The Best Things To Do In Tokyo

backpacking in Japan budget travel

Tokyo is one one of the most epic cities in the world and this is what to do in Tokyo to get the best out of the city.

After visiting many times these are eight things to do in Tokyo that I recommend to everyone.

It’s a place so big you could lose yourself in it for weeks, and still have lots more to see.

Here’s a rundown on all the things I loved about this city from the normal to the bizarre and is what you can do in Tokyo yourself.

The list is in no real particular order. It was all awesome!

Find places to stay in Tokyo here.


Things To Do In Tokyo

BEST THINGS TO DO IN TOKYO JAPAN
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1. Walking The Streets of Tokyo

shinjuku in tokyo
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Shinjuku

You could wander for days and never get bored.

Visit the huge shopping and nightlife areas of Shinjuku and Shibuya.

These are my favourite places to wander around and are absolutely packed with people.

This is the heartbeat of the city and in particular the nightlife of Tokyo.

THINGS TO DO IN TOKYO
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At night the bright neon lights come out, and it feels like you are in a scene from a sci-fi movie like Bladerunner.

The areas are only a few stops apart on the metro, and both have many restaurants, bars, clubs and massive shopping streets and malls.

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Near Shibuya is Harajuku Street which is more youth-centric and fun to walk around and try to find people doing “cosplay“.

HARAJUKU TOKYO
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cosplay tokyo
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Cosplay meaning costume play, where they get dressed up as their favourite anime characters etc.

However these days there are not as many as there used to be.

cosplay in harajuku
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Cosplay in Tokyo

If the busy modern bright lights don’t appeal then you can loose yourself in the old areas of Tokyo like around Asakusa and north of Ueno Park.

There you can find many temples, historic buildings to see, and a really chilled out atmosphere.

Asakusa tokyo
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Asakusa Temple area

Ueno Park tokyo
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Ueno Park

Ueno Park tokyo
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Another beautifully chilled out place to walk around is Yoyogi Park which is conveniently located next to the busy area of Shibuya, so is easy to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern Tokyo.

Yoyogi Park tokyo
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Entering Yoyogi Park

In Yoyogi Park, you can find the Meiji Shrine to wander around.

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Meiji Shrine complex

If you want to get even more away from everything then head to the top of a skyscraper for amazing views across Tokyo and catch the sunset (if there is one).

tokyo skyline
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sunset in tokyo
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2. Tokyo Food

tokyo food
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Wow!

That could pretty much sum up this part completely.

Yes, the food is that good.

Especially If you love seafood then you will be in heaven. (Side note: this is my favourite documentary about sushi in Tokyo –Β Jiro Dreams of Sushi).

SUSHI TOKYO
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Fast sushi!

sashimi tokyo
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Street barbecues can be found in many market areas.

fish-tokyo
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Everywhere else is just as good for all varieties of Japanese cuisine.

All food specialities from all over Japan can be found in Tokyo, representing all the different regions.

From a delicious bowl of Fukuoka ramen to extravagant barbecues built into your table.

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tokyo ramen
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It has it all!

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Although certain districts have a higher concentration of restaurants than others, I found the food good wherever I was.

For example the best bowl of ramen I had there was near a friends house in a non-touristy suburb, Shimokitazawa.

Read:Β Β 10 essential Japanese foods to try


3. The Stranger Things

video gaming in tokyo
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You travel to experience different things, right?

Well, Japan is certainly a culture shock.

One of my favourite areas to go in Tokyo is the anime area of Akihabara. There, many otaku (geeks) go to play games in the huge gaming arcades.

Go and join in!

akihabara-gaming
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There are many shops there selling a massive selection of animation products. But there is nothing bizarre about all that.

However I bring up Akihabara because of some of the rather comical things you can also see and do there.

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As mentioned previously you can also see the cosplay, with mostly young people getting dressed up in anime outfits.

There are also weird ‘maid cafes’ where women dress as maids and serve you.

Other places are cafes devoted to everything from cats to famous Japanese bands, such as AKB48.

akb48 cafe tokyo
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Strolling around many parts of Tokyo you will see all kinds of things you are not used to.

One fun way of exploring Akihabara is to do a go kart tour of Akihabara!

go kart Akihabara
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Go karting in Akihabara


4. The People in Tokyo

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You could be in the most incredible place on earth, but if the people around you are assholes then it will kill the whole experience.

In Japan, you will find some of the most friendly and polite people you could meet anywhere.

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When you try to ask something, even if they don’t understand, they will try to help you.

Meeting and getting to know some local people should be high on your priorities of a visit to Japan.

I personally loved spending time with my Japanese friends in Tokyo.


5. Traditional Tokyo Culture

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There are temples and shrines in many places, you wouldn’t even notice some as they can be tucked away down side streets.

You can easily stumble upon traditional things going on, and a visit to Ueno Park is great for this, where people seem to be doing dances, and the National Museum shows displays of traditional music sometimes.

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In peaceful Yoyogi Park there is a huge temple to visit, and like I said earlier there are the old areas around Asakusa and north of Ueno to explore. In many other areas, you can find the old mixing with the new.

If you are in Tokyo in winter there are some good escapes to be had out of the city with some good traditional experiences.


6. Sumo in Tokyo

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This could be added to number 5 on the list, as it is very traditional, but I figured it deserved its own spot.

It could almost just squeeze into the bizarre section as well! If you are lucky enough to be there when sumo tournaments are on, then it is a no-brainer to take a look.

sumo tokyo
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Now it’s not the sexiest of sights seeing a bunch of seriously overweight men, basically wearing what could be described as diapers, wrestle each other.

sumo tokyo
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But the sumo atmosphere there is electric.

sumo in japan
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The big stadium in Tokyo holds 8000 people, and watching them shout and support their favourite wrestler is great.

