23 Cool Things to Do in Tokyo, Japan (2023)

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Tokyo is a city like no other. Sure, you can visit museums and temples and eat at one of the thousands of delicious restaurants, but you can also do things you can’t do anywhere else.

We’ve had some of our craziest experiences in this giant metropolis and spend our time feeling bewildered, enchanted, and 100% safe.

Here are our favourite unique, weird, and just downright cool things to do in Tokyo, one of the best places to visit in Japan.

At the end of the post, you’ll find a map of all these fun Tokyo activities plus tips for exploring the city. 


Video: What to Do in Tokyo

Discover the best things to do in Tokyo in this short video. 

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Fun Things to Do in Tokyo, Japan

1) Cosplay Go-Karting

Simon dressed up as Yoshi on our Maricar experience in Tokyo
Go-karting is a Tokyo must do!

Dressing up as your favourite character and driving a go-kart around the Tokyo streets has to be the coolest thing you can do in Tokyo.

Yes, you drive a tiny go-kart on the real streets of Tokyo amongst cars, buses, and trucks!

Go-karting was a dream come true for Simon, but as I hadn’t driven in years, I spent the first hour of the two-hour tour terrified and the second hour having so much fun!

It’s a surreal experience as you drive past skyscrapers and tiny shrines, busy crossings and quiet residential neighbourhoods, all while people stare, wave, and take your photo.

Dressing up as characters and driving a go-kart is one of the many fun things to do in Tokyo
Dressing up and driving a go-kart is one of the most fun things to do in Tokyo!

Our tour was from 4 – 6 pm, so we experienced the golden late afternoon light, sunset, and the neon lights once darkness hit.

A highlight was driving across the massive Rainbow Bridge at full speed (60 Kmph and you feel it in a go-kart) with an incredible view of the Tokyo skyline.

The go-karts are easy to operate, but you need an international driving permit, so make sure you get one before leaving your home country.

Note: This used to be called Maricar and you could dress up as Mario characters, but Nintendo shut that down. It’s now a similar experience with a different company where you can choose from a range of costumes.  

Details: There are fewer tours available at the moment, but this one-hour Go-Kart Tour with Monkey Kart costs $138 including costume rental and photos. It takes you to iconic Tokyo places like Shibuya Crossing, Harajuku and Shinjuku. Check availability here.

2) Tokyo DisneySea

The best Tokyo DisneySea rides and attractions for adults
DisneySea is one of our top things to do in Tokyo.

It might seem a waste to spend a day of your Tokyo trip at Disney, but DisneySea is unlike any of the other Disney parks in the world (and is possibly the best).

The nautical theme park features seven ports inspired by real places and ocean legends including American Waterfront, Mediterranean Harbor (which looks just like Italy), Arabian Coast, and the unique Mysterious Island complete with erupting volcano.

Attractions are more adult-orientated than at neighbouring park Tokyo Disneyland and you can even see a Broadway show and have a cocktail in a 1920s lounge aboard a cruise liner.

It’s such a fun day out! Read about our favourite DisneySea rides including a recommended itinerary for adults and tips for avoiding the crowds.

Tokyo Disneyland is the more classic Disney park with the fairytale castle and much-loved rides like Space and Splash Mountains. If you have the time, spend a day at each. 

If you are a theme park fan, we also recommend Universal Studios Japan in Osaka which is home to thrill-seeking rides, the new Nintendo World, and the magical Harry Potter World—one of the top Japan tourist attractions.

Details: Tokyo DisneySea ticket prices vary depending on the date. One-day tickets cost from 8400 yen ($60). It’s best to book online to avoid queues on the day. Buy your Tokyo Disney e-ticket on Klook here.

3) Robot Restaurant

Robot Restaurant Tokyo review

The Robot Restaurant is not a restaurant and there aren’t many robots, but this show is one of the weirdest things to do in Tokyo.

The energetic, wild performance features robots, dragons, ninjas, blue-haired dancers, creepy clowns, guitarists on swings, drums, a whole lot of neon lights, and really loud music.

