The Best Things to do in Tokyo, Japan

The 10 Best Things to do in Tokyo, Japan

Welcome to the bustling metropolis of Tokyo, a destination where ancient traditions live in perfect harmony with modern innovation. Whether you’re a first-time visitor to the dazzling city or a seasoned traveler who visits all the time, there are so many incredible things to do in Tokyo that there’s zero chance of being bored – even for a second!

Today we’ll go on a journey through the top 10 must-do activities in this dynamic city. From serene moments spent sipping tea in traditional tea rooms and wandering through cherry blossom-filled parks to the electric energy of the Shibuya Crossing and spectacular views you’ll never forget, Tokyo has something for everyone.

With so many things to see and do, it can be tricky to know where to begin. To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best things to do in Tokyo. Add these fun activities and attractions to your Tokyo bucket list, and you’re sure to have an amazing time exploring this one-of-a-kind city! 

The 10 Best Things to Do in Tokyo, Japan

1. Have a Traditional Sakurai Tea Experience

Best Things to do in Tokyo, Japan: Sakurai Tea

Start your vacation with one of the most unique things to do in Tokyo – a traditional Sakurai tea experience. The founder of the Sakurai Tea Shop studied hard for 14 years to become a master and provide an authentic “sado” (way of tea) journey to all his guests. 

When you sit down in the intimate eight-seat tea room, you’ll be surrounded by glass jars containing 30+ types of green tea. Gyokuro, a remarkable variety grown in the shade, is the local specialty. What makes the tea experience extra special here is that the owner travels all around Japan to collect the finest leaves, which he then roasts each day in-house before serving.


2. See the Cherry Blossom Trees

Cool Things to do in Tokyo, Japan: Cherry Blossoms Tree

If you’re planning on visiting between late March and early April, you’re just in time for one of the best sights in Tokyo – cherry blossom trees in full bloom! There are almost 100 individual blossom viewing sites throughout the city where you can admire sweeping panoramas of pretty pink petals. At this time of year, you’ll also discover illumination events and cherry blossom festivals throughout the city. 

The Koishikawa Botanical Gardens is one of our favorite spots to admire cherry blossom trees. This huge park covers 40 acres and boasts a stunning street lined with cherry blossom trees. Picnics are allowed here, so pack a delicious lunch and enjoy it below the confetti-like blossom.


3. Be Humbled by Sensoji

Unique Things to do in Tokyo, Japan: Sensoji

One of the most popular Tokyo sightseeing hotspots, Sensoji is even more enchanting in person than it looks in pictures. Although this part of the city is always bustling with visitors, the Buddhist temple has a spiritual, almost mystical vibe and is one of the most colorful in Japan.

To reach Sensoji, you first need to walk through the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), pass by the 650-foot-long Nakamise shopping street, and walk through the inner Hozomon Gate. When you arrive, you’ll spot the enchanting temple and the neighboring five-story pagoda which stands to the left of it.

Make sure you seek out the cauldron in front of the temple. This is where powerful incense is burned and breathing it in is said to be good for your health. 


4. Wander through the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Fun Things to do in Tokyo, Japan: Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

When you need a break from all the fascinating things to see in Tokyo, spend some time at the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. This 114-acre park boasts all kinds of stunning green spaces, including traditional Japanese gardens, formal French gardens, and English landscaped gardens. 

In spring, the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is one of the most spectacular places to see cherry blossoms. But at any other time of year, it remains one of the most relaxing Tokyo attractions. There are wonderfully maintained walking trails, shimmering ponds dotted with cute bridges, a mesmerizing art gallery, and a stunning greenhouse filled with subtropical and tropical plants.


5. Slurp Big Bowls of Tsukemen

Tokyo, Japan Bucket List: Tsukemen

Whether or not you consider yourself to be a foodie, one of the most fun things to do in Tokyo is to eat! And tsukemen is one dish you’ve absolutely got to try. This iconic staple translates into English as “dipping noodles”, which describes it perfectly.

The noodles and loaded broth that make up this dish are served in separate bowls. As the name suggests, you dip the noodles into the broth and slurp them up. Tsukemen noodles are typically thicker than in other ramen-style dishes and the broth tends to be more concentrated in flavor. 

Higashi-Ikebukuro Taishoken is one of the most famous places for this iconic dish. The portions are absolutely huge, the flavor is perfectly balanced, and the noodles are delightfully springy.


