top 10 places to visit in Tokyo

Top 10 Places to Visit in Tokyo – Things to Do, Where To Go & What You Can’t Miss!

If you’re in the United States like I am, traveling to Tokyo isn’t just another vacation. It means traveling to the other end of the world to a culture completely different than the one you’re used to. For this reason, it’d be smart to let this article be a helpful guide to what I feel are the top 10 places to visit in Tokyo.

Even if this is your first trip to Tokyo, don’t be intimidated. The culture is a warm and very welcoming one. My trip to Tokyo was my first trip traveling alone, and trust me, in a city of over 35 million people, you’ll never feel lonely.

In this article (AND VIDEO), you’ll see my top 10 places to visit in Tokyo, all the best things to do, where to go, and what you can’t miss. Prepare for sensory overload as we take a virtual trip across the world to Tokyo, Japan. All pictures and video taken by me. Don’t drool too hard. You’re going to love the video.


Top 10 Places to Visit in Tokyo

top 10 places to visit in Tokyo

Speaking of sensory overload, the world famous Shibuya Crossing


I’ve had really good experiences booking my excursions through Expedia.com. All you have to do is enter the city you’re visiting, the dates you’ll be there, and then click on “Things to Do". You’ll have a solid list of activities to choose from filled with descriptions, user reviews, photos, and more.

Here’s my list of top 10 places to visit in Tokyo. They’re listed in the order I did them, with what I feel is an award winning caliber video bringing them all to life as the grand finale. Seriously, go grab a bib or something so your drool doesn’t ruin your laptop or tablet. I’ll wait.


1) Sunamachi Ginza Food & Drink Walking Tour


top 10 places to visit in tokyo

I booked this excursion figuring a walking tour through a street market would be a great way to acclimate myself to my new surroundings. I was right. I met my tour guide around 11 am and to my surprise found out it was going to be just her an I on this tour. We had really good time. She was a sweet lady and her and I got to walk the Sunamachi Ginza strip amongst the locals and taste bite after bite of delicious Tokyo cuisine.

Bring your appetite! I can eat a lot and by the end of the 3 1/2 hours I was completely full. We made several stops and I think I ate at every one. We took our time walking and eating as she told of how the locals live while giving me a history lesson about the strip itself.

Along the walk I also got to check out a small shrine & go through a lesson on making green tea. By end of the tour I had a full stomach and a smile on my face. When it was all over she even helped me learn the subway which was priceless!



2) Robot Restaurant Show & REN American Bar & Cafe


top 10 places to visit in Tokyo

Located in Shinjuku, a very popular spot for Tokyo nightlife, the Robot Restaurant Show is very popular & has had celebrities from all over the globe attend it. When I found this excursion on Expedia I knew I had to book it. This is a spectacular show! Filled with all the crazy spectacle of bright lights, outrageous costumes, and insane action, this did not disappoint.

When you walk in, you arrive at the lounge where a guy (or girl) is dressed head to toe as a robot playing guitar while you wait to be called into the main showroom. (He was jamming out to Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors" when I was there.)

When it’s showtime, you go downstairs several levels to the main showroom and find your seat. The middle of the room is where all the action happens and seating is on both sides.

Watch the video at the end of this article if only to see this show in live action. It’s unreal. Trust me.

Music, lights, singing, action, explosions, oh and plenty of robots, fill this incredible show that is well worth the price of admission. This is an absolute must-see if you’re in Tokyo!

Afterward I suggest you visit their sister bar REN which is an American style bar and cafe with live jazz. It’s only a couple blocks away and has a similar bright motif, but is laid back and a perfect compliment to the craziness of the Robot Restaurant.

I walked in and practically fell in love with the beautiful girl in white who I swore was singing those Whitney Houston 80’s hits just to me. (Tokyo apparently loves the 80s.)  She was complimented by piano and stand up bass with a spectacularly lit cityscape behind her.



3) Tokyo Tower & 4) Happoen Garden


top 10 places to visit in Tokyo

Definitely take the time on Expedia to look up the full day, 8 hour city tour to Tokyo. This is a must-add to your itinerary. You start at the Tokyo Tower. This bright red tower is modeled after the Eiffel Tower and is the world’s tallest self supporting steel structure. You have panoramic views of the entire city from 475 feet up. For those not scared of heights there’s also a cool view straight down as you stand over reinforced glass looking down to the ground below.

If you’re like me, you’ll get so caught up in the Tokyo Tower gift shop that the tour bus will leave you behind (it did) and you’ll have to somehow flag down a taxi (I did) to catch up to the tour bus and it’s next stop: Happoen Garden (true story).