Is it for you? Read Simon’s entertaining Robot Restaurant review to find out.

Details: Robot Restaurant is currently closed and it’s unclear if it will reopen. I’ll keep this post updated.

4) TeamLab Planets Digital Art Show

Forest of Lamps at TeamLab Borderless, one of the best things to do in Tokyo, Japan
The Forest of Lamps at TeamLab Borderless

The digital art show TeamLab Planets is one of the most Instagrammable things to do in Tokyo. But this unusual interactive museum is well worth visiting even if you aren’t planning to take the perfect photo.

TeamLab exhibitions are unlike anything we’ve experienced before. Their immersive displays use lights, projections, and sounds in creative ways and dissolve the boundaries between the viewer and the art.

It’s colourful, surreal, and surprising.

TeamLab Borderless digital arts museum in Tokyo
TeamLab Borderless

We visited TeamLab Borderless, which closed in 2022 but is set to reopen in a new location (the Toranomon-Azabudai Project) in 2023.

In the meantime, you can visit TeamLab Planets instead (extended until the end of 2023), which looks just as incredible.

TeamLab Planets features four huge exhibition spaces and two gardens. You walk through water and become one with flowers.

Be prepared to walk around barefoot and wear shorts or trousers you can roll up as the water is knee-deep in parts. Some floors are mirrored, so skirts aren’t ideal. You can borrow shorts if necessary. Lockers are available for your shoes.

There’s also a vegan ramen shop onsite where you can dine surrounded by digital art.

Details: Entrance is 3200 yen ($22) and it’s important to book in advance as it often sells out. Buy TeamLab Planet tickets here.

TeamLab Planets is open from 10 am – 8 pm most days (with occasional closing days). It gets very busy so avoid weekends and public holidays and arrive early. We booked the first slot, arrived at 9.55 am and got in within 10 minutes (sometimes the wait is up to an hour).

Uzu vegan ramen opens from 11am – 7pm.

TeamLab Planet is located a one-minute walk from Shin-Toyosu Station or a 10-minute walk from Toyosu Station. From Shinkuku Station take the Shinjuku Line to Ichigaya Station then switch to the Yurakucho Line to Toyosu. Allow about 45 minutes for the trip.

5) Ghibli Museum

Ghibli Museum, a popular Tokyo attraction

If you’re a Studio Ghibli fan, don’t miss the whimsical Ghibli Museum.

Most of the exhibits and short animations are in Japanese, but it’s still cool to see props and drawings from classic films like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro.

When we visited there was a special exhibition on the food that the characters in the films eat. The attention to detail in every second of the films is astounding.

Excitingly, the new Ghibli Park opened in Nagoya in November 2022. You’ll be able to immerse yourself in the worlds of the Studio Ghibli films. The journey by train will take about three hours from Tokyo (using the fastest shinkansen).

Details: It’s essential to book tickets in advance—you can find the details on the Ghibli Museum website. Tickets cost 1000 yen ($7).

We booked ours online through Lawson—tickets go on sale at 10am JST on the 10th of each month for the following month and sell out quickly. So, if you are visiting Tokyo in November, you must book on 10 October.

The museum is a 15-minute walk from Mitaka Station and a little longer from Kitoji Station through a pleasant park. Don’t forget your passport and printed tickets.

6) Wander Harajuku

Realistic food models at Harajuku crepe stand, one of Tokyo's top attractions
Realistic food models at a Harajuku crepe stand

Harajuku is Tokyo’s youth neighbourhood with Takeshita Street at its heart. It’s one of the most vibrant and fun places in Tokyo. 

It gets super crowded on weekends, but it’s worth wandering around to see the cosplay kids, browse the quirky fashion stores, and eat from one of the popular crepe stands—crepe stuffed with a slice of cheesecake, anyone?

Nearby you can also visit the elegant shopping street Omotesando, the Meiji shrine within Yoyogi Park, and the Ota Museum (see below).

