Are you struggling to plan your trip to Tokyo? Not sure the things to do there? You probably exhausted after looking for all this information.
Tokyo is a vivid city with a strong economic power. Lots of people, buildings, trains. You might see many things about Tokyo on TV or the internet. The crowded metro in the morning, men are all suit up with a briefcase. It seems people always walk fast and the city never sleeps. While when I traveled and got diving to experience the lives, I find many other things in Tokyo.
In this article, we will look at 40 typical and awesome things to experience the local lifestyle. They are some things that visitors rarely know. I hope these can help you not only see the difference in Tokyo, but also experience the local life and the special culture of Japan.
If you are looking for the itinerary, I have my complete itinerary for you. If you are looking for the unique things to fill up your schedule, this Tokyo bucket list is for you.
Things To Do And See
1. Dress Kimono (Rent or Buy)
Kimono is the traditional Japanese dress. People dressing them for some festival or special event, like a wedding, ceremony etc… The kimono is fit with zori or geta, which are two kinds of footwear with thongs. It’s not fit with sneakers. Nowadays it’s not weird to see people dress kimono on the streets. Japanese keep the tradition well. So try to find one store for Kimono rental. Visiting temples or parks wearing Kimono would be special for you.
2. Take a JR Train
JR train is the fastest train in Japan for the long-distance travel. Fast, comfortable and expensive are what JR featured for. If you will go from Tokyo to Karuizawa, you must try this train.
3. See the Night View from Roppongi (The View with Tokyo Tower)
The night view of Tokyo Tower is super amazing! Roppongi hill is the best place to see the night view in my point. It has the indoor observation deck in the 52F and sky deck in the rooftop. If you are a photographer, you shouldn’t miss this place!
4. See the Stunning Night View from Skytree
Skytree is a great place to see the night view of Tokyo as well. It’s a broadcasting tower with the observation deck and restaurants. The height of the observation deck is 634 meters. Visitors can buy the ticket for 350 Floors or even higher 445 Floors (need to pay extra JPY 1030.00). You can preorder the tickets online or buy them when you arrive. It didn’t take us much time to buy the ticket at the 4F entrance floor. I don’t think there’s a need for the fast ticket with additional cost. Tokyo tower is far away from there. You can just see a little of it.
5. See the Night View from Tokyo Tower (Another Option from Skytree)
Tokyo Tower is also available for the night view. It has two decks. The 150m Main Deck where you can get a sense of Tokyo’s cityscape in different dimensions. The Top Deck is 250m high, a bird’s-eye view of the whole of Tokyo from there. Here you can check more information about the different deck.
6. FREE Night View from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (45th Floor, 202 Meters)
The government offers great service to visitors, the free night view! The Metropolitan Government Building is just minutes away from Shinjuku Station. The observation deck is on the 45th floor. Brochures available in many languages. If the weather is good, you can even meet Mt. Fuji far away. The night view from there is also great. If you are around Shinjuku, make sure to go there.
North Observatory: 9:30 to 23:00
South Observatory: 9:30 to 17:30 (until 23:00 when North Observatory is closed)
Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time
Check the official website for how to get there and the closed dates.
7. Visit Sensoji Temple
Sensoji Temple is the oldest and the most popular Buddhist temple in Tokyo. A famous attraction with a huge Japanese lantern. You can find out lots of Japanese elements here and know about their Buddhist culture. I recommend you to rent Kimono nearby and dress Kimono to visit Sensoji Temple. That’s a unique experience.
8. Read the Comic Books in Book Off Akihabara Ekimae
Bookoff Akihabara Ekimae is a huge bookstore with travel guides, CD, DVD, video games including PS1, magazines etc. The books are all in good conditions. If you are a fan of comic books and video games, you will want to stay there. Here you can also find local Japanese men with a mask who stand there for a long time to read books. You never know what you will find. Stay tuned!
