Many people ask me what to do when you are in Tokyo. They say, “go to…Sensoji, a Buddhist temple in Asakusa which is about as touristy as it gets in Tokyo. Tokyo skytree – another good lookout point but full of tourists. The Tsukuji fish market has moved! Go to Roppongi where there is no good food, not much night-life and no culture. I think they are all worth skipping.
Here is a list of my favorite things to explore during the day in Tokyo.
1. Not far from Roppongi is Tokyo Tower. Stroll from Roppongi to Tokyo tower in about 2.5km. Go to the Tokyo Tower lookout, then come down to the Zojoji temple – one of my favorite spots. Across the way walk towards Hamamatscho and check out the restaraunts on the way. Right below Tokyo Tower is Tofu Ueki – a kaiseki for Tofu place and on the Higashi Azabu (Sakura-dori) there is a fantastic Unagi-don place. Right beside Tokyo Tower is a small, quaint garden called Shibakoen. Take a stroll up to the top of the hill where there is a small temple. Once you finish the tour, Azabu-Juban is 1 subway stop and the street is filled with great Japanese cuisine including yakitori, kaiseki, ramen, seafood, and more.
2. One of my favorite activities in Tokyo is to check out the large gardens parks and join some of the great activities like acro-yoga, music, dance and more.
Yoyogi Park at Harajuku – Best place for tourists and a temple inside. Lots of shopping around there. But it gets very crowded. There is a lot of energy of music, dancers and general festivities.
Located close to Tokyo Dome (go before a baseball game), Koishikawa Korakuen is a medium sized garden perfect for meditation or reading a book. I’ve seen quite a few artists here as well. The garden was named Korakuen after a poem encouraging a ruler to enjoy pleasure only after achieving happiness for his people.
Ueno park is most popular and lively cherry blossom spots with more than 1000 cherry trees lining its central pathway. The cherry blossoms are usually in bloom during late March and early April and attract large numbers of hanami (cherry blossom viewing) par
Rikugien park is small but one of the most beautiful landscapes in all of Japan.
By Shiodome station is a sprawling garden of Japanese magnificence, Shinjuku Koen National Garden.
3. Japanese Museums! My favorite museum is by far the Edo-Tokyo Museum, rich with history, economics, and culture. You can learn so much here https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3070.html The Mori art museum has lots of different showings as does the National Art Center Tokyo
4. Visit interesting neighborhoods. Tokyo has so many unique and distinct neighborhoods. Here are a few. Iidabashi has a large French and Italian influence so there are lots of great eats and a nice river – try the Canal Cafe and host a BBQ 2.Harajuku – check out the electronics and teenage pop scene 3. Kichijoji has vintage shops, a beautiful parks, A sprawling area of green grass, woodland and recreation spaces, Inokashira Park is your escape to the country within the city.
5. Take a run around the Imperial Palace. Its 5km run around the palace. Make sure to walk through the gate to check out the bridge and a glimpse of the palace. Join others for run during the day.
6. Do not hesitate to check out some Kabuki. I saw a few plays and was very entertained by the humor and meaning. Or catch some Sumo if you can.
7. Baseball is Japan’s national past time. Visit the Yakult Swallows game. They are cheap, outside, and the fans have a lot of energy. I suggest this over the Tokyo Giants.
Take day trips
8. Hokone: Visit Yunessun. Tucked away in the mountains, this onsen offers all types of flavors like wine, chocolate and more. It is a perfect family outing. You can also get the Hokone free pass and travel around but you should choose one or the other as you can easily spend hours at Yunessun.
9. Head to Kamakura and see the giant buddha. There is nothing else much around there but a small garden.
10. Go to the Beach. There are great beaches down at Izu or towards Zushi. Pick one and go for the day.
11. Take an overnight ferry to the outer islands of Tokyo of the Izu archipelago . There are some great islands like Niijima, Kozushima, Mikurajima and Miyakejima. I’ve been to Niijima and Kozushima and both are worth a visit to escape the great city of Tokyo.