Tokyo is one of the most attractive cities in the world that offers tons of things to do. There are temples, museums, countless shopping destinations, cultural experiences, busy nightlife districts, and more. We have put together this list of the latest things to do in Tokyo to enjoy the city at best.
We hope you find some interesting ideas for things to do in Tokyo in the year 2020!
1. Visit temples and shrines to feel traditional culture
Although Kyoto and Nara are more famous for temples and shrines, there are many famous temples and shrines in Tokyo. They feel very close to everyday life here in Tokyo, and many locals visit temples and shrines casually.
One of the most famous temples in Tokyo is the Senso-Ji Temple in Asakusa. It is said that Senso-Ji Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo. As for the shrines, Meiji Jingu Shrine in Harajuku is one of the most famous shrines. They have the largest number of visitors for Hatsumode, the first visit to temples or shrines in the year.
2. Stroll around Izakaya alleys like locals
Izakaya is a Japanese version of pubs, but it’s a lot different from those in Western culture. Japanese izakayas are more focused on food and the matching of food and alcoholic drinks. Many izakayas that specialize in different food and drinks are scattered in Tokyo. Such alleys where Izakaya gathers is sometimes called a Yokocho, and it is so much fun to stroll around such alleys. Visit two or three izakayas in an alley and get a little tipsy. You will surely feel like you are a local here!
If you would really become like a local here, you should consider using our “MEET & EAT.” It’s a service to connect travelers and local Japanese to meet up, have a meal, and exchange cultures in a small group maximum of 3 and 3. Sit together, enjoy local meals and drinks while having great conversations just like friends! Learn more about MEET & EAT if you are interested.
3. Visit around interesting and authentic bars in Tokyo
Tokyo is one of the best districts in the world to find bars. There are countless amazing bars in each downtown district that you will surely love. Some bars have bartenders that won world’s cocktail competition. On the other hand, some bars specialize in certain types of drinks such as whiskey, (you know Japanese whiskey has won many world’s whiskey awards, right?) Japanese wines, and Japanese craft beers, etc.
So why don’t you sit back, relax, and enjoy a delicious sip of cocktails or a glass of your favorite drink?
– 10 Best Bars in Tokyo to Share a Drink At Night
– 10 Best Beer Bar in Tokyo to Find Amazing Japanese Craft Beer
– 10 Whisky Bars in Tokyo to Indulge in Japanese Whisky
– 10 Best Wine Bars in Tokyo to taste Japanese wines
4. Try top-notch sushi restaurants in Tokyo
Sushi is the most famous Japanese food. Almost all tourists come to Tokyo and seek for the best sushi that they had never tasted before. Well, you are here! Having sushi in Tokyo is a mind-blowing experience. The freshness of each piece of sushi would be totally different from sushi in your country.
You should try to get a reservation of top-notch sushi restaurants if you are looking for the best sushi in the world. If you want to taste sushi in Tokyo more casually, why don’t you try conveyor sushi restaurants? There are all levels of conveyor sushi restaurants in Tokyo, and it’s surprising that you can have a satisfying quality of sushi at most places.
5. Have a delicious, authentic bowl of ramen
Ramen has gained popularity all over the world in the past few years, and many tourists expect to have delicious ramen in Tokyo. There are far more types of ramen than you imagine. Standards are shoyu (soy sauce), miso, shio (salt), tonkotsu (pork bone), etc. New ones include clam, vegetable soup, tomato flavor, sake lees, and more! Would you like to try the newest types of ramen or authentic bowl of ramen?
6. Play with maids at a maid cafe
Maid cafe – who came up with this idea first, seriously? It originated from Akihabara and became one of the popular cultural icons of Japan. Maid cafes are a themed cafe with waitresses dressed as maids. Based on the concept, they call customers “master” and offer various activities such as photo shooting and simple games to enjoy interactions with them. The atmosphere at a maid cafe is exceptional, and you will be unable to find it in any part of the world!