9. Explore One Figurines Store
Besides comic books and music, the plastic figurines in Japan are very popular, you can easily find small stores or big malls are selling different kinds of figurines and toys. Here are two great stores around Akihabara Station. Check them out if you will visit there.
You can also check some reviews of videos of them if you have no idea what they are
- Volks Akihabara Hobby Tengoku
- Kotobukiya Akihabara Store
10. Drive Go-Kart in Roppongi and Cosplay
Drive Go-Kart on the road in Roppongi is a unique experience. What’s even more unique is you can wear the costumes of the video game or superhero and drive publicly on the road. Last time when I walked on the street, I saw a bunch of guys dressing cool and driving Go-Kart. That looks super fun.
Please note this needs International driving permit and passport.
11. Walk in the Yoyogi Park
Yoyogi Park is a large western style park. It’s a wonderful place to visit in the cherry blossom season (March – April ) and maple season (Mid-September). It’s not crowded as space is huge. There are lots of things going on in the Park, the wedding shoot, rock music, the picnic, the street market with handmade stuff. Come and enjoy the lives of local’s.
12. Watch Sumo Practice at a Sumo Stable
You might see the Sumo on TV. It looks like wrestling. While when you see it personally, you will feel strongly about their power. The sumo stable is not an attraction for the visitor. When you get the chance to go in there, spend some time to know the manners and show your respect. Usually you will need to book with a tour to watch. Remember to get there early as 7 to 8 am. Otherwise, you can’t see it.
13. Watch Japanese Baseball Game
Baseball is one of the most popular games in Japan. You can see many kids playing baseball in the field. Comparing to American baseball game, Japanese baseball has many differences. If you are a fan of sport, get this in your bucket list. The stadium in Tokyo which will hold the game in Tokyo Dome. Check here to know how to buy the tickets and schedule of the game.
14. Sing in Karaoke Bar
Karaoke might sound weird in nowadays, and you could see it from the movie. Yes, it is still working in Japan. Karaoke Kan has cozy room, and it’s an ideal place to relax. Many English songs are be found. Sing aloud as you like.
15. Walk through Shibuya Crossing
You may wonder what’s special of a crossing? Shibuya crossing is the busiest crossing in the world. “2,500 pedestrians crossing every time the signal changes.” said Cityclock. This is also a spot where many photographers like to capture the moment. If you want to stand high to see people crossing, the perfect location is in the Starbucks on the 2F.
16. Take Picture with Hachikō Memorial Statue
Most people knew the story of Hachikō from the movie Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. The movie was adapted from the real story in Japan. Hachikō Memorial Statue is for the remembrance of it. The location of it just beside Shibuya Crossing, the busiest crossing in the world. It’s a small place and if you want to avoid the crowds, get there before 8 am.
17. Watch Fireworks for Summer Celebration
If you are coming to Japan in the Summer, they are many celebrations in the whole country. One of the most popular is fireworks. Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival in Tokyo is an annual fireworks festival on the last Saturday in July. It’s near the Asakusa Station. In Japan, usually people will ask the people who they love to go to see the fireworks together. They will bring the food, picnic blanket, drinks and snacks. Ladies will also dress beautifully in Kimono.
18. Have Fun in Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea
If you have a bucket list to visit all Disneyland on the earth, then you must come to visit the one in Tokyo. There are two parks in Tokyo, Disneyland and DisneySea. If you buy the one-day ticket, you can only choose one. Two-day ticket or up, you can visit both. You can check this article if you are struggling which one you should go. No matter which one you will go, I believe you will have a great day in the magic kingdom.
19. Go to Loft – the Souvenir Store
Japan is creative in making the household things, I mean useful and stylish things to make our life cuter. In Loft you can buy stationery, household stuff, kitchenware and Japanese gifts. I could spend the whole afternoon there to explore the unexpected creative things. If you like to decorate your house, this place worth to spend time.