Details: Take the train to Harajuku Station and follow the crowds. Or to explore with a local guide, take this Shibuya and Harajuku Hidden Gems private tour.

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Traditional Things to Do in Tokyo

7) Sensoji Temple

Sensoji Temple in Tokyo with SkyTree in the background
Sensoji Temple with the Tokyo Skytree in the background

Sensoji is a Buddhist temple in Asakusa, one of Tokyo’s most traditional neighbourhoods where you can still find old wooden shops amongst the concrete. It’s one of the most beautiful things to see in Tokyo. 

The vibrant red temple gets crowded, but you can escape by wandering off through the gardens to one of the quieter shrines.

In the main area, make sure to get your fortune told and cover yourself in incense for good luck.

Nearby head up to the 8th floor of the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Centre opposite Asakusa Station for free views of the Tokyo Skytree (the world’s tallest tower) and the Nakamise shopping street leading to Sensoji.

Details: Take the Ginza subway line to Asakusa. Entrance is free and the temple grounds are always open.

8) Ota Memorial Museum of Art

The Ota Memorial Museum in Harajuku is a small gallery with changing exhibits of beautiful ukiyo-e, Japanese woodblock prints.

We were lucky enough to see the 36 Views of Mount Fuji by Hokusai including the famous Great Wave off Kanagawa.

Details: 800 – 1200 yen ($6-8) entrance fee depending on the current exhibition. It’s open from 10.30am – 5.30pm. Closed on Mondays and for certain holidays (check the calendar on their website). Take the train to Harajuku Station.

9) Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

The skyscrapers of Shinjuku viewed from Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Tokyo
The skyscrapers of Shinjuku are the backdrop to these peaceful gardens

This beautiful park is at its best when the cherry blossoms are blooming or the autumn leaves have turned red, but even in late summer, we enjoy strolling past the ponds, pagodas, and teahouse.

There are Japanese, French, and English gardens.

It’s a wonderful oasis from the busy city and having a picnic on the large lawns here is one of our favourite things to do in Shinjuku, especially under the cherry blossoms. They have late blooming blossoms if you miss the main early April season.

Shinjuku Gyoen is also one of the best places in the area for a morning run (worth the entrance fee).

Spring flowers at Shinjuku Gyone National Garden, one of the best things to do in Shinjuku, Tokyo

Details: 500 yen ($3.50) entrance fee. Open 9 am – 5.30 pm. Closed on Mondays. The Shinjuku Gate entrance is a 10-minute walk from the New South Exit of Shinjuku Station.

10) Watch Sumo

Japan’s national sport is steeped in tradition and matches still include rituals that date back to its origins as part of the Shinto religion.

Sumo wrestling tournaments take place in Tokyo in January, May and September, each lasting for 15 days. If you are visiting at this time, try to get a ticket.

During the rest of the year you can attend a practice session at a sumo stable, which we want to do on our next visit.  

At sumo training sessions you are even closer to the action, but you must stay absolutely quiet while sitting on the floor as you watch (for 1-2 hours).

I recommend the novel The Street of a Thousand Blossoms for a fascinating insight into sumo culture. 

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Foodie Things to Do in Tokyo

Tokyo is foodie heaven with some of the best eating in the world from cheap eats to fine dining.

Even vegetarians are well-catered for, as long as you know where to look—see our picks for the best vegetarian restaurants in Tokyo.

11) Splurge on a Kaiseki Meal

The tatami rooms of Bon vegetarian restaurant Tokyo
Our private tatami room at Bon

Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese multi-course tasting meal using seasonal, beautifully presented ingredients.

Enjoying one of these exquisite meals in a private tatami mat room is a memorable experience.

They are expensive so it’s best to go for lunch which is much cheaper than dinner. Savor Japan has a list of kaiseki restaurants to try

Vegetarians don’t have to miss out—shojin ryori or fucha ryori is the Zen Buddhist vegan equivalent of kaiseki.