And there is a tour to explore Akihabara with a maid! A maid will be your tour guide and show you the best parts of Akihabara. Find out more at Voyagin’s website!
7. Explore the geekiest district in Tokyo: Akihabara
Akihabara is a unique downtown district in Tokyo. At Akihabara, you are always surrounded by anime, manga, video games, maids, electronics, etc. It feels like you have stepped into a different world! On the other hand, if you are an otaku or in English geek, you would feel like Akihabara is a paradise. Exploring anime and manga shops in Akihabara won’t end in one day! There are many arcades that you won’t be able to get out until you play every kind of game.
They offer various themed cafes inspired by video games and anime. One of them is Final Fantasy Erzora Cafe. Not only you can enjoy Final Fantasy inspired food and drinks but also the atmosphere is built perfectly to feel the world of Final Fantasy. You can drive an actual go-kart to see the city! Not only that, you can do that with a costume!
Akihabara offers countless interesting things to do.
– 15 Best Things to Do in Akihabara That Never Make You Bored!
– 10 Best Things To Do in Akihabara for an Otaku
– 10 Best Places for Ultimate Anime Shopping in Akihabara Tokyo
– 4 Best Arcade in Akihabara Tokyo to Play Video Games
– Reservation ticket for Final Fantasy Erzora Cafe
– Rent a Go-Kart and ride around Akihabara Tokyo!
8. Meet adorable animals at animal cafes
Tokyo offers many kinds of animal cafes, and they always make people at ease! Cat cafe, owl cafe, rabbit cafe, dog cafe, bird cafe… you can find any of these easily in Tokyo! Cute animals will surely make you relaxed from a busy schedule while you are in Tokyo. Note that each cafe has different rules, and customers are expected to follow the rules strictly to protect animals.
9. Indulge in arts at world’s best museums in Tokyo
Tokyo is one of the art centers in the world. There are countless museums all over the city, and many locals visit museums and galleries to appreciate the arts. Like any museum in the world, each museum specializes in different genres. Ueno is the biggest art district with more than eight museums in the area. Among them, the Tokyo National Museum is the best place to learn the history and culture of Japan briefly. As Japan is famous for anime and manga, there are museums focused on anime and manga, as well. Ghibli Museum is one of them, attracting many many visitors from all around the world.
10. Taste fresh seafood in Toyosu and Tsukiji
Tsukiji Market was the biggest and the most famous fish market in the world. Not merely a market, it has attracted numbers of people all over the world for years. In 2018, Tsukiji Market moved to Toyosu, and now the name has changed to Toyosu Market. Although it has moved, and the building got brand new, the quality of seafood here did not change at all. You can still enjoy the freshest sushi and other seafood dishes.
A part of Tsukiji remained at the same place. They call the district “Tsukiji Outer Market” and many shops stay there to offer various street foods for visitors. Having breakfast at Tsukiji is still common, and many people enjoy it.
– 10 things to do in the Toyosu area for an Exciting Experience
– 10 Sushi Restaurants in Toyosu Market to Taste Fresh Sushi
– 10 Places to have Breakfast at Tsukiji Outer Market for Great Mornings
– 9 Best Food Finds in Tsukiji that You Will Love
11. Participate in festivals that happen throughout the year
Tokyoites like festivals. Many festivals happen at different places throughout the year, some very traditional and others new. Among them, I would say summer is the most festive season. Visiting fireworks festivals is one of the common things to do for locals during summer. In July and August, fireworks festivals are happening every weekend at different places. Another time is autumn when most shrines hold their annual festivals to report harvesting of the year. You will be able to find delicious food stalls at such festivals held in shrines.
12. Witness the high-tech entertainment at Robot Restaurant
Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku offers an entertainment show that you have never seen. As soon as you arrive, you will be amazed by the overload of colors, lights, glitters, and peculiar designs of the venue. Spectacular musical performance includes bikini-clad troupes, taiko drummers, robot show with lasers, battling women, wild costumes, and much more. Find a discount ticket at Voyagin to get the best deal!
