Tokyo is one of those cities where everything is possible and more! More than any other cities in the world you can find alternative and unique things to do in Tokyo.
In my suggested 7 days in Tokyo itinerary I already talked about a few must do while in Tokyo but there is so much more!
Unique things to do in Tokyo
Mori Building Digital Art Museum Epson
by Kristin Addis
If you enjoy art museums, interactive science museums, pretty lights, music, or the pleasing effect of symmetry, you must not miss out on the Mori Building Digital Art Museum Epson teamLab Borderless in Tokyo. Artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians, architects and graphic designers pool their talents to create interactive works of magic. The end result? A 10,000 square meters space with digital art that’s constantly changing, morphing, and interacting with spectators. It was said to be a temporary exhibition but has now been made permanent due to its popularity. To make sure there is adequate space for its visitors, tickets are sold in advance and I recommend buying it online ahead of time as they could be sold out on the day that you want to go. There are about 11 rooms with different themes, so you should budget half a day for this. I spent 4 hours exploring and would’ve stayed even longer if it wasn’t for jetlag! Expect to share the space with a large crowd at anytime of the day, though you might get lucky if you choose to be the first or last group to enter.
Alternative things to do in Tokyo – Mario Kart Tokyo Shibuya
by Vanessa Hunt from Wanderlust Crew
One of my favorite and unique things to do in Tokyo is Go-Karting in Tokyo. Often referred to as Mario Cart, or Mari Kar, whatever you want to call it, it’s one of the whackiest, and quite possibly most dangerous things you’ll ever do! There are several companies who offer this tour and they are all reputable.
You must be sure to have an international drivers permit in order to participate, and your tour must be booked ahead. I suggest booking at least one month in advance, if not more.
Once you arrive for your tour you can select your costume. I always choose to go for a classic Mario or Luigi! Your guide will then teach you how to drive the go-kart, which is a small and simple two pedal machine. Now it’s time to cruise around Tokyo in a go-kart!
The tour has several different route options, but can take you through Shibuya crossing, the busiest intersection in the world, or over Rainbow Bridge, which gives you an incredible view of the city! It’s truly exhilarating to drive around this vibrant city and so much fun!
Kimono rental in Tokyo
by Samantha from Travelling King
You can’t visit Tokyo (or even Japan) without dressing in a traditional Japanese Kimono.
I would highly recommend the Kimono Gallery for Kimono rental in Tokyo. It is located in the luxurious Tokyo neighborhood: Ginza. The Kimono Gallery is easy to spot along the main street. When you arrive you can choose from 2 packages: the basic or luxury package which costs between 5400 yen and 8640 yen. If you would like the professionals to take some photos of you in your Kimono, you can include a photo package for an additional 1080 yen.
I loved the full kimono experience, where you are dressed by professionals in your choice of kimonos (there is plenty to choose from!), then they complete the look with an up do for your hair to suit your face and kimono. Finalizing the whole look with a pair of traditional wooden sandals, called geta.
Once you’re dressed, you can head out and wander the surrounding area for a few hours, stopping to take photos in the nearby Sukiyabashi Park, the Old Kabuki Theatre or the main pedestrian crossing, which is similar to the Sibuya Crossing but on a smaller scale.
The Kimonos and sandals are surprisingly comfortable and very supportive to wear for hours. Make sure to take your time, take lots of photos and enjoy the whole experience!
Watch a Japanese Baseball Game
by Serena from Serena’s Lenses
Watching a Japanese baseball game in Tokyo Dome is definitely one of the most unique things to do in Tokyo. Baseball is one of the most popular sports in Japan ever since it was imported by the US in 1872. There are obviously similarities between watching a baseball game in Japan versus in other countries but there are quite a few unique things about watching a Japanese baseball game live.
At every stadium there is an area specifically for the hardcore baseball fans that’s almost entirely local for both teams. These fans are known as the “cheering squad”. They yell, single, wave flags and towels and bang on drums. It is a truly unique experience to sit near the cheer squad fans at a Japanese baseball game. In addition, some teams have their own chants and “dances” making the experience even more unique.
