16 Awesome Things To Do On Your First Visit To Tokyo

Four days in a city that has so much to offer simply isn’t enough; but alas, that’s the only time we had. With this list of 16 awesome things to do in Tokyo on your first visit you’ll be sure to enjoy this city and everything it has to offer. Tokyo is a gourmet city filled with cultural experiences where you’ll find something for everyone.

Related Post: Restaurant Picks Fit For Foodies - Tokyo (Part 1)

Related Post: Restaurant Picks Fit For Foodies - Tokyo (Part 2)

If you want to get the most out of your time in a city hire a driver! The subway is great but between the time it takes to figure out where you are, where you need to go, and then once you get to your destination, the best place to get started, you’d already have seen half the attraction with a driver. We had three drivers during our stay in Tokyo and Yoshinori Takamatsu was by far the best! He spoke fluent English, was very friendly and had no problem telling me if something wasn’t worth seeing. He tailored my itinerary based on rush hour traffic and opening hours which was very helpful. If you are planning a trip to Tokyo I recommend reaching out to him in advance, you won’t regret it.  

Yoshinori Takamatsu's Contact Information:



And now here is the list of 16 Awesome Things To Do In Tokyo On Your First Visit:

Tsukiji Fish Market

This isn’t only the largest wholesale fish market in Tokyo and Japan but in the whole world! The famous Tuna Auction requires you to stay up really late or wake up really early, neither options are appealing to Mr. Chieff and I so we missed this very popular event. Make sure to check out the Market Calendar and visitor’s rules here to ensure you plan your visit accordingly. Of course we weren’t going to miss out on the incredibly fresh fish and in true Chieff fashion we arrived in time for a pre-lunch snack.
Tsukiji Fish Market
One Of Many Tuna Stalls

Stay In A Ryokan Hotel

A ryokan is a traditional Japanese hotel that originated in the Edo period. We stayed at the Hoshinoya Tokyo, a five-star hotel located in the city’s financial district, built on the theme of “an alternative Japan”. What makes the Hoshinoya unique?

  1. Guests are to take off their shoes at the entrance and walk around the hotel barefoot;
  2. Guests are provided with a casual kimono and encouraged to wear it throughout the hotel or for short walks in the area;
  3. Every floor is covered by a seamless mosaic of tatami mats making it enjoyable to walk around barefoot;
  4. The rooms offer a minimalist traditional design with bamboo closets, and shoji paper sliding doors;
  5. Every floor has an ochanoma—a lounge that serves as an exclusive living and dining room for guests staying there;
  6. Hot spring (onsen) located on the top floor (communal bath used without wearing swimsuits);
  7. A ryokan style spa that offers oil treatments and body remake treatments;
  8. Concierge service to help you with all your needs;
  9. Access to subway stations from the hotel.
Yuri Room
Casual Kimono To Wear Around Hotel

Visit Tokyo’s Futuristic City Of Odaiba

The new Tokyo waterfront, Odaiba is a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay, across the Rainbow Bridge. Enjoy some entertainment in the area, take a ride on water buses, have a taste of gourmet food, do a little shopping, watch the sunset and take in the night view of the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower.
Fuji Television Network Building
Statue of Liberty (Odaiba) & Rainbow Bridge
Statue of Liberty (Odaiba) & Rainbow Bridge

Take A Stroll In A Traditional Japanese Garden

If you are looking for a beautiful Japanese style garden Tokyo has several noteworthy parks and gardens that offer a break from the bustling cityscape. Rikugien is a circuit style daimyo garden dating back to the Edo era constructed in 1702 by Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu. It has manmade hills and ponds that reflect the world of Waka poetry; it reproduces landscape scenes from famous poems in miniature. This garden is not very well known to tourists but worth a visit!
Rikugien Gardens

Nakamise-dori Shopping Street

The 250m street is lined with approximately 90 stores dating from the Edo era and leads to Sensoji Temple, Tokyo’s most visited temple. You will find typical Japanese souvenirs such as folding fans, Japanese chopsticks, fabrics, traditional footwear, t-shirts and a selection of local snacks like rice crackers (Osenbei), cakes filled with sweet, red been paste (Ningyo-yaki) which are delicious by the way, and much more.
Yoshinori Treating Us To Ningyo-Yaki

Visit An Ancient Buddhist Temple

Sensoji Temple is located in Asakusa, it is said to have been built in 628 and it is Tokyo’s oldest and most famous temple. The Kaminarimon or Thunder Gate serves as the entrance to the Sensoji Temple, located right before Nakamise shopping street. The Hozomon Gate is the gateway to the inner complex of Sensoji Temple and the temple’s inner gate. It is said that the Sensoji Temple was created when a statue of Kannon was miraculously pulled out of the nearby Sumida River by local fishermen, the temple was then built to house and worship the statue.

Kaminarimon Gate
Kaminarimon Gate
Sensoji Temple Main Hall
Sensoji Temple Main Hall
Sensoji Temple
View From Inside The Main Hall

Shop For Electronics, Anime And Manga In Akihabara

You can find hundreds of electronics shops that offer everything from computers, cameras, televisions, mobile phones, electronic parts and second hand goods. Akihabara is the center of Japanese otaku (diehard fan) and anime culture where you can shop for anime, manga, figurines, card games and collectibles. Maid cafes are located at every corner where waitresses dress up and act like maids.

