My Travel Resolution.
discover hidden myths, taste diverse food and sleep below a sky full of shooting stars and galaxies every night
If you like traveling around the world and you haven't already crossed out Tokyo from your wishlist, you should visit Japan as soon as possible. The largest city on the planet and its 38 million inhabitants will provide you with a unique experience. Tokyo is a city full of contrasts and yet its balance is amazing. It is the place where modern and traditional mix and match, where bold and humble meet.

The place is very reasonable as contrasted with other well-known travel destinations where you will find comparable sorts of attractions, and this is a lot less expensive alternative for budget travelers. Tokyo could turn out to be an ideal spot in case you are looking for thrilling activities such as theme parks and ski runs. Additionally, there are reasonable accommodations in Japan that will fit finely in your budget.

Tokyo is a living breathing organism, with hyper activity that you will never understand unless you are Japanese. But that is fine just enjoy the Neon lights, Manga, the best food in the world, the best $1 coffee convent store coffee in the world, and the world class hospitality and politeness that is pressed upon you.

You have streets so clean that you could eat off them. Vending machines selling everything from beer to pants. Convenience stores every 100 yards, that have unquestionably the best food out of any convenience store in the world and better than most restaurants outside Japan. This is a hyper modern city with deep cultural routes. You can be in central Tokyo getting served by a Robot, then walk down the street and be in a historical shrine.

You have the hustle, of Shubya, the shopping of Ginza. Head out about an hour on the JR line and be in the mountains or by the ocean in Kamakura the best place I have been. You have world class views from the skyline and skytree. You have culture in Imperial Palace, you have nature in Yoygi park (all that are super clean).

Tokyo is an intriguing city both chaotic and ordered. So, if traveling to Tokyo is something that you are considering, go for it! Tokyo is the Asian New York, but culturally is a place where you can be reborn. Life is meaningful, and the city teaches you self-discipline.

things to do in Tokyo

Here are things you must see if you are traveling to Tokyo.

1. See the Imperial Palace

According to many tourists, attraction number one in Tokyo is the Imperial Palace, also known as Kokyo. Since so many people come to see the current residence of the Emperor of Japan, the tickets need to be booked online far in advance. If you have already done so, then you will enjoy the walks through 17th-century parks that are surrounded by old walls and moats.

The Palace stands on the site where Ota Dokan (the feudal lord) had built the first fortress in the middle of the fifteenth century. From that point, the city of Tokyo continued gradually spreading. If you are a fan of fortresses, another place you can visit is Edo Castle (Chiyoda Castle), located in Tokyo's Chiyoda district. It was built at the same time as the previous one.

Walking around some of the grounds that surround the palace is pleasant and there are some nice cherry blossoms in season.

Don't let the language barrier hold you back

Once you visit your first destination, you will notice that many Japanese people do not speak English or they do not feel comfortable speaking it. Learning a few basic phrases in Japanese can be very helpful if you plan to travel to Tokyo. The locals are all eager to help but be prepared that they might not understand you.

On the other hand, they will appreciate your effort to try and communicate with them in their mother tongue (even though your knowledge is limited to 5 basic sentences). Of course, airports, train stations, and main tourist attractions are the places where you can expect to find English speaking people, so use those opportunities to find out what you need.

The best advice that you can get is to download one of those translating apps and buy bilingual maps. Doing so will make your life much easier. Speaking of apps, if your organizational skills are not what you are most proud of, there are many international travel planning apps that you can download.

2. Witness the futuristic side in Akihabara

The Tokyo district of Akihabara is famous for its electronic shops. If you are planning on buying some high-tech gadgets, this is where you should go. It is also the best place to see the underground culture of Japan. It might interest you to see numerous shops devoted to manga and anime in this area.

The lack of WiFi might surprise you

Even though you are in the innovation capital of the world, don't expect to find Internet access everywhere you like. Getting around the city without it cannot be imagined and yet WiFi is limited. The best thing that you can do is to buy or rent a pocket WiFi device. The prices of renting are reasonable and you will have your personal hotspot wherever you go.

