17 Best Things to Do in Tokyo (Ranked ★★★★★)


These are our best things to do in Tokyo, ranked (yep, I love a good list!).

We spent seven days in Tokyo – with a toddler, registering over 15,000 steps a day, so we covered as much ground as we could.

We did our research first, and tried to pick off a combination of the most iconic places in Tokyo, as well as places that would suit our toddler, Grace.

We’re not claiming to be Tokyo experts, but we hope you find this first-hand list of places we visited useful to plan your Tokyo trip.

OUR JAPAN CREDENTIALS

The Reeves Roamed for 25 days through Japan, taking notes as we went. Our route was based on our typically thorough research, though we also found some surprises along the way. We only write about places we’ve actually been, so you can be confident that the details are first-hand.

READ OUR COMPLETE JAPAN GUIDE
Ben Reeve
Post Author

Best Things to Do in Tokyo

Senso-ji ★★★★★

two red japanese temples at night sensoji
Sensoji and the Five Storied Pagoda at night

Top of our list of the best things to do in Tokyo is Senso-ji. We were lucky enough to stay right beside the oldest temple in Tokyo, so saw it day and night, and explored all the surrounding temples and gardens.

This is an awe-inspiring place, make sure to check out the bustling Nakamise Dori shopping street whilst you’re here.

🔥 HOT TIP: Don’t miss the tranquil gardens of Yogodo Hall with its streams full of coy carp.

Team Lab Planets ★★★★★

coloured lights on the water at team lab planets in tokyo
The immersive Team Lab Planets

When Becca told me about this place, I did not think it would be as good as it was.

Needless to say, we all loved it, from the 38-year-old down to the 3-year-old.

I don’t want to spoil too much of the surprise, but be prepared to take your shoes and socks off, roll up your skinny jeans (yeah I know, only I think they’re still on trend) and have a sensory experience that is utterly unique.

Harajuku ★★★★

a man buying crepes front a pink stall in harajuku
The Crepes are amazing!

Harajuku is nuts.

Packed full of people from all types of backgrounds, some in clothes that look like they’re taken right out of a sci-fi movies.

The best bit of Harajuku was on the quiet roads closest to Shinjuku (search for the Levi’s store, from there and up). There it is city agnostic (you could be anywhere), however the second-hand fashion shops are incredible, though I’m still wondering how intage flannel shirts cost more than the ones that are on sale currently!

🔥 HOT TIP: Get the crepes from one of the many shops and stalls – they’re full of squirty cream, and very tasty!

Akhibara ★★★★

shelves of nintendo mega drive games on sale in akhibara

Not to repeat myself, but Akhibara is nuts!

This is what I thought ALL of Tokyo would be like – noisy, neon and cartoony, with arcades and game stores seven stories high.

A great place to bring a toddler (but be prepared for some serious vending machine action), and also one to geek out in the retro game stores.

Pokemon Center Shibuya ★★★

a man standing in front of mewtwo
More than a little excited!

Tokyo – I completed it.

I bloody loved Pokemon as a kid (yeah, just as a kid – Becca edit) , so to come here reignited that excitement for me (I even lost myself in two days of Pokemon Go straight after this, before deciding there were now too many of the little buggers and it was better of deleted).

In the same centre (mall!?) was also the Nintendo store, and the Atari store, plus a load of other ones that I’m sure are super famous but I had no idea about. Oh, and Red Wing boots have a shop here too, but we don’t want this post to be completed taken over by my fashion sense.

Zojo-ji ★★★

small statues of children in pink hats and hoilding windmills, zojoji

It wasn’t quite Sinso-ji, but Zozo-ji was still very impressive

The gardens around the building are beautiful, with the Jizo statues that represent unborn children both striking and poignant.

Shibuya Crossing (& District) ★★★

lots of people crossing the road at shibuya
People crossing. Lots of them.

You kind of have to come here, because, it’s Tokyo, but honestly, it’s a huge zebra crossing. Well, multiple zebra crossing actually, but even so, I’ve seen people cross the road before, and I’m not convinced it counts as an ‘attraction’.

Saying that, the area around Shibuya is interesting. It feels more grungy than the slickness that surrounds most of Tokyo (though still safe), and there were lots of interesting shops and alleyways to explore and photograph.

Combine it with a walk to Haranjuku, the route between the two is very interesting.

Ueno Park ★★★

This is a huge, peaceful park, which contains the zoo and an incredible six museums.

We visited for the zoo, and Tokyo’s only UNESCO Heritage site, but the park, and the surrounding shopping areas, make for a good day trip.