Mandarake: Largest Manga And Anime Shop In The World
Anime Figurines

Dress Up In Costumes And Drive Around Akihabara

Feel like dressing up like Mario, Luigi, Yoshi or whatever tickles your fancy and drive the streets of Tokyo? You can do that here.
Drive A Go-Cart On The Ttreets Of Tokyo

Get Front Row Seat At The Famous Scramble Crossing

The famous Shibuya Crossing is located in front of the Shibuya Station Hachikō exit. Watch as pedestrians pour onto the streets and make their way through the dense crowds. If you’d like a bird’s eye view of the crossing you can grab a coffee at Starbucks located within the Shibuya Tsutaya video rental store. L’Occitane Cafe Shibuya and Gusto Shibuya Ekimae a family style restaurant are also good options.

Shibuya Crossing
Shibuya Crossing

Explore Subculture Fashion

If you’re looking for teenage subculture fashion or just interested in seeing what this is all about, take a stroll on the narrow pedestrian only Takeshita Street. We clearly did not fit the demographic and stood out amongst the crowds of teenagers but if you have a sweet tooth this street is a must!

Takeshita Street
Takeshita Street
Takeshita Street
Candies And Sweets Everywhere!
Harajuku Fashion

Stand On Top Of The World - Tokyo Skytree

The tallest freestanding broadcasting tower in the world at 634 meters in height where you can see Mount Fuji on a sunny day. If you’re looking to overcome your fear of heights head on up to Floor 340 and step onto the heatproof, tempered glass floors and look down at your feet, you’ll get a view of Tokyo Skytree steel framework all the way down to the ground floor. You can take a break up in the air at the Skytree Café on floor 350 or dine at the Skytree restaurant on floor 345 and enjoy the breathtaking view of the city by day or night.

Tokyo Skytree Observation Deck
Observation Deck
Tokyo Skytree
Looking Down From Floor 340

Shop 'Til You Drop In Ginza

If you are looking for luxury shopping this is the place to be! You will find every designer brand imaginable in Ginza. The shopping area spans across a 1 km stretch of Chuo-dori with three streets running parallel west of Chuo-dori, and numerous little streets that connect them. You will also find some of the best restaurants in this area.


Ginza Shopping
Ginza Shopping District

Shop Art & Local Designers

When I visit new cities, I am always interested in finding local designers and art. You can find well known brands all around the world but local designers are unique to a city or region and you can find one of a kind pieces that are not available in your local market. We discovered this great eye wear brand, EYEVAN 7285, where Mr. Chieff purchased a cool pair of glasses. Being a contemporary art enthusiast I am always drawn to galleries that offer eccentric pieces and what better way to decorate your home than with art from all around the globe! Check out the cool art at Life Accent.

You can find art galleries and local designers in this area: 5 Chome-12 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 107-0062

Take A Stroll In The Hills

Rappongi Hills is a city within a city where you can enjoy Tokyo City View, the observation deck in the heart of Tokyo, shops, restaurants, a museum, cinema and other events. This is also home to Sushi Sukiyabashi Jiro, read all about our lunch at Takashi Ono’s restaurant in Restaurant Picks Fit For Foodies - Tokyo (Part 1 & 2)!

Related Post: Restaurant Picks Fit For Foodies - Tokyo (Part 1)

Related Post: Restaurant Picks Fit For Foodies - Tokyo (Part 2)

Rappongi Hills
Rappongi Hills

Land Your Helicopter On Top Of Tokyo City View

Another great place to get a fabulous view of Tokyo! The Tokyo City View observation deck is located 270 m above sea level on the roof of the Mori Tower in Raponggi Hills, it boasts a Heli pad and an open-air Sky Deck. Breathe some fresh air while you stand over Tokyo. Note: unavailable during inclement weather.
View From The Open-Air Sky Deck
Tokyo City View
Heli Pad

Check Out The Emperor’s Home

The Tokyo Imperial Palace is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan and is a 10-minute walk from the Hoshinoya Hotel. Considered the Central Park of Tokyo, the park-like area is surrounded by water filled moat, massive stone walls, and beautiful trees cover the grounds.  Take a walk through the magnificent park or if you’re a runner join the locals while they make their way around the park.

Imperial Palace
View Of The City From The Imperial Palace
Imperial Palace
Part Of The Imperial Palace

In conclusion, this list of 16 awesome things to do in Tokyo on your first visit should give you plenty to see and do. Tokyo is home to some of the best restaurants in the world, so stay tuned for my next two part blog about where to eat in this amazing city.

If you've had a chance to visit Tokyo and experienced something not mentioned I'd love to hear all about it in the comments below! If you haven't been to Tokyo yet, which of these activities would you enjoy?

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Restaurant Picks Fit For Foodies - Tokyo (Part 1)

Restaurant Picks Fit For Foodies - Tokyo (Part 2)

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