I spent quite some time researching what to do in Tokyo. I wanted to see Tokyo’s coolest things to do, the best places in the city to check out, and to see if I could explore a few places off Tokyo’s beaten track.
If you’re anything like me – wants to see a city’s big sights but mixed up with a few weird wonders too – you’ll enjoy all 52 of the coolest things in Tokyo. Guaranteed.
So print this out, get it on your phone, write it out – however you want to digest it – use it, and I guarantee you will have an incredible time in Tokyo. Just like I did.
52 Coolest Things to Do in Tokyo
1. Get your fortune told at Sensoji Temple.
2. Check out the line up at Womb club. Go.
3. Make some friends on the weekend Pub Crawl.
4. See an artist live at the awesome Liquid Room.
5. Visit a pet shop, there’s one in Shibuya to try.
6. Find a sushi train. Try Ginza.
7. Stay at a capsule hotel. Shinjuku kuyakusho-mae is a good shout.
8. Drink a beer at the Time Out Cafe.
9. And a Moscow Mule at the Robot Restaurant.
10. Eat the jerky at the Brooklyn Parlour.
11. Walk around the beautiful Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.
12. Visit Harajuku on a Saturday (early). Eat crepes and try on clothes (with a bag over your head).
13. And then go and hang out in Yoyongi Park for the dancers.
14. Get your photo taken on Shibuya crossing.
15. Eat a big fat burger at Lotteria, the Japanese Maccas.
16. Scoff teriyaki in the Golden Gai area, once you’ve managed to find a place that serves foreigners.
17. Eat sushi at the Asakusa Station Department Store, basement floor.
18. Buy amazing cheap things at Asakusa Market. I bought a sparkly bolero. Love it.
19. Use the subway and get horribly confused and lost.
20. Go to Ryogku and watch the sumo wrestling.
READ MORE: Check out the coolest day trips from Tokyo on travelonthebrain.net.
21. Spend the day at Disneyland.
22. Go to the Japanese tapas restaurant under the underpass in Ryogoku.
23. Find the craziest thing you can at the 7/11, buy it and eat it. Repeat.
24. Join in with the Japanese obsession with cakes.
25. Take a look in the cake shop, for dogs, in Ryogku.
26. Climb to the highest point of Roppongi Hills and admire the Tokyo view, for free.
27. Take some photos in the Purikura photo booths. One of the absolute must dos if you’re looking for fun things to do in Tokyo.
28. Eat Yonezawa steak and drink red wine at Rainbow in Shimokitazawa.
29. Go vintage clothes shopping in Shimokitazawa.
30. See the panda at Ueno Park Zoo.
31. Walk around Ueno Park for the fresh air.
32. Eat and drink from the endless vending machines.
33. Eat the French toast feasts advertised everywhere.
34. Explore the market around Ueno Station and scoff some strawberries on sticks.
35. Go to the biggest sex shop in the world in Akihabara.
36. Drink green latte tea at the Maid Cafe in Akihabara.
37. Buy some electrical things in Akihabara.
38. Eat ramen, everywhere.
39. Try the chicken curry at Coco’s. Unlike any curry you’ve ever had before.
40. Drink coffee and check your emails at the Mercedes Benz Connection showroom.
41. See the Gundam statue in Odaiba.
42. Wander at night / morning when you’re jet lagged to see Tokyo like no one else.
43. Go in a spaceship at the Museum of Emerging Science in Odaiba.
44. And talk to a real life robot.
45. Then check out Odaiba’s Venus Fort Shopping Mall, and in house car museum.
46. Rent a karaoke room by the hour and belt out your best power ballad.
47. Test out every function on one of the washlet toilets.
48. Have a gin and tonic at Tower Records Cafe in Shibuya.
49. Try and win a stuffed sushi toy in the arcades.
50. Try all the sakes.
51. Visit the Monchichi Museum in Asakusa.
52. Put the map down, go off grid and find your own Tokyo!
More things to do in Tokyo
This lot kept me busy for ten days. There are a few other things I would’ve liked to do, which I’ll add here, but I can’t vouch for them personally.
- Tokyo Tower – too expensive and I saw the view for free from Roppongi Hills.
- Tokyo Sky Tree – same.
- Bus tour – need to do it on the first day to get value from it.
- Ginza kabuki – no time.
- More themed restaurants – travelling solo, not as fun.
- Love Hotels – same!
Food in Tokyo
I basically spent my first week in Tokyo on the sushi. It was only after 7 days that I started to look elsewhere and found the Japanese tapas and the absolutely incredible Yonezawa beef steak. There are so many themed restaurants in Tokyo I’d love to try but they’re just not as fun to visit when you’re backpacking by yourself.
I spent more time exploring in the day than at night too, so next time I go to Tokyo I’d go with someone and dedicate a lot more time to experiencing the food and drink.
