Exciting Places to Go in Tokyo: Complete Neighbourhoods Guide (+ Around the Olympic Venues)

If shopping were an Olympic sport, Shibuya and Ginza would be the best places to go in Tokyo to watch eager shoppers compete!” ~ Alyse. My guess is if you’re reading this, you might be planning a trip to...

Exciting Places to Go in Tokyo: Complete Neighbourhoods Guide (+ Around the Olympic Venues)

If shopping were an Olympic sport, Shibuya and Ginza would be the best places to go in Tokyo to watch eager shoppers compete!” ~ Alyse.

My guess is if you’re reading this, you might be planning a trip to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics – yay! Even if you’re not visiting during this massive event, Japan’s capital city is one of the world’s largest so trying to figure out the best places to go in Tokyo during your visit might seem overwhelming. Give yourself permission to breathe a huge sigh of relief because I’m here to assure you it doesn’t have to be as daunting as you think!

Sure, you’ve likely heard of some popular Tokyo attractions such as Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo Tower, Meiji Shrine and Senso-ji. Oh, and there’s those popular images of teamLab Borderless and Harajuku colourfully floating around on social media as well! But where are all these places in relation to each other? Where do you start in order to create the ideal Tokyo itinerary

I love to blend in amongst locals as best as possible during my travels, especially in a crowded city like Tokyo. Luckily for you I’ve spent a fair amount of time exploring the nooks and crannies of many Tokyo neighbourhoods and I’m about to share my findings to help you “be invisible”, too. After all, heading to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime experience so you’ll want to have a more authentic adventure to make the most of your trip.

I’ve put together this detailed neighbourhood guide to help you decide on the best places to visit in Tokyo and some ideas for what to do around the Olympic venues. If you’re keen to learn about the best things to do in Tokyo by area to simplify your trip planning, read on for more!

This Tokyo neighbourhoods guide will cover: 

How to get around in Tokyo Tokyo public transport differences & passes Neighbourhoods guide: Exciting places to go in Tokyo Shinjuku* Odaiba* Minato  Asakusa & Sumida* Tokyo Station Area* Shibuya* Harajuku Ginza Ueno Akihabara Chōfu*

* Indicates neighbourhood with Olympic Venues.


This post is sponsored by Klook. As always, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. I may receive a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

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How to get around in Tokyo

Japan’s bustling capital is incredibly well connected by public transport: train, bus and light rail. It’s so immense that walking between many of the neighbourhoods I mention below is just not practical – it’s like a city of cities! In saying that, there are 13 train lines spanning Tokyo, making it easy to get to your desired destination. 

Tokyo public transport differences & passes

As the train system is confusing to many first-time visitors, here is a quick overview of the train services in Tokyo:

JR East train lines: These are owned and operated by Japan Rail (JR). They run within the city and if you’re travelling outside of Tokyo, it’s likely you’ll use JR lines to get where you need to go. The JR Pass usually covers these journeys (find out what it doesn’t cover in my 2 week Japan itinerary). Tokyo Metro: Look out for the logo of a large white “M” on a blue background. Tokyo Metro Co., Ltd is a private company owned by the Japanese and Tokyo metropolitan governments, serving the greater Tokyo region. The JR Pass does not cover journeys on these train lines. Toei Subway: Owned by the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation, the Toei Subway logo is a green ginkgo leaf shape on a white background. It also operates some light rail options. The JR Pass does not cover journeys on these lines. 

Over and over in Japan travel forums I see potential visitors ask whether they should purchase the Japan Rail Pass in advance for Tokyo, with the answers usually overwhelmingly in favour. But honestly, as I’ve mentioned above the JR Pass will only cover journeys on their own lines (with some exceptions). 

TIP: The cost of the Japan Rail Pass isn’t justified if you’re just visiting one city. 

