Travel

50 Awesome Things to do in Tokyo, Japan

The Tokyo Olympics are winding down and while we didn’t get the chance to see the sweeping images of the host city that we usually get on TV, we thought it would still be nice to showcase this gorgeous destination so you can plan future travels to Tokyo. When planning a trip to Japan, make sure to give Tokyo at least a few days because there is a lot to see!

Tokyo is a city that will blow your mind! There are so many things to do in Tokyo from exploring ancient temples to getting lost in an ultramodern city – It has it all. Tokyo is an enormous city but once you understand how it works, it is easy to get around and plan each day to perfection. Tokyo is hectic and crowded where one minute you can find yourself among the masses in the Shibuya and then the next be in serenity during an early morning visit to a traditional Japanese temple.

Things to do in Tokyo, Japan

It can be overwhelming planning a trip to Tokyo we are here to help! We share the best things to do in Tokyo and guide first-time visitors through the massive Japanese capital.

Note: Tokyo is having a spike in COVID 19 cases, so we don’t recommend traveling there yet, but when it opens up and when you are ready, Tokyo should be put at the very top of your travel list, it is amazing and one of our favourite cities in the world.

Where to Stay in Tokyo

  • Tobu Hotel Levant – We stayed at the Tobu Hotel Levant which had a fantastic view of the Tokyo Skytree. Located in Asakusa it was close to shopping centres, eateries and was a short walk to Kinshicho Station.
  • ANA InterContinental Tokyo – We loved our stay at the Intercontinental. It was in a fantastic location near The Imperial Palace, Senso-ji Temple, Ginza and it had one of the best views in Tokyo.
  • Park Hyatt Tokyo – The Park Hyatt has one of the best views and was made famous in the movie Lost in Translation starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johanson.
  • Capsule Hotel – If you are looking for a unique and affordable place in Tokyo in a Capsule hotel. These small hotels are just private tiny bunks, but are definitely one of the most unique things to do in Tokyo. The Millenial Shibuya is a good one to check out.

Even though Tokyo is considered expensive, there are ways to travel it on a budget. We found many things that didn’t break the bank. Read our guide: Tokyo on a Budget – How to Travel Without Breaking the Bank. Get your Tokyo Airport Transfer from Haneda Airport to the City Center to avoid stress an confusion once you arrive in Tokyo. (free cancellation for full refund if canceled up to 24 hours in advance)

So now that you have our recommendations of where to stay in Tokyo, let’s get on with all the things to do in Tokyo, Japan.

Top Attractions in Tokyo

When it comes to choosing the top attractions in Tokyo, just look up. It is a city filled with skyscrapers offering plenty of opportunities to look at the skyline from above. Tokyo has a blend of futuristic designs mixed with ancient structures and customs. Throughout the city, you’ll find historic temples alongside massive buildings. When you visit Tokyo, you’ll be taking a journey through the past and the future.

1. Tokyo Skytree

the best things to do in tokyo japan

The Toyo Skytree is the tallest tower in the world and is the second tallest building in height to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Standing 634 meters (2080 feet) high, it is an impressive sight and one of the city’s top attractions. Whenever we arrive at a new city, we love going to the top to see it from above, and nothing compares to this view! There are two enclosed observation decks and a restaurant. Like the CN Tower, it has a glass floor, but it’s not quite as dramatic as ours here in Toronto. You can purchase combo tickets to see both floors for 4000 Yen ($35USD). From the observation decks, you can see 360 degree views of Tokyo and even Mount Fuji on a clear day.

  • Getting there: Directly connected to Tokyo Skytree Station on the Toei Asakusa Line.
  • Where to Eat: Lunch in Asakusa at Aoi Marushin (Tempura)

2. Jiggen Bridge

places

It’s no doubt this tower is one of the top attractions in the city, so you’ll want to see it from all angles. Walking to the Jiggen bridge makes for a beautiful view of the tower with its lights reflecting in the river. It’s only about a 10 minute walk from the Skytree and we suggest getting there well before sunset to save your spot. There were a lot of local photographers on the bridge once the sun went down jockeying for position. So you know it is one of the top things to do in Tokyo.

