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Tokyo Tower, Shibuya Crossing, Shinjuku, Akihabara Electric Town, Harajuku fashion, the Imperial Palace, Tsukiji fish market — these are places that "everyone knows they should visit" while in Tokyo. But why get bogged down following the crowds and getting stuck with the same experience as everyone else, especially when there are so many amazing local secrets for you to discover? Here is my pick of the under-appreciated neighborhoods and venues in and around the city that you might want to add to your itinerary — between checking out Meiji Jingu and the Tokyo Skytree, of course!

Good for
  • Nature Lover
  • Foodie
  • Luxury Traveller
  • Like a Local

9 Places

8 City Tips

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Map

9 Places

Hibiya Park

Parks

Inokashira Onshi Park

Scenic Walking Areas, Parks

Takadanobaba

Neighbourhoods

Sky Circus Sunshine60 Observatory

Points of Interest & Landmarks, Observation Decks & Towers

University of Tokyo

Points of Interest & Landmarks, Historic Walking Areas, Universities & Schools

Sugamo Jizo-dori Shopping Street

Points of Interest & Landmarks

Ryogoku Kokugikan

Arenas & Stadiums

The Lock-up Shibuya

Restaurants

Tokyo Disneyland

Theme Parks, Disney Parks & Activities

jessicawhylee's City Tips

  • Tokyo natives aren't quite as genial as their Osakan counterparts, but you may still be approached by locals wishing to speak English with you. Chat them up for recommendations!
  • Instead of a day-pass for the trains, purchase a prepaid IC card (Suica for JR, Pasmo for the metro) at any station and start tapping your way in and out around the city!
  • IC cards can also be used to pay at a handful of participating venues, konbini (convenience stores), and vending machines across the country.
  • When you're not riding trains, biking and walking are going to be your best friends in Tokyo. Everything is so densely packed that it's not difficult to walk between some stations.
  • Side streets, side streets, side streets! For food and shopping alike, nothing beats literally wandering off the main path and checking out what those tiny alleyways have to offer.
  • Tipping is frowned upon in Japan, and tips will be returned to you promptly. Save your change for something useful, like those delicious seasonal drinks and snacks from konbini!
  • Some restaurants may add a table surcharge to your bill in the form of a mandatory drink purchase or an otōshi appetizer, but otherwise what you see price-wise is what you pay.
  • Even if you have it back at home, chances are that the Japanese have subtly made it their own. McDonald's, for example, offers Japan-exclusive items and tastes different!
  • Hibiya Park
    Parks
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    Hibiya Park is not only a great reprieve of green in the middle of Tokyo, but is also a surprisingly popular site for the live music scene. The awkward concrete amphitheatre is somewhat of an eyesore nestled in the corner of this lovely park, but as it's rare to find outdoor gigs in the city at all, beggars really can't be choosers. Check out the 'Tōkyō Gig Guide' online beforehand to see if your trip will coincide with any cool performances, or take your chances and wander on through during the weekend for a potential glimpse of greatness.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    • Like a Local
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nightlife Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Indie bands like Asian Kung-Fu Generation and The Back Horn erupted from Shelter, where they caught their big breaks and made it onto the scene. Check out the up-and-comings here!
    • For all you punkers and hardcore fans, visit Earthdom for all your raucous music needs. This basement joint also has a second room attached for when the crowd is too rough for ya!
    • A successor of the inimitable Shelter, Fever attracts as many international artists as it does local groups, and is a solid pick for live music in Tokyo. Good food at Popo, too!
    • Heaven's Door is another great venue for indie bands and has a close-knit family-like atmosphere. Acts are handpicked and remain regulars for a long time so expect top quality.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 2 things to do in Hibiyakoen
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Beautiful Park 13/06/2019
    • Beautiful Park 06/06/2019
    • Hibiya Park
    Address:
    1-6 Hibiiya-koen
    Hibiyakoen, Chuo 100-0012
    Tokyo Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 3-3501-6428
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    00:00 - 23:59
    Other:
  • Inokashira Onshi Park
    Scenic Walking Areas, Parks
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    Personally, Inokashira Park is one of my favorite green spaces in the city, and often falls to the wayside in lieu of the more intricate gardens and parks to be found in more central Tokyo. However, it's definitely worth heading out a little further west into the young and hip Kichijōji area to visit this beautiful forest. Take a boat out onto the pond, have an intimate picnic with a friend or loved one, visit the zoo or the aquarium, and on weekends and holidays, wander through the pop-up art market for a new statement piece to take home with you. Last but certainly not least, wander around the Ghibli Museum, tucked away in the southwest corner of the park, and get in touch with your inner child while also learning of the technological intricacies of the animation process.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Like a Local
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Remember to take a photo with the life-size statue of the robot from Hayao Miyazaki's 1986 animated film, "Castle in the Sky," on the top floor of the museum!
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 63 things to do in Musashino
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A big park 14/06/2019
    • Good part of the Zoo Parcel 02/05/2019
    • Inokashira Onshi Park
    Phone:
    +81 422-47-6900
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    00:00 - 23:59
    Other:
  • Takadanobaba
    Neighbourhoods
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    If there's one thing I love most about living in Tōkyō, it's learning about and eating all of the naan and Indian curry I can get my hands on. Halfway between Ikebukuro and Shinjuku is the innocuous mouthful of a station named Takada-no-baba, where you'll find some of the best South Asian curry restaurants in town. Check out Durga or Khana Waseda in particular, and order your favorite type of curry, plus an order of naan: garlic naan, cheese naan, regular naan, any-kind-of-naan, you just can't go wrong when naan's involved!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Like a Local
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Check out "Father of Manga" Osamu Tezuka's homage murals at the JR Waseda Exit, where even the train platform uses the theme song from his key work Astro Boy for departing trains!
    • As Waseda University is located in this area, Sakae-dōri is often teeming with students. Join them down this narrow street of small restaurants, bars, and cafés for a quick bite!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #30 of 410 things to do in Shinjuku
    • Night spot 28/03/2019
    • University Town 21/08/2018
    • Takadanobaba
  • Sky Circus Sunshine60 Observatory
    Points of Interest & Landmarks, Observation Decks & Towers
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    Despite having a whole short-novel-turned-anime series take place in this oft-overlooked neighborhood, Ikebukuro and its many well-known sites are so underground that they rarely get a mention, even in the hippest of guidebooks. In reality, Ikebukuro is about as densely populated as Shinjuku and nearly as popular as Akihabara for local otaku (anime and manga fans); in fact, it's known as the Akiba geared toward female otaku, offering stores on Otome-dōri like Mandarake, Cospa, Animate, and others, as well as butler and cat cafés in contrast to Electric Town's many maid cafés. On the less otaku-specific side, Ikebukuro is also quite fun to shop in at places like the specialty department store Tōkyū Hands and the building complex Sunshine City, complete with a museum, an aquarium, a planetarium, world-class dining, a theatre, a hotel, and a shopping mall. For a small fee, head to the top of the Sunshine 60 skyscraper for an even better view of Tokyo than Tokyo Tower itself!