When I caught up with the tour at Happoen Garden, I found myself in a much needed serene garden with beautiful koi filled ponds. The tour guide said I didn’t miss a thing, and I was just in time to be a part of a traditional tea making ceremony by women who have been doing this for generations. Happoen Garden is a really cool place.


top 10 places to visit in Tokyo
top 10 places to visit in Tokyo

After a traditional Japanese barbecue lunch grilled right in front of us, we made our way to the Imperial Palace Plaza which is home to the Japanese royal family. The actual residence is surrounded by trees, so you don’t get to see inside, but if you happen to be visiting on the couple of days a year they open the doors to the public for tours, you can walk right in.

From there we took a quick river cruise along the Sumida River to the Asakusa district and made our way to Senso-Ji Temple.

This temple is massive and beautiful. Every picture you take there is postcard worthy, so take plenty of them. You can also spend some time shopping for souvenirs in the popular Nakamise shopping district, but I was just fine taking in the sights in and around this huge temple.



5) Mount Fuji & Lake Ashi


top 10 places to visit in Tokyo

The Mount Fuji part of this full day excursion got fogged out. These kinds of things you can’t control. We made our way up to what is called the 5th Station where you’d normally get a great view of the snow capped mountain, but all we saw was a wall of fog. Oh well.

Thankfully, the second half of the day more than made up for the first half. We got to Hakone National Park and stopped for lunch. Afterward, we took an incredible cruise on Lake Ashi. The skies cleared revealing the beautiful crater lake and jaw dropping sights.

We then hopped onto the Mount Komagatake Ropeway which takes you smoothly to its summit over 7 very scenic minutes. We spent an hour or so at the summit where I kept saying “Wow" over and over again as I took picture after picture.

I’ll never forget this day.



6) HUB English Pub in Shinjuku


top 10 places to visit in Tokyo

This spot makes my list of top 10 places to visit in Tokyo purely because of the fun I had here on multiple nights out. You won’t see HUB English Pub on any other lists of top 10 places to visit in Tokyo. But the fact is, personally, I can’t think back on my Tokyo trip without remembering my nights at this pub.

If you find yourself in the Shinjuku area looking for a great spot to have some cold ones, this is your spot. Look it up, walk on in, order your beer from the designated spot at the bar, and tell them Eric sent you.

I first found this pub after my night at Robot Restaurant and REN. Guinness is my favorite beer, so when I saw the bright “Guinness" sign right by the big neon “English Pub" in the window, I couldn’t resist. Through the door and down the stairs I went to a pub full of patrons.

Plenty of beer, plenty of shots, and plenty of English speakers on top of that. I made many friends on both my nights hanging out there. I started a tequila party with a girl from London and her Chinese boyfriend (which almost got her thrown out for dancing on tables), drank sky high beers with two brothers from London, and had a great time with yet another Londoner and his Thai wife. Probably shouldn’t surprise me there are English patrons in an English pub, right? We all had a great time I won’t forget.


top 10 places to visit in Tokyo

7) Day Trip to Kyoto via Bullet Train: Visit the Kiyomizu-Dera Temple



Putting a day trip to Kyoto in my top 10 places to visit in Tokyo may be a bit of a cheat. But the fact is, if you’ve gone this far, make the trip.

And do it in style on the bullet train. This is one of the most comfortable ways to travel. Watch the scenery fly by at 200 mph with plenty of leg room and hardly a bump along the way.

I had such a great time the night before at HUB that I actually missed my bullet train. I needed to wake up around 6:30 am, but instead I woke up after 9:30.  (I may or may not have a history of waking up late for important things, but that’s neither here nor there.)

top 10 places to visit in Tokyo

After a good half hour of screaming “Whyyyyyyyy?!?!" I took a closer look at the ticket. “This ticket is good for one full day."  Whew! I could still make my day trip, I would just have to sit in the open seating cabin.

So there I went, alone in Kyoto. While I didn’t get to see Kyoto with a group and a tour guide, I got to explore the city on my own. It was peaceful, serene, and I LOVED it.

I took at look at the itinerary that would have been covered had I made the group tour. The biggest temple on the itinerary was walking distance from the train station. 25 minutes with a McDonalds along the way. I can do that.

Don’t miss the opportunity to take the day trip to Kyoto and fully enjoy the Kiyomizu-Dera Temple. It’s filled with incredible sights you can only see in Tokyo and you’ll want to take pictures of every last bit of it.

Even he walk down when you’re leaving is one to remember. In fact, on the walk there from the train station I even saw some tiny shrines in the middle of neighborhoods. They were everywhere!  But once I got to this big temple, I realized why it’s the most popular one in Kyoto. Definitely worth the 25 minute walk.



