8 of my favorite things to do in Tokyo

Japan, Travel

There is a ton of things to do in the coolest city – Tokyo, visiting it all may take you years! From the cultural heritage of the temples to the coolest, craziest neighborhoods, everyone can find their corner… Organizing your trip in advance will help you to not miss things that may interest you.

Most of the time, people directly arrive in Tokyo when they travel to Japan. You’re probably wondering how many days to spend in Tokyo and which cities to visit next … Bad news! I don’t have the answer. You may have read a ton of recommendations everywhere but considering you do not have the same preferences as other people; it can be good to select your program. This is the reason why I recommend organizing your trip before booking your accommodation in Japan. Keeping in mind the opening times, special events and museum availability, you will be able to definitively know when and how long to stay in each destination and then book your room.

I have selected 8 things I loved to do in Tokyo based on my personal preferences and I hope it will help.

1. Exploring Asakusa & Senso-Ji Temple

Asakusa is an old neighborhood where it is very pleasant to stay and explore. When you exit from Asakusa station, you are immediately immersed in the Japanese culture with all the Traditional restaurants, tailor-made shops and the Senso-Ji temple and gift market. An area where the young Japanese ladies love to dress up in Kimono and chill at the market and temple with friends. Senso-Ji is the oldest temple in Tokyo and is rather crowded. I recommend planning your visit in the morning to avoid the crowds or in the evening with all the lighting. Senso-ji is a tourist place but also a temple where people pray. It is always interesting to understand the religious rituals and get to know the traditional rites.

+ TIPS: Stop at a Melon pan shop, this is the best invention ever! Ok, I think you understand how much I love it! And I hear you saying “I don’t like the melon flavor … What is it?? Melon Pan is a sweet bun, made from a bread dough filled with vanilla cream (my favorite) or another flavor such as Matcha. If you grab one at the time it is fresh out of the oven, you can consider yourself lucky! Many kimono rental stores are available in Asakusa.

2. TeamLab Borderless Tokyo

Welcome to the coolest digital museum! Founded by 40 talented artists, the TeamLab Borderless is located on Odaiba Island in a warehouse. You walk from a room to another in the dark with no map or signs, instead you are carried by the sounds and colors from different worlds because it’s “borderless”. All the rooms are unique, and you may just be amazed by the unusual type of art!

+ TIPS: From Tokyo city center to Odaiba Island you may take the Yurikamome Monorail, which is automatically operated, so you can sit in the driver’s seat and have a nice view and take some pictures! On the Island, they have a great coffee shop where you can have some brekkie called Eggs’nThings. The TeamLab Borderless can be very popular, I’d recommend visiting early and during the week. Tickets need to be booked online in advance. My Instagram advice is to wear a black/ white outfit for great pictures.

3. Breakfast at the Tsukiji Market

Tsukiji is the famous fish market of Tokyo located in Chūō-Ku. If you’re wondering to know where to eat? The answer is EVERYWHERE! Do not be afraid to join the line and wait for 15mins to get your food and eat standing … The bigger the line, the better the food, especially if Japanese people are in the line!  Wander from one stall to another and taste all the food specialties, but let me give you my two-favorite addresses:

Tsukiji Gindaco Honten is at front of the market, we went there and had our starter the “Takoyaki” a Japanese specialty from Osaka made with octopus and a special topping. I still remember the taste! 

Tsukii Itadori Bekkan is an izakaya in the market, where the freshness of the fish and the taste of the sushi, maki, sashimi etc. are incredible. Only the fact of thinking about this moment makes my mouth water.  Seeing the sushi master making my breakfast was pure art!

4. Stop at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

If you are looking for the best view of Tokyo, this is the place to be! With free entry and less crowds than the Skytree or Tokyo Tower, you’re better off stopping there while you are in Shinjuku neighborhood.

When you get in the government building you are welcomed by a great smile from the receptionist – “Welcome to Japan” and directed to the observatory on the 45th floor! If you are the kind of claustrophobic person, do not worry. It takes only 50 seconds to go up. When the doors open, you are on the top of the world or should I say on the top of Tokyo with a 360-degree panoramic view. The great surprise is the public piano where visitors and Tokyoite can play; trust me you will love to hear music with this marvelous view!

+ TIPS: You can admire the city and Mt. Fuji when the sky is clear.  The sunset from there is also beautiful.

5. Shibuya crossing

Well known as the busiest intersection in the world, Shibuya crossing is a mandatory stop for an Instagram picture! It is also the “entrance” of the crowned district.  Shibuya is also a great place for shopping (Harajuku area) and dining.

+ TIPS: You might want to grab a coffee and sit at the Starbucks or at Shibuya station, where you can have a great view from either.

6. Meiji Jingu shrine and park 

Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine in the Shibuya district surrounded by a beautiful park. This park acts as the green lungs, the place where Tokyoite and visitors love to get lost! All the pathways you pass huge wooden Japanese gates (torii). Most of the trees have been donated by people… You can imagine how much people love this special place. On the way to the temple, a large collection of sake barrels called kazaridaru is also offered every year and used for religious festivals at the Shrine. In front of the Japanese sake barrels, I was so amazed to see barrels of the finest French wines. Always proud to see French stuff around … Sorry to be French!

Thanks to the peaceful atmosphere, you arrive at the shrine relaxed and ready to explore the beauty of the Japanese heritage. The Meiji Jingu Shrine was built and dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken and going to this place is such a unique experience of the Japanese culture.

+ TIPS: Many ceremonies, weddings, and rituals take place throughout the year, check out the program while you organize your trip.  

7. Anime Kart ride in Tokyo

Are you looking for something fun to do in Tokyo? Here you are!

The kart ride is a great idea if you wish to visit the town differently. For an hour you will experience the drive in Tokyo dressed as a Pikachu or your favorite anime character and visit the areas you’d probably never go. People love to see the karts and take pictures, so I am probably on many mobile phone photo galleries! I booked my tour withAsakusa Samuraikartwhich was great as they were very helpful and secure.

+ TIPS: I’d recommend booking the tour in advance (preferably on Sundays for less traffic) and get insurance (around 500Y per person). Do not forget to translate your driving license.  The Asakusa Samuraikart lends costumes. You should arrive 20 minutes in advance.

8. The crazy, electronic Akihabara 

Akihabara is the game and cosplay district; if you love gaming and manga, this is your place. As a feminist, I would not talk about the maid cafes (expensive coffee where you are served by a young lady dress up as a maid) but more about the funny shops and games you will find there.

I went to Akihabara to please the hubby, but now I think this is something you must see with your own eyes. From the gamers at the Sega tower, to the claw crane (which I prefer), this neighborhood is one of the fun aspects of Tokyo. Take a picture in a “Purikura” photo booth, where all the young Japanese girls customize pictures with friends!

Next time !

3 other things that I plan to do for my next trip to Japan: Yayoi Kusama Museum, watch the Sumo at Ryoguku Kokugikan, Gotoku-ji (Maneki neko temple) & Tokyo DisneySea.

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