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  • Writer's pictureAngelina Ly

Exploring Tokyo: A Guide to Japan's Capital City Neighborhoods

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

Having visited Tokyo multiple times, I can confidently say that Japan's capital city is a place like no other. From the bustling streets of Shibuya to the tranquil temples of Asakusa, Tokyo has something to offer everyone. Tokyo has about 23 main areas, each with its own set of attractions, from shopping centers and traditional markets to historical sites and cultural activities. Over my many trips to Japan, I have explored some incredible places; from small hidden gems tucked away in alleyways to iconic spots featured on postcards. Whether you're looking for an authentic Japanese experience or modern entertainment, there is something unique and exciting to explore in each of its neighborhoods. In this guide, I will share with you my favorite neighborhoods in Tokyo – ones that are a must-visit if you ever find yourself in Japan’s vibrant capital!



Shibuya

Shibuya, the heart of Tokyo, is a vibrant and energetic neighborhood that effortlessly blends fashion, entertainment, and youthful energy. It's an absolute must when visiting Tokyo for the first time, as it will give you a taste of the city’s culture and energy.



Shibuya Landmarks

  • Shibuya Crossing - No visit to Shibuya is complete without crossing the famous Shibuya Crossing, where waves of people converge in a mesmerizing symphony of movement. You can also see the legendary Hachiko Statue, a symbol of loyalty and devotion (And watch the movie Hachi on the plane ride back).

  • Explore the trendy streets and fashion boutiques of Shibuya Center Street, Shibuya 109, and the vibrant shopping complex of Shibuya Hikarie.

  • Meiji Shrine - For a serene escape, visit the Meiji Shrine located in the nearby sprawling Yoyogi Park. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, with its peaceful atmosphere and traditional architecture. It opens at sunrise, which makes it the perfect way to spend a peaceful morning.



Shibuya Accommodations

  • Shibuya Tokyo REI Hotel - If you want to be right where the action is, the Shibuya Tokyo REI Hotel is the perfect choice. Located across the street from Shibuya Station, it offers easy access to all the attractions and nightlife that the area has to offer at a pretty affordable price.

  • Shibuya Hotel En - For a more affordable option, check out Shibuya Hotel En. It's conveniently located in the center of Shibuya and offers comfortable accommodations for a budget-friendly price.

  • Cerulean Tower Tokyo Hotel - For a luxurious stay, check out the Cerulean Tower Tokyo Hotel. It's an iconic hotel located in the heart of Shibuya and offers stunning views of the city.

Places to Eat and Drink in Shibuya

  • Torafugutei - This chain is one of the best-known spots to try Fugu (blowfish). I've been to the Ginza and Shibuya locations, and this one is my favorite place. They offer a set menu with all-you-can-drink sake, beer, and Japanese whiskey.

  • Harajuku Gyozaro - This small dumpling spot is a must-try for anyone in the area. The gyoza is delicious, and they also offer other dishes such as ramen and edamame.

  • Sushi Yajima - If you're in the mood for some sushi, Sushi Yajima is a great place to go. The restaurant specializes in its Omakase sushi set, and the husband and wife team are very welcoming.

  • Bar Legacy - This cozy bar is a great place to hang out with friends or catch up over drinks. They offer a wide selection of Japanese craft beer and cocktails, as well as a variety of snacks.

Asakusa

Nestled in the northeastern part of Tokyo, Asakusa exudes a charming old-world ambiance. It is the perfect place to immerse yourself in Japan's rich cultural heritage as you explore this historic neighborhood.



Landmarks in Asakusa

  • Senso-ji Temple - Begin your adventure at the historic Senso-ji Temple, Japan's oldest temple dedicated to the Buddhist goddess of mercy.

  • Nakamise Street - As you approach the temple, stroll through Nakamise Shopping Street, lined with traditional shops selling souvenirs, snacks, and handicrafts. There are plenty of souvenirs that are a must to bring home with you.

  • Sumida Park - Don't miss the serene beauty of Sumida Park, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Tokyo Skytree across the Sumida River.

Accommodations in Asakusa

  • APA Hotel Asakusa Kaminarimon - APA Hotel Asakusa Kaminarimon is conveniently located close to Senso-ji Temple. Not only does it offer comfortable and wallet-friendly accommodations, but the views from the rooftop terrace are simply amazing.

