Let’s keep this introduction short: This is a list of the best things to do in Tokyo, tried and tested by a team of residents with a deep love for the city. We’ve got a few clichés on the list, but we tried to keep the list fresh with new ideas suitable for first-time visitors to Tokyo and Japan residents who maybe live in other cities and only visit the capital every now and again.
1. Buy a pair of custom sneakers at Shimokitazawa’s Ripery’s Sugar.
2. Pick up original Mario Bros-branded goods at The Nintendo Store. Pokémon fans will be delighted to know there is also a Pokémon Store right next door.
3. Shop all things Shibuya at Miyashita Park, from Hario jewelry to sustainable Tokyo-made clothing.
4. Browse Tokyo vintage vinyl shops for rare records (because Japanese records are a bit special).
5. Or splurge on something special in Aoyama (and take in the incredible architecture).
6. Venture out to Takeshita Street to try some trendy street food, but also be sure to wander in the Harajuku and Omotesando back alleys — that’s where all the best shops (and restaurants) are.
7. Hunt for vintage Japanese books and other bookworm artifacts in Jimbocho.
8. Pick up some new swag at one of Daikanyama’s amazingly-curated select shops.
9. Put together your perfect set of writing or sketching tools at Ginza’s Itoya.
Food and Drink
10. Treat yourself to authentic Edomae sushi at Sushi Yuu (we recommend booking at least two weeks in advance).
11. Or head to Udatsu Sushi, one of Keanu Reeves’s favorite Tokyo restaurants, where he celebrated his 54th birthday.
12. For seafood lovers especially, wake up early and head to Tsukiji, where you can sample the day’s catch.
13. Line up for a Michelin-starred ramen joint, of which Tokyo has three.
14. And if you’re stomach can handle it, give jiro ramen a taste — but do it at the original location in Mita-ku near Keio University.
15. We also recommend checking out Ramen Break Beats, founded and run by a former nightlife DJ.
16. For craft beer, we highly recommend Mikkeller on the first floor of Shibuya’s All Day Place hotel.
17. Experience shojin ryori at high-end restaurant Sougo in Roppongi.
18. Book a dinner at Été — and book months in advance.
19. Sit down and enjoy a typical Ainu feast at Harukor, Tokyo’s only Ainu restaurant.
20. Get to know your sake palate at Kubota Sake Bar in the basement of Shibuya Parco.
21. Discover your next favorite cocktail at Ebisu’s Bar Trench. Fun fact: This bar was featured in the Japan episode of Netflix’s Midnight Asia.
22. If you’re more of a sipping tequila and mezcal kind of person, check out Faramarz Lounge & Gallery in Nakameguro.
23. Get back into the groove of things at one of Tokyo’s retro meikyoku kissaten (literally “masterpiece cafés”).
24. Grab a cup of coffee with personalized foam art in Asakusa.
25. Visit Nakameguro’s massive Starbucks roastery (it is a little bit like a theme park).
26. Or, the easiest way to get to know Tokyo’s café culture: Pick your favorite neighborhood and go coffee shop-hopping. Here are our most recent guides: Asakusa, Koenji and Roppongi.
27. In the summer (though some shops serve these all year long), try kakigori (shaved ice). There are a handful of traditional shops in Asakusa. This list is a great place to start.
28. Take a walk through Setagaya’s Todoroki Valley, especially if you’re visiting Tokyo in the warmer months.
29. Hit one of Tokyo’s most beautiful gardens.
30. Go cherry blossom viewing in Aoyama Cemetery in the spring.
31. See the Nezu Museum’s violet garden in bloom (usually in June).
32. Catch a glimpse of Tokyo’s fireflies in the summer.
33. For adrenaline seekers, go river rafting in Hinohara.
34. Hike Mount Takao, which offers a great range of easy to moderate hiking trails.
35. Take a dip in an oceanside hot spring on Shikinejima, one of the Tokyo islands.
Art and Culture
36. Get to know Tokyo’s upcoming musical acts at one of More Than Music’s events. We can confirm they can throw a damn good party.
37. See most (if not all) of Japan’s recent technological advancements at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (also known as Miraikan) in Odaiba. They’ve recently updated their permanent exhibitions to include the latest tech — and it’s very cool.
38. Dip your toes into the Tokyo jazz scene with an evening at Blue Note Tokyo.
39. Take a selfie with every piece of public art in the city.
40. Attend a drag show at Haus of Schwarz.
41. Visit Takashi Murakami at Kaikai Kiki Gallery.
42. Or surround yourself with the art of Yayoi Kusama.
43. Catch a show at the New National Theatre, Tokyo. Be sure to check out the theatre’s website for upcoming shows.
44. Browse local zines and coffee table books at Daikanyama‘s T-Site.
45. Art, design and architecture book lovers should also check out Post in Ebisu. The specialty store holds a curated selection of titles.
46. Plan a day trip to the Ghibli Museum (be sure to book in advance) and theme park, opening in fall 2022. Details here.
47. Take a ride in a rickshaw in Asakusa. Many drivers are sociable and have fascinating lifestyles.
48. Sign up for one of Tokyo’s authentic tea ceremonies.
49. Pick up an omamori for your loved ones at one of Tokyo’s famous shrines. Our recommendations: Meiji Jingu or Asakusa’s Sensoji.
50. Embark on a temple run after buying your very own goshuincho (stamp book). It makes for a great, personalized souvenir too.
51. Climb up Tokyo Tower’s 600 steps to the main observatory. It’s a good workout and promises a gorgeous view of the city.
52. Alternatively, head to the top of Shibuya Scramble at Shibuya Sky. Be sure to pick up some Tokyo softcream flavors on the way down.
53. Meet some members of the international community at Higashi-Nagasaki’s Mia Mia.
54. Spend a night in a love hotel (bonus points if it’s in Shibuya’s Dogenzaka area).
55. Get lost in Tokyo Station (perhaps literally, but either way there’s so much to do).
56. Visit the iconic venues from the Tokyo 1964 and 2020 Olympics.
57. Visit the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Tunnel, also known as the underground temple of concrete. A tour is recommended.
58. Get spooked at one of Tokyo’s haunted houses.
59. See Tokyo’s designer public bathrooms in the flesh.
60. Photographers of all levels should absolutely go trainspotting.
61. And Haruki Murakami fans should instead head to Nippori for cat spotting.
62. Hit one of Tokyo’s new saunas.
63. See some real-life robots in action — and for a good cause, too — at Avatar Robot Café Dawn.
64. Shop at the biggest MUJI location and stay at MUJI Hotel.
65. Visit Meguro-ku’s Parasitological Museum or any of these weird museums in Tokyo.
66. Spend a day at Tokyo Dome City. Best recommended for adrenaline seekers and fans of roller coasters, though the amusement park has a myriad of activities, some suitable for a rainy day too.
67. Check out Okubo’s Korea Town.
68. Go around the Yamanote Line at least once.
69. Grab some FamilyMart swag (bonus points if you can build almost a whole outfit).
70. And while you’re at it, taste all the conbini coffee and pick your favorite.