  • Google Maps coordinates: Walk from Skytree to here.
  • **Note: There is a lighting schedule each evening that you can check to see what colors they will be showing.**

3. Marvel at the Tokyo Tower

tokyo tower japan at night

It may not be the tallest, but it is certainly the most well-known tower in the city – The Tokyo Tower. Located in the Shiba-koen district in Minato, this upscale Tokyo neighborhood is worth visiting in its own right. Housing embassies and popular Japanese businesses like Honda and Sony you cannot miss visiting. However, the star attraction is the Tokyo Tower and is one of the top things to see in Tokyo, period.

The tower stands at 332 meters (1092 feet) high and dates back to 1958. It has definitely become the symbol of Tokyo. Go up to its observation deck for 360 degree views of the city. It was designed to look like the Eiffel Tower and it really does! (except that it is red and white) and we suggest visiting it at night. Its golden glow is beautiful.

4. Stroll Through Shiba Park

places to visit in tokyo shiba park

After exploring the tower, take a stroll across the street to explore Shiba Park. Shiba Park is located right next to the famous landmark and makes for a great view. It’s a giant green space and there’s a temple to visit too. The Zojo-ji Temple dates back to 1622. The temple complex has been here since 1393 and is the main branch of the Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism.

5. Magnet’s MAG7 – Shibuya Scramble View

what to do in tokyo mag 7

One of the coolest things to see in Tokyo, is the world’s busiest intersection in Shibuya. To really get a sense of the crowds below at the world’s busiest intersection, make your way to the top of Mag 7. Take the escalators or elevators up to the 7th floor for the viewing platform. You’ll have to walk through restaurants and shops to the rooftop lookout, but it is free and you can order drinks outside. The glassed-in viewing area looks right over Shibuya Crossing and you will have the perfect view to take in what looks like an army of ants crossing the street from all directions. We had never seen anything like it and really you have to see it with your own eyes to believe it. Check out the Mag7 Website for details.

6. Join the Crowd at Shibuya Crossing

things to do in tokyo shibuya crossing

Shibuya is one of the most visited wards in Tokyo being the main shopping hub and meeting place and the Shibuya intersection sees more than a quarter of a million people crossing every day. That is roughly 2500 people every time the lights turn green making it the busiest intersection in the world. Surrounded by billboards and neon lights, thousands of people walk this all-way pedestrian crossing every few minutes. This is our choice as one of the best attractions in Tokyo. To get to Shibuya, take the Yamanote Line direct to the Metro stop at Shibuya Station.

7. Pay Tribute to Hachiko Statue in Shibuya

While in the Shibuya area, take a walk to find the Hachiko Statue. It may not be one of the top attractions in Tokyo, but the story makes my heart melt. The story goes that the dog Hachiko used to meet his owner every day at the subway station coming home from work. When his owner died the dog kept coming back every day for years until its own death. It is now a popular meeting spot at his memorial. Getting To Shibuya: Take the Yamanote Line direct to Shibuya Station.

Temples in Tokyo

The temples of Tokyo are without a doubt the top attractions in Japan. There are 75,000 temples and 80,000 shrines in the country and many of the most iconic are in Tokyo. If you want to visit some of the more famous temples in the city, here are a few of our top choices.

8. Hie Shrine

hie shrine japan tokyo attractions

If you are looking for that iconic row of red Torii Gates in Tokyo, this is the spot! Hie Shrine is located right in the heart of Akasaka in the Minato Ward and is one of the most popular things to do in Tokyo. Mostly because people love getting that beautiful photograph of the Torii Gates. But there is more to it than must the picturesque location. This Shinto Shrine houses massive white Shinto gates, temples and pagodas, and the Torii Gate. It also has the guardian statues like in Nikko dressed in red to ward of spirits. Hie Shrine’s spirit (kami) is Oyamakui.

Hie Shrine is very easy to get to. Take the escalator up to the shrine on one side and then walk down the gates on the other.

9. Nogi Shrine

top things to do in tokyo nogi shrine

Nogi Shrine is a peaceful Shinto Shrine in Akasaka. This shrine is dedicated to a man that is considered the Last Samurai of Japan. You feel like you have stepped back in time when touring the shrines of Tokyo. You can almost feel the spirits of the Samari. It was here at Nogi Shrine, that the Last Samari of Japan and his wife committed ritual suicide after Emperor Meiji died. This was the way of the Samurai but wasn’t practiced anymore at the time of his death, so it is very peculiar. The shrine is open year-round, but the house is only open two days per year in September. You can walk around the outer walkway to glimpse inside where you can see the sword he used, a bloodied shirt, and photographs.