If you’re only spending your time in Tokyo, I’d suggest pre-purchasing a reloadable Suica (IC) card or Tokyo Subway Pass to use on the Tokyo Metro (subway), buses and some light rail. If you do plan on visiting other cities in Japan, the Japan Rail Pass could be for you! Make sure to calculate the cost of the journeys you plan to undertake to ensure the JR Pass will be a worthwhile investment.

Tokyo Neighbourhoods guide: Exciting places to go in Tokyo (including around the Olympic venues)

Each Tokyo ward is exciting and intriguing for different reasons. Showcasing exquisite examples of traditional architecture from centuries past as well as modern marvels that make up the city skyline, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been teleported back to the Edo period one moment then catapulted into the future the next, simply by walking a few streets away. 

During the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the venues are divided into two categories on this map: The Heritage Zone and Tokyo Bay Zone. There are so many exciting places to go in Tokyo so I’ve made things easy by breaking them down into the best things to do in each neighbourhood, including those with Olympic venues. Keep your eyes peeled for my personal tips and tricks I’ve sprinkled throughout this Tokyo travel guide, too!

TIP: If you’re hoping to visit during the cherry blossom season, my detailed guide to spring in Japan is packed with tips for more places to go, alternatives to popular spots, what to pack and how to avoid the huge crowds!

SHINJUKU

You may already be familiar with the Shinjuku area of Tokyo without even knowing. Shinjuku is synonymous with moody night shots of vibrant neon lights, bustling streets intertwined with narrow alleyways, hole-in-the-wall eateries and Godzilla (yes, I’m serious). It’s definitely one of the best places to go in Tokyo at night.

The Shinjuku area is where the Tokyo National Stadium is located. Despite being the main stadium during the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games, the National Stadium was demolished to make way for a bigger and better new stadium to host the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Main Olympic Venues in Shinjuku

Tokyo National Stadium: Opening & Closing Ceremonies, Athletics, Football Yoyogi National Stadium: Handball Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium: Table Tennis

Places to go in Shinjuku

Have you heard of the Mystery Mailbox Experience? Let your competitive streak shine through with your friends (or by yourself) with this game of riddles that will have you solving clues and puzzles throughout Shinjuku. What an interesting way to explore the area! Buy Mystery Mailbox puzzle kit here. For an “only in Tokyo” experience, make sure you visit the famous Robot Restaurant. Yes, it’s touristy which is something I sometimes avoid, but to me the touritsy-ness of this place is what made it so fun! It’s one of those rare chances to fully embrace being a tourist and enjoy the crazy show for what it is. Book your Robot Restaurant tickets in advance to select the time slot that suits you. Dress up in samurai armour and helmets at the Samurai Museum. Buy discount Samurai Museum tickets here. Head to Kuronde Sake Market to become acquainted with sake! They offer an all-you-can-drink option in Shinjuku to sample over 100 different types of Japan’s national beverage for you to become a connoisseur in no time. It’s BYO snacks, too. Book your Koronde Sake Market tickets here. Shinjuku Gyoen is one of the nicest places to go in Tokyo to escape from the hustle and bustle. It’s so peaceful you can’t help but feel like you’re miles away from the city, but the tall skyscrapers nearby  peeping over the treetops serve as a little reminder that you’re not. Enjoy exploring the three kinds of landscaped gardens here – Japanese, French and English. Some of the city’s best nightlife can be found in the Golden Gai – a collection of street blocks with over 200 small bars squeezed into a small area. And by small, I mean only seat a maximum of 8 people! Eat some grilled delicacies at Omoide Yochoko. Also known as Memory Lane or Piss Alley, this narrow (and usually smoky) alleyway is a popular photo spot due to its hole-in-the-wall bars and yakitori skewer joints beneath illuminated lanterns. Lap up the cheap beer and sake! For a free view over Tokyo, many tourists visit the observation deck at the Metropolitan Government Building. As you don’t need to pay, be prepared to face some crowds. Spy the massive Godzilla peering down at the crowds below from his home on the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku. Sometimes on the hour his eyes turn into flashing blue laser beams, haha. Learn how to be a ninja by transforming into one at the Ninja Trick House in Kabuki-cho. Try your hand at throwing shuriken (ninja star weapons) and sword fighting! Visiting a noisy and crowded Pachinko parlour is one of the alternative things to do in Tokyo. Often described as vertical pinball machines, Pachinko is a popular game amongst locals and the MARUHAN parlour is a favourite with tourists.

