Here are quick looks at the best stuff to do in every corner of Tokyo, to help you decide where you’d like to go.
The famous electronics district
Maid cafés • Electronics superstores • Comic book & anime stores (including fan fiction) • Handcrafted wooden keyboards • Robot & character model shops • Gundam & AKB48 Cafés • Cosplay costumes, wigs & makeup
Ninja restaurant • Best place to see & buy traditional goods from all over Japan • Amazing promenade of gingko trees in the fall
If you only have one day in Tokyo, this is where I’m going to take you.
Giant Buddhist temple (Senso-ji) • Asakusa Shrine (Shinto) • Rice crackers and taiyaki made while you wait • My favorite conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Tokyo
Beautiful sacred dolls
Handmade Girls’ Day doll sets • Carp banners & armor sets for Boys’ Day • Deluxe beading stores
Lively, fun part of town, with good streets for strolling and checking out the wide selection of eateries and drinkeries
The famous department store shopping district
My favorite department store food hall • 9-story stationery store • Mikimoto Pearl Museum • The best cup of coffee in the world
Where all things young, fun & fashionable meet
Best free entertainment in Tokyo every Sunday afternoon in Yoyogi Park • The most important and elegant shrine in Tokyo • Best place to see weddings and festivals • Takeshita Street has brand boutiques for Lolita, Gothic Lolita and all kinds of cosplay • Harajuku-style crepes
Crazy experiences galore
Dare your compadres to try some really crazy ice cream flavors: wasabi, curry and eel & more • The most famous dumplings from all over Japan • Toys from another planet at the LABI electronics superstore & the Loft store • J-World comic book & anime theme park
A funeral goods district that’s anything but dreary.
Shinto household shrines • Buddhist altars • Heavenly incense • Buddhist rosaries • Hearses with elaborate shrines on the back
KAMAKURA DAY TRIP
Want to get out of Tokyo for the day and see the most entertaining shrines and temples in Japan?
Great photo ops • Biggest bronze Buddha in Japan • Money Washing Shrine • The Divorce Temple • Tea at the Bamboo Temple • Ten foot tall gold-leafed figure of Kannon • Catch your own noodles
Bring your camera or you’ll be sorry.
Tokyo Tower • Hundreds of stone Jizo figures at Zojo-ji Temple • Amazing tofu restaurant • My favorite Chinese restaurant in the world
Don’t miss the street where they sell plastic food!
An undiscovered gem of a neighborhood, where you can feel what it was like to live in a slower and gentler age
Shitamachi museum with a life-sized samurai-era town you can walk around in • Serene Japanese garden with a large lake, gorgeous steppingstones, trickling water basins & exquisite views
A 17th century garden and a neighborhood filled with shops that have been in business for generations.
Rikugi-en garden is beautiful in every season • It’s open at night and lit up during cherry blossom and fall leaf seasons • There’s a stand selling miso dango in autumn and winter • There’s a shop where you can dye your own indigo handkerchief • Old-fashioned shopping street gives you a glimpse of real Japanese life
Stroll in a 17th century Japanese garden, cheer with the world’s craziest baseball fans, or ride a roller coaster that goes straight through a Tokyo skyscraper
Koraku-en garden is my favorite garden in Tokyo, in every season • Lots of photo-worthy bridges, flowers & gorgeous views • The Yomiuri Giants play at the Tokyo Dome, but the fans are almost as fun to watch as the game • Tokyo Dome City amusement park has roller coasters, dancing fountains and excellent holiday illuminations (Nov-Jan)
KOSHINZUKA STREET MARKET
Let’s go to a market where they still sell goods from a bygone era!
Handmade bamboo ear cleaners • Crispy cricket drinking snacks • Poisonous dried snake tea • Togenuki Jizo healing temple • The Honorable Duck Butt of Sugamo • Big Red Underwear Store
The most controversial Imperial shrine in Japan and a killer place to see cherry blossoms
Yasukuni Shrine has seasonal festivals with free demonstrations of traditional music and dance, an annual free amateur sumo tournament, a traditional Japanese garden & a fascinating WWII museum • Imperial Palace moat is amazing during cherry blossom season
Red-hot fire ceremonies, with awesome taiko drums!
Fire ceremonies with drums, five times a day • Hall of 10,000 crystal figures of Fudo-san • Room with 108 glow-in-the-dark paintings of gods • Dragon fountain that grants wishes written on dissolving amulets • Giant wooden Fudo figure
Tokyo has its very own mountain, still within the city limits!
Less than an hour from Shinjuku station • Beautiful hiking • Monkey park and shrine at the top • Annual firewalking festival in march • Seasonal beer garden with views from the top from July-October
A geek heaven to rival Akihabara
Figure & model stores • Comic book shops • Rare and antique J-pop goods • Cosplay supplies • Grill-at-your-own-table restaurant
Let’s go to my favorite Tokyo shrine, then walk around the old-fashioned neighborhood.
Incredible azalea festival during the month of April at the Nezu Shrine • Tunnel of orange torii gates you can walk through • Festivals have lots of free traditional entertainment • Chiyogami paper store • Handmade wooden buckets • Calligraphy brushes • Air-conditioned pillows • Cat map store
Famous shopping district & home to the best summertime event ever
The mother of all department stores • Best place to see kimonos and all the trimmings • Food hall can’t be beat • In cherry blossom season the buildings are lit up in pink • In the summertime you can go to Art Aquarium
I can’t let you leave before you do some of the most wacky things in Tokyo.
If you’re in Tokyo in November-December and don’t go see the holiday lights in Roppongi, you will regret it
Holiday light displays in November-December • Roppongi Hills & Tokyo Midtown shopping malls • Mori Art Museum and the Tokyo National Art Center put on provocative exhibitions year-round
Sumo wrestlers & the Edo-Tokyo Museum – two must-see Tokyo experiences!
You can get tickets to a sumo tournament in Ryogoku every January, May & September • The Edo-Tokyo Museum is all about everyday life in samurai times vs. how it changed after Japan opened to the West • Incredible detailed models of cities and towns • Full-scale rooms showing how people lived
Weird, wild, unforgettable
Famous 5-way intersection: 1,000 people cross every minute • Love Hotel Hill • Extreme pancake café • Butler café • Trendy fashion for men and women at 109, Men’s 109, Parco & Marui • Everything-under-the-sun at Tokyu Hands, Loft and Don Kihote
This is my favorite neighborhood for barhopping, trying out eateries that don’t break the bank, and playing with the bunnies at the rabbit café
Quirky, inexpensive bars & restaurants, many with live music • Vinegar bar & café • Village Vanguard store for wacky only-in-Japan gifts • Ohisama Rabbit Café
The biggest and wildest entertainment district in Tokyo
A grand public park, art and history museums, and my favorite Tokyo toy store
Large public park, famous for cherry blossoms and museums • Five-story toy store with many toys you’ll never see outside Japan
YOKOHAMA DAY TRIP
A venerable garden that’s lovely in every season and filled with interesting historical buildings
While you’re in Japan, read a novel set in Tokyo!
“A genuinely gripping crime thriller which wrong-foots and perplexes the reader throughout, drawing us in emotionally . . . Highly recommended.”