Food offered at a Japanese baseball game is quite different from what you eat during an American baseball game. Instead of getting hot dogs, you will be purchasing Bento boxes and other Japanese food that are both well-presented and tasty. In addition, you don’t even need to leave your seats to purchase beer. There are a ton of young Japanese girls carrying kegs on their back running up and down the stadium selling drinks. In addition, you are allowed to bring in your own food and drinks to a Japanese baseball game.
Alternative things to do in Tokyo – Ghibli Museum
by Thais from World trip diaries
One of my favorite things to do in Tokyo is the incredible Ghibli Museum. If you have ever watched My Neighbour Totoro, or Spirited Away, or any of the other movies (there are so many!), you’ll love it!
This museum tells the evolution of the animation movies from the ’80s until now. Between incredible zoetropes, clay models, murals, stained glass art, you can really see how it works.
Then there’s the art room, with replicas of the walls, original paintings and sketches, and even cigarette stubs (fake, I presume); a short movie, that changes every couple of months; a roof garden with real life-size giant robots and more; a café totally in character; and the seasonal exhibits.
For the little ones, there’s a special playground with a cat bus.
You really shouldn’t miss the shop and the library there, both incredible!
Photos aren’t allowed inside the building, which makes people really experience the whole museum and it does help things move smoother.
It’s in Mitaka, a short train ride from Tokyo Station, and from there, you can either walk the 10 minutes to the museum or catch a thematic loop bus. The bus is also adorable.
The only catch is that the tickets must be bought in advance, at a Lawson store or from your travel agent. They do sell out quite fast, so make sure you grab one at least a month prior to your planned visit or you may end up missing it!
Unique accommodation in Tokyo
Stay in a Ryokan
by Sarah Carter from ASocialNomad
What better way to experience the culture of Tokyo than stay in a traditional Japanese inn?
Japanese Inns or Ryokans are found throughout the country, but you’ll find great luxurious ryokans in Tokyo. Ryokans were developed for Japanese travelers in the Edo period (1603-1838) who were transiting between Tokyo and Kyoto. A stay in a traditional Japanese Ryokan would be spent soothing away the challenges of travel and it’s a great way today to do just that! Long and elaborate dining experiences and bathing in private onsens is the perfect way to experience Tokyo in a complete immersion of culture.
Wear a traditional yukata, take your meals in your room and experience Japanese Haute Cuisine in the form of Kaiseki Ryori and sleep on a traditional futon. Tokyo has some of the most luxurious ryokans around, including the Hoshinoya Ryokan, where you’ll be pampered for your entire stay. Staying in a ryokan is indeed a complete Japanese cultural immersion. Ryokan etiquette is simple and easily explained – your Japanese hosts will assist and explain, even if you don’t speak Japanese, we found our hosts to be genial, helpful and ever forgiving of any mistakes we made.
Unique things to do in Tokyo – Spend a night in a capsule hotel
By Mike of 197TravelStamps.com
The fact that space is so limited on the Japanese islands has prompted some ingenuous ideas. One of the greatest of them is the invention of capsule hotels. Instead of offering entire rooms to travelers, you only get a small sleeping pod.
When we were looking for a hotel in Tokyo, we also wanted to try the experience of a capsule hotel. There are many capsule hotels in Tokyo and we decided to go for a more traditional one. As soon as we entered the hotel building, we had to take off our street clothes and change into traditional Japanese clothes. The first floor of the hotel was a relaxing area with comfortable leather chairs, a massage area and a small spa. During our two night stay, we only met one other foreigner among the many guests which made the stay much more authentic.
The capsules were located in the floors above and looked quite small from the outside but they seemed more spacious from the inside. They were equipped with power outlets, an alarm clock and a small TV screen – with Japanese channels only. The opening of the capsule was lightproof but still left enough air into the capsule so I didn’t suffocate. So all in all, I had a great night and a great experience in my capsule hotel and I can definitely recommend it.