8) Godzilla Road in Shibuya


top 10 places to visit in Tokyo

I went to Shibuya for my last day in Tokyo with no real plan for what to see. I had no excursion planned for the day, just a chill day of sightseeing. I think my great day in Kyoto the day before had me in a chill, exploring mood.

As I walked the streets of Shibuya I came across a sight you’d only see in Tokyo. Here was Godzilla Road, and at the end of the block, in all his glory, was Godzilla himself peering over the top of the Toho building.

When you watch the video at the end of this article you’ll see why it’s such a sight to see. I decided to make my way up to the roof of this hotel to take a closer look. While access to the balcony is supposedly restricted to hotel guests, it’s not enforced. So be a rebel and get to the balcony, it’s worth it!

As I was up there taking pictures I noticed a sign that said that every hour on the hour Godzilla lets out his ferocious roar. I looked at my watch and it was 11:50 am. The first roar of the day according to the sign: 12 noon. Perfect! He let out his awesome roar accompanied by lights and smoke right on time and I got the perfect shot. (Now that I think about it, go grab another drool bib.)  Don’t leave this out of your agenda when you visit Tokyo. It’s awesome.


top 10 places to visit in Tokyo
top 10 places to visit in Tokyo

9) Shibuya Crossing


top 10 places to visit in Tokyo

Chances are, that if you’ve ever seen Tokyo depicted in a movie or on tv, you’ve seen Shibuya Crossing. This is the busiest street crossing you’ll ever see in your life. According to Wikipedia, Tokyo-based architecture professor Julian Worrall has said Shibuya Crossing is “a great example of what Tokyo does best when it’s not trying."

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Every few minutes the traffic stops and this scramble crossing is inundated with around 2,500 people all crossing at once from every direction.

I literally spent a full hour going back and forth on Shibuya crossing taking picture after picture and video after video. You’ll never get bored of seeing this. If you’re lucky you can grab one of the very popular window seats at the Starbucks that’s overlooking the mad scramble. You’ll be hypnotized by the mass movement of people every few minutes.

Shibuya Crossing is Tokyo in a nutshell: a crazy, busy, perfect spectacle. 


top 10 places to visit in Tokyo
top 10 places to visit in Tokyo

10) New York Bar at Park Hyatt Tokyo


top 10 places to visit in Tokyo

There is no better way to close out your trip than from the 52nd floor high atop the Park Hyatt Tokyo at New York Bar. Overlooking the cityscape through huge windows stretching from floor to ceiling I sat back and felt like a million bucks while listening to smooth jazz.

The best part of this whole experience is that this is the bar heavily featured in the movie “Lost In Translation" starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. 10 years or so before I made this trip I watched that movie and fell in love with the city.

That movie is the entire reason I made my way to Tokyo, and here I was sitting in that very bar 10 years later.

If you haven’t watched this movie, go buy it NOW. You’ll want to leave for Tokyo tomorrow.

New York Bar is pricey, but you won’t regret it. They charge 2400 yen ($24 USD) as a cover charge if you’re not staying at the hotel. I sat back and enjoyed the ambiance for several hours. I didn’t want to leave. I was so happy. My Tokyo trip was complete and I got in everything I wanted.


Summary


So if that wasn’t enough to get you to want to take a trip to Tokyo, how about bringing all that to life in video? I’ve built it up enough haven’t I?

This video is worth the watch just to see the spectacle of the Robot Restaurant in live action alone. The beauty of Kyoto, Godzilla’s roar, the tequila party at HUB, and the views from atop New York Bar aren’t too bad either.

So grab some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy. I really think you’ll like this.



Feedback


So when are we leaving? Have I succeeded in giving you major wanderlust? What part did you like most in the video? How badly did you drool? Be honest. Leave your comments and questions below and don’t hesitate to share this to your social media platforms.

A lot of people ask me how I travel so often. My secret has been using Facebook to find cheap flights online. No joke. Read that article. You’ll thank me later.

Lastly, if you dream big like me and would love to someday fire your boss and travel the world, it’ll take work. So stop believing everyone else’s excuses of why you can’t do it.

I suggest you take a serious look at the online community and training platform I found for building a business that can travel with you. It’s been a huge eye opener for me. No more excuses! Try it out, see how it fits, you’ve got nothing to lose. You’ve got one world you’re living in and one chance to live your life and explore it. Don’t waste it! You can click here to create your free account and see what it’s all about. Nothing but positives here. Thanks for taking the time to check out this article. I hope you enjoy Tokyo!

Here’s to wanderlust!

