What kind of things would you like to do?

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.

AKIHABARA

Akiba4

 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

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AKI-OKA ARTISAN CO-OP

Artist workshops & stores where you can buy unusual stuff made with traditional craftsmanship

Unusual handmade artist goods • Many have workshops in back where goods are made • High quality, reasonable prices

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AMUSE MUSEUM

4.AmuseMuseum

Surprisingly fascinating museum about everyday life in the Japanese countryside

Choice collection of artifacts and clothing items (like salmon skin boots and patchwork underwear!) that tell the story of country life in Japan • Excellent Ukiyo-e Theatre with a loop of short clips explaining the secret messages in woodblock prints • Bar with an amazing view of Senso-ji Temple • First class gift shop

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AOYAMA-ITCHOME

Unexpected pleasures

Ninja restaurant • Best place to see & buy traditional goods from all over Japan • Amazing promenade of gingko trees in the fall

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ASAKUSA

Asakusa4

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

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ASAKUSABASHI

SQStairs

Beautiful sacred dolls

Handmade Girls’ Day doll sets • Carp banners & armor sets for Boys’ Day • Deluxe beading stores

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CALICO CAT CAFE

Excellent cat café

Do the famous coffee & kitty thing • Lots of different kinds

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EBISU

4Ebisu

Lively, fun part of town, with good streets for strolling and checking out the wide selection of eateries and drinkeries

Yebisu Beer MuseumThe jellyfish & shark bar • Xmas Illuminations are excellent

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EDO-TOKYO MUSEUM

My favorite museum in Tokyo

Totally interesting exhibits about everyday life in Japan • Half is samurai era, half is modern era • Models you could look at for hours

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FUKAGAWA-EDO MUSEUM

Walk around inside a beautifully recreated samurai-era village

Life-sized furnished rooms you can go inside • English-speaking volunteers can answer questions about daily life in Edo-era Japan

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GINZA

GinzaDesserts

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

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GOTOKUJI

4Gotokuji

Home of the lucky cat temple!

Wonderful lucky cat shrine on the temple grounds • Excellent plum blossoms (Feb) and autumn leaves (mid-late Nov)

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HAMA-RIKYU TEIEN GARDEN

A grand garden with something for everyone

Sweeping vistas and a large pond with several bridges make for dramatic landscapes • A favorite spot for wedding photos • Especially good in mid-late Feb (plum blossoms), late-Mar to early Apr (cherry blossoms), late-Apr to early-May (wisteria & peonies), mid-late Sep (cosmos) & mid-late Nov (autumn leaves)

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HASEDERA TEMPLE

Famous golden statue, thousands of Jizo figures, and an underground grott0…all set amid an amazing hydrangea garden

Spectacular thirty-foot-tall Kannon figure • Candle-lit underground grotto filled with tiny shrines • Giant prayer wheel • Buddha’s footprints • Incredible hydrangea garden (June)

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HARAJUKU

4.Harajuku

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

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HEDGEHOG CAFÉ

Like a cat café, only prickly

Play with the adorable hedgehog of your choice

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IKEBUKURO

Ikebukuro4

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

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INARICHO

SQKamidana

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

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JAPAN TRADITIONAL CRAFT CENTER

The best place to buy handmade traditional goods from all over Japan

High quality, same price as if you went to the artist • Famous crafts from every prefecture

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KAMAKURA DAY TRIP

Kamakura4

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

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KAMIYACHO

4Kamiyacho

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

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KANDA MYŌJIN SHRINE

Where anime and manga artists come to pray for success

Amazing art drawn on prayer plaques by visitors • Beautiful red and gold shrine buildings • You can buy a charm to protect your electronics • Weddings and ceremonies galore

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KAPPABASHI STREET

4Kappabashi

Don’t miss the street where they sell plastic food!

Plastic food model stores • Make your own plastic food •  The flavoring store • Ultra-sharp knives • Lacquerware • Japanese cooking equipment • Random dinosaur heads

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KIYOSUMI GARDEN

My go-to garden for soul-restoring serenity

Cool, green and uncrowded in every season • Beautiful Japanese garden-style views around every turn • Stroll around gorgeous lake with awesome steppingstones • Especially good in iris season

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KIYOSUMI-SHIRAKAWA AREA

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

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KOMAGOME

4Rikugien

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

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KORAKUEN

4.Korakuen1

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)

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KOSHINZUKA STREET MARKET

4Koshinzuka

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

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KUDANSHITA

4.Kudanshita

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

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MEIJI SHRINE

4MeijiJingu

This is my favorite place to see weddings, people in gorgeous kimonos and period costume.

Most reliable place to see weddings • Festivals • People wearing kimonos • Cedar buildings built without nails • If we’re lucky, a real live tanuki sighting!

