Things to Do in Tokyo

How can one describe Tokyo? Amazing. Crazy. Organized. Totally overwhelming in every way. Countless friends of mine say that Tokyo is their favorite city in the world because no matter where you look, there’s something crazy to see. Beyond what you’ll see just walking around the city and the well-known bizarre cafes, there are some super wacky experiences to have if you know where to look.

Transportation as Entertainment
starfighter bus tokyo
  • Akiba Go-karts: This is a great way to fulfill your Mario Kart fantasies. It’s a street legal go-kart that has become a whole Japanese sub culture. It is bigger than go-kart with an engine that reaches up to 60 mph and it’s low to the ground so you feel the speed. Make sure to visit AAA (in the states) to get an International drivers license before you go. It’s a very fun way to see the city and you’ll certainly get a lot of attention.
  • Star Fighter Tour Bus: This space-themed tour bus takes you to any of their specific destinations around Tokyo, while it sends passengers on a series of virtual intergalactic missions with personal screens and controls and a totally interactive environment. It’s definitely the most entertaining way to get to the popular shopping area of Odaiba.
  • Explore Tokyo on two wheels because every Sunday the Palace Cycling Course lends out 150 bicycles, from mountain bikes to tandems, on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s free and visitors have until 3pm to explore a designated route around the outside of the Imperial Palace.
Unusual Things to Do in Tokyo
Tokyo anime nail salon
  • Get an anime manicure as artists at Ita Color’s Yellow will adorn your nails with a anime characters or designs of your choosing at a rate of ¥1,000 per 10 minutes.
  • Get custom silly stickers made in these Japanese photo booths. Choose between various themed machines, deposit ¥400 and let the photo shoot begin. Once the photos are taken move to the editing area to add vaguely English catchphrases, animals, floral headbands, bright makeup, purple hair, blue eyes, etc. and you will be delivered a printed sticker of  yourself with big eyes, glowing white skin and legs longer than the Tokyo Tower.
  • Day trip to the Hello Kitty themed amusement park, Sanrio Puroland.
  • Experience video games in a Virtual Reality world at Shinjuku’s VR Zone.
  • Relax at the Jakotsuyu bathhouse tucked away in the back streets of the old Asakusa district of Tokyo. The area is home to all manner of different baths from ordinary jacuzzi tubs to a bath with a mild electric current running through it designed to gently stimulate and massage your tired limbs. You will begin with a ticket from their vending machine with English instructions. Pay¥460, remove your clothes, wash yourself, and enjoy the soak.
  • Rent a row boat on the river that runs directly through the city, which is particularly popular in cherry blossom season.
Unique Tokyo Shopping Experiences
  • Find ultimate vintage garments at Sokkyou boutique in the hip Koenji neighborhood.  More than just a used clothing store, it is an essential destination for those in search of truly one-of-a-kind garments.
  • Harajuku’s cooler cousin Shimokitazawa is a well-kept local secret. The streets are packed with second-hand shops with everything from clothes and accessories to records, to other vintage and retro items. Shimokitazawa also has live music, small theatres and cool bars; it’s also a great place to people-watch while enjoying a little café or bar. If you happen to stumble on the cafe ‘Mixture’ try their famous espresso bread, made with coffee beans sourced from a popular nearby café.
  • If you like small dogs, visit the dog Mall at Odaiba which I wrote about here.
  • Tokyo has some amazing denim stores, check out the shops in the Ebisu area.
  • Check out some very fancy Japanese department stores such as Takashimaya, Lumine or Daimaru.
  • Don Quixote is a cool discount store located at 1 Chome-16-5 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0021, Japan
Remarkable Things to See in Tokyo
  • Yoyogi Park on every Sunday is one of the best places for people-watching in Tokyo. The park is popular with young locals who dress up in extreme costumes and have a good time posing for photos.
  • Scratch beneath Tokyo’s surface and you’ll discover a vast network of deep underground tunnels that have become a tourist attraction. Public tours are offered at the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel, otherwise known as the G-Cans Project. A word of warning: there’s no English translation on the tours, so get your pointing finger ready!
  • Watch a live Sumo Tournament.
  • Get tickets to a traditional Kabuki Theater.
  • Visit Akihabara, known to some as “Electric Town” and is a hub for people who are obsessed with video games, arcades, manga, anime and all things electronic.