Unique things to do in Tokyo – Themed cafe and restaurant in Tokyo
Unique things to do in Tokyo – Watch a robot show at robot restaurant
I already advised to go to the robot restaurant in my article about Tokyo. As I said it is quite expensive but it really is a lot of fun and one of the unique things to do in Tokyo and Tokyo only! While watching the robot show you will have a bento box to go with and lasers for the animation. Seriously one of my best memories of Tokyo!
The Totoro Cafe (Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory)
by Allan Wilson from Live less ordinary
For anyone new to Totoro, he/she/it is a giant bear/cat/god type character famous from the classic animation film by Studio Ghibli called “My Neighbour Totoro”. But the character itself has taken on a life of its own, having garnered a global cult following due to ridiculous cuteness, and the first official Totoro Café opened recently in Bangkok Thailand in 2018. However, there has always kind of been a Totoro Cafe, in Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory, which is the first cafe to have an official license from Studio Ghibli, and is coincidentally owned by a man surnamed Miyazaki (Hayao Miyazaki is the founder of Studio Ghibli). But a highlight for me was just getting lost in the quaint and sleepy suburban backstreets of the Setagaya area where Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory is found, which feels miles away from the highrise mayhem of Tokyo’s city centre. And while there are lots of official memorabilia from Totoro, as well other Ghibli franchises, the highlight is most definitely Shirohige’s Totoro Cream Puffs. Shaped like the cat/bear/god himself and are available in four different flavours (chocolate, caramel banana, strawberry and custard). Which just makes it hard to choose, and so we just ordered all four flavours, and enjoyed them with a pot of tea.
The Kawaii Monster cafe
The Kawaii Monster Cafe is one of the highlights in Harajuku in Tokyo, and if you’re looking for a unique dining option, this is the place to go. Japan is famous for its many themed restaurants, and the Monster Cafe certainly lives up to the expectation.
Upon entering the cafe, you will be welcomed by the staff which will lead you to your table. The inside of the cafe is decorated in various themes with different rooms.
The food is themed as well, and you can get rainbow pasta, cereal served in a cat bowl and all kinds of crazy foods that fits the Monster theme.
Every 30 minutes, there will be a performance by the Monster Cafe girls who are dressed up and will sing and dance for the guests. It’s so much fun and some guests will even get the chance to come up on stage and join them while singing silly songs.
Monster Cafe is a place for every age, and if you want a silly yet fun and unusual experience I warmly recommend a visit here. The food isn’t too shabby either, and some dishes were actually tasty even though its appearance is not what you’re used to.
I recommend to book your visit beforehand since it’s very popular. It is also kid’s friendly, so it will be a fun experience for the whole family as well.
by Laura from What’s Hot blog
There are many wonderfully unique activities you can get involved with in Tokyo but one of the most popular is animal cafes. Japan is notorious for its cutesy characters, cafes, fashion and more and what could be cuter than cuddling up a real life fluffy animal?You’ve probably heard of cat cafes but
how about bunny cafes, owl cafes or hedgehogs cafes?
Hutch Asakusa, a bunny cafe, spans over 5 floors and is one of Japan’s biggest animal cafes. As soon as you enter, you are met with a mass of bunny rabbits chilling in their cages. You can spend as much time as you want in this room, taking the bunnies out of their cages to have a quick cuddle. Then you’ll choose just one bunny to spend some quality time with and will take him up to a lounge space where you can sit on a comfy sofa in an enclosed area for just you and your bunny.
It’s also one of the most expensive animal cafes but that’s because you get proper one-on-one time with these bunnies and they’re well looked after. As you’re selecting your bunny, you can see that each day a fair number of bunnies are “off work” because they got in lots of play time with customers the day before. There’s also more space for the bunnies to roam in upstairs and, crucially, you’re not falling over other people trying to grab the poor animal.
Sessions last from half an hour to two hours depending on how keen you are! If you’re going for a longer session they may also give you the option to take another bunny out for half of your session so you get to cuddle not one, but two different bunnies!
Visit a Hedgehog Café
by Helen from Destination>Differentville
If you’ve ever wanted to get up close and personal with a hedgehog, Tokyo is the perfect place to do it. There are hedgehog cafes springing up everywhere.