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MONZEN-NAKACHO

4FukugawaFudo

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

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MT. TAKAO

4.MtTakao

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

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NAKANO

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

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NEZU

4.Nezu

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

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NIHONBASHI

4Mitsukoshi

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

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NIHON MINKA-EN THATCH-ROOFED HOUSES

4Minka-en

This village of restored thatch-roofed houses is just a short train ride from central Tokyo

23 thatch-roofed houses • You can go inside • Visitor center showing how they are made • In a beautiful park

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NISHIARAI-DAISHI TEMPLE

One stop shop for garden strolling and wart curing

Famous peony gardens bloom in April • Wart-curing Jizo figure

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ODAIBA

4Odaiba1

I can’t let you leave before you do some of the most wacky things in Tokyo.

Trick Art Museum • Oedo Onsen Hot Springs • Miraikan • Sony Explorascience Museum • Smile Fight •  Toyota megaweb

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OEDO ONSEN HOT SPRINGS

An indoor hot spring theme park that’s built like a samurai-era village

Everyone wears yukata (cotton kimono) • Many different hot spring baths to try • Outdoor foot bath & hot sand bath • Game booths • Fish pedicure • Restaurants • Massage chairs

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ORIGAMI CENTER

Origami art gallery & shop where you can buy all kinds of Japanese paper

Origami exhibits • Origami demonstrations • Paper art kits • Watch it being made on the top floor • Huge selection of origami & washi paper

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RIKUGI-EN GARDEN

17th century garden designed around 88 views from famous poems.

Large pond • Teahouse • Open at night and lit up during cherry blossom and autumn leaf seasons • Stand selling miso dango in autumn and winter • Especially good in late-Mar to early Apr (cherry blossoms), mid-late Apr (azaleas), late-Apr to early-May (wisteria & peonies), late Sep (native red amaryllis), mid-late Nov (autumn leaves) & if it snows

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ROPPONGI

4Roppongi

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

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RYOGOKU

4.Ryogoku

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

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SANKEIEN GARDEN

Magnificent stroll garden with a mix of natural areas and interesting historical buildings

Meandering paths with lots of bridges • Thatch-roofed farmhouse you can go inside • Pagoda and teahouses galore • Lots of great birds, including kingfishers and herons • In Yokohama, an hour outside Tokyo

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SASUKE INARI SHRINE

The fox shrine to end all fox shrines

Enter through a gorgeous tunnel of orange torii gates • Mysterious little moss-covered fox “villages” line a footpath that wends its way up a shady mountainside

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SENGAKUJI TEMPLE

4Sengakuji

Truth is stranger than fiction – let’s go see the actual burial place of the 47 ronin!

Graves of the 47 ronin • Their signed confession • The well where they washed Lord Kira’s severed head • Statue portaits of the 47 ronin

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SHIBUYA

4Shibuya

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 HandsLoft and Don Kihote

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SHIMO-KITAZAWA

4shimokita

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

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SHINJUKU

4Shinjuku

The biggest and wildest entertainment district in Tokyo

Cat cafés • Golden Gai  theme bars • Princess Style kimonos • Host clubs, hostess bars and adult entertainment

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SHOWA-KINEN PARK

Less than forty minutes by train from Shinjuku Station, this huge park has it all, and is amazing in every season

Promenade of gingko trees with a beautiful fountain • Lovely Japanese garden • Excellent playgrounds for kids • Giant lawns for picknicking & large dedicated BBQ area • Miles of bike trails • Boats • Especially good mid-late Feb (plum blossoms), late-Mar to early Apr (cherry blossoms), mid-late Apr (azaleas), mid-Sep to mid-Oct (cosmos) & mid-late Nov (autumn leaves)

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TSUKIJI FISH MARKET

4Tsukiji

$25 million worth of seafood sold every morning. Let’s see it all.

Giant tuna • 24-hour sushi bars • Seafood so weird you never even saw it in a science book • Godzilla-sized ice cubes • Workshop where you can learn to make sushi from a master

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UENO

SQHanami

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

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YASUKUNI SHRINE

Famous Imperial shrine does everything in grand style

Impressive Imperial shrine that hosts many lively festivals throughout the year • Extensive WWII museum • Japanese garden with koi pond • Sumo amphitheatre where amateur events take place • Controversial because the souls of all Japanese war dead are enshrined here

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YOKOHAMA

4.Yokohama

A venerable garden that’s lovely in every season and filled with interesting historical buildings

Okurayama Park is famous for plum blossoms (Feb) • Excellent Pokemon Center • Art lights up the night at the Yokohama Smart Illuminations every year

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YOYOGI PARK

4Yoyogi1

The best free entertainment in Tokyo, every Sunday afternoon

Free entertainment of all kinds every Sunday afternoon • Rockabillies • Slackline • Costumed dogs • Famous for cherry blossom parties

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YUSHIMA

4Yushima

A gorgeous shrine, seldom visited by tourists

Jewel-like example of a cedar wood and gold shrine • Plum blossom festival in February • Musical water garden

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ZOJO-JI TEMPLE

Stately temple favored by the shoguns

Thousands of Jizo figures • Seven Tokugawa shōguns are buried here • Holiday ceremonies with Japanese celebrities

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Read a novel set in Tokyo

A young woman dressed as a Gothic Lolita is found dead in a car at the local shrine. But the more Yumi Hata learns about her best friend’s death, the more she’s convinced it was murder…read more

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