With over 37,435,191 inhabitants, Tokyo is by far world’s largest city. Tokyo is immensely massive, and I can guarantee you that you’re going to get lost in the city’s endless possibilities! Making a daily planning of your activities in advance isn’t such a bad idea!
But here’s the thing, visiting Tokyo is not a one and done. Like I said before, the city offers infinite possibilities and you will most likely need to come back to do all those amazing things you weren’t able to do your first time! I’ve been twice a weekend to Tokyo back in 2018 when I was working onboard a cruise ship and I tried to visit as much of the city as I could. Meaning I was running around like a crazy person to get the most out of my time, no chill sessions!
Tokyo is known for its authentic districts across the city, some more traditional and others more futuristic. It’s a lot of fun discovering these different districts as they each household their own specific restaurants, shops, museums and highlights.
To help you out deciding which areas of Tokyo you should visit when you go, I’m sharing with you my top 5 favorite districts of the city.
However, Tokyo has many other fun places that I haven’t been able to visit. So, this list only contains the places I have actually been to!
Known for the Shibuya Crossing, world’s largest pedestrian crossing, Shibuya is basically Tokyo’s own Times Square. Visit this place by nightfall as every single building lights up and is covered by massive LED Billboards. Shibuya is the perfect place to go shopping and clubbing.
Personally, I freaking love Japanese fashion and the 109 is the perfect place to submerge yourself into the countries’ latest fashion trends. The 109 is a large Japanese department store that houses a lot of fun Japanese fashion shops and boutiques. There’s one for men and one for women, you literally cannot miss it; just find a large red 109 sign and off you go!
After your shopping session it’s time to go dancing. Around Shibuya you’ll find a few great and futuristic clubs. Dancing to all your favorite house tracks, you can easily party until the sun rises! Myself I’ve been to the Contact, a four-story club with three different DJ areas and a futuristic lighting system, literally the perfect club experience! Other famous and large clubs around Shibuya are Harlem, TK Shibuya, Camelot and Womb, all insanely crazy and BIG!
Something that I haven’t done but I really wanted to do is real-life Mario Kart! Around Shibuya you can rent Mario Karts, dress up as one of the players and race your friends through the streets of Tokyo! It looked like so much fun!
Shibuya is definitely part of modern-day Tokyo and it’s great for understanding the city’s fast dynamics!
Moving on from the futuristic clubs in Shibuya we’re off to a more traditional part of town. Asakusa is well known for the prestigious Sensoji Temple and in front Tokyo’s oldest shopping street.
The Sensoij Temple, also known as the Sensoji Kannon Temple, is Tokyo’s oldest temple and is dedicated to Kannon Bosatsu, the Bodhisattva of compassion. Yes, it’s a Buddhist temple. With over 30 million visitors per year it’s world’s most widely visited spiritual place… Basically, be prepared for a crowded place! To avoid a sea of tourists you should visit the temple in the morning, when the crowd is considerably ‘small’.
The Sensoij Temple is amazingly beautiful and very humbling. A MUST visit place!
In front of the temple you’ll find Tokyo’s oldest shopping street. Having the same architectural features as the temple it was designed as the street that leads up to the temple. From early days on people have been selling food and products on this street as it functioned like a very stretched open market. Of course, nowadays it’s very much focused on tourists but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a few fun things!
Fun fact: Before you enter the street there is a tourist center where you can get some extra information on the street and the temple. Take the elevator up to the highest floor and you’ll find a great view over the street and the temple!
Asakusa truly gives a good representation of old Japan and is one of the most visited places in Tokyo. It really should be #1 on your list!
Shinjuku is a fun district and has a great nightlife. But my main reason for visiting Shinjuku was The Robot Restaurant, something I believe you must experience while being in Tokyo.
The Robot Restaurant is basically some kind of retro 90s robot show where you can enjoy a spectacle like no other! It’s a super fun experience, especially when you’ve had a few drinks! There’s an option to have food included but I would suggest you spend your money on a better meal somewhere else. The music, singing, dancing, special effects and robots are great and will surely get you hyped up as the show progresses! For those who have sensitive hearing I would definitely suggest bringing some ear plugs, as the music volume is on full blast mode!
The Robot Restaurant is fun for all generations and will surely be a memory that will last a lifetime!
A few miles away from the Robot Restaurant you’ll find the Omoide Yokocho. The Omoide Yokocho is an Izakaya alley. An Izakaya is a Japanese bar where they serve typical Japanese drinks and food/snacks. So, an Izakaya alley is basically a small street full of authentic Japanese food and drink bars. It’s a place where you’ll find many locals having a drink after work. Tourists aren’t much around as these little streets are often hard to find and not heavily commercialized to tourists.
To me that’s great because as much as I love to do the typical tourist thing, I also love to dive into the more local kind of vibes.
Omoide Yokocho is a great Izakaya to go to and has a great atmosphere. Every little bar has their own small menu and if you like you can jump from one to another. The food is absolutely fabulous and very tasty, after all this is Japan remember?! Japanese food also happens to be my favorite type of food in the world and I was practically on an eat-it-all mission! Not to forget the traditional rise wine, better known as Sake! Traditionally served warm but also quite tasty when cold.
Shinjuku has a great mixture of old and modern Japan and there are plenty of cute bars and restaurants to have a great chill time!
A little to the East of Shinjuku you’ll find one of Tokyo’s most famous districts: Akihabara, better known as the gaming district.
Akihabara is a place where you can submerge yourself into the so called ‘Otuka’ culture. Otuka basically translates itself as geek or nerd.
In Akihabara you’ll find anything about gaming, anime, manga and electronics. Many game and gadgets fans will be found wondering the streets of this eye-catching district. There are game and tech shops galore and every building is covered with anime billboards.
I’m not such a game fan myself but walking around and exploring the manga and anime stores was already entertaining enough. Akihabara is a lot of fun and most definitely worth a visit!
Earlier on, I already hinted about my love for Japanese fashion, so there’s really no surprise in me picking Harajuku as one of my favorite districts in Tokyo.
Harajuku is THE fashion district of Tokyo! Yes, there are more fashion areas, but Harajuku is the best, period! From Avant-Garde and Haute Couture to more simple streetwear, Harajuku truly has it all! There are a great amount of amazing Japanese fashion stores, as well as the more common commercial stores we also know in the West.
Of course, Harajuku is also known for the world-famous Harajuku girls, who you’ll undoubtedly spot. Harajuku IS color and that is also visible in the different snacks and candies they sell in between the stores. If you are a food junky like me, you should go for the extreme fluffy Japanese pancakes or the crepe cone filled with ice cream… they’re everywhere and it’s delicious!
Tokyo has of course many more wonderful places and personally I cannot wait to return to the city and honestly also the entire country of Japan. I’m such a big fan of the Japanese culture and luckily, I have a great friend from Japan who gave me a full list of where I should go and what I should eat. Unfortunately, she wasn’t with me at the time, but I’m sure in the future we’ll go on an adventure together in Japan, and I’ll be able to explore many more cool places in the magnificent city of Tokyo!