Wondering what to do in Tokyo? Whether you’re a history junkie, foodie or fashion connoisseur, there are surely plenty of awesome and exciting treats in store for in this vibrant East Asian metropolis. After all, it is a sought-after Japanese travel destination, and a fabulous mixture of cutesy cartoon mascots, eccentric diversions, sleek high-tech gadgets, old-fashioned manners and modern living. From visiting its prismatic theme parks and quaint parks to sampling the unique culinary specialties of its eccentric themed cafes, there are tons of fabulous and swell things to do in Tokyo.
Traveling to Tokyo – the buzzing and electrifying capital of Japan? Want to see and experience the best of Tokyo? To make travel planning to this Oriental city a breeze, we’ve listed down some of the top and coolest things to do in Tokyo. Check them out!
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1. Pay homage to the Meiji Shrine
A visit to the Meiji Shrine, or also referred as Meiji Jingu, is truly one of the best things to do in Tokyo. While this Shinto shrine isn’t as elaborate or dramatic as the other well-known sacred sites in Asia, it is still a pretty popular site that lures dozens of locals and travelers on a daily basis, making it one of the most popular places to visit in Tokyo. Nestled right at the heart of Japan’s bustling capital, Meiji Shrine is a surprising serene and scenic oasis that offers a soothing respite for those who want to escape the crowd and hubbub of the fast-paced city life.
As you take a sojourn to this Tokyo attraction, you’ll get to relax, unwind, and enjoy a beautiful stroll through its quaint and lush park. What’s more, you can admire its gorgeous architecture as well as observe Japan’s fascinating wedding traditions.
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2. Experience the themed diversions of Disney Sea Tokyo
Traveling with a bunch of kids? Inspired by the myths and legends of the ocean, the Disney Sea Tokyo offers a dazzling array of fun attractions and entertainment options to visitors of all ages. At Disney Sea Tokyo, you’ll get to revisit your childhood with heaps of spectacular shows and thrill rides from its themed ports, like the American Waterfront, Arabian Coast Mediterranean Harbor, Mysterious Island, Lost River Delta, Mermaid Lagoon, and Port Discovery.
As an added bonus, the Disney Sea Tokyo boasts a diverse selection of restaurants, and serves alcoholic beverages to grown-ups as well.
3. Visit the Tokyo National Museum
Fond of Japanese history and culture? Then, make sure to schedule a visit to the Tokyo National Museum. Heralded as Japan’s oldest and most expansive museum, this treasure trove is home to the world’s largest collection of Japanese art and artifacts. As you take a stroll around the halls of Tokyo National Museum’s six buildings, you’ll get to spot a series of magnificent exhibits, including ornate swords, delicate pottery, samurai armor, decorated tombs, kimonos, calligraphy, historic paintings and a whole lot more.
4. Pay a visit to the Tsukiji Market
Even if you’re not a sushi or seafood aficionado, a visit to the Tsukiji Market is still something that you must include to your travel itinerary in Tokyo, Japan. After all, it is a globally renowned display that has often been deemed as the world’s largest fish market, handling over 2,000 tons of fresh fish a day, which will wow almost any kind of traveler. Furthermore, the market hosts colorful and lively tuna auctions from 5 to 6:15 in the morning. To top it all off, the place is brimming with small stalls and restaurants that serve mouthwatering and super fresh seafood treats.
5. Walk across the iconic Shibuya Crossing
No trip to the city of Tokyo is complete without a walk across the internationally famous Shibuya Crossing – one of the world’s busiest and most popular intersections. It would be a rather fun travel experience for you to participate, and watch the organized emanate when flocks of people walk across this intersection simultaneously. If, however, you want to get a different perspective of this mix-up, head over to the 2nd floor window of Starbucks, which is located on the North side. And by the way, did we mention that it is one of the top free things to do in Tokyo?