Of the three I’ve visited though, I like Chiku Chiku in Shibuya the best.
In this hedgehog café, the cute spiky ones live in tiny tanks decorated to look like rooms in a dolls house – they sit in baths or have tiny cushions or a school desk to sit at – and they’re so adorable you actually don’t want to handle your hedgehog that much.
Not only is this better for them – it also saves you having to shout help in bad Japanese when your hedgehog (who doesn’t seem to have got the memo that he’s nocturnal ) decides that instead of sleeping in your hands he’s going to try and run up your arms into his mate’s house next door! I may have learned this the hard way at another hedgehog cafe!
If you do want a cuddle or a picture, though the staff are happy to help you pick up your spiky charge safely – or, you can just feed them hedgehog treats with tiny tweezers and watch their little noses wrinkle as they chew.
A one hour visit costs 2500 yen, and allows you access to more than one hedgehog. Hedgehog snacks are an additional 400 yen. Chiku Chiku opens at 11am and closes at 7pm, seven days a week. Click here to see more details and pictures.
We have a Harry Potter fan in the family who got very excited when she learnt she could take a selfie with an owl in Japan. So we decided to visit the Owl Cafe in Ikebukero. For a small entrance fee of 2000 Yen you can visit with a variety of owls at the Ikefukurou Cafe. They come sit on your shoulders and you can get a closer look at them and take pictures with them. There were so many owls of different sizes and colors and there were also a few meerkats.
Eat at a Michelin starred restaurant for under $15
By Henry from This life of travel
If you’re visiting Tokyo and are a foodie – you’re in the right place. Tokyo has one of the highest number of Michelin rated restaurants in the world. It also has a couple of Michelin rated joints that are under $15 – which is a great deal since in most parts of the world, a Michelin rated restaurant usually starts around $70. Michelin stars are a rating system used by the red Michelin Guide to grade restaurants on their quality. The guide was originally developed in 1900 to show French drivers where local amenities such as restaurants and mechanics were. The rating system was first introduced in 1926 as a single star, with the second and third stars introduced in 1933. According to the Guide, one star signifies “a very good restaurant” and in the restaurant world means ‘you’ve made it’. The ramen place in Tokyo that made is called Ginza Kagari and they’re famous for their Tori Paitan, which is a chicken based soup. I’ve only had Tori Paitan once at Tokyo Mensho here in San Francisco. I thought it was pretty good, but a bit pricey at $18 and not quite as good as the Tsukemen at Tsujita in LA. The Tori Paitan at Kagari however, was one of the best tasting bowls of Ramen I’ve ever had. It had such an intense chicken flavor with many layers revealing themselves with each bite. Like many ramen shops in Japan, they finished the dish with yuzu peel, giving it a bright nose and finishing flavor.
If you’re still hungry after the ramen, here are some of my other favorite places to eat in Tokyo.
Traditional things to do in Tokyo
Eat Shabu Shabu
By Clemes from Travellers Archive
Japanese cuisine is one of its kind. The country hosts some of the best restaurants in the world and even small shops at the train station sometimes offer soups that once gained some Michelin stars. Our favourite thing to do when it comes to eating our way through Tokyo was going for “shabu shabu”. In other words, we loved going for Japanese hotpot! What happens then basically is, that you get thinly sliced meat and vegetables and you boil it in water or broths and then dip in sauces. Speaking of meat in Japan – you usually won’t get normal meat, but best quality wagyu beef, which is the tastiest and softest type of beef you will ever eat in your life. Apart from shabu shabu, meat-lovers should also go for “yakiniku”, which is the Japanese art of grilling beef. Our favourite place for doing this was at “Han no Daidoko”. This small place is closely located at Shibuya and does not only have awesome meat, but also the tastiest draft beer of Tokyo. Make sure to have a whole evening once you plan to go for shabu shabu or yakiniku, as this is really fun and best done step by step and plate after plate.
Visit an Onsen
by Ben from Horizon Unknown
Onsens are a long standing tradition in Japan’s history and culture, but Yunessun Onsen in Hakone puts a modern spin on these hot baths.