20. Visit Ueno Zoo
If you have around 2 or 3 hours of free time in the Ueno area, visiting Ueno Zoo is a great choice. Even it’s not large, there are many animals like chimpanzees, elephants, gorillas, polar bears, giraffes, pandas etc. I love giraffes and chimpanzee the most. It’s very friendly for the family.
21. Enjoy the Japanese Commode
It’s weird to have Japanese commode in your to-do list, right? While Japanese commode is the most advanced in the world. With the control panel, the surface can be warmed up when you sit down. They even have water sprays. I take some time to figure out how to use them. This is not only available in luxury hotels, but become the standard commode in the whole of Japan. I believe you will have the Japanese commode in your hotel, use it and enjoy.
22. Visit Imperial Palace
Imperial Palace is the residence of Japan’s Imperial Family, but it’s also a public park. You can walk in the limited space of the park, cause the imperial family is living inside. While there’s an opening time for the inner palace: Only on January 2 (New Year’s Greeting) and December 23 (Emperor’s Birthday), visitors can enter the inner palace grounds and see the members of the Imperial Family, said by Japan guide. So if you are around this place, make a short visit is ok. At least, it’s the closest place to the imperial family haha.
23. Meiji Shrine
If you want to know what’s Shrine like in Japan, Meiji Shrine will show you all the things. It’s peacefully surrounded by the forest, which next to Yoyogi Park. This Shrine was dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. It’s a great place for strolling and exploring the culture of Japan.
24. Enjoy the Nightlife at Shinjuku Golden Gai
Golden Gai is a small area in Shinjuku. What is the special of it? It composed of 6 narrow alleys. On these alleys, there are over 200 bars. Plus the architectures on the street are very stylish. The name banner of each shop or bars is sparking. This is also a spot where many photographers love to shoot pictures. Beautiful place to enjoy the night.
25. Visit Rainbow Bridge of Odaiba
Odaiba is in Tokyo Bay. It made up by 3 parts, Palette town, Diver city and Odaiba seaside park. There are Ferris Wheel, Statue of Liberty and the famous Rainbow Bridge. This is also a perfect place to see the night view. Lots of local couples love to go there. It’s a romantic place in Tokyo.
Things To Eat
26. Buy a Boxed Meal at a Convenience Store (7-Eleven, Lawson…)
When I look for the food in the convenience store in Japan, I felt the convenience store in other countries is fake (no offense). In Japan, they got so many kinds of great foods at low cost. They have salad, sushi, rice roll, seafood and many other kinds of food. 7-Eleven is my favorite, and I went to buy food every day. Give me one Japanese convenience store, and I can survive.
27. Eat Real Japanese Sushi
Are you a Sushi fan? I’m a big fan of it. Best sushi in the world is here. They are lots of good sushi restaurants, how to find the better one? If you will go to Tsukiji Fish Market, Sushi Dai is the one I recommend. The cost of it is around 4000 for one course. But be prepared in your heart that you might wait in line for around 2 hours.
There is also some top sushi according to Tablelog. You have to reserve first.
- Saito: need to reserve in advance. Tel: 03-3589-4412 (+81-3-3589-4412)
- Sugita: need to reserve in advance. Tel:03-3669-3855 (+81-3-3669-3855)
When you have the really good sushi, you will never forget the taste of them.
28. Try Ichiran Ramen (noodles) at Ichiran
Ichiran is a stylish Japanese restaurant. Great noodles and the “lonely” way to have noodles are what it famous for. I promise you will have a unique experience here. When you get to the restaurant, you will be asked to order and pay the noodles in the machine. It’s kinda of self-service. After you paid, you will get a ticket. And then you will need to wait in front of the entrance. When you get in, you will find everyone has own private slot. The waiters and kitchen are back of the curtain of your slot. When your ramen is ready, it will be passed to you from there.
Check this guide if you want to figure out what that looks like.
29. Try MOS Burger
Mos Burger is different from the western burger. The first time I had them are in Taiwan, I felt so amazing when I ate them. The burgers are not made from 2 pieces of bread, but rice. Very different taste from the real burger. My favorite one is with the shrimp. Try it if you are a foodie adventurer.
