Tokyo is a city unlike any place you have been before. It is a mix of ultramodern and traditional, busy streets and peaceful shrines, colourful neon signs and black & white pedestrian crossings. Tokyo is a city of contrasts and a place, that brings you to life.
As main capital of Japan, Tokyo is huge and has a lot of districts. To make your trip more enjoyable, its good to plan the places you want to see in advance. To help you with that, here are my top 10 of the things you need to do in Tokyo.
1) Visit a cooking class in Tokyo
As the Japanese Food is very different compared to European cuisine (or to any other continent/country), it is very exciting to learn how to cook some traditional dishes. It is also interesting to learn about the ingredients of the dishes. And the best of all: It is so much fun to spend some time with Japanese people, cook together and get some more impressions of the Japanese culture.
We booked a cooking class with airkitchen* and I can highly recommend this website! There are many option s for cooking classes provided by cooking schools or even private persons. We booked a vegetarian class to learn how to cook “Gyoza and Ramen” with Yumi* – she was very nice, super fun and absolutely lovely. Can highly recommend her!
2) Enjoy the peacefulness at Meja Jing Shrine
If you need a break from the busy street life in Tokyo, take a stroll through Yoyogi Park and explore Meja Jing Shrine. It is a beautiful and very peaceful place, which gives you enough space and calm to relax a little bit.
3) Visit the Borderline exhibition
Visit the team lab Borderless exhibition* and get lost in the digital art world. You might know the exhibition from Instagram Posts, but I can highly recommend visiting this place.
The museum can get very crowded, so I recommend to be there early (opening: 10 am, would suggest to be there by 9.30am) and book tickets (Adults: 3.200 YEN = 26 EUR) in advance!
4) Shibuya Crossing and Hachiko Statue
Visit the famous Shibuya Crossing. It is fascinating to watch all the people waiting for the green light at the pedestrians light. And once the light is switching from red to green, countless people are crossing the street and you wonder how anybody can get intact to the other side of the crossing. Best spot to watch the spectacle is from they Starbucks Cafe*. Btw: You don’t need to buy anything as the line is very long. Just take the escalator to 1st Floor.
On the opposite site of the crossing is the Hachiko Memorial Statue – also worth a visit!
5) Shopping in Shibuya and Harajuku
One of my biggest advices for traveling Japan is the following: Leave half of your suitcase empty, because shopping in Japan is out of this world. So you wanna make sure to have enough space to carry everything back home 🙂 Japan is especially great for beauty products, funny souvenirs, stylish and minimalistic fashion. I can highly recommend the districts Shibuya (area around Shibuya Crossing) and Harajuku (Takeshita Street and area around Meji-jingumae Harajuku-Station) for shopping.
6) Explore Tsukiji Market (Fish Market)
As you might know, Japanese food is basically made of fresh fish. So visiting a Fish Market should definitely be on your bucket list for Tokyo! I can highly recommend the Tsukiji Market*. It’s fascinating strolling along the little market alleys with all the fish stands. They also have some restaurants offering great dishes made of fresh fish and other Japanese delicacies.
7) Get lost in the anime district Akihabara
Akihabara is a popular district for anime and electronic shops. All the colourful advertisements along the district and funny stores are very unique. It is a perfect place to stroll around, look for some funny souvenirs or to purchasing electronic devices from chain stores or independent shops.
8) Experience the nightlife of Tokyo in Shinjuku
Tokyo never sleeps and the nightlife here is just crazy. So if you want to experience the nightlife of Tokyo, Shinjuku is the place to go. Shinjuku is known for its red-light district, many bars (also hostess bars) and restaurants. It is so exciting walking around and see how different the nightlife is to what you are used to. Don’t miss that on your trip!
9) Try Japanese Food!
Well, the food in Japan is different, but really really good. Many restaurants have English menus and/or show some pictures of the dishes, so you know what to expect. Just try as much as you can and don’t miss Ramen and Okonomiyaki.
10) Drink Sake in Shinjuku Golden Gai
As mentioned before, you should not miss the nightlife in Tokyo. The best way to start with is drinking Sake in Golden Gai – a famous bar area with several tiny little alleys, which create a wonderful cozy atmosphere. The bars are super tiny as well and in some bars only 1-2 person find a place to have a drink. That was definitely one of my favourites!
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