 23 different wards. Our best tip for exploring Tokyo: take one area at the time. Public transport is expensive so walk around all day exploring just one part! We stay in Tokyo for almost two weeks and here are the things we think you can’t miss when you go to Tokyo. And of course our best tips are free!
Lost track of all the wards? Here’s a map with the ones we’ll discuss:
Cross the Shibuya crossing
Next to the Shibuya station you find the famous Shibuya crossing. It’s the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing. During rush hour, as many as 2,500 thousand people cross the street at the same time! It’s a spectacle that’s repeated every two minutes. The best time to see the busy intersection is on Friday and Saturday night, as it’s most crowded. You can go up to the Starbucks on the second floor to observe the chaos but we’ve found you an ever better place! If you go into the Shibuya Ekimae building and take the elevator to the 9th floor, you can sneak into the smoking room on the left and you will have the absolute best view! Taking pictures with long shutter speed while standing still in between all moving people, is also so a must do!
Visit the Sensoji Temple
Tokyo is a city full of temples, but the Sensoji you definitely can not miss. Sensoji is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, part of the Taito ward. It’s the oldest temple in Tokyo, and probably the most colourful and popular temple! You enter the temple through the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), the outer gate of Sensoji and the symbol of Asakusa. From there you have the opportunity to buy typical Japanese souvenirs on Tokyo’s biggest souvenir market, Nakamise street. At the end of the street you will reach the second gate with his beautiful huge red lantern. From there you will walk in the main temple. Sensoji certainly is a beautiful and spiritual place to visit.
Walk around Akihabara district
Akihabara is a district in central Tokyo. It’s heaven for all the anime and manga lovers. And it’s the perfect area for visiting a maid café, pachinko or one of the many electronics shops. Akihabara is the centre of Japan’s Otaku (diehard fans). Great place to walk around and if you are lucky you will see lots of people that are dressed up.
Be amazed at the Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji fish market is the largest and busiest fish market in the world. The market is divided into two areas: the outer and the inner market. At 10:00 am you can go to the wholesale inner market but before that you can visit the outer market and eat some delicious sushi. And if you are up for it, the tuna auction is supposed to be the best experience. You have to be at the market before 05:00 am. The entrance is free, but there’s a maximum of 120 people per day. It will be on a first-come-first-serve base, so you must be there as early as possible!
Relax at Yoyogi park
Yoyogi park is one of Tokyo’s largest city parks, a lovely park to escape the crowded streets. It’s a great place for jogging, picnicking, cycling and other outdoor activities. And it’s also a great place just to relax and watch people performing. Especially Sunday is a good day to see lots of people perform, Yoyogi draws all sorts of talent. A little north of the park you can find another beautiful forested area with shrines and gardens.
Enjoy Odaiba district
For us Odaiba district was a big surprise! With an abundance of unique things to do, Odaiba is one of Tokyo’s most exciting areas. It’s a popular shopping and entertainment district, on an island in Tokyo Bay. And if you’re looking for a seaside, you should visit the seaside park. While sitting in the park, you have a great view over the water, Rainbow Bridge and Statue of Liberty.
Visit a themed café or restaurant
Tokyo is home to some of the craziest themed restaurants and cafes in the world. Our advise: pay a visit to at least one of them. There are so many choices, maid cafés, a robot restaurant, animal cafés, vampire cafés and many more. We visit the Kawaii Monster Café, a crazy, colourful and fun café! The café it’s all about the Kawaii culture, the cuteness-culture that is so apparent in the Japanese culture. It’s a one-of-a kind café with meals and cakes that are colourful as well. And if you’re lucky, there will be a dance show! If the themed cafés and restaurants wouldn’t have been so pricy, we would definitely have visited many more of them.
Wander around Shinjuku
Shinjuku is one of the 23 wards of Tokyo. Shinjuku station is the world’s busiest railway station, handling more than two million passengers every day. The best time to visit Shinjuku is in the evening, to see all the amazing neon lights. Here you can find the biggest entertainment, business, and shopping area of the city. There’s so much more to see and do. You can even spot a Godzilla head on top of a building! It is our favourite part of Tokyo!
You should definitely pay a visit to the Golden Gai (Golden District). The area is known for its tiny bars and clubs. It’s a unique place; all bars have their own decor and some of them can only fit five persons! Some bars they have an entrance charge, some are free. The drinks are quite expensive, but it is a great experience. Omaide Yokocho, the food-oriented version of Golden Gai, can also be found in Shinjuku. It has lots of small restaurants in small alleys, how cute.
Go to a viewpoint
In the city you can find numerous viewpoints. For example Tokyo’s Sky Tree, the world’s tallest tower, or the Tokyo Tower with its classic view. We would recommend the free view of The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Its two towers both have a free observation deck! It makes for beautiful panoramic views over the city and beyond. With good weather conditions you are even able to see Mount Fuji! The North Observation Deck, which is open until 11:00 p.m., is also great for enjoying Tokyo at night or during a magical sunset!
Already planning your trip to Tokyo? We hope you find this article useful for your visit. And if you have any questions or comments, let us know!