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6. Enjoy a breathtaking panorama of Tokyo for free
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy a good and breathtaking view of the Tokyo skyline. Thanks to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, you may feast your eyes on mesmerizing Tokyo sights, as well as experience one of the coolest free things to do in Tokyo. With a steep and impressive height of 202 meters, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building can give you a clear bird’s eye vista of the city and its neighboring cities. As a matter of fact, it can even give you a lovely view of Mount Fuji on a clear day.
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7. Admire the Sensoji Temple
Sensoji Temple is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the oldest and most beautiful places to see in Tokyo. Originally built in the year 628, this colorful and popular Buddhist temple evokes a sense of peace, and is adorned lavishly with intricate Japanese figures, such as its jumbo lantern as well as gigantic guardian statues.
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8. Attend a Japanese festival
Tokyo, as with the rest of Japan, has a host of festivals with exuberant parades, elaborate floats, traditional clothes and incredible traditional dance performances. Below are just some of the many remarkable festivals to experience in Tokyo.
- Ikebukuro’s Autumn Festival
- Sanja Matsuri at Asakusa Shrine
- Fukagawa Matsuri at Tomioka Hachiman Shrine
- Kanda Matsuri at Kanda Myojin Shrine
- Sanno Festival at Hie Shrine
9. Indulge in a shopping spree at a Daiso outlet
Just because shopping in Tokyo is super expensive, it doesn’t mean you can’t buy some eye-catching souvenirs in this burghal. Daiso – revered as Japan’s largest 100-yen store – offers a wide range of intriguing, great and quirky Japanese souvenirs at supremely affordable rates. Most of the items sold in this store cost 100 JPY (around 81 cents in US currency) only. Whether you’re a budget-conscious traveler or someone who can’t resist the urge to buy souvenirs, shopping at Daiso is one of the best things to do in Tokyo.
10. Watch a sumo tournament
Watching a sumo tournament is, to me, one of the best things to do in Tokyo. Steeped in culture and tradition, sumo wrestling is an interesting diversion worthy of your time, even if you’re not a fan of the sport. In addition to the blitz and explosive action, Sumo – Japan’s national sport – has elaborate rituals that will captivate all its spectators, including foot stumping and singing.
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11. Buy a souvenir from a vending machine
In Tokyo, it’s hard to walk a block without passing by a few vending machines. While most of these machines vend beverages, there are others that sell weird things like hamburgers, umbrellas, hair products and dog food.
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12. Rejuvenate your weary body at an onsen
On the lookout for relaxing things to do in Tokyo that will replenish your jaded muscles and joints? Head off to Oodeo Onsen Monogatar – an onsen (hot spring) theme park – and treat yourself to a soothing foot massage or soak in a blissfully relaxing bath. There are plenty of entertainment options here as well, to keep you occupied for a whole afternoon.
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13. Experience Tokyo’s pulsating nightlife in Roppongi
From dance clubs and upscale bars to cabaret and karaoke lounges, Tokyo’s energetic and diverse nightlife scene certainly has something to offer to every taste. The party district in Tokyo, though, is in Roppongi. A popular spot for party animals, Roppongi is the city’s embassy area, and also is becoming a hub for beauty pageants, robot exhibitions and art festivals.
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14. Visit a photo gallery for free
In Tokyo, you will find a jillion of sights that will make you reach for your GoPro, and get snap happy. But, if you fancy a break from snapping photos, try to check out some of Tokyo’s best photo galleries that are operated by some of the big-time names in the photography industry. Kodak, Nikon, Canon and Fuji all have photo displays in Ginza, while Pentax, Minolta and Konica have exhibits in Shinjuku, Tokyo. For photography enthusiasts, a tour in any of these showrooms is definitely one of the must-try things to do in Tokyo.
15. Get a free guided tour
Discover a galore of alluring Tokyo sights and engaging information for free by taking a guided tour from the Systematized Goodwill Guide Groups. Free tours depart from a variety of places at different hours, and cover Tokyo attractions like the Imperial Palace, Ueno Park, and many more. Though the tours are free, you are expected to pay for admissions to the Tokyo attractions you are going to visit as well as the guide’s travel expenses.
