Discover the hidden delights of Tokyo by strolling through these neighborhoods

If you’re the kind of traveler who likes to wander the backstreets and discover a city’s delights for yourself, here are some neighborhoods where you can’t go wrong! Read on for places to catch a glimpse of “old Tokyo,” and scroll down for where to see the new, newer, newest.

OLD TOKYO

Tokyo is a big modern city, but there are pockets that are untouched by time. These neighborhoods feature shops that have been in business for generations, shrines & temples where age-old traditions live on, and well-preserved examples of Japanese buildings.

ASAKUSA

Asakusa4

A neighborhood and shops unchanged for generations

Giant Buddhist temple (Senso-ji) • Asakusa Shrine (Shinto) • Great place to see festivals & weddings • Lit up at night • Surrounding neighborhood is full of shops selling traditional goods

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INARICHO

4.Inaricho

Everything for the home altar!

Stores selling beautifully pieced Shinto home altars & incredibly expensive Buddhist family altars • Incense, Buddhist rosaries & brass bells on cushions

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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 bygone era

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 • Near the Monzen-Nakacho area, with the temple where you can watch a fire ceremony

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KOSHINZUKA STREET MARKET

4Koshinzuka

A market where they still sell goods from a bygone era

Old-fashioned sweets • Lovely wrapping cloths and hand towels • Magic umbrellas • 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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MONZEN-NAKACHO

4FukugawaFudo

This is a relatively undiscovered Old Tokyo neighborhood, with traditional shops, food, and a temple with a fascinating fire ceremony

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 • Near the Kiyosumi-Shirakawa area, with its excellent museum that’s a life-sized samurai-era town you can walk around in and serene Japanese garden

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NIHON MINKA-EN THATCH-ROOFED FARMHOUSES Day Trip

4Minka-en

A village of restored thatch-roofed houses 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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RYOGOKU

4.Ryogoku

Sumo wrestlers & incredible models of ye olde Tokyo

Even when there’s not a sumo tournament to watch, sumo wrestlers can be seen in the streets of this neighborhood and at the train station • The Edo-Tokyo Museum has amazing models & life-sized dioramas of everyday life in samurai era Tokyo and how it changed after Japan opened to the west • See some of Japan’s most famous woodblock prints at the Sumida Hokusai Museum

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YANAKA

4NezaShrine

A neighborhood that escaped the WWII firebombing is still home to many traditional shops and shrines

Tunnel of orange torii gates you can walk through at the Nezu Shrine • Old-fashioned neighborhood, with shops that have been in business for generations • Chiyogami traditional patterned paper store • Handmade wooden buckets • Calligraphy brushes • Air-conditioned pillows • Yanaka Ginza shopping street

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OLD MEETS NEW

There are a few neighborhoods where you can see excellent old Tokyo landmarks right next to cutting edge stuff. Here are a couple of neighborhoods with something for everyone.

AKIHABARA

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 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 • The anime & manga shrine

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HARAJUKU

Harajuku4

Shop with the fashion cults, or glimpse a wedding at a magnificent Imperial Shrine

Brand boutiques for LolitaGothic Lolita, Punk, Fairy Kei and more • Harajuku-style crepes • Extreme pancakes • Crazy entertainers in Yoyogi Park • See the most majestic imperial shrine in Tokyo • Nai-en Garden is famous for iris

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ALL THE NEW

If you’re looking for all things popcult, Tokyo is the best hunting ground on the planet. From anime & manga goods to the latest in electronic toilets, you’ll find everything you’re looking for, and plenty that you didn’t know you wanted…until now.

NAKANO

A geek heaven for modelmakers and collectors

Figure & model stores • Comic book shops • Rare and antique J-pop goods • Cosplay supplies • Grill-at-your-own-table restaurant

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ODAIBA

4Odaiba1

This island in Tokyo Bay is home to some of the most wacky things you can do in Tokyo.

Be immersed in an astounding digital environment at the Borderless Digital Museum • Take pictures of yourself in impossible situations at the Trick Art Museum • Eat, drink, play and soak at the hot spring theme park • Get educated at the Miraikan science museum • Challenge your compadres to a Smile Fight at the Explorascience museum • Five-story tall Gundam robot • Toyota megaweb otherworldly auto showroom and History Garage car museumWalk across the Rainbow Bridge

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SHIBUYA

4Shibuya

Where everybody young goes to shop and play

Famous 5-way intersection: 1,000 people cross every minute • Love Hotel Hill • Extreme pancake café • Trendy fashion for men and women at 109, Parco & Marui • Shop for crazy souvenirs at Tokyu HandsLoft and Don Kihote

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SHIMO-KITAZAWA

4Shimokita

The perfect neighborhood for barhopping and sampling informal eateries

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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While you’re in Japan, read a novel set in Tokyo!

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Raven Crime Reads

Why has someone been visiting the grave of Tokyo Detective Kenji Nakamura’s mother, on the day before her death anniversary? For nine years, Kenji has believed her death was an accident. Then he gets a call, and his life begins to unravel…read more