6. Scramble Over the Shibuya Crossing

Must do things in Tokyo, Japan: Shibuya Crossing

Feeling the energy of the Shibuya Crossing (aka The Scramble) is one of the must-do things in Tokyo. The busiest intersection in the world, the Shibuya Crossing is a chaotic combination of lights, sounds, smells, and hundreds of people trying to get from one side of the intersection to the other.

Giant screens show videos advertising all sorts of things while smart office workers, nervous travelers, and bag-laden shoppers try to navigate from point A to B. The high-energy feeling you get while crossing is unlike anything else you’ll experience elsewhere. 

Dusk is the best and busiest time to visit. Although you’ll definitely be surrounded by crowds, the crossing is in its most flattering light at this time and looks great in pictures. Head to the nearby Shibuya Scramble Square Tower for the chance to witness the crossing without having to walk on it.


7. Be Wowed by the View from the Tokyo Skytree

What to do in Tokyo, Japan: Skytree

For unbeatable views, one of the coolest things to do in Tokyo is to ride the elevator to the top of the Tokyo Skytree. Standing at a whopping 2,080 feet, this iconic landmark is the tallest tower in Japan and one of the tallest in the world. It features two incredible observation decks where you can take in 360° views of the entire city. Moving at almost 2,000 feet per minute, the elevator is likely to be the fastest one you’ll ever ride on!

There are many other interesting parts to the Tokyo Skytree, too. On the ground floor you’ll find a large shopping complex and aquarium. Head up and you’ll also discover a cafe and restaurant with spectacular views, plus a small shop where you can buy souvenirs. 


8. Explore the Yayoi Kusama Museum

If you need a break from all the regular attractions, one of the top things to do in Tokyo is to spend some time at the Yayoi Kusama Museum. Hidden away in a suburban area of Shinjuku, this eye-catching white building stands five stories tall and is home to a huge number of innovative pieces created by artist Yayoi Kusama.  

Make sure you check out the Infinity Mirror Rooms series. These Instagram-worthy spaces use mirrors to reflect all kinds of twinkling fairy lights, large glowing lamps, and other quirky trinkets, creating the feeling that the space goes on forever. The temporary exhibitions change every six months, so even if you’ve been before, it’s certainly worth going again.


9. Snack on monjayaki

Tokyo, Japan Things to do: Monjayaki

Tokyo’s answer to Osaka’s okonomiyaki, monjayaki is a moreish type of savory pancake that you cook yourself on a hot plate. 

One of the most fun things to do in Tokyo if you like getting hands-on, making monjayaki starts with spreading all the ingredients (pancake batter, cabbage, your choice of protein, and extras) onto a hot plate and cooking it until it’s crispy on the outside, but still a little runny in the center. Flip it over and continue cooking until it’s crispy on the other side and you’re done! 

Monja Mugi has been providing hungry diners with the ingredients and equipment to make their own monjayaki for 35+ years. It may not look like much on the outside, but it’s one of the most authentic and popular spots for this classic dish.


10. Go on a Winter Light Tour

Best Things to do in Tokyo, Japan: Winter Light Tour

If you’re planning on visiting in December, you’re just in time for one of the top Tokyo activities – going on a winter light tour. At this time of year, the entire cityscape is decorated with twinkling lights designed to get everyone into the holiday spirit. Create your own winter light tour and enjoy the season!

At this time of year, the trees in Tokyo Midtown are dressed with beautiful lights and there’s a pop-up rink for ice skating. You’ll find more festive lights around the Roppongi Hills complex, all the way along Nakadori Street, and throughout the entire district of Marunouchi. 

Definitely check out the trees along the Meguro River between Gotanda and Osaki stations. They’re decorated in gorgeous pink LED lights that look like cherry blossoms!

There you have it! The 10 best things to do in Tokyo. What’s your favorite thing to do in Tokyo?


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Author

  • Nicola Quinn

    Nicola is a freelance writer with an insatiable hunger for travel. She swapped her home in the UK for the sunny Canary Islands when she was just 11 and she has been based there ever since.

    From crawling on her hands and knees inside pyramids in Egypt to swimming with baby sharks in Bali and searching (fruitlessly!) for the Northern Lights in Iceland, Nicola takes every chance she gets to explore new places.

    The incredible experiences she has around the world fuels her writing and inspires her to plan even more adventures for the future.

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