We had a wonderful 12-course meal at Bon, a beautiful and tranquil space with miniature gardens, fountains, and private tatami mat rooms with sliding paper doors.

12) Order Ramen from a Vending Machine

Ramen Ouka vending machine in Tokyo
Order your ramen at the vending machine

Don’t worry, you won’t be eating instant ramen! At many ramen restaurants in Tokyo you order your meal and pay at the vending machine by the entrance, then take a seat at the counter and hand your ticket over to the chef.

There are thousands of ramen joints in Tokyo. As vegetarians we love T’s Tantan, an entirely vegan ramen restaurant in Tokyo Station (sadly no vending machine). The Afuri chain has vegan ramen and you order from a vending machine.

13) Eat at a Department Store Food Basement

For an intriguing introduction to Japanese food, head downstairs in one of the city’s massive department stores like Takashimaya or Isetan.

The food basements are full of culinary delights from sake to sushi including pickled vegetables, odd-flavoured kit kats, dozens of varieties of rice crackers, beautiful bento boxes, and hundred-dollar melons.

Most of the time we had no idea what we were looking at, but if you’re not vegetarian, these are great places to pick up a picnic lunch.

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Things to Do in Tokyo at Night

14) Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Tokyo free view from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku, the best area to stay in Tokyo

There are a number of spots in Tokyo where you can enjoy views of the city skyline, but the best place for a free view is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku.

From the North Tower, you can see the skyscrapers and highways lit up in the darkness. On a clear morning, you might be able to see Mt Fuji from the South Tower.

See my guide to the best things to do in Shinjuku for more ideas in this area.

Details: Free entry. Open 9.30 am to 10 pm. South Observatory closed first and third Tuesday of the month. 10-minute walk from the West Exit of Shinjuku Station. The North Observatory is currently closed.

15) Memory Lane

Memory Lane decorated for autumn in Tokyo
Memory Lane decorated for autumn

Memory Lane (Omoide Yokocho) is also known as Piss Alley from its post-WW2 roots when toilet facilities were non-existent.

Public toilets are now available, but you’ll still feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you wander the narrow alleyways full of tiny yakitori restaurants seating just a handful of people at the counter.

Another nickname for the street is Izakaya Alley because it’s known for these small bars serving drinks and snacks.

Tiny restaurants on Memory Lane (aka Piss Alley) in Shinjuku, Tokyo

With its red lanterns and smoke from the grills, it’s an atmospheric place to wander.

Most of the menus are in Japanese, but you can always point to the skewers you want.

Or join this Shinjuku bar hopping tour to explore the area with a local. It includes drinks and food and also visits the Golden Gai.

As we don’t eat meat we ate at the less atmospheric but tasty CoCo’s Ichibanya Curry House instead, which has a vegetarian menu. 

I love Memory Lane so much that it’s one of the reasons why I think Shinjuku is the best area to stay in Tokyo

Details: From 5 pm to midnight. Located on the western side of Shinjuku Station (look for Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho on Google Maps).

16) Golden Gai

Golden Gai, a street of tiny bars and one of the best things to do in Tokyo

Golden Gai is another network of narrow lanes in Shinjuku, this time with tiny bars rather than restaurants.

Many have cover charges and don’t allow foreigners, but you’ll see signs in English for the more welcoming ones.

As it can be a little intimidating, you might prefer to explore with a local guide on this Shinjuku bar hopping tour or Golden Gai food tour.

Details: From 7 or 8 pm until early morning (at 8 pm on a Friday it was pretty quiet). 10-minute walk from the East Exit of Shinjuku Station.

17) Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing viewed from the Hikari Building, Tokyo
Shibuya Crossing viewed from the Hikari Building

One of Tokyo’s most iconic sights is the busy pedestrian crossing outside Shibuya Station known as Shibuya Scramble Crossing or Shibuya Crossing.

You can delve into the crowd yourself or get a view from above at the busy Starbucks or the quieter (but more distant) 11th floor of the Hikari Building.

While you can also visit during the day, the crossing is most dramatic at night when it’s neon-lit from the signs above.