13. Stroll the city with a local guide
Would you like to learn more about Tokyo? Then you should stroll Tokyo with a local guide that knows about the city well! Visit back streets of Ginza find many traditional and long-standing shops. Or you can visit around vintage clothing shops in Omotesando to find one-of-a-kind clothes. Or, meet new discoveries at a common tourist destination Akihabara by visiting the town with a guide. You will surely be able to discover a side of Tokyo that you would never be able to notice without a guide!
15. Explore Yanesen, the old Tokyo district
Yanesen is the name of the district, including Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi. This district in north Tokyo did not get damaged by air raids during World War II, and because of that, the city leaves many decades-old buildings and streets that shows a different aspect of Tokyo. It’s recently becoming a popular tourist attraction because of traditional shopping streets, shrines, and many delicious street foods. Yanesen is a walkable distance from Ueno, so you can visit two places in one day.
16. Stay at a ryokan to relax in the Japanese way
Ryokans are Japanese style inns where you change into yukata instead of pajamas or robes and sleep in a futon, Japanese bed, on tatami mats. Ryokans are more common in suburbs and onsen districts, and it’s surprising there are some ryokans in Tokyo where you can stay a night even the number is limited. Sleeping on the floor might feel strange, but I am sure you can relax with a nice smell of tatami mat and old wooden buildings. Staying at a ryokan will be a memorable experience for sure.
17. Explore Shinjuku – the busiest town in Tokyo
Shinjuku Station is the busiest station in the world, with over 3 million visitors every day! As it’s one of the biggest downtowns in Tokyo, Shinjuku offers many attractions. Delicious food finds such as one of the oldest tempura shops in Tokyo. Mouth-watering street foods such as BAKE’s cheese tarts. A weird robot restaurant show. Various interesting nightlife attractions including Golden Gai and Omoide Yokocho. Shopping in Shinjuku offers any kind of product you need from fashion items to electronics to cosmetics. And many more things to do, such as cat cafe, the observation deck at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, and a picnic at Shinjuku Gyoen Park. Find your favorite things to do in Shinjuku!
– 20 Best Things to Do in Shinjuku to Have Amazing Experience
– 22 Shopping Destinations in Shinjuku to Find Every Kind of Products
– 10 Best Foods in Shinjuku that you will love!
– 10 Best Street Food in Shinjuku to have while Sightseeing
– 10 Places and Things to Do For Nightlife in Shinjuku
– Robot Restaurant Shinjuku Tokyo Discount E-Tickets
18. Dip your toes into onsen and sento!
Onsen, hot springs, is another biggest attraction in Japan. Some people don’t feel comfortable being naked in front of people, but those who don’t should definitely visit an onsen or two. It feels great to soak in a big tub, especially on a cold day. Onsen normally uses natural hot spring water at some ratio and have various effects from springs. On the other hand, Sento is simply a communal bath with huge tubs to accept many people. You don’t have to travel far away to enjoy onsen and sento culture in Japan. There are many onsen and sento that accepts day visitors in Tokyo!
19. Take a picture at Shibuya crossing, the most photogenic crossing in the world!
Before I notice, Shibuya had become one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world! Like times square in New York, it attracts thousands of tourists every day. Take a picture at this crossing where hundreds of people cross the road every time the traffic light changes.
Shibuya offers much more than the crossing. Shibuya is the center of youth culture, and there are countless shops to find the latest fashion items. It’s one of the biggest centers of nightlife in Tokyo with countless izakayas and bars. So when you visit Shibuya, you should enjoy the city from day till night!