There are so many more things to do in Tokyo I need to experience!
9 of the Weirdest Things to Do in Tokyo
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Highlight of Tokyo: Sumo Wrestling
I went to watch the sumo wrestling championship in Ryogoku, Tokyo. Everything else I’d seen in Tokyo fails in comparison to how weird those three hours were.
I queued up at 7am to get my ticket. This allowed me entrance from 8am until 6pm – I decided to wait until 2pm, when the big deals came on. And boy were they big. I’d not seen even a chubby person during my entire week in Tokyo and then these guys come out in their little belts, with just a ribbon over their bum crack. What a delight for those on the front row when they crouched down.
What is sumo wrestling?
With my 2,200Y ticket I had no idea where I was meant to sit so just went chair hopping on the best seats until I was booted off. Watching those guys battle it out made me hungry so in between one particular chair migration I decided to grab a beer and some beef jerky to make it through the second hour.
I hadn’t a clue what was going on, and decided to leave it that way and just enjoy the spectacle for what it was. Bonkers.
As far as I can tell sumo wrestling is a lot of thigh slapping, crouching, stomping around and dramatically throwing chalk up into the air. Every so often they decided to ‘wrestle’ which was just them pushing against each other until one of them stumbled out of the ring. I’m sure my brother and I used to do that when we were little, we didn’t start calling ourselves ‘sumo wrestlers’. Each ‘bout’ only lasted for a few seconds because as soon as they got a body part that wasn’t their feet on the floor, or they fell out of the ring, it was game over.
Rumour has it that sumo wrestlers eat 20,000 calories a day – wow. No wonder they needed to stop for a refreshment after stomping a leg or two.
My top sumo wrestling audience tip
Word of warning for you, don’t sit on the front row as not only do you get ‘too much information’ when they do their whole crouching sequence, you may also get a sumo wrestler in your lap when they topple over the side of the ring squashing anyone in their path.
It was a fun crowd with everyone shouting out and even laughing when they got pushed out. There were obviously some firm favourites among the sumo wrestlers as when they all came on at the end of their time slot some were cheered a lot more than others.
In between the matches a finely dressed gentleman would come out with a fan and start singing to introduce the next fight. Apparently you could get some sort of earphone contraption to explain exactly what was happening, but I only found that out after I’d left.
It was fun, it was an experience, but I think three hours of sumo is enough for my lifetime.
The Maid Cafe Experience
Yesterday I went to the @home Maid Cafe in the huge AKB48 store in Akiharaba and I still feel a bit weird about the whole experience.
The Maid Café experience
I was in the store, saw a queue, joined it and ended up in a parallel universe where the waitresses wore maid outfits, you had to bless your drink with the greeting above and your coffee had some sort of anime creature squeezed onto it by the maid in front of you.
Maid Cafes are a big thing in Japan, and I’d just stumbled on one of the most popular ones in Tokyo.
Sadly I wasn’t allowed to take photos in there – only of the food and drink – so I’ll have to describe the novelty. The walls were striped candy pink and brown and adorned with photos of the maids in cutesy positions on carousels, chandeliers and disco balls hung from the ceiling and right in front of me was a stage, complete with delightful pink curtains. I was shown to a stool at a bench curving round the performance space, along with 5 other customers, all male. The rest of the café was made up of tables, featuring about 20 Japanese men, a western couple and a Japanese mum and teenage son.
If only I knew Japanese…
‘My’ maid, Melu, bought over a board with photos of six girls pinned on. Not quite sure what I was meant to do I just pointed at one and nodded and smiled. She did the same and kept looking at me. So I did it again. After an uncomfortable minute where she stood smiling sweetly at me and stroking her hair, off she scurried.
Unfortunately my interaction with the maids was limited seeing as I don’t speak a word of Japanese, and my maid didn’t speak English. They were definitely entertaining the men surrounding me though, laughter all round.
If only I had the cash to splash I would’ve spent 700¥ on the chance to play Connect 4 with one of the maids, another option on the menu.
For the 1,900¥ I did spend (£10.31) I got my entrance for an hour, a drink of my choice (green tea flavoured coffee), a glass of water and… a photo with the maid.
At first I thought the suspicious looking box on the stage with anime style headbands in was for them to do some sort of performance, and was looking forward to it. But as ‘Bicky’ was called out on the microphone I realised it was for me to go up, choose something ridiculous to put on my head, and have my photo taken. At least I got to do the heart thing again, this time in front of the whole café.
And even weirder
Then, just when I thought the whole thing couldn’t get any weirder, as I was about to leave my maid thanked me for being a good master and gave me this ‘Master’s Certificate Card’ with ‘Princess Vicky’ written in Japanese on the back.
I shall treasure it forever.