Sometimes even hikers end up on a city trip. Tokyo is a huge city and can be a bit overwhelming. Here is a list of cool things to do in Tokyo. I also have a blog post about all the amazing things you can do and see around Tokyo. And I also have a blog post with some practical advice on getting around in Tokyo.
Shopping in Harajuku or Ginza
Ginza is more glitzy, Harajuku has smaller designer-shops. Both are great for shopping. In Ginza, make sure to check out the huge Uniqlo and Muji stores for practical Japanese clothing, accessories and home products. In Harajuku the most interesting shops are in an area called Ura-Hara. The best way to explore Harajuku is to take the subway to the Omote-Sando station and walk towards Menji-jingumae Harajuku station along the . The Ura-Hara backstreets will be on the right.
Tsukiji outer market
Tsukiji fish market is famous for it’s tuna auctions but you have to get up really early to see them. However the Tsukiji Outer Market has literally rows and rows of supreme quality fish and sushi restaurants and is a great place to come for lunch and dinner. It’s near Ginza, so you can combine it with shopping in Ginza. Just around the corner from the outer market is the Tsukiji Hongwan-ji Buddhist temple – a beautiful structure which is definitely worth a visit.
Hama-rikyu Onshi-teien garden
These beautiful gardens offer superb contrasting views of pathways, small lakes and traditional tea-houses contrasting with the sleek modern skyscrapers in the background.
Temples and shrines
There are a lot Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines all around the city. You should however know the difference between them.
Some Shinto Shrines have instructions on how to pray. Some require you to remove your shoes. As far as etiquette goes – you don’t clap your hands while praying in a Buddhist temple!
One of the grandest shrines is the Meiji-jingu near Harajuku – so if you go shopping in Harajuku, make sure to visit the Meiji-jingu Shinto shrine which is very near.
One of the oldest buildings in Tokyo is the Kiyomizu Kannon-do Buddhist temple from the end of the 17th century.
Fukagawa Fudo-do temple fire ceremony
This temple is in the Eastern part of Tokyo and probably many tourists don’t make it that far but the spectacular Buddhist fire ceremony performed there four times a day is absolutely worth the visit. Chanting, singing, drums and a blazing fire in the middle of the temple make a spectacular experience.
You can’t take photos however and you have to take off your shoes and hat. Fukagawa temple is a spectacular sight in itself – don’t miss the corridor with almost ten thousand miniature Buddha statues. Make sure to check when the fire ceremonies take place – it should be 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm – and make sure you arrive early to have a seat.
Mandrake Complex and Akihabara Radio Kaikan
If you are a Manga and Anime fan, then the Mandrake Complex and Akihabara Radio Kaikan is the place to visit. The Mandrake Complex has many floors of comic books and figures. There’s a separate floor for men – which basically means adult comic books. The Akihabara Radio Kaikan sells more of the same on nine floors. The surrounding area is also interesting and looks exactly like the Tokyo you usually see in the movies.
Yodobashi Akiba is a huge electronics store. The prices are no longer super cheap but the range and choice they offer is amazing. I’m very happy with my new Japanese tripod that I got from the store. It also has a huge section of electronic watches from brands such as Seiko and Casio and just floors and floors of all kinds of electronics. The feel of the store is very old school.
Trips around Tokyo
There are amazing things to see and do around Tokyo. It’s very easy to get around and travel in Japan thanks to the fast Shinkansen bullet trains. I’ve written a separate blog post about them here.