Seeing the old rituals at play you could lose track of time enjoying it.

Having said that, these are all personal experiences and I could see how some could get bored more than others but for me seeing sumo is one of the best things to do in Tokyo when there.

Share the sumo! πŸ™‚

things to do in Tokyo sumo
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7. The Museums in Tokyo

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Now I must admit that I am not much of a museum person, but the few museums I did visit were good.

From the big national museum full of history to the more modern contemporary art museums.

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There are so many to choose from so you will for sure find something to your tastes.

The Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park is definitely worth a visit.

tokyo museum
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Looking onto Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park

One very popular museum is the animation studio Tokyo Ghibli Museum.

Read: 10 Best Japanese Animation to Watch

This is perfect if you are just by yourself, with friends, Β or with children in tow. However, it’s so popular it’s often booked out weeks/months in advance.

You can reserve a Ghibli Museum ticket here.

Studio Ghibli Museum tokyo
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Outside the Ghibli Museum πŸ™‚


8. Getting Lost and Finding Some Secret Places in Tokyo

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Tokyo is massive.

Even after many weeks there I would still find myself lost from time to time.

And that’s part of the fun of any big city, getting lost.

That’s when you tend to run into the random things you may not have seen otherwise.

off the beaten path tokyo
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Indeed along with number one on this list it could be the best thing you do: getting lost in off the beaten path neighbourhoods in Tokyo.

off the beaten path tokyo
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Un-touristed neighbourhoods to explore.

One other great thing you can do (during the summer season) and is highly recommended especially if wanting to get away from the big city, but is not in Tokyo itself, is to go and climb Mount Fuji.


Things To Do In Tokyo

So that’s a rough rundown on some things you could get up to in a visit to Tokyo.

Some people will obviously enjoy things more than others, but all of it combined is what makes it such a cool city to see.

The purpose of this post wasn’t to give an extremely detailed Tokyo travel guide. It’s more to give you an idea of the kind of things you can do to get the best out of the city.

You can get most of this done if looking for what to do in Tokyo in three days.

I hope you enjoy Tokyo!

Find places to stay in Tokyo here.

Useful Tokyo links:

Tokyo Metro Pass to get around.

Transport from Narita Airport into Tokyo by shared van.

Transport from Haneda Airport in a shared van.

Japan is an expensive destination and the medical treatment is not cheap. Be sure to take travel insurance before going just in case.

I use World Nomads Travel Insurance for my travels.

If you liked this article about things to do in Tokyo a share would be appreciated! πŸ™‚Β 

BEST THINGS TO DO IN TOKYO
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18 thoughts on “The Best Things To Do In Tokyo”

  1. I lived in Tokyo for 6 years. Worked for NHK television and on a government Internet project, among others. The 2 things I found most entertaining were 1) watching businessmen dressed in suits riding their bicycles to the train station (to go to work) with open umbrellas over their heads and 2) vending machines where you could buy sake and beer on the street. The most bizarre to me were the vending machines that sold dirty womens’ panties….

  2. I would love to live in Tokyo sometime for a longer period of time. Is an amazing place. And yes some of the things you see there are definitely entertaining!

  3. I LOVE Tokyo too; it’s such a lovely place to be in! Never mind the fact that it is a huge city and I totally agree on the friendly and polite Japanese who just makes a trip to this city or even the country so memorable. I hate it when the locals are rude and unfriendly, and I have been to first world countries where their people are just so mean to others; and they don’t even care if you are a tourist. That totally spoils my impression of the place (I did have a recent experience myself), even though I have heard so much good things about the country. Nothing beats the personal experience!
    Tokyo is a place I would always want to go back; it is just that attractive, kudos to the Japanese, really! =)

  4. Sand In My Suitcase

    For some reason, Japan hasn’t been in our sights. But we know so many people who’ve visited the country and absolutely loved it. If Tokyo is anything like Hong Kong or Bangkok, then we know we’d love it too. Your post has inspired us to think again about Japan…

  5. I love Hong Kong and Bangkok as well, for sure you will love Tokyo!. Happy I helped inspiring you to visit!

  6. I absolutely love Tokyo! Lived there back in 2008 and not surprised you spent more time getting lost in the city that originally planned. That city is easy to get around thanks to public transportation and limited vehicular traffic, at least physically, but finding exactly where you want to go can be quite a challenge.

    There are many reasons for this, but one of the big reasons for this is the numbering of the buildings. Rather than go sequentially, they are instead ordered by date built. So #14 could sit in between #3 and #29, you never really know. It is also confusing as one building can hold a variety of different stores. “Sashimi? Oh that’s on B3…we’re B2”

    Anyway, sorry for rambling on but thanks for the great list. BTW, Stephen Lioy recommended your blog to me a while back and just wanted to let you know I’ll be giving Backpackingman an award for “Best New Travel Blog” and will be promoting it on my site. Don’t start to feel special though, just keep doing what you are doin’ πŸ˜‰

  7. Yes Tokyo is one of my favourite cities for sure. Stephen is one of my favourite bloggers and photographers out there, and fun in person as well! Cheers for the cool words on the award, and don’t worry I will not let things go to my head, I’m quite down to earth πŸ™‚

  8. I’m off to see Tokyo on April next year so I’m really happy that I stumbled on to your blog! Hope I can find interesting sights just like you did!

  9. That is lovely. We huge fans of Japan, it’s just such an interesting country. Nice photos by the way!

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  13. Great inspiration to go to Tokyo! In particular, it is fascinating that you go behind the people and the culture!

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