12 best things to do in Tokyo
You can't visit Tokyo without eating sushi and ramen. But the Japanese capital is not only great for foodies, but also adventure seekers, treasure hunters, and those who want a sensory overload. Here are 10 things you must do while visiting Tokyo.
There is no city in the world like Tokyo. The lights, smells, colours, and sounds of the capital of Japan are anything but subdued. With a population of over 9 million inhabitants and 20 million visitors a year, there are many intriguing things to do and experience here. It's a city you'll never get bored in, but also a place that has so many options that you might get overwhelmed with what to see and do first. Tokyo is great for foodies, adventure seekers, treasure hunters, and those who want a sensory overload. Here are 12 things you must do, including places to visit, while in Tokyo.
1. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
For a lovely walk in an expansive park, check out Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. It's a traditional Japanese garden that deserves a walk around. Inside you'll find rose gardens, rows of beautiful trees, a botanical greenhouse with rare plants, and some peace from the surrounding city.
2. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
For a free view of the city of Tokyo from above, head to the Metropolitan Government Building and ride up to the top floor for a panoramic view. From up there, it feels like the city goes on forever, and on a cloudless day, you can see Mount Fuji in all its glory.
3. Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku
For one of the funkiest shopping centre entrances you've ever seen, head over to Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku for a mirrored arch that transports you to what feels like an alternate reality. It's the perfect place for an Instagram shot where you and the street below will be reflected in a million angles.
If you thought Amsterdam's red-light district was famous, you'll see that there's one in Tokyo that gives it some competition. While Tokyo's Kabukicho neighbourhood doesn't boast actual windows filled with ladies of the night, this area is exciting to explore during the day or after dark. Neon lights of Japanese characters flood the area in the evening. During the day, you can gaze at the vibrant colours of the signs.
5. Gotokuji Temple
A quick train ride to a suburb of Tokyo will get you to the Gotokuji Temple cat shrine. It's the only temple in Tokyo that is 100 per cent dedicated to kitties. This feline graveyard has hundreds of maneki-neko figurines sitting there to greet you as you arrive. Some may find it a bit creepy, others fascinating.
6. Yayoi Kusama Museum
Everyone knows someone with a Kusama "infinity room" photo on their Instagram. This famous Japanese artist recently had an entire museum open that is dedicated to her work. While this location focuses more on her painted artworks, there will be a rotating display of at least one of her infinity rooms.
7. Akihabara District
For video-game and anime-lovers, Akihabara is the place to hang out. It's known as the electronics district and this is where you can find multi-storey stores with every console you could ever imagine. There are vintage game shops, arcades, cafes, and lots of manga to be found here.
8. Golden Gai
You actually haven't been in a crowded bar before if you haven't been to Golden Gai. This small area of Tokyo is a popular haunt for locals to visit in the evening. The bars in these streets have anywhere from two to ten seats available for patrons. Some won't even let in foreigners so they can cater to their regulars. Even if you don't get a drink, it's a great place to walk through at night.
9. Robot Restaurant
If you splurge on one thing in Tokyo, make it the Robot Restaurant. This insane two-hour production is a wild ride through a land of robots, dancers, lasers, and storylines that make no sense but still work. It's too difficult of a place to describe without ruining it, so it's a must-do when visiting the Japanese capital.
Obviously you can't visit Japan without eating sushi. The great thing about Tokyo, or Japan in general, is that you can get cheap sushi that still tastes 100 per cent better than the best and most expensive sushi anywhere else. Conveyor-belt sushi shops are the best way to easily pick and choose your favourite rolls. However, you can stop into any kind of sushi joint and order and you'll find your mouth in food heaven.
Ramen is the other staple of Japan that deserves to be eaten by the gallons when in Tokyo. Most places will serve it, and it will be good no matter what. Many restaurants will even open at 6 a.m. to feed people's ramen needs. If you didn't think ramen could be eaten for breakfast, you're very wrong.
12. Takeshita Street
The most kawaii (cute in the context of Japanese popular culture) spot of all is Takeshita Street in the Harajuku District. There are too many adorable pink places to get your food and fashion fixes here. The best part is that no one will judge you for that over-the-top photo you're trying to take of your food, because everyone else is doing the same thing.