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What to see in Tokyo? What is truly unmissable? Everything. Going to Japan means doing an experience, not just visiting a place. You must immerse yourselves in their culture, their uses far away from ours.
How many days I need in Tokyo?
You won’t see everything even if you’ll stay there for an entire month! Tokyo is a huge city (15 million inhabitants) but one of the safest in the world. Take the time you have an use it in the best way!
First thing to do when you land: rent a wifi hot spot. For a few euros you will have internet connection and Google Map whenever you want!
This is my list of what is really unmissable.
35 things to do in Tokyo
1. Get lost in Shinjuku
Shinjuku is the commercial and administrative district, Shinjuku station (train and subway) is the busiest in the world: it’s estimated that 3.6 million people pass here every day! You can’t avoid to get lost in here but signs and directions (always in double language) will help you. If you are trapped, do not worry, the station offers plenty of places to go shopping and places to eat (very well)! And keep calm, every Japanese will help you even without speaking English, they will take you personally to your hotel or where you want to go!
2. Government Building Observatory
You’ll have the best (and free) view on Tokyo from this Kenzo Tange building. The observatory is on the 45th floor and you’ll have a 360° panorama (better view of the Tokyo Tower). The observatory close at 11 p.m. the night view is amazing!
3. Isetan food court
A huge floor with all kinds of food in the luxury department store. For the most part, you will not understand what you’re going to eat but do not be shy, taste it!
In the Shinjuku Isetan store (my favorite) you can eat on the roof garden!
In Japan there is a true love for stationery and do-it-yourself props. Itoya is the most chic stationery in Tokyo with headquarters in Ginza, but my favorite is Sekaido, less chic but more interesting prices, you find it in Shinjuku.
5. Tokyu Hands
Tokyu Hands is paradise for those who love crafts! Don’t miss it, there are several store around the city.
6. Electronic store
Labi and Bic Camera are perfect places where find tech gadgets and everything you want!
7. Sushi breakfast at the fish market
The Tsukiji is the largest fish market in the world. You must come here early in the morning when it’s really busy!
Forget croissant and coffee, here you have to have breakfast with sushi, it will be the most fresh you will eat in your entire life!
8. Japanese tea ceremony at Hama rikyū garden
Hama rikyū is a beautiful park close to the fish market. In the middle of a pond, under a beautiful wisteria, you can also attend the famous tea ceremony!
HARAJUKU AND OMOTESANDŌ
9. Yoyogi – Meiji Jingu
This is definitely among my favorite places in Tokyo: the Yoyogi park and the Shinto Shrine Meiji, a mystical and wonderful place! Here you can easily see beautiful brides with traditional clothes.
10. Harajuku – Takeshita Dori
Harajuku is the craziest shopping district, don’t miss Takeshita Dori for some teen lolita and cyberpunk style.
Omotesandō is another shopping street in Harajuku, where street style is really interesting. One of my favorite store is Sense of Place. Don’t miss Laforet, a kind of department store with crazy shops!
12. Vintage Shops
Japanese are literally crazy about vintage! There are shops all over the city where you can find wonderful vintage kimono (in particular, a kimono stand with really interesting prices on the corner of Omotesandō, right in front of Yachiyo Bank Harajuku Branch) and a real invasion of Hawaiian shirts and Adidas suits. To see the most beautiful (and big) shop go to the Kinji Vintage, crazy!
13. Kawaii Monster Cafè
Just above the Kinji Vintage shop there is the Kawaii Monster Café, a crazy place to dive into the Kawaii world!
14. Cat Street
Behind Omotesandō there some of wonderful streets with incredible shops where you will spend all your money! Cat Street is my favorite and right here you’ll find Opening Ceremony, the most pinned shop of Pinterest (beware, you can not take pictures …)!
15. Daikanayama and Ebisu are hipster neighborhoods with so many beautiful shops and art galleries. Don’t miss Tsutaya Books, a crazy bookstore where you can spend hours browsing books and magazines without even reading a letter, and Tenoha Daikanyama, a concept store with a beautiful courtyard with bars and restaurants.
