Tokyo is famous for its fresh, quality sushi, and the best place to get your hands on some is Tsukiji Fish Market. You don’t have to wake up early to enjoy the cheap and delicious eats found here, but earlier is still better: many sushi restaurants here do open up with the market and can sell out fast.
The well worn historic neighborhood of Asakusa and Senso-ji are a must on every traveler’s list, because there’s nothing else quite like it in Tokyo. This ancient temple and its iconic red lantern, along with the Nakamise shopping street set up along the approach, will take you back to old Japan.
The stylish districts Harajuku, Omotesando and Aoyama can be explored in a single day. Harajuku and the famous Takeshita-dori are the place to go for offbeat fashions and knickknacks. Admire the stunning architecture and shop high end brands in Omotesando, and then finish up in the art galleries and cafes of cultured Aoyama.
The Meguro River lends Naka-Meguro a special charm. Here, you’ll find cool cafes, restaurants and the odd boutique selling goods for the modern flower child. Its classier neighbor Daikanyama is popular with locals. It’s an upscale neighborhood characterized by winding lanes, one of a kind specialty shops and really great dining.
Tokyo’s Electric Town still wows visitors with the sheer volume of anime, manga and gaming paraphernalia available. You can find anything you need to complete your collection, from DVDs, detailed figurines and costumes to magazines, manga and an endless supply of knickknacks – badges, phone traps, clothes and more. This is also the place to go to check out Tokyo’s quirky maid cafes.
Historically, the shitamachi (low city) was a place where the less affluent worked and lived. Today, there are few places left in Tokyo where you can experience the old world, and Yanaka Ginza shopping district is one of them. The staircase here is famous among locals, and has been featured on TV and in movies.
Ryogoku is the capital of sumo culture in Tokyo. Take in a match at the Ryogoku Kokugikan or learn the history of the sport at the Sumo Museum. The district is also home to a large number of little known historical landmarks and sumo stables, some of which might let you watch the early morning practices for free.
You can easily spend an entire day at Ueno, Tokyo’s largest park. It’s here you’ll find the Tokyo National Museum, the city’s most famous art museum, along with the National Museum of Western Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and the underrated Shitamachi Museum, among others. Spend an afternoon museum hopping and finish up with a picnic in the park.
The nightlife in Shibuya is unrivaled, and visitors are spoiled for choice. You can choose to spend an evening sipping cocktails thirty floors up or rocking out at an underground DJ bar. Or share a pint with the locals at the Showa Era bars by the tracks or before checking out the local clubs and live houses.
Colorful and lively Takeshita Street is located in Harajuku and is one of the district’s most iconic attractions. The shopping area is packed with small shops and vendors selling offbeat fashions, quirky souvenirs, and everything kawaii.
Kabuki is a traditional Japanese dance drama, using elaborate costumes, makeup and sets to wow audiences. The recently rebuilt Kabuki-za is the chief kabuki theater in the region and still retains its traditional charms.
Tours of the Imperial Palace grounds must be booked in advance, but the Imperial Palace East Garden is open to visitors year-round. On the other side of the moat, Chidori-ga-fuchi is a popular cherry blossom gazing spot.
This shrine was built in honor of the Meiji Emperor and his wife, Empress Shoken. With its thickly wooded grounds, skyscraping torii, and proximity to Harajuku, Omotesando, and Shibuya Stations, it’s easy to see why it remains one of the city’s most popular Shinto shrines.
This traditional Japanese strolling garden was once the property of the Tokugawa Clan, the former shoguns of Edo. Don’t forget to visit the antique teahouse located within its walls, Nakajima no Ochaya, for the full experience.
Shibuya Crossing is known as the busiest pedestrian scramble in the world in terms of foot traffic. It’s the perfect starting point to any exploration further into the district.
The Yomiuri Giants, Japan’s oldest professional baseball team, call the Tokyo Dome home. But the multipurpose structure also hosts concerts and other sporting events as well. Catch a game rain or shine, or spend an hour browsing the nearby Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.
If you’re happily tattoo-free, make your way to Oedo Onsen Monogatari for a traditional-meets-modern onsen (hot spring) experience. This Edo-themed onsen park lends out colorful yukata to all guests and invites visitors to experience Old Japan in their wading pools, hot springs, dining halls and festival atmosphere.
Mount Fuji is beautiful from afar, but neighboring Mitake-san is in a class of its own. Embark on a breathtaking hike to the summit, stopping to shop and dine at the nearby village, and pay your respects at the ancient Shinto shrine.
Golden Gai is a collection of narrow alleys and two-story bars, a rare sight in the metropolis of Shinjuku. Most are so small they can only accommodate a handful of customers, which is the reasoning behind the hefty seating charges. It has mostly been taken over by visitors in recent years, but you’ll still encounter the odd locals-only signage or chilly reception now and then.
For more things to do visit our article on Tokyo attractions.