Tokyo is such a fascinating city. It’s a wonderful mix of old and new, with ancient temples and shrines nestled among the skyscrapers and shops selling the latest technology. It’s also a really fun city! If you’re planning a trip, here are 17 cool things to do in Tokyo.
Play retro games at Super Potato
If you’re a fan of video games from the 90s, you have to check out Super Potato in Akihabara, which is an area famed for electronic stores and maid cafes. It comprises of three floors and on the top floor is where you’ll find all the retro arcade games, like Wonder Boy and Super Mario. I absolutely loved it, it was so much fun!
Shop at Don Quijote
I have honestly never seen anything like the department stores they have in Japan. There are floors and floors that seem to sell absolutely everything. Whether you’re looking for a pair of cute socks or a Hello Kitty toilet seat, one of the best shops to visit is Don Quijote. They are a chain so have several stores across Tokyo. They also have loads of Japanese treats, which make great gifts. I stocked up on Matcha flavoured KitKats! They offer tax free shopping over a certain amount but you will need to have your passport with you.
Walk across the Shibuya Crossing
Did you even visit Tokyo if you didn’t walk across the famous Shibuya Crossing? Not only has it been compared to New York’s Times Square and London’s Piccadilly Circus, it’s also been made famous by movies such as Lost in Translation and The Fast and The Furious. Top tip – grab a coffee at the Starbucks for a great view.
Visit a robot restaurant
Where else in the world can you have a meal and watch a spectacular show with lasers and giant robots? Only in Japan! It’s not cheap (around 10,000 Yen) but it’s certainly unique. Head to Shinjuku to the Robot Restaurant (Kabukicho) for 90 mins of animatronic fun!
Eat or drink something kawaii
You cannot visit Japan without being tempted by something kawaii (cute)! There is so much to choose from food-wise that you’ll be spoilt for choice. Whether it’s rice shaped like a panda with a blanket of Katsu sauce or cute little seasonal cakes. As we visited over Halloween we had to try a little pumpkin tart.
Go go-karting in fancy dress
Street Kart offers go karting through the streets of Tokyo and you can dress up as your favourite super hero! You can take a short tour of up to two hours or a longer one at up to three hours. Expect to pay around £70.
Take a photo with a Harajuku Girl
The coolest area in Tokyo has to be Harajuku! If you want to check out Japanese youth culture, then this is where it’s at. There are so many cool shops in Harajuku as well as Harajuku Girls (and boys)! If you ask politely, they will take a photo with you. Smile and say ‘kawaii’!
Order noodles from a ticket vending machine
Yes, you heard that right! Order your ramen from a ticket vending machine – it’s quick and easy but can be confusing (especially as it’s in Japanese!). They all have pictures though and the modern touchscreen ones usually have English too. This article shares 4 easy steps to ordering your ramen from a ticket vending machine.
Listen to a wannabe pop star
Head to Shibuya to listen to some wannabe pop stars! You might not understand a word they’re singing (unless you speak Japanese, of course) but you’ll have a good time.
Check out contemporary art
Art lovers – head to the very cool and trendy area of Roppongi Hills to visit the Mori Art Museum. The area itself has art dotted around it, luxury shops and cool restaurants. It also has a fabulous view over the city and Tokyo Tower, which is a communications and observation tower and Japan’s second largest structure.
Dress up and take a photo
We visited Tokyo over Halloween and there were plenty of opportunities in shops and even on the streets to use props and take selfies. I have a feeling this probably happens all year round so have some fun and get snapping!
Ice-cream. But make it Matcha
Matcha (green tea) is everywhere in Japan! I’m not a fan of green tea itself, but I love Matcha ice-cream. I had several whilst we were in Japan. You can mix it with other flavours too, such as vanilla. Delicious!
Try some street food
Tokyo doesn’t have loads of street food vendors like many other Asian cities so when you spot one, be sure to try something. I love seafood sticks so when I spotted a vendor selling crab sticks, I had to try one! A top tip for finding street food is that there will often be vendors near temples or shrines.
Try Robata for a fun meal
Robata is short for ‘robatayaki’ and is a style of Japanese cooking. It’s cooking barbecue style over a charcoal grill. We had a fantastic Robata meal in Tokyo! It’s really fun because there isn’t really a menu. You just choose your ingredients and then they are cooked for you and served to you using a long paddle – even your drinks are served this way!
Buy a prayer card
Visit the Meiji Shrine near Harajuku and purchase a wooden prayer card (called ema). They have some beautiful designs and you can write your prayer on the back and hang it up for the kami (spirits or gods). The shrine was completed in 1920 and was built as a dedication to the Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken.
Also at the Meiji Shrine is the wall of sake barrels. Each year the breweries show their deep respect for the souls of the Emperor and Empress by leaving a barrel of sake. The stunning designs are unique to their respective brewery.
Check out Chinatown
Did you know that just South of Tokyo, in Yokohama, you’ll find not only the biggest Chinatown in Japan but also one of the biggest in the world. Start with some dim sum for lunch and then spend the afternoon exploring.
Visit the Yebisu Beer Museum
Beer lovers should head to Ebisu to check out the Yebisu Beer Museum. Not only can you explore 120 years of its history, you can also partake in some beer tasting.