10. Sensoji Temple

what to do in tokyo japan sensoji temple

Sensoji Temple is without a doubt Tokyo’s most popular temple to visit. It is usually at the top of people’s Tokyo bucket list. This Buddhist temple and there is a Shinto Shrine adjacent to the complex that you can visit as well. If you go first thing in the morning you can avoid the crowds. Enter through the Thunder Gate takes you to a street lined with souvenir shops. After shopping at the many stores buying Japanese souvenirs, you’ll enter the temple complex.

It is Tokyo’s oldest temple dating back to 628, but it has been rebuilt. There is one gate that still stands but it has recently been repainted. It’s a shame because it is one of the few original pieces on the grounds.

How to get there: Take JR Yamanote or JR Chuo Line to Kanda Station, transfer to Ginza line and take the subway to Asakusa station.

11. Sensoji Temple View – Tourism Information Building

sensoji temple tokyo japan

Right across the street from the Sensoji Temple is the tourist information center. Go inside for tourist information, but also, catch the elevator to the top floor for an overhead view of Asakusa. You’ll see the long roof of the shopping, temple and the river. They also offer Geisha transformation experiences in the tourist information center too.

13. Nakamise Street

Things to do in Tokyo Sensoji Temple Grounds
Entering temple from Nakamise street

Nakamise street is Tokyo’s most famous shopping street. It is busy and filled with vendors, food stalls and souvenir shops. It runs for 250 meters towards and is the main entrance to Sensoji Temple. Take this tour of the Asakusa district with a local guide to see popular Tokyo landmarks, the market street of Nakamise-dori and try traditional snacks and food.

14. Meiji Shrine

tokyo things to do meiji shrine

One of the city’s most popular shrines is the Meiji Shrine. This shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and is one of the most popular things to do in Tokyo. He was considered the first modern emperor of Japan. During his reign, Japan had modernized and westernized herself enough to join the world’s major powers by the time Emperor Meiji passed away in 1912. How to get there: Metro Stop is Harajuku Station and then walk to the shrine.

12. Tempura at Aoi Marushin

things to eat in tokyo japan

Go to Aoi Marushin for Tempura for some authentic Japanese Tempura and bento boxes. It is located just down the street from the Sensoji Temple. It’s busy with both locals and tourists and is located just a few minutes from the temple. Address: 1-4-4 Asakusa, Taito 111-0032 – It’s kitty-corner to the Tourism Information Building, just down the street. 

13. Rickshaw Ride

One of the top bucket list items when visiting Asia in general is taking a rickshaw ride. A great place to take a rickshaw tour in Tokyo is in the Asakusa District. There are rickshaws parked all along the street right in front the Aoi Marushin restaurant and the market street. This is probably the best to ride a rickshaw in Tokyo due to it being a more traditional ward. Book this highly rated tour on a rickshaw through Askakusa to see the sights including Nakamise shopping street, Denpoin street, Geisha district and Hanayashiki amusement park.

15. Go Shopping at Solamachi Shopping Center

places to visit in tokyo solomachi

While visiting the Skytree, make sure to spend time browsing the stores at Solamachi. It’s a massive shopping center at the base of the tower. With 300 stores, there’s shopping for everyone. When you arrive, go directly to customer service with your passport to receive a coupon book. It’s filled with savings and great deals.

16. Solamachi Kunimi – Dine with a View

where to eat in tokyo solamachi

Located on the 31st floor of Solamachi looking directly at the Skytree, this is the place to eat! Plus it has one of the best views of Tokyo. If you are going to have one traditional Japanese meal in Tokyo, splurge and do it here. We had the Matsu Course that costs 10,800 Yen per person but it is totally worth it. It included sampling many of staple Japanese food like the Wagyu Beef, and hot pot.

  • Getting to Solamachi: From Asakusa Station go one stop on the TOBU SKYTREE Line.
  • Taxis weren’t too pricey to attractions in nearby Asakusa.

17. Imperial Palace

imperial palace tokyo
View of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo. Japan.

Just north of the Minato/Akasaka area is the Chiyoda Ward. This is where one of the top attractions in Japan is located. The Imperial Palace is surrounded by a park in the center of Tokyo. You can view the palace from afar through the bridges, but it is open to the public twice a year – December 23 and Jan 2. To really explore the Imperial Palace, check out this walking tour starting from the Otemon Gate where you’ll see the Imperial Tokagakudo Music Hall and the Museum of Imperial Collections and other gardens near the palace.