You should also know that many restaurants, food chains, and other stores do not take cards. Be prepared to always have some cash with you. The best souvenir that you can buy for yourself and use it while in Tokyo is a coin purse. The Japanese currency is the yen and the banknote with the smallest value is worth 1000 yens (around 9 USD), so you will be using a lot of coins.

3. Experience shopping in Ginza

Speaking about money, if you are looking for a place to spend it - the Ginza district is a place for you! It is the commercial center of Tokyo often compared to Times Square in New York. However, this one is much older. It is home to countless exclusive shops and some more affordable ones. Many tourists like to just go window shopping here. Two famous theatres are situated in Ginza district - Kabuki-za and Shinbashi Enbuj┼Ź.

Prepare for a culture shock

Whenever you travel to a new place, you should read a few travel blogs that will help you better prepare for your trip. They can give you insight into the cultural differences to be expected in Tokyo. For example, if you are using public transport, you are expected to give a seat to a child, pregnant lady, elderly or ill person. Actually, you are obliged by law to do so. You should also switch your phone to Silent mode and not answer it.

If you want to try some piece of clothing on, you will get a bag to put over your head so that you do not stain the clothes with your makeup. Moreover, they expect you to take your shoes off before entering the cabin. You should know better than to leave a tip in a restaurant, bar or anywhere else. In Japanese culture, that is considered to be rude.

But you may end up liking these customs. Many people from all over the world fall in love with this city and decide to move here – something movers such as Kokusai Express Japan can help you with.

4. See Senso-ji Temple

Senso-ji Temple is located in the Asakusa district of Tokyo. A long street market where you can buy masks, combs, kimonos, toys, fabrics and so much more leads you to the temple. It is dedicated to the Buddhist goddess of compassion, Kannon. It was built in the middle of the seventh century and it managed to withstand the test of time.

Naturally, it went through some renovations but it still looks like it originally did. Its Kaminari-mon Gate is a 3.3-meter-high red paper lantern with "Thunder Gate" written on it. People come here believing that Incense Vat, would drive away their ailments. You can see people catching the smoke and directing it to the body parts that need healing.

The temple doves are also believed to have some super skills. Actually, they tell fortunes by pulling cards from the deck. You should come here at night too to see how differently the temple looks when illuminated.

The sanitation is different too

Walking from one landmark to another you will probably notice that public garbage cans are very rare in Tokyo. There are two reasons for such a choice. The first one is recycling. Unlike the places in Austria where recycling is optional, Japanese people recycle almost everything and having so many separate trash bins all over the city is impractical. The second one is due to fear of terrorist attacks. That is why you should always have a spare plastic bag with you for the garbage that you would recycle later on.

Another thing worth having at hand is a hand sanitizer. Despite the fact that Japanese public toilets are common and the toilets in restaurants and bars are very high-tech, most of them lack the soap dispenser or hand sanitizer of any kind. You will see a lot of squat toilets too.

5. Go to the best food district

If you get hungry searching for a place where you can throw away what you do not need anymore - go to Ebisu! It is an upscale, fashionable district that used to be famous for its beer. Now, the locals take pride in so much more! Deciding what to eat here is quite a challenge, but here are some suggestions:

  • Kushi katsu (deep-fried kebabs)
  • yakitori (skewered chicken)
  • okonomiyaki - Japanese savory pancake with a variety of ingredients - you must taste this when you travel to Tokyo.
  • aji-furai (fried fish)
  • sashimi (fresh, raw fish)

You can also go to Tsukiji fish market. It is the most famous fish market in the world where tuna auctions are being held daily. Most Japanese people eat mostly sea fish, hence their tongues are unfamiliar with the taste of freshwater fish.

Few years ago, Tokyo Banana, a banana cream wrapped in spongecake was a hit. Everybody crazed about it, a must try food when you visited Japan, and people expected you to bring it as souvenir when you returned from the trip. Mizu Shingen Mochi or Raindrop cake looks good for your Instagram and is saved by the sweetness of the kinako flour and kuromistu sauce as the topping.

