Be it for discovering ancient Japanese culture or learning more about their favourite manga and anime, visiting Japan is an extraordinary experience that many Brits dream of and there are few places better than Tokyo to do this.
However, Tokyo can be challenging as it’s one of the biggest cities in the world and there are so many things to do. You need to plan your trip to Tokyo ahead of time, especially if it’s your first time there.
In this article, Superprof is looking at some of the best things to do in and around Tokyo from restaurants and cafés and parks surrounded by skyscrapers to museums and theme parks in the heart of the city.
Unusual Restaurants and Cafés in Tokyo
When you visit Tokyo, food is an important part of the experience. Here are some interesting cafés and restaurants to see in Tokyo.
Nekorobi Cat Café
You can grab a coffee surrounded by cats in Ikebukuro in the north of the city. There are plenty of these types of cafés in Japan and the Nekorobi Cat Café is one of the better ones. Cat lovers will enjoy playing with these adorable felines for hours.
You pay around £10 to get in and you’ll be treated to unlimited drinks and access to the cats. However, you shouldn’t bother the cats while they’re eating or sleeping. You can also take a trip to Sunshine City while you’re there.
You’ll find the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku in Kabukicho. There’s a light show in which the robots dance around while you enjoy your food and drink. This is a completely crazy place and experience.
At around £40 to £45 per person, it’s quite expensive, but it’s worth it if you’re going to Japan. After a 90-minute show, you’ll leave with plenty of memories.
Burgers at Chatty Chatty
This restaurant at Shinjuku is often referred to as “the best burger in the world”. There are plenty of tourists who claim this to be the best place they’ve ever eaten. While it isn’t traditional Japanese food, it’s worth a visit.
Given its reputation, you can expect to wait for a table, but it’s the price you have to pay to enjoy incredible burgers, chips, onion rings, and a beer or soft drink.
So would you like to enjoy the best burger in Japan?
Visiting Museums in Tokyo
If you want to learn more about Japanese culture and history, there are fewer places better to visit than the museums in Tokyo. Here’s a list of places you can discover Japanese history, culture, and art.
Tokyo National Museum
While Kyoto is famous for its historical heritage, Tokyo also has a historical heritage in spades. The proof is in the Tokyo National Museum in the Taito ward in the north of Tokyo. Opening in 1872, this is one of the oldest museums in Japan and is home to plenty of Japanese works of art and historical artefacts.
For just 620 yen (£4.30), you can enjoy Japanese sculptures, paintings, weapons, armour, and ceramics. There are 117,000 pieces in the museum. What better way to learn about Japan and enjoy some peace and quiet after shopping in Akihabara or Shibuya. This museum is highly recommended.
On the artificial island of Odaiba, you’ll find TeamLab Borderless, a spectacular digital art gallery in which visitors can enjoy installations that make use of technology and lighting across 10,000m2.
This great museum is suitable for the whole family. To visit TeamLab Borderless, you’ll want to reserve your tickets well in advance as the gallery is hugely popular and welcomes 2.5 million visitors a year. If you’re going to Japan, make sure you make time for this.
The Ghibli Museum
The Ghibli Museum pays homage to the Japanese Ghibli animation studio and can be found in the Kichijōji neighbourhood in the west of Tokyo. Designed by Hayao Miyazaki himself, this museum brings the characters and locations from Studio Ghibli and is unlike any other museum in Tokyo.
You’ll find all of Ghibli’s great films brought to life including:
- Spirited Away
- My Neighbour Totoro
- Princess Mononoke
- Castle in the Sky
- Kiki’s Delivery Service
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
- The Wind Rises
Make sure you book your tickets well in advance to enjoy an experience away from the city and its skyscrapers.
The Best Gardens and Parks in Tokyo
For those living in Japan as well as those visiting, the concrete jungle of Tokyo can be stressful. To get away from this, spend some time in some of Tokyo’s best parks and gardens and enjoy the cherry blossoms as they bloom.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is located in the Shinjuku ward. It’s one of the biggest parks in the capital and has three main styles: French formal, English landscape, and Japanese traditional. If you visit just one park while in Tokyo, make it this one!
The park is very diverse and has a romantic and friendly ambience under the 1,500 cherry blossoms. There are plenty of tourists and locals making the most of Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. If you go to Tokyo, go to this park!
In the northeast of the city in Ueno district of the Taito ward, you’ll find the famous Ueno Park. This is a spacious public park that you should visit if you find yourself visiting or living in Tokyo. There are a few things to see while you’re there:
- Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.
- Places to catch shows.
- A huge zoo.
- Several important museums.
- The huge Shinobazu Pond.
It’s completely free so don’t miss out! You can also get a photo with the statue of the last samurai.
Near the Meiji Shrine in Harajuku in the Shibuya ward, Yoyogi Park is a huge park visited by tourists and locals alike. You can walk around the park and enjoy the cherry blossoms in spring or watch people cosplaying on Sundays.
Take some time away from shopping in the area to relax in this beautiful park that’s as beautiful as the Imperial Palace Gardens or the views of Mount Fuji.
Have Fun in Tokyo’s Theme Parks
Whether you’re travelling alone or with friends in family, there are plenty of great theme parks that you can enjoy in the capital of Japan. Here are some of our favourite theme parks in Tokyo.
Unsurprisingly, one of the most popular theme parks in Tokyo is Tokyo Disneyland. Just like the other Disney theme parks, Disneyland in Japan is a popular place for tourists to enjoy the cartoons they loved growing up and still love now.
Expect to pay around £50 per person (children are cheaper) and make the most of Tokyo DisneySea if you’re staying for more than a day. Of course, you’ll have to wait in lines just like in any other Disneyland but it’s worth it.
Tokyo Dome City
Tokyo Dome City in Bunkyō City is an entertainment complex where you can find Tokyo Dome City Attractions, a Japanese theme park. You’ll also find rides like the Thunder Dolphin and the Big O ferris wheel.
It costs around £30 for the day but you can also pay between £3 and £10 a ride if you want to pay separately. The entire family can enjoy the attractions at Tokyo Dome City while also enjoying Japanese specialities.
Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Japan isn’t in Tokyo but rather Osaka, which is accessible by train from the capital. This theme park is based on the biggest films and TV shows from Universal Studios:
- Harry Potter
- Hello Kitty
- Sesame Street
- Jurassic Park
Expect to pay around £35 for children and £55 for adults.
From the second you land in Haneda Airport or Narita International Airport, you'll be spoilt for choice in terms of things to do. From the Tokyo Disney Resort to more traditionally Japanese attractions like the Tsukiji Fish Market, you'll never be bored in Tokyo!
Now you know a bit more about Tokyo, you can start planning your trip. To learn more about Japan and its main cities, check out our other articles on the subject.
If you'd like to learn Japanese, there are plenty of great books out there and online resources and apps available. However, if you want to learn a language, you need to speak it and you can do that thanks to the many talented Japanese tutors on Superprof.
There are three main types of tutorial available and each comes with advantages and disadvantages in terms of your learning and budget: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials.
The platform that connects tutors and students