Rare Food & Drink Experiences
  • Annual food tasting event in the Tokyo Dome which lasts 10 days, hosts over 400,000 visitors and offers countless hometown specialties and craft beers from across Japan. It’s called Furusato Matsuri and typically happens in January.
  • Monster Cafe is a wacky explosion of rainbows and unicorns. You’ve got to see it to understand, really.
  • Splurge dining for what could likely be the most memorable meal of your life at Tokyo’s top rated restaurant Tapas Bar Morakyura (special menu during sakura season) or the restaurant Narisawa whereby the omakase-style meal (chef’s choice) is a metaphorical trip to the forest. Each will cost $150-$250 per person.
  • Visit the ramen theme park “Shin-Yokohama Ramen Town” which looks like a movie set of Tokyo in the 1950s, and includes a ramen history museum. You’ll see an old-fashioned pastry shop, two old-style bars with regional sake, and several ramen shops from regions across Japan each serving its own distinct creations in half-size portions so you can try more than one. Do you love sweets? What about Gyoza? Tokyo has theme parks for those too!
  • Sample Japanese wine: Japan may be relatively new to the wine-producing party, but it’s already creating some impressive varieties. Jip Wine Bar serves homegrown wine by the glass from a rotating list of 20 domestic wines, plus a range of bottles.
  • Sip slow-brewed coffee at this quirky retro café with 1970s origins. Play with the shop’s aged cat while waiting for your coffee, which drips slowly from a big machine in the centre of the room.  Cafe Arles map and opening hours
  • Explore the world of Japanese craft beer and Popeye is the place to start, with 70 microbrews on tap. Happy Hour is 5-8pm.
  • Zauo is a unique dining experience known as a Fishing Restaurant. You’ll literally catch your own fish and then help prepare it as sushi, tempura, fried, or as a soup. They even just opened a location in New York.
  • Gobble up stacks of pancakes as the menu at Pancake Days (locations at Harajuku and Kichijoji) includes stacks of pancakes with cream, fruit and even smiley faces on top. Try one of their savory pancake dishes (such as bacon and cheese pancakes, or pancakes with beef curry). The dessert menu includes ‘Caramelized Banana Chocolate Pancake’ and ‘Triple Berry Rare Cheese Pancake’.
  • Shangrila, a Maid Cafe staffed entirely by plus size women, founded on the idea of being “body positive” and to lower the stigma of being overweight. They are proud of their fresh, organic and tasty food and with their Italian Chef and brick pizza oven they claim to have the best pizza in town.
  • Boarding the double-decker bus from Marunouchi Station you’ll notice something unusual: a chef preparing your meal in a fully functional, mobile kitchen. On the upper deck, the tall windows and sunroof give unobstructed views of the city any way you turn. The servers offer a wide variety of soft and alcoholic beverages to choose from, and the bus sets off for the two-and-a-half-hour tour. As the guide leads you through Tokyo’s most distinguished locales, an array of delectable French-inspired Japanese dishes is brought out before you. The Tokyo Restaurant Bus offers both dinner and lunch tours for your convenience.
  • A tiny jazz bar tucked away in the heart of the Shibuya district called JBS is a unique, soulful joint selling more than just drinks. Seating is limited, and guests are there to listen to music more than anything else. Jazz aficionados, vinyl collectors and people who appreciate the passionate and cool feel of jazz and blues will appreciate the extensive collection of vinyl jazz records.
Noteworthy Classes 
  • Tsukiji’s School of Soba is 3.5 hours for one to three people. It is not cheap at 30,000Y (US $292) total for your group. But if cooking is one of your interests and you have the cash, go for it. Check out the other Japanese cooking classes they offer as well.
  • Ninja Training class lasts 2 hour and you will ninja style meditation and several ninja techniques. $152 per student, or $15 to watch and not participate.
Also, you might want to get yourself a copy the book, ‘Japan: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture’.

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Meet Suzette
suzetteHoly crap, you found me. That’s fantastic. I’m Suzette and I’m so glad you’re here! I’ve built a successful career as a travel photographer where I have the opportunity to work from anywhere in the world, and run this blog where I share inspiration for YOUR travel photography. This website is specifically for those of us who love to wander with our cameras. We take it slow. We are curious. We love nature and the outdoors. Most of all, we love taking great photographs.

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