18. Ginza Street

ginza street tokyo

Ginza was once home to a silver coin mint in the 1800s. Today it is the chicest and upmarket shopping street in Tokyo with high-end shopping and dining. Spend an afternoon exploring its shopping malls, department stores, shopping streets, and high-end fashion.

We’ve been to a lot of cities around the world, and no city has the extreme spectrum of ancient culture mixed with space-age futuristic vibes like Tokyo. It is truly a one-of-a-kind destination.

19. Takeshita Street in Harajuki

One of the best places in Tokyo to really get a feel for the modern culture and energy is Takeshita Street. It is one of the most vibrant areas in Tokyo. This pedestrian-only shopping street is located in Harajuku and is one of the top places to visit in Tokyo. This popular fashion district in the Shibuya Ward of Japan is where you’ll find all the latest trends and fashionistas. It’s also home to all those strange cafes in Tokyo. If you are traveling to Tokyo, make sure to do some shopping and people watching on this street.

20. Godzilla Street

godzilla street tokyo japan

When thinking of Japan, who doesn’t think of Godzilla? The people of Tokyo have a lot of fun with their pop culture, and in the Shinjuku district, there is a street named Godzilla Street. The Godzilla head towers over the Toho Movie Theatre (Toho is the movie studio behind the Godzilla movies) promoting the entertainment complex.

Shinjuku is in Central Tokyo and is one of the top attractions for first-time visitors. It is where you really feel that you have stepped into a foreign land. Shinjuku is the place where all the nightlife, karaoke bars, unique cafes, and other zany things to do in Tokyo happen. Shinjuku station. We had so much fun just walking the street of Tokyo, it’s the perfect place to people watch and take in the biggest, craziest skylines

21. See the Mirrors of Tokyu Plaza

things to do in tokyo tokyu plaza

There are a few Tokyu Plazas around the city but this one is located on Omotesando Avenue. The Tokyu Plaza entrance is located on a busy corner and a must-stop when walking this street. Take the escalators up, stand in the middle of the staircase and watch the hexagonal mirrors reflect the masses of people walking by. This is definitely one of the city’s coolest views.

Getting lost in the crowds was our favourite experience in Tokyo. It is so busy and filled with energy, we wanted to be outside all the time taking in the chaos and commotion.

22. Stay in an Onsen (Japanese Hot Springs and Spa)

One of the coolest things to do in Japan is to stay in an authentic Japanese Onsen. These hotels have hot springs and pools where visitors can take part in a Japanese bath. You will be given Yakutas to sleep and eat in and you will stay in a tatami room with futon beds. They are truly heavenly. Check out our video of our stay at a Ryokan

23. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

what to do in tokyo government building
View of Tokyo metropolitan government building at evening

One of the best views of Tokyo is from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building It’s free to enter and offers a panoramic view of the city. There’s also a tourist information center in the building. If it is a clear day, you will even be able to see Mt. Fuji.

If you want to see Mt. Fuji up close, book this Mt. Fuji and Hakone day tour including a scenic lake cruise, a trip to the Hakone shrine and Owakudani. It’s a great day trip from Tokyo. Read The Complete Guide to Climbing Mount Fuji for more information on Mount Fuji.

24. Golden Gai – Izakaya Alleys

tokyo things to do alleyways

All around the city you’ll find alleyways filled with pubs and bars known as Izakaya Alleys. These alleyways are one of the top attractions for foodies in Tokyo. They are tiny stalls serving Japanese food and drink and are popular after-work meet up points for locals. There are more than 200 tiny bars to choose from. They only seat a few people and entry is at the owner’s discretion. In Shinjuku, you can wander through the alleys of Golden Gai in search of the perfect bar. Subway stop – Shinjuku Station.

  • It can be overwhelming and intimidating choosing which bar to enter, so instead book this highly rated tour of Shinjuku Golden Gai food tour.
  • Get Your Guide offers tours in the Shinbashi area to check them out thoroughly and to be sure you get a seat at one of these small bars!

25. Walk Over the Rainbow Bridge

You probably recognize the Rainbow Bridge from the Olympics. It seems that every reporter has stood in front of its colorful lights giving us updates about our favorite athletes. Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge has become as iconic to the Tokyo Skyline as its temples and towers. Spanning across Tokyo Bay it is a whopping 798 meters long. It is possible to walk across it with several observations decks to stop and take in the Tokyo skyline along the way.