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16. Visit the free museums of Tokyo
Traveling to Tokyo on a tight budget? For frugal travelers, one of the best things to do in Tokyo is to visit one of the city’s many free museums. These museums are not only free, but they also display an endless array of charming and intriguing exhibits. Here are some of the free museums to visit in Tokyo:
- Currency Museum
- Banknote and Postage Stamp Museum
- Fire Museum
- Japan Stationary Museum
- Eyeglass Museum
- Beer Museum Yebisu
- Advertising Museum
- Parasite Museum
- Sumo Museum
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17. Hang out at New York Bar, Park Hyatt
One of the coolest things to do in Tokyo at night is to chill and hang out at New York Bar, Park Hyatt. With striking views from the 52nd floor of the hotel, New York Bar can ease off your tired eyes and exhausted feet, after spending a lovely day of sightseeing in Tokyo. Plus, the bar has sensational live music every night from some of the world’s top international jazz acts. Of course, the bar also serves premium cognac and brandies, original and classic cocktails, as well as bubbly American wines.
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18. Dine in a themed restaurant
Want to experience something unforgettable and different in this Oriental metropolitan? There are a lot of quirky things to do in Tokyo, and dining in a themed café ranks pretty high of that list. From the slightly creepy and bizarre Alcatraz ER to the famed and techie Robot Restaurant, Tokyo has a plethora of wonderfully weird restaurants and cafes that can give you a one-of-a-kind dining experience.
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19. Channel your inner geek at Akihabara Electric Town
Akihabara Electric Town is an absolute godsend for those who are into geeky stuff and high tech gadgets. Aptly nicknamed as the epicenter of the otaku (geek) universe, you’ll find every computer-related good, manga and cool video game you can possibly imagine, in this district. As far as I’m concerned, the best time to visit Akihabara is in the evening, when the bold and bright neon lights of its electronic emporiums shine are ablaze. Trust me, it is one of the best and most wondrous things to do in Tokyo at night.
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20. Sing karaoke
Are you a frustrated singing enthusiast who’s been daydreaming of winning the Voice’s grand prize? In Tokyo, you’ll find a cluster of karaoke bars, where you can belt out your favorite songs with your buddies, and in a cozy private room where waiters would deliver your ordered drinks. As far as karaoke bars, our two top picks in Tokyo are Smash Hits and Karaoke Kan, which was used as set location for the 2003 American flick “Lost in Translation”.
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21. Play with tomorrow’s state-of-the-art technology for free
Want to get a good glimpse of the future? Make your way to the showrooms of Toyota, Panasonic or Sony to try, touch, listen and watch their latest products. Not only will give you a blast, but it is one of the countless free things to do in Tokyo as well. But, do take note that a sojourn to any of these showrooms can turn easily to a shopping spree since they sell sophisticated gadgets that have yet to be released in other countries.
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22. Stay in a capsule hotel
Not only is it one of the cheapest places to stay in Tokyo, but a capsule hotel can also offer you a memorable out-of-the-ordinary experience. Not to mention, it surprisingly very cozy.
23. Go on a shopping spree at Ginza
“The City of Lights” has the Champs-Elysees, London has Oxford Street, NYC has Fifth Avenue, and Japan’s capital has Ginza. Known as one the top places to visit in Tokyo, this neighborhood is a shopaholic’s nirvava, housing all kinds of stores from upscale design houses like Cartier, Armani and Dior to affordable, big-time retailers like Zara and H&M. In addition, you’ll find a surplus of specially stores selling traditional Japanese items, including chopsticks, incense and kimonos.
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24. Explore Odaiba
Imagine a mini Atlantis beautifully rising out of the water, located conveniently next to Tokyo’s downtown area. That’s what Odaiba looks like! Nestled on the Tokyo Bay, this mini-island or neighborhood is a sweet hub of eateries, entertainment as well as eye-catching architecture, like the futuristic Fuji Television building. Additionally, the area has a host of interesting attractions, including the relaxing Odaiba Seaside Park and National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.
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