Tokyo Skytree ★★★

tokyo sky tower with buildings below it

Did you know Tokyo has the tallest tower in the world? I didn’t – not even after I’d been in it! It wasn’t until Becca and Grace made it to the top while I was off on a day trip to Nikko that we realised.

At 634m it’s taller than other famous towers such as the CN Tower in Toronto, and it’s the third tallest structure in the world.

Worth visiting just for the views from the top (you can see Mount Fuji on a clear day), there is more to do here than that – with an inbuilt aquarium, planetarium and floor upon floor of shopping (including another Pokemon center!) to work through.

Ueno Zoo ★★★

the entrance of ueno zoo

We thought this would be a day of fun for Grace, but it ended up being a hot day of queuing for everything as we didn’t realise it was Culture Day public holiday in Japan (that accounts for the queues, but not the unseasonably warm November day).

We didn’t get the best experience of Ueno Zoo because of this, but if you’re travelling to Tokyo with a toddler, then this could be a great stop off, with a chance to see some animals not often seen in zoos such as Giant Panda and Pygmy Hippo.

National Museum of Western Art ★★

a brulaist building, the national musuem of western art tokyo
It was the architecture that made it a UNESCO site!

We went here due to my UNESCO obsession (the building is the reason it makes the list), but ended up going in as it was free entry.

They had Monet, Rodin and Picasso works here, so if you’re an art lover this will be a bit further up your list.

If you’re wrangling a toddler who’s been told she can introduce her beloved (threadbare) toy polar bear to a real one at the nearby zoo that day, then it might be a bit more of a struggle.

Tokyo Tower ★★

a woman with a toddler in a carrer on her back, in front of a temple and looking up at tokyo tower
Becca managing another 15,000 step day with a 16kg toddler on her back!

It looks a bit like the Eiffel Tower.

Impressive, but pales into comparison when up against the real reason for coming to this area – Zozo-ji temple.

The scene was a microcosm of Tokyo though, the ancient, contrasted against the modern (and I’m talking about the tower and temple, not Becca and Grace!).

DisneySea ★★

a large arabian style building with rounded blue dome from dinsey sea in tokyo

Ahh, the Disney magic.

And when I say magic, I mean queuing for 45 minutes to get on rides that last less than two minutes. Even the shop had a twenty-minute queue (and the popcorn stands at least ten).

Its only redeeming feature was when the sun went down, and we were in transported onto a movie set, the magic lit up a little, but by that point we were all shattered.

A once in a lifetime experience, and I hope I mean that literally.

🔥 HOT TIP: If you want to fill your water bottle, it doesn’t look initially like this is possible, however head up past the gates to the far end, and there is a water fountain with tap you can use.

Kidzania ★

a small girl making an ice cream at kidzania in tokyo

A wise man once said KIDZANIA IS NUTS.

I think that wise man was me, and I think that’s the third time I’ve used that phrase in this piece (welcome to Tokyo baby).

The theory is, that your kid gets to earn money in this artifical world where they can take on jobs, in a regimented way that can only be found in Japan.

The reality was a shit-ton of money spent on two hours of chaos, where nearly every job was booked out, the whole place was bedlam, and Grace spent the entire time looking at us like a puppy who’d just been taken from its nice warm house and asked to live with pandas for a while – somewhere between lost and fucking confused.

Toyosu Fish Market ★

I expected this to be like the vibrant markets of Vietnam.

Instead, it was clinical, and stand-offish, with all the views from glassed observations walkways that made it feel more like a zoo than a market.

Admittedly we went on an off day, if I’m wrong about it then let me know in the comments.

Things We Didn’t Have Time For (Or Weren’t Open)

Ryoguku Kokugikan

I would have loved to see a sumo wrestling tournament while in Tokyo, and there is no better place to do it than Ryoguku Kokuikan, the national stadium, which can seat 10,000 people.

We unfortunately were in Tokyo at the wrong time, but if you are here in January, May or September, this is when the big tournaments take place.

Studio Ghibli

If you want to head to the famous Studio Ghibli when in Tokyo, book long in advance.

We tried to book three days in advance, turns out you need to book them THREE MONTHS in advance!

the reeves family picture

AUTHOR – BEN REEVE

Reeves Roam, is a first-hand travel blog. The Reeves have lived in the UK, South Africa and Australia and have travelled extensively in Europe and Southeast Asia.

Booking your trip via the links on this page earns us a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

You can also buy us a coffee

Thanks – Ben, Becca and Gracie

Subscribe
Notify of

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments