How do I even begin? Tokyo is one of those places that even though we have visited four times, we still keep finding new things to do. I really don’t know if I will ever get sick of this city, and I think that is proven by the fact that we are already planning our fifth visit back!
The public transport in Tokyo is so easy and efficient that it allows you to visit places outside the main city, which I believe is a huge reason why our list is never ending.
Remember that things always take longer than expected on holiday, and this is even more the case in Japan, as for most things you will end up waiting in line. When it comes to fitting in food as well – most places don’t open until 11AM, so this often sets your day back as well.
My best advice: arrive with a plan.
Here are some of my favourite things to do in Tokyo.
If you are like me and have seen a million photos of this art museum, you’ll know why this is on my list. If you haven’t heard of it, if you want to spend the day feeling like a kid again, this is the place for you.
teamLab Borderless was created by a group of ultra-technologists who joined forces to create this mixture of art, science, technology and design. In basic terms, the best way I can describe this art museum is as an interactive light show. I hate to dumb it down to that because what went on behind the scenes to create this would have been phenomenal.
Put aside half a day for this if you can, it took us an hour to get there and then we spent 2 hours inside. We definitely could have spent much longer in there as well if we decided to wait in the 1.5 hour line for the forest of resonating lamps. This might sound like a lot of time to put aside for an ‘art museum’ but trust me when I say it is worth it.
Be sure to book your tickets in advance online as this is an extremely popular place to visit and once the maximum amount of tickets are sold, no more tickets can be purchased at the venue.
Check out these two blogs below as they really helped me when I was planning my trip there.
This is a must! I have been 3 times and it is one of the first things I recommend to people visiting Tokyo. Each time we have been it has been different so even if you’ve been before, I still suggest going again!
Arrive early as they have a decorated room for drinks before the show starts. It is too hard to explain, so see my photos below to get an idea of how amazing this room is. I always recommend this as a great night out with drinks. I’ll be honest – this is a weird and wacky show, so having a few beers in you isn’t a bad thing!
Despite the name I wouldn’t recommend eating there. As much as this is called a restaurant, it is actually a show. They do offer food, but stick to the popcorn and beers and enjoy a great dinner out in Shinjuku before or after your show.
TIP: Make sure to book in advance. We always book once we are there for a few nights ahead, as you can get great discount coupons from most hotels (make sure to bring these along as they won’t honour the discount if you don’t bring the coupon). If you are only in Tokyo for a short time and need to book prior to your arrival, you can book online.
Want to see some bright red torii gates but don’t have time to go to Kyoto? Well, you’re in luck because both Nezu and Hie Shrine have beautiful torii gates for you to see.
Check out my Shrines to visit in Tokyo blog to find out more.
Takeshita Street, Harajuku
Harajuku is another must in Tokyo. A great place to shop and experience Harajuku is by tackling the famous Takeshita street. Get ready to witness the crowds of Tokyo all down one street, but it’s totally worth it. There are so many great places to shop here, from boutique clothes stores, vintage shops, souvenir shops with the quirkiest stuff you’ve ever seen, and the list goes on. If you’re lucky you will also see some of the amazing Harajuku Fashion up close and personal.
For a first timer this is a great one to cross off the list when visiting Shibuya. The busiest crossing in the world. You can get a great view from above at the Starbucks across the road.
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Tokyo during sumo season, stop what you are doing and book your tickets right now. I never expected to enjoy this as much as I did, but the whole event was something to remember. Be prepared to be uncomfortable as like the most of japan, your allocated area will be small. I have to admit though, this added to the excitement as we were able to get involved with the locals seated next to us cheering for their favourite wrestlers.
A cute little area to visit to grab a coffee or bite to eat. Yoyogi village was set up as an escape from the massive metropolis of Tokyo and each time we have visited has been over winter, specifically Christmas time, and they decorate the village in the sweetest way. Check out my photos below.
Akihabara is most well know for being the hub of all things electronics. It is the place to visit if you’re looking for anime, video games, manga, souvenirs. There are also maid cafes here, and if you haven’t read what these are..go look it up. We have never been, but it looks like an interesting experience.
Shop for vintage clothing, Shimokitazawa
Shimokitazawa (Shimokita) may just be my favourite area of Tokyo, along with Harajuku. Shimokita seems to have avoided the big chain stores that can be found in every other area, and has stayed very unique. It is sort of disheveled but as if it’s supposed to be like that.
Here you will find all things vintage. Most vintage clothes stores I find in Tokyo are pretty pricey, but in Shimokita I have been able to find some absolute bargains. If you’ve been around Harajuku you’ll know just how busy it can get, so come to Shimokita if you need a break from the crowds.
VR Zone in Shinjuku was a great activity for the night. There are big waits (where isn’t there in Japan though, right?) for the popular rides so we paid for a fast pass for Mario Kart to skip the 1 hour wait.
We started off with fishing because this was the only one with no line and it was actually a great way to get started and had us in stitches laughing as we watched each other try to catch fish.
Mario Kart was the absolute highlight and the reason this made my list. You only get one lap, but it really does feel like you are the one driving.
You can’t leave Tokyo without going into one of the many arcades. (Sega, Game Station). Our favourite are Pokken and Mario Kart and we do get addicted to the claw machines!
Oslo Batting Centre
For those that didn’t know – baseball is huge in Japan. So why not try out your luck at Oslo Batting Centre. You have the area for batting and pitching cages and then underneath you have a little arcade set up.
Have you heard of some other great things to do while in Tokyo? Let me know, as I am always looking for more things to do there.