26. Relax in Yoyogi Park

For a reprieve from the crowds, duck into Yoyogi Park. It was the home of the Olympic Village for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Today it is one of the largest city parks in the city. Getting there: From Harajuku Station, Yoyogi Park is just a 5-minute walk.

27. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Shinjuku Gyoen national garden is Tokyo’s largest park is a great place to take a stroll through a traditional Japanese garden. During cherry blossom season, it is a good place to see the cherry blossoms bloom. Located in Shinjuku, it is a great escape from the crowds.

  • Getting There to Shinjuku: Take the Metro to Shinjuku Station, the world’s busiest railway station. It is then just a 10 minute walk from the station 
  • Where to Stay in Shinjuku: Check out TripAdvisor for reviews and places to stay near Shinjuku

Unique Things to do in Tokyo

28. Cat Cafe

tokyo cafes cat

Tokyo is known for its unique cafes. There are maid cafes, fishing restaurants, owl restaurants, and ninja cafes. One of the more unique things to do in Tokyo is to sit and play with cats. Calico Cat Cafe is the biggest and probably most famous.  Located in Shinjuku up five flights of stairs, it feels like you are checking into a veterinarian office instead of a cafe. I was happy to see that they are well taken care of. It’s pricey and you pay hourly, plus you pay for treats.

29. Robot Restaurant

things to do in tokyo robot restaurant

For a unique experience in Toky, head to the Robot Restaurant, It is one of Tokyo’s most popular attractions. When I first visited Japan in 1994, it seemed so much farther ahead than the rest of the world. And now Tokyo just keeps pulling farther away with whackier ideas and futuristic restaurants and bars. Snacks are sold at the Robot Restaurant but not a full meal. And it is advised to book ahead.

Located in Shinjuku, the Robot Restaurant runs a high-tech show with dancers and technology takes place three times a day. It’s well worth popping in to experience this really unique attraction.

Looking for more unique things. todo in Tokyo? This awesome go-cart tour takes you through the vibrant Shinjuku, Harajuku, and Shibuya districts of Tokyo on a Go-Cart. This is a quintessential thing to do in Tokyo because it is so darn strange. Dress up as your favourite Manga character and whizz past the Metropolitan Government Building and the Shinjuku Love Sign. Then head to the nightlife district of Shinjuku Station and then to the shopping district of Harajuku.

30. Walk Along Love Hotel Hill (Dogenzaka)

Tokyo not only has weird and whacky shops it also has weird hotels. This hill is dedicated to romantic getaways. We don’t recommend going into a love hotel, but it is cool to see. If you want to try one out for yourself, you can stay for a few hours or overnight. Many hotels won’t allow foreigners though, so be prepared to look around.

31. Indulge in Black Sesame Ice Cream

If you want to try some more interesting food in Tokyo make your way to Gomaya Kuki for their rich Sesame ice Cream. It is said that 9000 sesame are used in one ice cream making it the richest most delicious ice cream in Tokyo. Black sesame ice cream has become a huge sweet craze in Tokyo. Gomaya Kuki is located in Harajuku.

32. Sumo Wrestling – Ryogoku Kokugikan

Want to catch sumo wrestlers in action? This is the place where the grand slam tournaments of sumo occur. If the main event isn’t happening you can still go on a tour. There is also a sumo museum to check out the Sumo Stable and the history of Sumo. Book a Sumo experience in combination with Skytree at Get Your Guide.

33. Kabuki-za Theater in Ginza

No trip to Japan would be complete without watching  Kabuki. Kabuki is a Japanese traditional theater of dance and drama.  Kabuki-za is the premier place in Tokyo to watch Kabuki. Performances last for hours, but you can take in a single act that last about an hour and a half to two hours.

34. Tea Ceremony

tea ceremonies in japan
a japanese woman shows the tea ceremony during a public demonstration

For a unique cultural experience take part in a Japanese tea ceremony at a Japanese Tea House. Many hotels can set one up for you but you can also book through GetYourGuide. If you take an Old Town Tokyo Food Tour you will explore traditional Tokyo buildings, enjoy a Japanese traditional Teishoku lunch and enjoy a special ceremony in a 4th generation antique gallery and tea room.