ODAIBA

I have the feeling Odaiba flew under the radar of many tourists for quite some time, until the area shot to fame as home to the crazy-popular teamLab Borderless exhibition.

Aside from this, there are a number of exciting places to go in Odaiba if you’re looking to fill some time in between the Olympic aquatic events and triathlon held here.

With all the below options, it’s one of the most fun places to go in Tokyo!

Main Olympic Venues in Odaiba

Odaiba Marine Park: Aquatics (Marathon Swimming) and Triathlon

Places to go in Odaiba

Dedicate a few hours to enjoy the crazy-popular teamLab Borderless exhibition. Tickets become available up to two months in advance to avoid disappointment! Book your teamLab Borderless tickets in advance here and check out my tips for avoiding waiting in the huge lineup in my 6 days in Tokyo itinerary. Unleash your inner child at the LegoLand Discovery Centre. As you could imagine, there are dozens of Tokyo attractions and landmarks created from Lego on display. Buy your LegoLand tickets in advance here. For museum lovers, spend some time exploring the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. Onsen lovers will enjoy popular Oedo-Onsen-Monogatari, the largest hot spring theme park in the country, right here in Odaiba! Buy tickets in advance to Oedo-Onsen-Monogatari. Hop on the massive SkyWheel Ferris Wheel at Palette Town or visit the Hachitama Spherical Observation Room in the Fuji Television headquarters for sweeping views over Tokyo Bay. Don’t miss Toyota Mega Web if you’re a car enthusiast (or even if you aren’t)! Here you can make your way through a number of interactive exhibits including go-karting, test driving new models and a 4D driving experience. You’ll also see an impressive collection of Toyota cars dating back to the 1960’s and watch skilled mechanics restore them to their former glory. Pay a visit to the Statue of Liberty. You read that correctly! This replica was only meant to be temporary to celebrate “The French Year in Japan (1998), however it was so popular it was allowed to become permanent. In mid-January 2020, a new attraction was installed at Odaiba Marine Park – a 15 metre-high  monument of the Olympic rings floating in Tokyo Bay! With the iconic Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower as a backdrop, it’s definitely a great place to go in Tokyo during the Olympics. You can spot it while walking along the shores of Odaiba Beach.

MINATO 

The Minato area has an old meets new vibe, with its traditional wooden buildings juxtaposed against modern steel landmarks. In my opinion the best places to go in Minato surround the instantly recognisable Tokyo Tower. Undoubtedly, the red-and-white attraction modelled off the Eiffel Tower is the star of the show in this neighbourhood and you can’t help but see it piercing the skyline. 

As usual, gifts from the past are never far away with the impressive and original entrance gate to Zojo-ji still standing after four centuries.

Places to go in Minato

Head up to the Main or Top observation decks of Tokyo Tower for a bird’s eye view across the city skyline (and even the ground though the glass-bottomed floor)! Buy Tokyo Tower Observation Deck tickets here. For a view of the city skyline including the Tokyo Tower (because you’re not on it) go to the Roppongi Hills Tokyo City View Observation Deck located within the Mori Tower. The Mori Art Museum is within the building, too buy Tokyo City View tickets here. Spend some time reflecting at Zojo-ji Temple. While the temple itself is a relatively new construction, the entry gate dates back to 1622 and has endured many earthquakes, fires and wars to be standing today. The hundreds (if not thousands) of jizo statues lined throughout the temple grounds really pulled at my heartstrings as each represents a child that died before their parent. On the way back from Zojo-ji temple, take a detour through the Shiba Park and rose garden to enjoy the sweet fragrances.

ASAKUSA & SUMIDA

Alluring Asakusa is one of the best places to go in Tokyo to soak up Japanese culture and tradition. Proudly sitting at the neighbourhood’s heart since the 7th century is the incredible Senso-ji Temple, the oldest in the city and a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. 

With no shortage of places to eat, Asakusa is a great place to go in Tokyo for traditional Japanese treats and snacks. It’s possible to literally eat your way along Nakamise Shopping Street up to Senso-ji Temple, the aromas of fresh manju (Japanese cake with sweet red bean filling) and senbei (Japanese rice crackers) wafting through the air to lead you.

TIP: An enjoyable way to reach Asakusa from Ginza is by taking a river cruise. Catch the ferry from Hamarikyu Gardens and enjoy the scenic journey up the Sumida River. The ferry will dock at Hinode Pier, opposite Asahi’s headquarters – the iconic beer-shaped building in front of the Tokyo Skytree.

Main Olympic Venues in Asakusa

Kogugikan Arena: Boxing

Places to go in Asakusa & Sumida

Begin your journey on foot to Senso-ji Temple, an unmissable Tokyo attraction. Enter via the Thunder Gate Kaminarimon with the huge red lantern suspended between two fierce gods who defend the temple. Don’t forget to look underneath the lantern to admire the intricate wooden carving of a dragon! YOu can even dress up in samurai armour to visit this iconic attraction. Book your samurai experience here. Walk along Nakamise Shopping Street that leads up to Senso-ji temple. Pick up some local souvenirs such as Daruma dolls and omamori (lucky charms) – more about these in my guide to traditional souvenirs from Japan. Matcha ice cream is another popular treat here, just remember not to walk and eat as this is deemed to be bad etiquette in Japan.

TIP: Towards the end of Nakamise Shopping street and before entering Senso-ji’s second gate, Hozomon, look towards the left to see Senso-ji’s founding tale unfold on large wooden storyboards. The painted characters each played a part in Senso-ji’s early story.

Drop by the small Asakusa Shrine, unlike Senso-ji it survived the firebombing of Tokyo during WWII. Learn how to be come a ninja at Ninja Café & Bar for a unique experience then enjoy all these sights dressed as a ninja on a guided Asakusa walking tour. Book Ninja Café & walking tour tickets here. If arriving by ferry from Hamarikyu Gardens, you’ll be able to have a laugh at the Asahi Beer Tower and Super Dry Hall. The Asahi Beer Tower is said to represent a pint of beer with foam on the surface, while the unusual gold-shaped thing atop the Super Dry Hall is supposed to represent a flame. But, the so-called flame has been dubbed as the “Golden Turd” for obvious reasons! Head across the river to the Tokyo Skytree in Sumida for amazing views over the city at the Skytree Observation deck. On a clear day, Mt Fuji is visible from here. Buy SkyTree skip-the-line tickets here.

TOKYO STATION AREA

Dating back to 1914, Tokyo Station is now over 100 years old and is an attraction in itself! It’s so huge it needs to be referred to in two sections, the Yaesu side and the Marunouchi side (here’s a map to show its size). The beautiful building has become a Tokyo icon and is a must-see during any visit.

It’s rumoured that Tokyo Station was modelled after the stunning Amsterdam Centraal Station in the Netherlands. With its windows decorated with white brick against a contrasting red background, it’s easy to see why some people draw similarities between the two! 

Although, this is not entirely true as much of the station was destroyed during the firebombing of Tokyo during WWII. When it was quickly rebuilt a year later, the impressive domed roof details were replaced by angular shapes which has led people to compare the station building to its counterpart in Amsterdam. 

In and around the station are oodles of places to purchase Japanese souvenirs and places to eat scrumptious, authentic food. The Tokyo Station area will be a great place to fill in some time as there are two stadiums hosting Olympic events nearby.

Main Olympic Venues near Tokyo Station Area

Nippon Budokan Stadium: Judo, Karate  Tokyo International Forum: Weightlifting Credit: Pixabay

Places to go in and around Tokyo Station

Visit Tokyo Station to pick up its signature souvenir, a sweet treat called Tokyo Banana. These are delicious banana-shaped cakes with cream filling and they make popular gifts. Head to Character Street within the station for kawaii toys. There are 30 shops dedicated entirely to Japanese cartoon characters, anime and manga. It’s the place to go for everything Hello Kitty, Pokemon and Lego related. Feeling hungry? Within the Tokyo Station underground is Ramen Street, a little corner of ramen shops. It’s argued here is where you’ll taste the best ramen in Tokyo! If you’re all ramen-ed out, nearby Marunochi Brick Square is the place to go for European dishes. To the station’s west lies the grounds of Tokyo Imperial Palace East Gardens, a lovely place to explore and walk in the Emperor’s footsteps. As the name suggests, make your way to Bic Camera if you’re looking to buy a new camera or gear. It also sells other electronics, cosmetics, medicines and gaming consoles. This free tourist voucher offers up to 7% off your purchases! Credit: Pixabay

SHIBUYA

Home to the world-famous Shibuya Crossing (known locally as the “Scramble”), Shibuya is my personal favourite place to go in Tokyo. I love the rush of 3,000 people crossing the Scramble at any one time, for me it’s one of those “only in Tokyo” moments that never fails to give me goosebumps. 

Of course, there is much more to Shibuya than the world’s busiest crossing. It’s relatively close proximity to Shinjuku and popular Harajuku makes it a perfect place to base yourself during your stay. To me, Shibuya is one of the best places to walk around in Tokyo as there is something different to discover around each corner.

Absolutely packed with retailers from high-end Otomosando street to smaller boutiques in the many laneways, if shopping were to become an Olympic sport Shibuya would be one of the best places to go in Tokyo to watch eager shoppers compete!

Main Olympic Venues in Shibuya

Equestrian Park: Dressage, Eventing and Jumping

Places to go in Shibuya

Head to Kuronde Sake Market to become acquainted with sake! They offer an all-you-can-drink option in Shibuya to sample over 100 different types of Japan’s national beverage for you to become a connoisseur in no time. It’s BYO snacks, too. Book your Koronde Sake Market tickets here. Shop up a storm at Shibuya 109, the iconic tower backdrop to Shibuya Crossing. It feels like a never-ending tower packed with women’s trendy clothing and shoe stores. Check out one of Tokyo’s newest attractions, Shibuya Sky at Shibuya Scramble Square. This 229-metre high rooftop observation deck towers over Shibuya Crossing below and has 360 degree views over the city’s enormous expanse. If you’re lucky it’s possible to see Mt Fuji from here off in the distance. Window shop (or shop for real) along Omotesando for luxury designer brands or get lost amongst the narrow backstreets behind Meiji-dori lined with mid-range retailers and boutiques. For thrift lovers, don’t miss Don Don Town on Wednesday for pre-loved clothing and accessories. It’s isn’t only open on Wednesdays by the way, that’s just it’s name for some reason! Pay a visit to the Hachiko Statue and mural outside the station. These beloved Shibuya attractions pay tribute to a loyal dog who continued to wait by the station for his owner who sadly never came home. Check into one of the many hotels on Love Hotel Hill for an hour or two. Sink your teeth into mouth-watering wagyu beef at an izakaya (Japanese pub) like Kirin City or my all-time favourite Han no Daidokoro. Shibuya’s answer to Shinjuku’s Omoide Yochoko is Nonbei Yochoko. Running alongside the train tracks is yet more narrow alleyways lined with tiny bars and eateries. Funnily enough this one is known colloquially as Drunkard’s Alley.

HARAJUKU

On hearing the word Harajuku, some of the first things that spring to mind are rainbow grilled cheese, fairy floss bigger than your head, kawaii (cute) fashion and weirdly themed cafés. It’s THE trendy place to be seen in Tokyo and is very popular with Japanese teens and tourists alike.