    Good for
    • Like a Local
    • LGBT
    • Shopping Fanatic
    Tips
    • Food in the Sunshine City complex can be a bit on the pricey side, so head out into the rest of Ikebukuro to find a charming café or a famiresu (family restaurant) instead.
    • Check out the indoor theme park Namja Town at Sunshine City! Don't forget J-World Tokyo for carnival games based on popular Shōnen JUMP series like One Piece and Naruto upstairs!
    • Shop at the Tōbu and Seibu department stores just off the train station building, and give Akihabara a run for its money at the electronics havens Bic Camera and Yamada Denki.
    • The Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre is located right off Ikebukuro Nishiguchi (West Exit) Park. Get cultured and attend a classical music, ballet, or theatre performance!
    • Mutekiya is one of the most lauded rāmen-ya in this part of town, so go have a taste and decide for yourself if it's worth the hype.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 167 things to do in Toshima
    • Great stop in Toshima 18/06/2019
    • A Must See!!! 04/06/2019
    • Sky Circus Sunshine60 Observatory
    Address:
    3-1-1 Higashiikebukuro
    Sunshine City Sunshine 60
    Toshima 170-8630
    Tokyo Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 3-3989-3457
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 22:00
    Other:
  • University of Tokyo
    Points of Interest & Landmarks, Historic Walking Areas, Universities & Schools
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    On the esteemed grounds of the University of Tokyo, you will find a beautiful pond in the shape of the Chinese character for 'heart.' This spot, nestled in amongst the Ikutoku-en, or the Garden of Teaching Virtue, is named after famous Japanese novelist Natsume Sōseki's coming-of-age novel 'Sanshirō.' When you stand at the edge of the water, it's easy to imagine a life where skyscrapers are nothing but a wild dream, to imagine the pond as Sanshirō's heart, pure and transplanted from the sleepy countryside to the hustle-and-bustle of Tokyo. So take a moment to just breathe in the fresh air around you, meditate a little, and recharge before you head off to your next destination.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Weekends and holidays are popular with families, who huddle at the edge of the pond's wooden bridges to fish for crayfish. Try your hand at it, too!
    • Due to its quiet and intimate atmosphere, this is a great place to come alone, with family, or with a loved one.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 291 things to do in Bunkyo
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • inhale some campus atmosphere 14/05/2019
    • Nogaku-bu (Faculty of Agriculture) 05/04/2019
    • University of Tokyo
    Address:
    7-3-1 Hongo
    Bunkyo 113-0033
    Tokyo Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 3-3812-2111
    Other:
  • Sugamo Jizo-dori Shopping Street
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    Often referred to as 'Old Ladies' Harajuku,' Jizō-dōri shopping street may seem to cater to an older age range of clientele, but that doesn't make it any less intriguing for a stroll. Visit the Jizō Bodhisattva statue that this street gets its name from at the local temple, ask him to help ease the pains of your carpal tunnel and early onset arthritis from typing all the time, and then head out onto the main street to purchase one of the district's signature akapantsu (red underwear) for good luck! Maybe it's because older people are far more worldly and wise than the average young whipper-snapper, but you can probably expect to have some great and charming conversations with staff and fellow patrons here - a rarity among the typically aloof Tokyoites.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Like a Local
    • Shopping Fanatic
    Tips
    • Another signature item sold in Sugamo is shio-daifuku (salty-sweet rice cake filled with bean-paste), so stock up on those, rice crackers, and monaka (bean-jam-filled wafers).
    • Togenuki Jizō-ji holds a small festival every month on the 4th, 14th, and the 24th, so time your visit accordingly and peruse the hundreds of stalls set up along the road!
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #8 of 167 things to do in Toshima
    • Ok if you are in the neighborhood 11/06/2019
    • Not just for “old people”! 19/03/2019
    • Sugamo Jizo-dori Shopping Street
    Address:
    Sugamo
    Toshima 170-0002
    Tokyo Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 3-3918-2101
    Other:
  • Ryogoku Kokugikan
    Arenas & Stadiums
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    Visit the Ryōgoku neighborhood for all things sumō! Many tourists tend to bypass sumō as a thing to do in Tokyo when they're pressed for time, but this is definitely an experience you'll want to have at least once in your life - and if not now, then when? Catch a match at the Ryōgoku Kokugi-kan, and then head to one of the many restaurants in the area to try some chanko-nabe, the staple food item of sumō that resembles hotpot - a stew of vegetables, meat, and seafood. Most of these restaurants are run by retired sumō too, so if you're a fan of a particular wrestler and know which restaurant he owns, this is a great chance to dine with a celebrity!