  • Mimaru Suites - Looking for something a bit more luxurious? Mimaru Suites is the perfect choice. The chic, modern suites feature floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning views of Tokyo Skytree and Senso-ji Temple.

Places to Eat and Drink in Asakusa

  • Fuji Ramen - For a taste of savory Japanese noodles, head to Fuji Ramen in Asakusa. This cozy ramen joint offers a variety of flavors to choose from and is low key but very delicious.

  • Sometaro - For a unique dining experience, check out Sometaro. It's a tiny restaurant tucked away in an alleyway that serves traditional Japanese Okonomiyaki (Japanese seafood pancakes).

  • Asakusa Gyukatsu - Another traditional Japanese dish to try in Asakusa is Gyukatsu (Japanese beef cutlet). Asakusa Gyukatsu offers a delicious version of this dish and the portions are generous.

  • Bar Walk - This cocktail lounge is hidden away in an alley and serves up a variety of seasonal cocktails. The atmosphere is cozy and intimate, perfect for winding down after a day of sightseeing.

Shinjuku

Shinjuku, a bustling district known for its towering skyscrapers, vibrant nightlife, and vast shopping opportunities, offers a sensory overload that is uniquely Tokyo.


Shinjuku Landmarks

  • Kabukicho - Dive into the buzzing atmosphere of Kabukicho, Tokyo's entertainment district, where bright neon lights illuminate the night.

  • Tokyo Metro Building - For panoramic views of the city, visit the observation decks of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.

  • Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden - Take a moment of tranquility in the stunning Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, featuring traditional Japanese gardens and picturesque walking paths.

Shinjuku Accommodations

  • Mitsu Garden Hotel - Mitsu Garden Hotel is a great option for travelers looking for a serene stay. Not only is it conveniently located near the National Stadium and the National Park, but it also is hidden away from trees and offers great views of nature.

  • Shinjuku Granbell Hotel - This hotel is closer to the Shinjuku city center, making it a great choice for those looking to be close to all the action. The rooms are modern and stylish, with high-quality amenities and services.

Places to Eat and Drink in Shinjuku

  • Omoide Yokocho - Dive into the vibrant atmosphere of Omoide Yokocho, also known as "Memory Lane" a narrow street packed with izakayas serving up delicious yakitori, grilled skewers, and local specialties.

  • UMI Bar Shinjuku - This seafood restaurant is the perfect spot for a romantic night out. The atmosphere is cozy and inviting, and they offer an extensive menu of seafood dishes as well as drinks.

  • Tsukemen Gonokami Seisakusho Shinjuku - Tsukemen is a type of ramen dish, and this restaurant serves up some of the best in Tokyo. The noodles are thick and chewy, and the soup is rich and flavorful.

  • Shinjuku Golden Gal - For a night out with friends, there is no better place than Shinjuku Golden Gal. This neighborhood area is filled with winding alleys of intimate bars and taverns, each quite unique.



Harajuku

Known as Tokyo's fashion and pop culture mecca, Harajuku embodies a playful and youthful spirit that combines cutting-edge style with a dose of eccentricity. If you're into Kawaii, this is the place to be.


Harajuku Landmarks

  • Takeshita Street - Begin your exploration on the bustling Takeshita Street, a lively pedestrian street lined with trendy boutiques, unique fashion stores, and quirky souvenir shops.

  • Kawaii Monster Cafe - If you want to experience Harajuku's kawaii culture, head over to the Kawaii Monster Cafe. The cafe is filled with wild and colorful designs, with menu items to match.

Harajuku Accommodations

  • Dormy Inn Premium - Conveniently located near Harajuku and Shibuya, Dormy Inn Premium is a great place to stay to get the best of both worlds. The hotel offers comfortable rooms and great value for the money.

  • Moshi Moshi Rooms - This Airbnb is a Kawaii lover's paradise. The rooms have been designed with a cutesy bright-colored theme and everything from the furniture to the pillows features whimsical designs. Quite the experience that goes with Harajuku.

Places to Eat and Drink in Harajuku

  • Harajuku Gyozaru - For some of the best gyoza (pan-fried dumplings) in Tokyo, head to Harajuku Gyozaru. These juicy dumplings are filled with pork and vegetables, and the restaurant also serves up a variety of other dishes.

  • Oreryu Shio-Ramen - Oreryu Shio-Ramen is a cozy ramen joint located in the heart of Harajuku. The restaurant offers simple yet delicious ramen dishes, with the light, clear broth being its signature.

  • The Matcha Tokyo Omotesandō - The Matcha Tokyo Omotesandō is a tea house that serves up matcha-based drinks and desserts. Everything from the sweet treats to the drinks is made with matcha, and the shop also offers a wide variety of flavors.

Roppongi

Conveniently located near the heart of Tokyo, Roppongi is a vibrant and intriguing neighborhood known for its nightlife scene. It's one of the most well-known spots for foreigners to visit in Tokyo, for their acclaimed Michelin-starred restaurants, modern museums, and popular nighclubs and bars.


Roppongi Landmarks

  • National Art Center - Explore the world of contemporary art at the National Art Center, which houses a variety of exhibitions from both renowned Japanese and international artists.

  • Tokyo Midtown - Tokyo Midtown is a sprawling complex located near Roppongi Hills. Here you can find a variety of shops, restaurants, cafes, and galleries.

Roppongi Accommodations

  • The Lively Tokyo Azabujuban - The Lively Tokyo Azabujuban is a great place to stay for those looking to be close to the action. The hotel offers comfortable and modern rooms and provides a convenient base from which to explore the area.

  • APA Hotel and Resort Roppongi Station East - APA Hotel and Resort Roppongi Station East is a great choice for those looking for affordable, yet comfortable accommodation. It's located close to the Roppongi Hills area and offers great views of the city.

Places to Eat and Drink in Roppongi

  • Mint Leaf Mojito Bar - For a taste of Japan's unique nightlife, head to Mint Leaf Mojito Bar. The bar serves up delicious mojitos and other cocktails, as well as a variety of snacks. I'm a huge fan of Mojitos, so this was a must for me!

  • Sheyda Bar - If you're looking for a chic and trendy spot, Sheyda Bar is the place to be. The luxury lounge serves up craft cocktails in a cozy atmosphere, and they also offer a great selection of wines.

  • Gyopoa Gyoza Roppongi - For some delicious gyoza (pan-fried dumplings) and soup dumplings, head to Gyopoa Gyoza Roppongi. Here you'll find some of the best gyoza in Tokyo and a variety of other tasty dishes.

  • Tenryoen - Tenryoen is a small, traditional Japanese restaurant in Roppongi. They specialize in soba noodles, which are served with a variety of toppings. The ingredients are always fresh and the flavors are uniquely delicious.

Ginza

Ginza is Tokyo's upscale shopping district, renowned for its luxury boutiques, high-end department stores, and glamorous atmosphere.


Ginza Landmarks

  • Ginza Wako Building - Explore the iconic Ginza Wako building and its famous clock tower, a symbol of the district.

  • Ginza Six and Mitsukoshi - Indulge in retail therapy at the luxury shopping emporiums of Ginza Six and Mitsukoshi department stores.

  • Kabuki-za Theater - Marvel at the architectural brilliance of the Kabuki-za Theater, the home of traditional Kabuki performances.

Ginza Accommodations

  • Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo - Enjoy a luxury stay at the Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo. The hotel offers stylish and modern rooms with spectacular city views, as well as an on-site spa and fitness center.

  • Hotel Gracery Ginza - For a more affordable option, Hotel Gracery Ginza is an excellent choice. The hotel has clean and comfortable rooms that come with all the necessary amenities and is conveniently located close to many of the area's attractions.

Places to Eat and Drink in Ginza

  • Hakodate Ramen Funamizaka - For a taste of authentic Hakodate-style ramen, head to Hakodate Ramen Funamizaka. The noodles are thick and chewy, and the broth is rich and flavorful.

  • Imakatsu Ginza - If you're looking for a unique dining experience, look no further than Imakatsu Ginza. This subterranean local spot serves up hearty fried chicken and pork cutlet dishes, as well as other traditional Japanese fare.



Ueno

Ueno is a vibrant neighborhood rich in cultural attractions, offering a perfect blend of history, art, and natural beauty.


Ueno Landmarks

  • Ueno Park - Explore Ueno Park, a sprawling oasis that houses various museums and galleries, including the Tokyo National Museum and the Ueno Zoo.

  • Ueno Toshogu Shrine - Visit the impressive Ueno Toshogu Shrine, dedicated to the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu.

  • Ameyoko Shopping District - Wander through Ameyoko Shopping District, a bustling street market offering a wide array of goods.

Ueno Accommodations

  • Smart Stay Shikuzu Ueno - Smart Stay Shikuzu Ueno is a great option for those looking for an affordable yet comfortable stay. The hotel offers cozy and modern rooms, as well as a convenient location close to many of the area's attractions.

Places to Eat and Drink in Ueno

  • Delhi Ueno - For some delicious Indian food, check out Delhi Ueno. The restaurant offers an array of flavorful dishes and curries that are a nice taste bud break from all the traditional Japanese food.

  • Kanazawa Maimonzushi Ueno - Get a taste of fresh sushi and other seafood dishes at Kanazawa Maimonzushi Ueno. The conveyor belt sushi restaurant is a great place to taste many different types of fish and sushi, especially for a solo traveler or a group with all different tastes.

  • Noboritei Uenohirokojiten - You can find some of the best Unagi (eel) dishes in Tokyo at Noboritei Uenohirokojiten. It's so flavorful and tender, it will melt in your mouth!

Ikebukuro

Ikebukuro, located just north of Tashima City, is a bustling neighborhood with a vibrant atmosphere and a wealth of entertainment options.


Ikebukuro Landmarks

  • Tokyo Metropolitan Building - Take in panoramic views from the observation deck of the Tokyo Metropolitan Building.

  • Otome Road - Discover the charm of Ikebukuro's Otome Road, a haven for anime and manga enthusiasts.

  • Rikugien Gardens - Enjoy a beautiful stroll in the picturesque Rikugien Gardens.

Ikebukuro Accommodations

  • Hotel Metropolitan Tokyo Ikebukuro - Hotel Metropolitan Tokyo Ikebukuro is a great option for those looking for comfortable and convenient accommodation. The hotel offers modern rooms with all the necessary amenities and is close to many of the area's attractions.

  • Sakura Hotel Ikebukuro - For a more budget-friendly option, enjoy a comfortable stay at the Sakura Hotel Ikebukuro. The hotel is conveniently located close to all the major attractions in the area and provides comfortable and clean rooms.

Places to Eat and Drink in Ikebukuro

  • Mimatsu - For a tasty and unique take on traditional Japanese food, head to Mimatsu. The restaurant specializes in grilled meat dishes as well as a variety of other tasty dishes.

  • Gottsui Ikebukuro - Gottsui Ikebukuro is the place to go for a traditional teppanyaki experience. The restaurant's expert chefs serve up a variety of dishes, cooked to perfection on the teppan.

  • The Vegetarian Butcher - Vegans and vegetarians can get their fill of delicious plant-based cuisine at The Vegetarian Butcher. The restaurant serves up a variety of innovative dishes and also has a great selection of alcohol.



Tsukiji

Tsukiji, the former location of Tokyo's iconic fish market, is a paradise for food lovers, offering a wide range of culinary experiences.


Tsukiji Landmarks

  • Tsukiji Outer Market - While the Tsukiji Fish Market has moved to Toyosu, you can still explore the outer market, where you'll find shops selling fresh seafood, street food stalls, and sushi restaurants.

  • Tsukiji Hongan-ji Temple - Visit Tsukiji Hongan-ji Temple, a serene Buddhist temple, for a moment of tranquility.

Tsukiji Accommodations

  • Koko Hotel Tsukiji Ginza - The hotel offers modern rooms with all the necessary amenities and is just minutes away from the Tsukiji Outer Market.

Places to Eat and Drink in Tsukiji

  • Sushi Katsura - Satisfy your sushi cravings at Sushi Katsura, where you can enjoy fresh and flavorful seafood dishes.

  • Tentake - Enjoy this fugu (blowfish) restaurant for a unique dining experience. Tentake serves up an array of dishes made with the famously dangerous delicacy.

Tokyo's diverse neighborhoods offer a world of exploration, from ancient temples and tranquil gardens to trendy fashion streets and vibrant nightlife. By exploring each area's unique landmarks, finding suitable accommodations, and sampling local cuisines, you'll experience the true essence of Tokyo's cultural richness. So pack your bags and get ready to explore!





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