While Harajuku is a modern and cool place to visit in Tokyo, in true Japanese fashion you don’t need to go far to enjoy history and tradition. Nestled behind Harajuku station is the entrance to Meiji Shrine Meiji-jingu. It’s one of Tokyo’s most beloved Shinto shrines (Japan’s original ancient religion) and is dedicated to the souls of Emperor Meiji and his wife. 

The shrine itself is surrounded by a stunning forest and the Inner Garden is said to have existed long before Meiji Shrine was established 100 years ago. 

TIP: If you happen to visit in early June, Meiji-jingu’s Inner Garden explodes with over 1,500 purple iris flowers – a sight not to be missed!

Places to go in Harajuku

Have you even been to Harajuku if you haven’t explored buzzing Takeshita-dori (Takeshita Street)? The street’s entrance from Harajuku Station is decorated with balloons that change frequently so it’s hard to miss. Head here for pastel fairy floss bigger than your head at Totti Candy Factory, Le Shiner for rainbow grilled cheese sandwiches and Santa Monica Crèpes to be overwhelmed by a selection of fillings! My personal favourite is Café Ron Ron, a miniature dessert train – one of the best secret spots in Tokyo! If trying famous Japanese soufflé pancakes is up your alley, Happy Pancake is for you! I went to Happy Pancake in Hiroshima and it was really good. Hit up the stores on and around Takeshita Street for your favourite cosplay outfits, crazy sunglasses, Hello Kitty everything and kawaii clothing, backpacks and much more. Try not to block the escalators too long when taking a photo with the crazy geometric mirrors of the Tokyu Plaza entrance! Prefer hipster over kawaii fashion? Don’t forget to take a detour off Takeshita Street and onto edgy Cat Street for trendy fashion boutiques and cafes. The little laneways that branch off Cat Street are fun to explore without the crowds, too. No visit to Harajuku is complete without a visit to the area’s most beloved shrine, Meiji-jingu. Get off the beaten path in Harajuku and escape crowds at Togo Shrine. With a peaceful carp pond and landscaped gardens, the shrine celebrates Japanese navy admiral Heihachiro Togo. He led Japan to victory over Russia in the Russo-Japanese war (the first non-Western admiral in history to do so).

GINZA

Known for upmarket shopping and the most expensive real estate in Japan, Ginza is the place to head for fancy bars, retailers and department stores. Architecture lovers will delight in the different styles dotted throughout the neighbourhood, with a scattering of buildings from the Meiji era and large stone structures reminiscent of pre-war Tokyo.

Some of the quirkiest architecture styles can be found along Chuo-dori (high street) with the likes of international luxury brands such as Prada, Dior, Gucci, Fendi, Louis Vuitton and more appearing to have been sent here from the distant future. The geometric design of the “Dear Ginza” building is an interesting sight to see.

Places to go in Ginza

Enjoy a fresh seafood breakfast at one (or many) of the stalls that make up the Tsukiji Outer Market. In October 2018 the world-famous tuna auctions held within the Tsukiji Inner Market were relocated to Toyoso, but the outer market still remains. It’s famed for seemingly endless and narrow laneways of fresh seafood stalls. Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette) is another popular choice here. Prefer a local to show you around? Book a private Tsukiji Fish Market foodie tour with a local guide here. If you prefer to get your teeth into some world-class wagyu beef, get yourself a table at Miyashita Restaurant to enjoy A5 Koruge wagyu either teppanyaki or sukiyaki style. Reserve a table at Miyashita here. Is experiencing a Michelin-starred restaurant on your list of places to go in Tokyo? Ginza Ibuka allows you to dine in a traditional kaiseki setting. Reserve a table at Ginza Ibuki here. Stop for a photo by the iconic Hattori Clock Tower perched above Wako department store. This huge and curved art deco building was one of the few in the area that remained standing after WWII.  Get a feel of London’s Piccadilly Circus with Tokyo’s answer to electronic billboards topping the Ricoh building. Keep your eyes peeled for real cats sleeping on some of the street signs. Yes, I’m serious!  Take a detour to Ginza Six to enjoy the Rooftop Garden and browse some of the 240 shops and restaurants. For a more casual setting, head to the Yurakucho area under the train tracks to grab a bite to eat at an izakaya.  Escape the busy shoppers and take some time out in nearby Hamarikyu Gardens. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and feature a traditional teahouse overlooking a seawater pond. It’s a great place to relax, recharge and enjoy some matcha tea.