28 Comments

  • ht says:

    I stay in Asia but I have never been to Japan. My kids have (that’s another story altogether). Anway your post makes me want to go there NOW. The recommended sites are fantastic but the other aspect that I’m interested to find being a music enthusiast is the second hand guitar and Vinyl LP stores. Did you go to these places when you were there? Just curious, what’s in your shopping list when you travel?

    • Eric Cantu says:

      That would be a really fun time exploring the underground and retro music scene in Tokyo. That sounds like something I need to start doing on all my trips! Collecting awesome vinyl records everywhere I go… I think you’ve given me an awesome idea, now! lol. To answer your question I spend the vast majority of my time on excursions taking in all the sites. I don’t do much actual shopping. But thanks to you, I’m going to start seeking out vinyl! Thanks for the insight! I really appreciate that!

  • Tyler says:

    I hear traveling and blogging is the greatest gig on earth? Is that right? It seems like it would be to me. Seeing all the world, enjoying and taking in life. Meeting new people and experiencing other cultures. I think it truly is the best way to find out who you are! I am extremely interested in traveling and blogging.
    How often do you travel? Also, how long!

    • Eric Cantu says:

      I gotta admit. I’m a travel addict, lol. The first step is admitting you have a problem right? It’s the whole point of this entire site, actually. Building something online that can travel with me. That’s why I did my research and found the right training to learn the craft and here I am 🙂

      My travel kick started last September when I visited Tokyo. Then in December I went to Greece, in March I went to Australia, and in May I went to Thailand. In August I’m doing a road trip from Seattle down the west coast of the US all the way down to San Diego, in September I’m going to Italy, November is London, and January is Spain.

      See? Addicted lol.
      Most all my trips are quick ones in and out in a week. I figure it gives me a great reason to go back for more!
      Thank you so much for the comment! And in case you’re wondering, I’m going to write top 10 lists like this one for all the places I visit 🙂 Stay tuned!

  • Brent says:

    That was awesome!! thank you for sharing that with us all. I love WA so much!! Would not have thought about looking at a post like this unless I actually got invited to it!!

    • Eric Cantu says:

      Thanks, Brent! I really appreciate that. I tell everyone, if you want to travel more you have to do more than just sit back and dream. You have to go after it! Find the right training! Do the work! Be your own boss!

      To anyone reading this, quit making excuses and take action! That’s the secret sauce 🙂
      Here’s where I went and I can’t recommend it highly enough. You’ve got nothing to lose.

      Thanks for the comment, Brent!

  • Chris says:

    Hi

    Great Information on some of the top places to visit in Tokyo.

    As a keen traveller I am always keen to see recommendations from other travellers for places I have not been to yet.

    After going through your list, Mount Fuji and Lake Ashi definitely looks like a place I would like to visit.
    I am also keen to check out some of the other place on this list.

    Cheers

    • Eric Cantu says:

      Thanks for the comment, Chris! There’s a ton of stuff to do in Tokyo as you can see. The cruise on Lake Ashi was unreal. The trip up the ropeway afterward was incredible. You can see it in the video, but I don’t know if it quite does it justice. It’s one of those things you need to see in person. Definitely a must see while in Tokyo. Thanks for the comment! 

  • Deep says:

    I am glad you enjoyed your trip, sounded like a lot of fun, and all those pictures were AMAZING. I too watched Lost in Translation and as soon as I saw that picture of the bar I knew that it was in the movie, lol. I can’t wait to take trips like around the world when I am ready too, for sure Toyko will be one of my top locations to visit, and now I know where exactly I should visit, so thank you for that.

    • Eric Cantu says:

      It just doesn’t get better than spending your last night in Tokyo at New York Bar. Did you check out the video? In the very last seconds of it you can hear the jazz musician singing “What a Wonderful World” as the camera pans out the window to the lights of Tokyo. That’s what I always remember when I think of that place. When I got home I watched Lost In Translation for the millionth time just to look back and see all the places I was at lol. Thanks for the comment! I appreciate it!

  • Jan says:

    Hi Eric, This is a great article, for many years we (my wife and me) are thinking about visiting Japan. It is nice to read that you enjoyed it a lot, so now I really have to go. I know that flights to Tokyo are not that expensive, so that must be no problem. I love technology, so it would be great to take a trip on the bullet train. Thank you for giving some ideas to visit.
    One question, I love ethnic cuisine, did you try the “real” Japanese food or not. Did you visit a ramen restaurant? I am very curious about that.
    Greetings,
    Jan.