    Good for
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Thrill Seeker
    Tips
    • You'll want to buy tickets well in advance, especially if you wish to attend a real tournament fight. Check out the stadium's website for more details and to purchase tickets!
    • As with many sports, it may be a little difficult to truly understand what's going on. Try to do some research and/or ask a friend who knows a little bit about sumō to guide you!
    • Tours for sumō stables tend to be for Japanese speakers only, and even then are usually exclusive to fans already in the know about sumō. Connections are everything here!
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 254 things to do in Sumida
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • The Tokyo Sumo Tournament was on our Bucket List. 10/06/2019
    • Sadly, no tournament 10/06/2019
    • Ryogoku Kokugikan
    Address:
    1-3-28 Yokoami
    Sumida 130-0015
    Tokyo Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 3-3623-5111
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    10:00 - 16:30
    Other:
  • The Lock-up Shibuya
    Restaurants (American, Bar, Barbecue)
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    Izakaya (tapas-style drinking restaurants) are a ubiquitous trend across the country, ranging from normal everyday restaurants that offer amazing tabe-hōdai (all-you-can-eat) and nomi-hōdai (all-you-can-drink) deals, to themed venues with a bit of an interactive element to them. The Lock-Up's theme is a prison-slash-insane-asylum, complete with hosts and waiters dressed up as police officers, and individual rooms for your party, set behind iron bars. When the alarm goes off and the lights go out every half hour or so, monster-like prisoners that have broken loose wander the halls to wreak havoc on patrons as they drink from test tubes and eat questionably-shaped and textured (but quite delicious!) meals. Definitely not for the weak of heart, but still worth the teary-eyed, heart-pounding experience!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Like a Local
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Senior
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • Try all of the different themed restaurants that you can find! For something a little more scaredycat-friendly, try one of the many Alice in Wonderland themed cafés in town.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #0 of 0 restaurants in
    • Great theme! 30/12/2018
    • Not not NOT 30/10/2018
    • The Lock-up Shibuya
    Address:
    33-1 Udagawacho
    B2F Shibuya Grand Tokyo Bldg.
    Shibuya 150-0042
    Tokyo Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 3-5728-7731
    Price range:
    US$23 - US$46
    Hours:
    Sun
    15:00 - 00:00
    Mon - Thu
    17:00 - 01:00
    Fri
    17:00 - 04:00
    Sat
    15:00 - 04:00
    Other:
  • Tokyo Disneyland
    Theme Parks, Disney Parks & Activities
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    Give Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea more of a shot than you think you ought to! There's the nostalgia of your childhood to enjoy here, and there're also a few subtle differences that are worth taking note of, like how Cinderella's Castle may display the same character and plot that we're all used to, yet is still presented in a manner that is distinctly Japanese. The 'World Bazaar,' too, presents characters wearing traditional Japanese kimono, rather than sticking to a rigid US Disney formula. So even if you aren't a fan of theme parks in general, come people-watch and experience a Western childhood staple from a completely different perspective!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • Thrill Seeker
    Tips
    • Disneyland isn't just for kids! In fact, most guests tend to be young men and women. Believe it or not, but taking your crush on a date to Tokyo Disney is considered very romantic!
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 5 things to do in Maihama
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great experience 19/06/2019
    • Big disappointment (sorry Disney ) 18/06/2019
    • Tokyo Disneyland
    Address:
    1-1
    Maihama, Urayasu 279-8511
    Chiba Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 570-008-632
    Price range:
    US$7,400 - US$7,400
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    08:00 - 22:00
    Other:
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