TIP: If you visit the teahouse during the summer heat, opt for the iced matcha tea to help you cool off!

UENO

Packed with cultural sights and museums, the Ueno neighbourhood is widely known for its spacious park and Ueno Zoo. Additionally, running alongside the train tracks of JR East Okachimachi Station is a sprawling open-air market named Ameya Yokocho, or Ameyoko. 

After WWII, the Ameyoko area was actually established as a black market but has today evolved into a much-loved shopping destination for locals and tourists.

Wth 400 stores crammed into the area selling fashion, accessories, fresh seafood and produce, I had so much fun exploring the area and taking in the different smells of freshly-cooked yakitori (grilled chicken) and takoyaki (octopus balls). 

While Ueno isn’t hosting any Olympic events, I found souvenirs to be cheaper here than other neighbourhoods, so it’s the perfect place to go in Tokyo if you’re on the hunt for a good deal.

Places to go in Ueno

Enjoy some leisure time in Japan’s first public park, Ueno Park. Why not hire a kimono and enjoy the surroundings in traditional dress? Keep your eye out for the centuries-old “Moon Pine” at Kiyomizu Kannon-do and the incredible details of Toshogu Shrine! Take in the serene atmosphere at Marishiten Tokodai-ji Temple or Bentendo Temple, surrounded by a pond of dense lotus flowers. At Nezu Shrine you’ll find vermilion torii gates like the famous ones of Fushimi Inari Taisha lining the mountain in Kyoto. Check out the exciting Museum of Western Art, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum or Tokyo National Museum of Nature & Science (buy tickets here). Head to Kuronde Sake Market to become acquainted with sake! They offer an all-you-can-drink option in Ueno to sample over 100 different types of Japan’s national beverage for you to become a connoisseur in no time. It’s BYO snacks, too. Book your Koronde Sake Market tickets here. Go souvenir shopping in the retro area of Ameya Yokocho, an open-air market that evolved after WWII. I was able to hunt down the perfect sukajan (Japanese bomber jacket) at the FITS store! Nearby Kappabashi is a chef’s heaven. Shop here for knives or window shop the incredibly-realistic plastic food replicas. I personally haven’t visited Ueno Zoo so can’t comment on the animals’ conditions, but be sure to research this one if you’re planning to visit.

AKIHABARA

Bright lights, dominating billboards and an overwhelming number of fascinating stores crammed together, Akihabara is the place to go in Tokyo if you’re searching for electronics, are an anime lover or want to have the whole “themed cafe” experience. 

It’s easy to spend 1 day in Akihabara exploring so-called Electric Town. With a number of unusual things to see and do and some of the strangest places to eat in Tokyo, Akihabara easily ticks off items of any obscure attractions list!