The public transport is impeccable

If you are traveling to Tokyo on a budget, do not even think about using a cab. The good news is - you do not even need it! Tokyo public transport system consists of buses, overground and underground trains that always run on time, down to a minute. You can buy tickets at vending machines that have clear instructions in English.

There are two prepaid cards that you can get (Pasmo and Suica) to make your journeys easier. Get them on the day you arrive in Tokyo and top them up whenever necessary. You might find it a bit difficult to interpret the transport map at first, but you can always ask for help.

Whether you are driving a car or taking a walk, the rule is the same - keep to the left! This is very important to remember when you are about to cross the street along with a thousand other people at the same crossroad.

6. Tokyo Skytree or Tokyo Tower?

You have probably heard of both. But the question is which one you should climb when you are traveling to Tokyo. Well, probably both of them. Tokyo Skytree is a communications and observation tower opened in 2012. It became popular very quickly due to its panoramic views. Tokyo Tower is much older and smaller than this one, but it still remains the landmark of Tokyo.

7. Harajuku

If we had to define the Harajuku neighborhood we would do it as the most original, extravagant and freakiest neighborhood in all of Tokyo. It is one of the mecca of pop culture, visual kei and gothic lolita of the whole city. But despite all this Harajuku is not known precisely for its shops and boutiques, but for its famous Cosplayers and urban tribes who meet on Sundays to show off their own style.

The meeting point is the Jingu-bashi bridge, just outside the JR Harajuku station.

8. Meiji Jingu

The Meiji Jingu is the largest Shinto shrine in Tokyo and the most famous in the city. It is dedicated to the first emperor of modern Japan, the Emperor Meiji, and his wife, the Empress Shoken.

9. Shinjuku

Shinjuku Station is the busiest train station in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records. The west exit of Shinjuku Station takes us to the most administrative part of the neighborhood. Also in the Nishi-Shinjuku area is Shinjuku Gyoen, one of the large gardens of the city that has a Japanese garden, a French and an English. It is one of the best places to go in the cherry blossom season.

And the Shinjuku nightlife is especially attractive. There is the alleys of Golden Gai, where to have a few beers; the alley Omoide Yokocho where to take skewers yakitori or until Koreatown of Shin-Okubo, to enjoy the typical grilled meat. It is an area to walk around and enjoy the environment and the neons. The hostess bars and restaurants are open at the later hours, so it’s only a sight worth seeing at night.

However, the area can be a little sketchy. For one, you’ll see a lot of people, usually older men, standing in the middle of the streets advertising their restaurant or bar. For the restaurants, they will advertise that they have cheap dishes but will pile up the amount of dishes you get so that your bill gets really expensive.

It’s a lucrative but well known scam among the locals which is why they will most likely target the clueless tourists. Don’t be pressured into their convincing whims and pleas to go inside, and reject everything they have to offer, no matter how tempting. They will move on to the next person. Others will get really close to you, nonchalantly pull up a card of a sexy woman, and say they’ll hook you up with the said woman.

Now, if you’ve come to Japan’s red light districts to have fun with Japanese women, you’re in the wrong place. The woman in the picture probably doesn’t exist. Or if she does exist, she will be about twenty years older than the picture. There’s an insane amount of hidden fees just to meet the woman (around $1000), and then piled up fees just for breathing in her presence.

To get juicy, it will cost you much, much MUCH more. Even then, they’ll probably drug you up and make it seem like you’re having a good time (as they’d rather not like to overuse their merchandise), but this is if you haven’t been scammed already. If you are unable to pay, a bouncer or some other intimidating dude will follow you to an ATM and make sure you take out the amount in the bill.

If you do go to a bar and are a dude, you will most likely have a sexy woman approach you and ask you for drinks. Don’t be fooled as her drinks will be alcohol free meaning she’ll swig drink after drink without consequence while you’re unknowingly piling up your bill with those drinks which are 5x more expensive than usual.

