Primarily known for its status as a bustling city full of high-tech gadgets and an abundant supply of sushi and ramen, Tokyo is increasingly being added to bucket lists across the globe. But the city's culture is often overlooked, with many assuming there is little to see past its concrete jungle. From fabulously unique fashion stores to spectacularly beautiful parks, there is no doubt that Tokyo stretches far beyond the chaos.
If you’re flying into Narita International Airport (NRT), the cheapest option is to take the N’Ex Express which takes passengers to Tokyo's main station. If you're flying into Haneda Airport (HND), take the monorail which drops passengers a few stops from Tokyo's main station in less than 15 minutes.
Once in the center, the subway is your best bet for transportation with the JR Yamanote Line zipping you around to most of Tokyo's popular attractions. A prepaid card like Suica or Pasmo is also worth getting your hands on since it saves you digging around for loose change.
The Usual Suspects:
Meiji Shrine: If you didn't get a snap of this beauty, did you even go to Japan? Definitely one for the Instagram feed, the Meiji Shrine is dedicated to spirits of the first Emperor of Japan, Emperor Meiji, along with Empress Shoken. Located next to Yoyogi Park and full of walkways and nature, there’s no better escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Tsukiji Fish Market: Being the world's largest and busiest fish market, it’s not hard to see why the Tsukiji Fish Market is a must see for visitors. And if you’re an early riser, try to make it to one of the tuna auctions, followed by a sushi breakfast, (if your stomach can handle seafood first thing in the morning).
Ueno Park: A slice of serenity and nature between skyscrapers, restaurants and shops, Ueno Park is the perfect setting to take a stroll and let the world stop for a while. As well as being home to several museums, including Tokyo’s National Museum, Ueno Zoo is also located here, so there’s no shortage of culture or things to do.
Rainbow Karaoke: If you didn't already know, karaoke is a favorite pastime in Japan and this is the ultimate secret spot. Cheap yet stylish and in a fabulous location, it's the perfect place to sing your heart out until the early hours of the morning without feeling too overcrowded.
Rokurinsha Ramen Street: Ramen is something that Tokyo definitely does well so it’s no surprise that there’s an entire street dedicated to just that. Conveniently placed inside Tokyo's main station, locals flock here to get their fix. And with plenty of variety, there’s something for everyone.
Mitsukoshi Department Store: The department stores in Japan hold everything that your heart desires, including food. Locals often go to the 11th floor in this particular store in Ginza, where tonkatsu fried pork cutlets are on offer. Shop ’til you drop and snack along the way.
Streamer Coffee Company: Tokyo has stepped up their game when it comes to coffee and Streamer Coffee Company is no exception. The sheer number of customers that fill the cafe are proof of how good it is. And if that doesn’t persuade you, each cup comes with beautiful latte art. Oh, and there’s free WIFI!
Suzu Cafe: The pastel colors and neon decoration in this coffee spot give a stylish and relaxed vibe. As well as serving an array of comfort foods to warm your insides, they also serve a beautiful afternoon tea, which is not to be missed.
Cedros: If you aren't familiar with the Japanese language, this place is worth bearing in mind, if only for the fact that all staff can speak English. This alone gives you a sense of how accommodating and welcoming Cedro’s is. The brunch is served in a tapas style and in true Japenese style, includes a variety of seafood such as spicy prawns and fried squid.
Lauderdale: With three flavor varieties of Eggs Benedict among other delicious breakfast specialties, visitors are spoilt for choice at this unique brunch spot. Lauderdale also serves souffles bursting with flavor if you fancy something a bit different.
Crossroad Baker: Free croissants. Need we say more? If that doesn't entice you to visit Crossroad Baker immediately, maybe the fact that breakfast is served all day and everything is freshly baked here will. What dreams are made of.
Andy Gyoza: If you want cheap and cheerful, Andy Gyoza is your spot. If you're buying a meal for two with drinks, you're looking at paying ¥4,000, so it's very reasonably priced. Dumplings are also in abundant supply, so fill your boots.
Iwasa Sushi: This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning sushi, a specialty in Japan. Located adjacent to the Tsukiji Market, it’s no surprise that Iwasa Sushi is one of the best places to go when you’re feeling peckish.
Deli Salads: The deli counter at Station Cafe Basel has a lot of variety, with a selection of light dishes that you can mix and match, so whatever you fancy you’ll be sure to find it here.
Kozue at Park Hyatt: If you're looking for some fine dining, this is the place to go. As well as serving great food, the view from this restaurant is also breathtaking, making it an experience to remember.
Ninja Akaska: Nowhere else in the world would you find a ninja-themed restaurant. On arrival, visitors are taken down a "secret path" into Ninja Village. The ambience, menu and waiters are all ninja-themed and there is entertainment in the form of magic shows.
Bar High Five: Interestingly, there’s no menu here. Simply ask the bar staff for your favorite drink and they will create a something personalized to your tastes. The entire vibe is charming and elegant, creating the perfect atmosphere.
8bit Cafe: This bar is littered with Super Mario merchandise, Sonic posters and anything that resembles the 90’s. Continuing with the theme, all cocktails are named after video games and characters, along with screens to play your favorite video games. An excellent choice if you're looking for something a bit different.
Local Watering Holes:
Tachikawa: If you want something to munch on whilst you drink, these deep friend kushiage skewers compliment beer and are a refreshing alternative to the usual snacks you find in bars like chips and salsa.
Beerich Yeast: With a classic and old school ambience, this bar is sure to add a little class to your night out.
Let Your Hair Down:
AgeHa: The biggest club in Tokyo, the AgeHa holds up to 5000 people. There are three dance floors, a swimming pool and numerous bars. Plus, there’s a free shuttle bus to get you to and from Tokyo.
Shibuya: If you want a more local experience, this is a place where teens and 20-somethings hang out. With several options, ranging from megaclubs to small local bars, there's never a dull night here.
Kabuki-Cho: Also known as the Japanese red-light district, Kabuki-Cho is packed full of bustling clubs and bars. It's a must go at least once, if only for the experience.
Capsule Hotel Asakusa River Side: Unlike most capsule hotels, this is one that allows both men and women to stay. Both comfortable and unique to Japan, you won't find a spot like this anywhere else.
Book and Bed: With Japan being renowned for its quirkiness, this hostel certainly lives up to reputation. Here, your bed is set within a bookshelf. A dream for any bookworm or anyone that likes something different.
Henn-na Hotel: Of course, Japan would be the place you’d find a hotel where you’re greeted by robots. This is truly an experience you won’t find anywhere else, with dinosaur robots running reception and appearing throughout your stay.
Speaking of robots, Tokyo's Robot Restaurant is one not to be missed.