While there is a regular, traditional style onsen at Yunessun, there are other pools which you won’t fine anywhere else. Bathe in pools of sake, coffee, red wine and syrup, it really is a one of kind place to visit in Hakone, Japan.
There is no specific order and you can spend as long or as little time in these heated pools as you would like to. Just be prepared for strange and hot aromas coming from each of the pools.
There Is a small issue if you have tattoos. You will be outright refused to enter the traditional, non clothing section of Yunessun, but for the unique pools, there is another option. Waterproof bandages can be placed over any visible tattoos. If you have many tattoos like I do, you’re likely to get quite a lot of stares, but it’s all part of the experience.
Yunnessun Onsen is a memorable place to visit in Japan. These unique pools of red wine and coffee sooth your muscles, and will be an unforgettable memory of traveling Japan.
Unique things to do in Tokyo – Sushi workshop
contributed and written by Chris W. from CTB Global® (Chris Travel Blog)
If you visit Tokyo for a city trip or as part of a longer Japan itinerary a sushi class is a must do. You’ll learn to prepare this Japanese famous dish yourself. There are various place in Tokyo to attend a sushi class but make sure you’ll attend one where a real sushi master is teaching you. It doesn’t matter if you’re alone or with a group; you’ll have fun either way.
The sushi class is given by a sushi master who will first explain the various kind of sushi, fish, and a bit about hygiene. He will then make several examples while explaining what he does. The fun part starts when you start making your own sushi. The chef will help to perfect your rolls and explain more tricks while you’re making your sushi. You’ll for sure enjoy making as many pieces of sushi so that you’re stuffed after the sushi class. Make sure to plan the class around lunch time!
Once back home you can prepare the best sushi for your friends like an actual chef!
Unique things to do in Tokyo – Watch a sumo fight
Sumo is a national sport in Japan so you should take the occasion to go see a sumo fight or sumo training while in Tokyo. Many Sumo stable in the Ryogoku district.
Visit the Yanaka cemetery
by Noel from Travel Photo discovery
The Yanaka cemetery is one of those unique and almost unknown attraction that is never on tourist’s radar. What they do see if they visit is one of the oldest areas of Tokyo that was untouched from the major bombings of the city during World War II and leaving an intact area that represents a real traditional neighborhood and unique cemetery. You’ll find beautiful landscape, unusual tombstones, temples and places of interest throughout the cemetery along with views of the general area. While visiting Yanaka cemetery make sure you stop by the Tennoji temple with its huge bronze buddha at the entrance of the temple. Also while you are in the area, check out the Yanaka Ginza – the small neighborhood with quaint shops, snack eateries and cafes and other stores worth exploring and browsing for unique finds. Check out my post for the most photographic places to visit in Tokyo including Yanaka cemetery for more images and inspiration to visiting the city.
Unique things to do in Tokyo – Tokyo Sea
by Sylvia from Wapiti Travel
Calling all Disney fans, here’s one thing that you absolutely shouldn’t miss when you’re checking out those things on your Tokyo Itinerary : Tokyo DisneySea.
We wouldn’t call ourselves diehard Disney fans and we don’t have any children but we always love to soak up the pleasant ambiance in the Disney Amusement parks. The shows are great and most of the attractions appeal to everybody.
At the end of the day I always have a big smile on my face. One thing that makes Disney stand out is their eye for design. Disney doesn’t look at a penny when it comes to transporting you to their fantasy world. The moment you enter the gates of the park you enter a completely different world.
We had read that DisneySea won the Thea award for it’s concept, design and construction so our expectations were up high, still are jaws dropped when we just entered the park and witnessed the spectacular Mediterranean Harbor.
The whole park is build around the concept of nautical exploration and except for the stunning design it also has some very fun rides like the Journey to the center of the earth, Indiana Jones and Toy Story.
It’s easy to get to Tokyo DisneySea. Leaving from Tokyo station you need to take the JR Keiyo line to Maihama Station. When you get out you can either walk to the entrance, it’s about a 20-minute walk, or hop-on the Disney Monorail.
Have a great day at DisneySea!