Tokyo’s streets are alive with mouth-watering cuisine, ancient traditions and stunning modern art. Whether you’re heading over to take in the excitement of the 2020 Olympic games, or simply looking for a fun-filled holiday, you’re sure to create unique and unforgettable memories in Japan’s capital.
With our list of seven things you should see, do and taste in Tokyo, there's no need to feel overwhelmed by the number of activities Tokyo has to offer. We've got your travel itinerary sorted.
Eat Michelin star ramen at Konjiki Hototogisu
Hidden in the back alleys of Sinjuku, Konjiki Hototogisu is only one of three ramen restaurants in the world to get a Michelin star. Here you can get a delicious bowl of ramen for around $12. The restaurant recommends their shio soba ramen, a noodle dish finished with Italian white truffle oil, porcini mushroom sauce, pancetta bacon bits and inca berry sauce. There are only seven counter seats and a couple of small tables for two, so be prepared to queue. Due to the small nature of the restaurant, it is best for singles and couples, families may be waiting a long time for a table.
See interactive art at the Mori Building Digital Art Museum
The Mori Building Digital Art museum spans 10,000 square metres and displays 60 interactive artworks aiming to stimulate all five of your senses. Artworks move out of rooms, communicate with other works and intermingle without boundaries. It is unlike any museum you’ve ever seen before. This experience is perfect for the family, with a special digital art playground designed for children. An adult ticket is around $43 and should be purchased online before arrival, as the sessions often sell out.
Eat a mini Totoro at Shiro Hige’s Cream Puff Factory
Shiro Hige’s Cream Puff Factory is currently the only place you’ll find official Totoro cream puffs. Styled on Studio Ghibli’s adorable Totoro character, these choux cream pastries come in a range of seasonal flavours. This cute café only has a couple of tables and charges more if you decide to eat your mini Totoros in the cafe. This is a great activity for couples and families who love Totoro.
Learn about Japanese royalty at the Imperial Palace
Home to the Emperor of Japan, the Imperial Palace tells the story of Japan’s traditional culture. Whilst you can’t actually go inside the palace, you can walk around the impressive grounds. A short walk from Tokyo station, the large park is surrounded by moats and stone walls. This activity is a great option for singles and couples, with free tours held in English and Japanese that take about 75 minutes. To reserve a place for a tour, advance registrations can be made online. Same-day registrations are also available at the Kikyomon Gate.
Immerse yourself in Sumo culture
Sumo wrestling is Japan’s national sport and is said to have begun over 2,000 years ago. If you want to see sumo wrestling in the flesh, Ryōgoku Kokugikan is one of the best places to visit. You can purchase tickets online or through the box office with single arena seats starting at around $51. If you miss the tournament there’s also the option to take a tour of the sumo stadium during practice times, to see how the wrestlers train for the event.
Let your imagination run wild at the Studio Ghibli museum
Catch the Ghibli cat bus from Mitaka station and you’ll find yourself lost in the magical mind of famed director Hayao Miyazaki. Suitable for families, this museum offers a series of museums filled with the unique treasures and trinkets that have inspired the work of Studio Ghibli. The main attraction is an original short film that is aired in the museum’s tiny movie theatre and is rotated monthly. Access to the museum is strictly limited, with only 200 admissions for overseas visitors each day. You can’t buy tickets at the museum, so make sure that you purchase your tickets in advance online or at a Lawson convenience store.
Travel back in time at the Meiji Shrine
Take a short walk from Harajuku station and you’ll find the Meiji Shrine, one of the most iconic places of worship in Tokyo. The structure was originally built in 1920 and dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. The shrine attracts millions of visitors each year, especially at Hatsumode (the first Shinto shrine visit of the New Year) when people flock to worship and wish for good fortune. Admission is free for the shrine, but if you would like to visit the surrounding gardens you’ll have to pay around $7. This is a great activity for families and couples, but make sure you plan to visit early as the shrine can get very busy.