Unique Things to do in Tokyo
Tokyo is an innovative and fast-paced city known for its magnificent skyscrapers, shopping district, world-renowned restaurants and technology. Besides exploring popular tourist destinations, the city will keep you on your feet all day as there is an endless number of unique places to check out. From the world’s first digital art museum to a neighbourhood filled to the brim with antique books, Tokyo offers plenty ‘once in a life-time’ experiences for visitors to enjoy.
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Located in central Tokyo, Tsukishima is a hidden gem and is the best place to experience a popular local dish known as Monjayaki. This is a pan-fried batter dish similar to the much-loved Okonomiyaki dish and contains chopped vegetables and seafood. While wandering around Tsukishima, keep a lookout for Monja street, home to over 70 restaurants specialising in Monjayaki.
Bookworms will find themselves getting lost for the day in the quaint neighbourhood of Jimbocho, also known as Tokyo’s book district. Away from the city’s hustle and bustle, Jimbocho is a peaceful area that is home to an endless number of antique book stores and markets to explore. If you plan on visiting Japan towards the end of October, you’ll be right in time to witness the Kanda Used Book Festival which takes place in Jimbocho. This is Tokyo’s largest book fair and involves musical performances, charity auctions and the chance to meet with different book authors
Tsukiji Hongwanji Temple
After a morning of exploring the popular Tsukiji Fish Market, it’s also worth visiting the Tsukiji Hongwanji Buddhist temple that is located close by. The temple has a unique appearance due to its Indian architectural exterior design, along with the beautiful details you will spot as you enter the temple, such as the stained glass windows and chandeliers.
Sumo wrestling practice
Sumo wrestling is a significant part of Japanese culture, and viewing a sumo wrestling tournament is a worthwhile opportunity. However, tournaments are quite rare and are only held up to 3 times a year in Tokyo. As an alternative, visitors can witness sumo wrestling practice at the Hakkauku Sumo Stable, located near the Ryogoku station, as practice sessions are open for the public to view. Be prepared for an early start to your day, as sumo practice takes place as early as 6 am and can last up to 3 hours. Remember to remain respectful to the rules as food, drinks, flash photography and talking is prohibited during practice.
Tokyo is known for its fashion and shopping, and Takeshita street in Harajuku is an interesting place to discover independent clothing stores and smaller brands. Takeshita has been influencing the youth culture for the past several years and has become an iconic part of Harajuku. While shopping, don’t forget to stop along the way and sample the many dessert options available.
For a unique museum experience, Teamlab Borderless has combined art and technology to create the world’s first digital art museum. Teamlab uses 400 projectors to fill their space with captivating coloured lights, art projects and designs, making for a fascinating immersive experience. As there are 5 areas and multiple interactive exhibits to explore, you may find yourself wandering the museum for hours, so ensure to plan enough time for your visit. Teamlab is open 7 days a week and tickets are best purchased in advance as there is a limited number available each day.
Yanaka is a neighbourhood known for its peaceful atmosphere, Japanese wooden houses and stunning temples. It is the perfect place to experience a more traditional side of Japan while in Tokyo. Yanaka is worth checking out for a laid back afternoon of strolling through charming streets, where you will come across several art galleries, artisan shops and cafes. While exploring Yanaka, look out for Yanaka Ginza, a shopping lane filled with stores selling traditional Japanese snacks, handcrafted items, trinkets and clothing.
In Tokyo, you’re likely to come across several themed cafes that make for an ‘out of the ordinary’ experience. There are plenty of animal cafes for the animal lovers to check out in the city, from cat-themed cafes such as Hapi Neko, to other more bizarre options such as the Harry Hedgehog Cafe. For a whimsical experience, Tokyo’s bubble tea 2D cafe will have you feeling like you’ve stepped straight into a comic book. Made up of entirely monochrome decor and furniture, the 2D cafe gives off a cartoon illusion and is a fun place to stop by and try the selection of delicious bubble tea available.
Studio Ghibli Museum
Anime is a significant part of Japanese modern culture and a loved genre worldwide. For fans of anime, a visit to the Studio Ghibli Museum in Tokyo is worth adding to your itinerary. Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation film studio known for it’s animated feature films. The museum gives visitors the chance to see different props and drawings from classic Anime films. The museum also holds viewings of a different short film each month for visitors to enjoy.
Tokyo Travel Tips:
Which area is the best place to stay?
Some of the most convenient places to stay in Tokyo include Shibuya and Shinjuku. Both of these areas have easy access to transport and plenty of restaurants, shops and attractions to visit.
What is the easiest way to travel around?
Taking the subway or train are the easiest options, as you can then walk or take a taxi to your destination. Websites such as Hyperdia are also useful for checking train times.
Should I purchase tickets for attractions in advance?
Yes, especially for popular attractions such as TeamLab Borderless and the Ghibli Museum, as they get booked up very quickly.
What language do they speak in Tokyo?
You’ll find that quite a few people in Tokyo are English speakers. However, it is also useful to have a translation app on hand in case.
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