30. Enjoy a Food Adventurer in Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Fish Market is a big local market for people to buy seafood, vegetables etc. While now it’s also a popular tourist place for people to enjoy the local food. There is an inner market and outside market. Both have great restaurants you should try. You can plan your lunch or brunch here for some good fresh sushi.
31. Have a Tea Ceremony in Omiya Bonsai Museum
Bonsai Museum is all about the bonsai. If you are the fan of bonsai or nature, make this visit. This showed the beauty of Japan from another angle. After you visit the bonsai, you can have a tea ceremony there. That’s great to experience the tea culture of Japan. Here you can check the how to get there and the close time.
32. Try Nagashi-Somen (Flowing noodles in Bamboo)
Somen is a kind of very thin noodle which made from wheat flour. Nagashi Somen is a unique and traditional way to have noodles in summer. The noodle flowing in water through a long bamboo, and you have to use chopsticks to get them out to eat. It’s a fun activity in summer. Nagashi Somen is not everywhere. Where can you have it? I found Funa Yadoa restaurant in Tokyo; they offer Nagashi Somen in summer from June to September.
- Tel: 042-483-3053 (You might need the reservation for it.
- Address: 2-4-2 Kikunodai, Chobu, Tokyo (near Shibazaki Station)
- Opening time: 11:00～16:30 on Sat, Sun and public holidays
33. Try any Matcha Dessert
Matcha is the powder of the green tea leaves. With the fresh and stunning taste, most people love it. Do you love Matcha? Japan has good green tea and they have the excellent skill processing the green tea powder. They can use Matcha to make drinks, ice cream, dessert. You should not miss them in Japan.
34. Eat Kakigori (shaved ice)
Shaved ice is a must have in summer. It’s called Kakigori in Japan and it’s a traditional dessert. You can find many creative Kakigori in the street. Take one and enjoy eating the snow in the hot summer.
35. Order an Eel Rice
Eel rice is also called eel bowl, it’s a classic Japanese dish. There are several ways to cook them. I tried grilled eel and eel soup with steamed rice. I had eel rice in my country, but never taste and smell like the one in Japan. High recommend to try them.
36. Drink in Blue Bottle Coffee
Blue Bottle coffee was original from the United States. People call it “the Apple of coffee shops” It’s famous for the taste and quality. Their high standard pour-over and drip coffee attract people line up for hours to get one. Blue Bottle Coffee has expanded to Tokyo and they have 7 shops now. If you want to take a rest during the day, why not go there to enjoy it?
37. Eat in Robots Restaurant
If you love rock and want to seek the crazy and fun experience, this is for you. The robot restaurant provides 90 mins show, there are 4 breaks. You will see robots dancing and rock! At the break, some of them will even come to sell your drinks.
38. Eat like Sumo Wrestlers – Chankonabe
Chankonabe is the Japanese name for Sumo wrestlers stew. It’s a Japanese style hot pot, which has meat and vegetables. It’s not the spicy hot pot like in China. As you can read from this name, it’s stew for sumo wrestlers. Why they eat this? For gaining weight. So the portion size is large. If you are on a diet, go with your friend, cause you can share.
39. Eat at the Ramen (Noodles) Museum
Ramen Museum, sounds fun right? It’s a museum where you can know the history of ramen, walk in the old-time streets with ramen restaurants and eat Ramen there. It’s a unique experience for me as there’s no other museum is all about Ramen, haha. If you are a ramen noodles lover, you should add this to your list.
40. Eat White Strawberry
Have you seen white strawberry in your country? You can find them in Japan. Fruits are not cheap in Japan. The white strawberry is kinda of luxury. The one I had was around $6 for one. But the taste is very good.
Tokyo is an amazing city and there are plenty of things worth to do. I hope these 40 unique bucket list can help you travel better in Japan. Any questions, you can comment below. Thanks for your time.