16. The Imperial Palace
Here you can visit the amazing garden and dream about the time when the Emperor was considered god.
17. Ginza is the fashion district where you can admire beautiful brands store designed by the most famous archistar such as the Armani store by Massimiliano Fuksas the Hermès boutique designed by Renzo Piano.
18. G six
Ginza six is the new luxury shopping mall that opened in Ginza. 241 brands of fashion, design and local craftsmanship (beautiful) in a beautiful contemporary architecture. Go to the top floor, you will discover a wonderful terrace with spectacular views over Tokyo!
Go to the one in Ginza, 6 crazy floors!
20. Muji, Ginza
I know, I know, you’ll be saying, “I can go to Muji here too.” No way, Muji in Tokyo is another thing! First of all breaking news: the right pronunciation is “Mugi” (as well the Mount Fuji is actually “Mount Fugi”).
Visit the store in Ginza, is the largest in Tokyo, 3 floors with cafes, bookstore, shoes, plants, furniture, paintings… amazing!
The most famous and busy crossroads of the world. Every time hundreds of people cross the road from every direction. A human spectacle!
Asakusa is the most traditional area in Tokyo. You will find rickshaw, traditional restaurants and shops with kimono fabrics. Here I bought zōri, the traditional japanese flip flops in rice rope.
Senso-ji is the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo and it is located in the Asakusa district. It will be like going back in time admiring women and men dressed in wonderful kimono.
The okonomiyaki (お好み焼き okonomi = what you want, yaki = grilled) is one of the cheaper and traditional dishes of Japan cuisine (actually it’s from the Osaka area), let’s call it a giant omelet! The best place I have eaten is Okonomiyaki Sometaro in the Asakusa district. A magical place under a grapefruit tree. You will enter (without shoes) in another dimension and sit on tatami but if you’re going in August it could be a pretty challenge stay in front of the grill…
25. Ueno Park
The Ueno Park is famous for its cherry blossom but also for the lake covered with water lilies. You can also take a ride on swan-shaped pedals too!
26. Ameyoko Market
After the Second World War the Ameyoko market started here as black market, today you can find every kind of item! It is located near the Ueno Park, this is not among my favorite areas but certainly has its charms.
27. The tech district of Akibhara
In the Akibhara Technology District you’ll find shops dedicated to electronics, anime and video games.
28. Taking the subway in Tokyo may seem impossible and instead it’s very simple! The signage is precise (in double language), you’ll get tickets (very tiny tickets) at the machines and for any doubt there will always be an employee ready to help you!
EAT – DRINK
29. Cold udon
Summer in Japan can be tough, eating cold udon (literally with ice) will help you to stay fresh and they are also very tasty!
30. Ordering by the ticket machine
Tokyo is full of small (sometimes tiny) places where you can order by a vending machine, it looks like a cigarette dispenser, you just have to choose what you want (images will help you). In just few minutes you will have your super cheap meal!
31. Vending machine
You will soon notice the countless number of vending machines available in every corner. Here you can take for 100 ¥ water, coffee (hot and cold), tea, soft drinks, juices … try all of them! Here you will also find the only waste baskets in Tokyo!
THE JAPANESE EXPERIENCE
32. Beauty products
The Japanese are obsessed with beauty products: the perfect place for some shopping!
33. Spotting Mount Fuji
If you’re lucky in Tokyo you can see Mount Fuji! On clear days his perfect and snowy cone appears among the skyscrapers, another magic of Tokyo!
34. Pachinko and videogames
Pachinko is the Yakuza’s gambling, the Japanese mafia. They look like slot machines and you play with steel balls, enter in one of these place and you can not imagine the noise (and discomfort)!
Another planet are videogame rooms, another super Japanese experience!
If you’ll be in Tokyo in August don’t miss from 11th to 13th August 2017 the Summer Comiket at Tokyo Big Sight. The most Japanese nerd experience you can ever make, this is the world’s largest comic book event (free entrance). Whether you love video games, manga or anime or not, the cosplay show is unbelievable!
I hope my advices can help you to plan your visit in Tokyo. If you have any doubt or curiosity… do not hesitate to write me!