Getting Away From The Crowds In Tokyo

If you have only a few days in Tokyo then you should definitely stick to the main things to do.

But if you have more time then it’s a good idea to get away from the main crowds and explore some quieter neighbourhoods where you will find mostly local people, and the few foreigners around tend to be mostly expats living there.

I will continually be updating this post in the future when more neighbourhoods have been explored.

Before going to Tokyo be sure to pick up the Lonely Planet Tokyo (Travel Guide) filled with a lot of useful advice.

Also if you’re going to Japan and worried about expenses check out my post on how Japan may not be as expensive as you may think.


Shimokitazawa

 

Hipsters!

Well that’s what they say anyway. It’s more a place where artists and alternative lifestyles take place, mixed along with just everyday life in a Tokyo neighbourhood.

I had visited this area to meet a friend on a previous trip and loved the mellow vibe. But at the time of writing this post I’ve been lucky enough to stay in the area at a friends apartment.

It’s located only several minutes away by train from the bustling district of Shibuya, but they couldn’t be more different.



shimokitazawa-tokyo-japan-1

It’s full of chilled out small “streets” with plenty of cafes serving up good coffee, pancakes, the usual ramen hole in the wall joints, and lots of boutique shops.

There’s definitely a bohemian atmosphere.

I personally had one of the best ramen’s ever.

ramen in shimokitazawa

It’s just one of those places where you can slow down and take your time, sit at a table outside a cafe and watch the local people go about their daily lives.

Experience a side to Tokyo you won’t see in the busier areas.

shimokitazaw-tokyo-japan

And if you love shopping at small boutique stores then you will be very happy wandering around there. An escape from the massive shopping centres in Shinjuku and Shibuya.

shimokitazawa-tokyo-japan-2

Being so close to Shibuya, even if you don’t have much time in Tokyo it will only take you several minutes out of your way and walking around without stopping to relax you can see the area in 30 minutes easily, it’s not so big. It’s worth your while to see a more alternative Tokyo.


Inokashira Park

 

inokashira-park-tokyo

I got recommended this area by an American expat I had met at a Starbucks (don’t judge, it’s one of the few places where you can get free wifi) and he and his Japanese wife said it’s a good place to get away from the usual crowds.

They were right.

If you head north from the local station, Kichijoji, you will  just come into a busy shopping area, but go south and you will come to quiet lanes and a really chilled out park with a small lake.

inokashira-park-tokyo-japan-1

This is the ultimate place to seriously just people watch and slow down. It’s all local families and a few expats. Even  some of the main streets outside the park are not that bad compared to the rest of Tokyo.

There are a few boutique shops around and plenty of food options.

The one thing that will not be “off the beaten path” is the Studio Ghibli Museum located at the edge of the park. This is super popular and often you have to book weeks, even months in advance to reserve a ticket.

From what I observed it appeared to be mostly Japanese visitors going in, and despite the popularity it certainly didn’t feel like overcrowded with visitors.

ghibli-museum-tokyo-1

It’s also a beautiful building and you can at least get your photo taken outside with one of the most beloved characters in animation history, Totoro 🙂

ghibli-museum-tokyo

The area is located about a 20 minute train ride from Shinjuku, so I wouldn’t recommend heading there if your time is short in Tokyo.

I have been told by Japanese friends that the stations between Inokashira and Shinjuku also have some interesting things to see that tourists won’t normally get to, so I shall be checking them out in the future.

One option if you have plenty of time in the city is to combine a half day going to Shimokitazawa and Inokashira Park, they are only 20 minutes from each other, before heading back into Shinjuku or Shibuya.

Again these suggestions are only for those with more time on their hands and wanting to get a flavour of more quieter local life.

As I explore the city more and with suggestions from local friends I will update this list for you. I just wanted to get this out right now to give some extra ideas for those planning a visit and looking fro some alternative places away from the tourist crowds.

Do you have any off the beaten path suggestions for Tokyo that you have seen?

See what I recommend to pack for a trip to Japan.


 

 

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Jonny Duncan is a travel blogger and freelance photographer. He specialises in adventure and budget travel with over 20 years of experience. He started blogging in 2013 to give advice for other travellers. He has lived in Japan, Amsterdam, Kiev, and more.

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