    • Eric Cantu says:

      Hey Jan! Im not sure what part of the world you’re in, but flights to Tokyo can really fluctuate. Read my article on setting up your Facebook to find cheap flights online and you’ll get notified whenever there a great deals, not just for Tokyo, but everywhere. That’s how I do all my traveling.

      And yes I had some DELICIOUS food while in Tokyo. Several of my excursions included lunch amd yes I had some great ramen. Down the road from the Godzilla building I had some of the best sushi I’ve ever had and dirt cheap too.

      If you’re a foodie you’ll love Tokyo! Thanks for the comment!

  • Wenda says:

    I absolutely ADORE your blog and will be sharing this with my friends. I love living vicariously through your adventures and I know where to go if I want to travel, I’ll go to Eric’s site to find out if he’s been there! HA HA HA HA Great post! So glad you’re putting your information out there … who knows… I might go some day!

  • afipasefikatrust says:

    Wow this is a great site. I’ve always wanted to visit an Asian Country, and my nephew has always wanted to travel to Tokyo, He’s a gaming addict, and loves all the hi tech stuff that comes out of Tokyo. And to me this site gives you all the best things to do, its a bright and colorful and informative site. Love it. So easy to read and lots & lost of information. Definitely need to go and visit. Your site makes me want to go now for sure!

  • Daniella says:

    Hi Eric,

    Wow, I am impressed! I’ve found your article fascinating!
    One of my and my son dream is to visit Tokyo, and when I see these pictures, it makes me want to jump on a flight and get there:) All I can say is thank you for all the tips you’ve given, they are handy! I love the train. It looks fun, and this is something I will certainly the first thing I will do when I visit Tokyo.
    Just a question, please about the cheaper flights on Facebook. Do I have to subscribe to their page and then I’ll get coupons? It is still a bit unclear to me:)
    Thank you in advance

    • Eric Cantu says:

      Hey Daniella, thanks for the comment. All you have to do is go to my article on using Facebook to find cheap flights and follow the video on how to do it and you’re all set. It’s not coupons you’re using, it’s a simple way of getting alerts for travel deals. It’s what I use to find all my cheap flight deals before I book them! Trust me, you’ll love it! Thanks again for the comment! 

  • Jaron says:

    Goodness gracious I’ve never been to Vegas but it looks similar if not BETTER lol. My older brother travels a lot and he said he feels Tokyo is actually much more advanced than many other parts of the world. This video was great and like you said, YES I AGREE every picture looks like a postcard.

    Thanks for the post Eric!

    • Eric Cantu says:

      Thanks Jaron! You’re absolutely right. Tokyo is filled with life and color and tech. Glad you liked the pictures. You should really make a trip there and see it yourself. The video is colorful, but the reality is even brighter.  You’ll love it even more! Thanks again! 

  • Clyde says:

    Great Post Eric,

    So funny, we went to Tokyo also.

    We did not see any of these things!

    But you know what? We had a great time too!

  • Israel says:

    Hey Eric!

    I’ve been lately very interested in going to Japan. I love the culture, the food and those bambu forests and incredible mountains.

    I just followed your other article and set up my Facebook to notify me on where to find cheap flights online. Thanks!!

    You really made me think seriously about going to Tokyo. the robot restaurant, the crowded sibuya crossing (that is the one on Tokyo Drift when they are chasing each other and drift through the interesection, right?)…

    Man, it has to be something else to be there.

    Thanks for the tips! Really interesting! 😉

    • Eric Cantu says:

      What’s up Israel! I think I’m the only person on earth who didn’t see Tokyo Drift lol, but if I had to guess, I’m betting that’s Shibuya Crossing you saw. It’s ALWAYS shown on tv and film. I’m glad you set up your Facebook to find cheap flights. It’s something I’ve done for a while now and it’s my secret to traveling so much 🙂 thanks for the comment! Now quit thinking about traveling and do it! Haha. Thanks again!

  • Melani says:

    Hi Eric, I have ever visited Tokyo only for a week and that was for a study related with my job so I only knew Ginza and Tokyo Tower. Tokyo is very modern and beautiful. I impressed with the people neat and discipline. I wonder that people in the train very quiet and most of them was reading or look at their hp. Different with Indonesian people fond of talking, lol. I LOVED YOUR VIDEO!!! Look forward to read your other adventures and I’m going to set up my Facebook right now!

    • Eric Cantu says:

      Thank you so much, Melani! I honestly remember thinking the exact same thing about how quiet it was on a bus or train! So different from anywhere in the US that’s for sure. I too was only there for a week, I just packed a lot into those 7 days 🙂 Loved it! Thank you so much for the comment! And yes! You’ll love Facebook after you set it up to find cheap flights! Take care!

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