She will be working for the bar. In the few cases where things do go further beyond drinks and shallow conversation, you’ll get into a room and go wild, but wake up the next day with all your money suddenly gone while you still have a massive bill to pay. Then, bouncer boy comes.

HOWEVER, not all bars are dangerous and the bars will rarely target foreigners as that would make business bad and the spot unpopular for tourists. Just stick to the more popular bars or the bars by the busier streets and you can still have a good time. Speaking of bars, make sure to frequently ask the bartender/server about your bill cost and to bring more cash than you expect to spend.

There are times where you go in and have three drinks only to find your bill is $300 dollars because there was apparently an unmentioned table rental fee. This hidden fee thing gets really annoying but there’s not much you can do except pay or choose your bars wisely from the start. Its really common among the bars, regardless of reputation. Kabukicho is really not a bad place as long as you act smart.

10. Ikebukuro

Ikebukuro is another of the entertainment centers of Tokyo. It is also the center of the otaku culture and is especially aimed at girls.

11. Umi-Shibaura station in Kanagawa prefecture

It’s directly connected to the office of a company (Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation) and has no exit except for it because the station itself stands in the private property of the company. Without an ID of the company or an invitation from the company, you can’t get out of this station forever.

This station is along Tsurumi line which is a normal line in a suburban area run by the biggest train company called JR East. The other stations along this line are normal. Passengers can come in and go out with a ticket.
Kalyan Panja Kalyan Panja Author


  1. We are planning to travel overseas next year to a new country we never have been. Thanks for the reminder about reviewing the culture. I'd need to read about the culture or else we might do some foolish things there.

  2. I would love to get to visit Tokyo sometimes soon. I am not afraid of the culture shock, as I have visited many destinations before that amazed me. I like to embrace new cultures. And oh, try all the delicious food.

  3. Wow this city looks so amazing. We would just be amazed by the size and all the lights. Lets see if we will get to Tokyo someday.

  4. I love Japan! The culture, the food and the people! Tokyo is another culture than the rest of Japan as it is more business like and higher prices for places to stay. I loved the underground food courts and Kappabashi-dori where I stocked up on kitchen supplies before I left Japan.

  5. Japan just looks so incredible with all of its beautiful lights and colors!

  6. Thanks for the post. My husband has travelled to Tokyo, he talks about the city.

  7. Excited on your list. We have been to Osaka so may be the next time we visit the country is now here. Looking forward!

  8. Tokyo is my dream place to visit someday thanks for sharing this ideas that I can apply for future :)

  9. Oh my goodness it sounds like there are so many fun things to do. Thanks for sharing, makes me want to plan a vacation!

  10. Thank you so much for sharing all of this tips for travelling around Tokyo. Though I've never had the chance to explore here myself, I would love to one day.

  11. Great destinations to be when in Japan! noted! thanks!

  12. This is so helpful for anyone going to Tokyo for the first time. I would love to see all the places you described. And I really want to try authentic Sushi in Japan!

  13. Tokyo looks epic... definitely on my bucket list

  14. I cannot imagine WiFi being limited in JAPAN! That is so amazing!!!! I would not have thought that but I know that their mannerisms with respect to people and their surroundings, it makes sense.


  15. Wonderful..Glad you shared this amazing list. I am a travel bug and looking forward to experiencing Japan later this year this list will help me out.

  16. Tokyo looks a great place to visit with a lot of variety. I think I'd have to check out Senso-ji Temple and Akihabara.

  17. Thank you for the heads up on not letting the language be a barrier. Sometimes we forget the importance of focusing on what we can control.

  18. It's a second post today I read about Japan. I really need to visit Tokyo and other cities x


  19. I would really love to visit Tokyo, not just Tokyo, but the other cities in Japan as well. Such a n beautiful country

  20. Very informative post. It's almost like visiting Japan in person.


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