– 15 Best Things to Do in Shibuya, Enjoy The Bustling Hotspot
– 17 Best Shopping Destinations in Shibuya
– 10 Best Things To Do In Shibuya To Enjoy Its Nightlife
– 10 Best Izakaya in Shibuya for Food and Drinks
– 10 Best Bars in Shibuya for Your Unforgettable Nightlife
20. Watch people with the latest fashion items in Harajuku
Harajuku is the center of youth culture. Harajuku is the center of teen and fashion lovers! When you stroll Takeshita Street, a narrow street with hundreds of small fashion item shops, you will notice many people wearing whatever they like. Shopping in Harajuku will make you feel like you are yourself, as there are all types of fashion items offered here. As there is such a street, you will be able to discover many unique food finds in Harajuku like rainbow-colored cotton candies. On the other hand, there are many more things to do other than fashion, such as visiting Meiji Shrine, Yoyogi Park, or participating in festivals.
– 15 Best Things To do in Harajuku to Dive into Kawaii Culture
– 10 Best Shopping Destinations in Harajuku for Fashionable Items
– 20 Best Food Finds in Harajuku You Should Not Miss
– 10 Major Festivals Held in Harajuku for an Awesome Experience!
21. Take a day trip to nearby areas – Kamakura, Hakone, Nikko, etc
I know Tokyo offers lots of attractions, but it’s a great idea to take a day trip to nearby areas to discover other aspects.
Kamakura is a town you can go to in about an hour by train from central Tokyo. As it’s used to be the capital of Japan once in history, there are many hundreds of years old temples and shrines. The area faces the sea and is surrounded by mountains, which means there are many natural attractions in Kamakura as well.
Hakone is one of the closest large onsen districts from Tokyo. There are countless ryokans in different price ranges and some of them accept visitors without staying a night. Which means, you can experience a high-quality onsen bath without paying a lot of budget. It’s also close to Mt. Fuji.
Nikko is an area that was important to the Tokugawa Shogunate, who made Tokyo the capital of Japan more than three hundred years ago. Nikko Toshogu Shrine is designated as UNESCO’s World Heritage Site, and many students visit here for a school trip to learn history. There are also onsen in Nikko areas and various different trails to enjoy hiking.
– 20 Best Day Trip Destinations From Tokyo
– 15 Best Things To Do In Kamakura For A Mix Of Old And New
– 10 Best Things To Do In Hakone for an Extended Stay
– 10 Best Things To Do In Nikko To Discover Its Enchanting Beauty
22. Hike a mountain or two around Tokyo
Did you know that there are many mountains popular with local hikers in Western Tokyo? The most famous hiking destination would be Mt. Takao, which got three Michelin stars. As Mt. Takao is accessible in approximately an hour from Shinjuku, it’s attracting more than 2 million hikers annually. There are many more fascinating mountains, such as the Okutama area, offering beautiful views and trails.
23. Shop everything you need at shopping districts in Tokyo
Shopping in Tokyo is one of the most fun things to do! From fashionable items, cosmetics, electronics, and other living goods, you will be able to discover things you would never see in other places. There are many shopping districts in Tokyo with different characteristics. For example, Shibuya is more focused on teen fashion, and Asakusa is more focused on traditional crafts and souvenirs. Find the shopping destination you must go by reading our list!
24. Feel beautiful seasons at Japanese gardens
One of the things I like about Tokyo is that we can encounter nature in the middle of the city. There are many gardens and parks in Tokyo, and they offer beautiful seasonal views. In spring, there are cherry blossom flowers. In summer, greens look fascinating. The autumn foliage makes the town look colorful. Visiting Japanese gardens in Tokyo makes you feel away from the hustle and bustle. Check out seasonal events and flowers to visit in the most beautiful season.
25. Participate in 2020 Olympics and Paralympics
2020 Olympic and Paralympics are here soon! Locals in Tokyo is talking about a lot these days and trying to get a ticket to see at least a game! The city is preparing for the Olympics, and we are nearly ready to welcome thousands of visitors from all around the world! Are you one of them? We will do our best to make your time in Japan a wonderful time!
Information in this article is as of December 2019
Thumbnail image is from Flickr