Super Potato, Akihabara

Places to go in Akihabara

A sure-fire place to experience all kinds of weird and wonderful in Akihabara is a themed café or izakaya. While Akihabara is known for quirky maid cafés you’ll also discover there are many kinds of themes, it would take an age to visit them all! Themed cafés in Akihabara include: Popular maid cafés such as MaiDreamin’ (tickets here) and @Home Little TGV a train-themed izakaya, where dishes look like shinkansen (bullet trains) Anime Song DJ Bar Alchemist for cartoon lovers Shinobaizu Ninja Café where kunoichi (female ninjas) serve ninja-related dishes. Head to Kuronde Sake Market to become acquainted with sake! They offer an all-you-can-drink option in Ahihabara to sample over 100 different types of Japan’s national beverage for you to become a connoisseur in no time. It’s BYO snacks, too. Book your Koronde Sake Market tickets here. For a nostalgic throwback to the 90’s don’t miss Super Potato. I’m not quite sure what potatoes have to do with this place but it’s SO much fun going through the aisles of second-hand video games and consoles in near-perfect condition! The little added bonus is the sounds of Super Mario playing in the background.  Take a browse through Janpara for discounted high-tech gadgets and iPhones. Visit Kanda Myojin Shrine, popular with anime fans as it’s said to be associated with the Japanese cartoons. Play some of the many games within the SEGA building. The iconic red structure is like a gaming arcade and includes video games, driving games, UFO catching games and more. The largest anime store in the country (and arguably the world) is here, called Mandarake. Its 8-storeys are packed with the largest collection of second-hand anime and manga related products.  

TIP: On the note of themed cafés, popular places in Akihabara (and Japan in general) I don’t recommend visiting are ones with animals. These cafés have never sat right with me due to ethical concerns so I have not personally visited any to see if there are animal welfare risks. For instance, in recent years several owl cafés have shut down to mistreatment of the birds. If you really want to visit an animal café in Akihabara and beyond, please do a little research first and consider these kinder alternatives instead.

CHŌFU

Located on Tokyo’s western outskirts, Chofu is playing host to a number of events during the 2020 Olympics. Outside of the Games, the main drawcard to Chofu is flea markets and events such as concerts held at Ajinomoto Stadium. There is also an airport that services small islands in Tokyo’s south and the area has a small-town feel.

Main Olympic Venues in Chōfu

Tokyo Ajinamoto Stadium: Olympic Football, Rugby, Modern Pentathlon (Swimming, Fencing, Riding, Laser Run)

Places to go in Chofu

Visit Chofu’s star attraction, Jindai Botanical Garden. With landscaped gardens featuring different flower varieties that bloom through all seasons, it’s a lovely place to visit in Tokyo year-round. Spend some time exploring the grounds of Jindai-ji. The Buddhist temple is Tokyo’s second-oldest after Senso-ji, dating back to the 8th century. Manicured gardens surrounding the temple are immaculate and a traditional thatched roof adorns a small building. The temple’s main wooden gate has been standing since 1695. Eat some authentic soba noodles at a family-run restaurant beside Jindai-ji.

Concluding the best places to visit in Tokyo

That’s a wrap for the most exciting and interesting places to go in Tokyo! As an incredible city full of contrasts, you’re bound to find historical to modern things to do (and everything in between). Regardless of whether your trip will coincide with the Olympics or not, I hope this Tokyo neighbourhood guide has inspired you to try some new activities and immerse yourself in unique cultural experiences.

While you’re visiting this amazing city, why not find learn about some amazing day trips from Tokyo or secret hidden gems in Tokyo in my detailed guides? I’m sure there will be a few you haven’t heard of before!

How many of these activities or places to visit in Tokyo will you add to your itinerary? Let me know in the comments below! If you’re after more inspiration, I have many more travel guides and itineraries here on my Japan travel blogFrom finding hidden gems, detailed city guides, best time to visit for cherry blossoms and more, I have your 2 week itinerary and 3 week Japan itinerary covered.

As this guide to Tokyo forms part of my series on Japan’s Golden Route, if you’re interested take a look at my separate guides for Japan’s off the beaten path destinations, hidden gems and reviews of cultural experiences I’ve enjoyed once you’re done here.

If you found this helpful please share it with your friends or come and join me on Facebook, PinterestInstagram and Bloglovin’ for more Japan inspiration!

Until next time,

The Invisible Tourist


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 Neighbourhood Guide + Olympic Venues | The Invisible Tourist

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