Details: Find it just outside Shibuya Station.

18) Shibuya Sky Observatory

The newest observatory in Tokyo is Shibuya Sky. At 228 metres it’s the tallest skyscraper in Shibuya and towers above Shibuya Scramble Square.

There are open-air 360º views of the city including the Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Stadium, and even Mt Fuji if it’s clear.

While you can also enjoy the view during the day, I love Tokyo’s skyline at night.

Details: Shibuya Sky entrance is 2000 yen ($14) for adults or 1800 yen if you book in advance—buy your ticket on Klook here. Open 10am – 10.30pm.

19) Rent a Private Karaoke Booth

Singing at Karaoke no Tetsujin in Shinjuku, Tokyo

One of the most iconic experiences in Japan is singing karaoke. There’s no need to embarrass yourself in front of a crowd as it’s very common in Japan to rent a private karaoke booth.

Booths come in all sizes, so this is an option whether you are with a partner or a group of friends.

Just choose your favourite songs from the tablet and sing along with the cheesy videos.

Details: There are karaoke places all over the city. We went to the Shinjuku Station branch of the affordable karaoke chain, Karaoke no Tetsujin. Even on a Saturday night it only cost us 400 yen ($3) per person for 30 minutes including an alcoholic drink. It’s cheaper during the week.

20) Walk Over Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge is a massive suspension bridge that connects Tokyo to Odaiba, an entertainment island in Tokyo Bay.

You can walk across it for fantastic views of the Tokyo skyline—I recommend going at sunset to see it by day and night.

Details: Read this post on crossing the Rainbow Bridge on foot for instructions.

21) Sky Circus Sunshine 60 Observatory

Mosaic Sky at Sky Circus Sunshine 60 Observatory in Tokyo

Sky Circus is an observation deck in Ikebukuro that features views of the city, cool interactive elements, and virtual reality rides.

You can visit at any time of day but we timed it for sunset so we could see the views by day and night.

We spent about an hour and a half there taking photos, exploring areas like the mosaic mirror and kaleidoscope hall, and enjoying the VR rides.

The shooting VR game wasn’t amazing although it does have some cool effects. Better was the Tokyo Bullet Flight where you get into a cylinder and fly over the city. The Swing Coaster is also popular.

Tokyo Bullet Flight VR ride at Sky Circus Sunshine 60 Observatory in Tokyo Japan

Update: Sky Circus is currently closed and will reopen in April 2023.

Details: Sky Circus entrance is 1200 yen ($8). VR rides are an extra 400-600 yen ($3-4) each.

Open every day from 10 am – 10 pm. It’s located a 10-minute walk from Ikebukuro Station which is only a few stops from Shinjuku Station.

22) Watch a Kabuki Theatre Performance

On our must do in Tokyo list for next time is to see a performance of Kabuki, a Japanese dance and drama with elaborate makeup and costumes.

The best place to see it is Kabuki-za Theatre in Ginza. Check their website for the upcoming schedule.

Performances take place during the day and evening and can last hours. As that’s too much for most foreigners, you can buy a cheaper one-act ticket by queueing at the venue on the day. Read how to buy one-act Kabuki tickets.

23) Eat at the Ninja Restaurant

Another place we really want to try is the Ninja Restaurant in Akasaka. This is a Ninja-themed experience rather than just a restaurant and features a unique setting, magic tricks, and fun surprises.

Advance reservations are essential. They are open for lunch and dinner but the magic only takes place at dinner. They can cater to vegetarians.

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Our Tokyo Bucket List for Next Time

Although we’ve spent many weeks in Tokyo over four trips, we still haven’t had time for all of the unique things to do in Tokyo. On our wish list for our next visit are:

  • Take a Taiko drumming class.
  • Explore the bohemian neighbourhoods of Koenji, Shimo-Kitazawa, and Naka Meguro.
  • Visit the Mori Art Museum and see the view from the Observation Deck at night.
  • Take a day trip to the temples and beaches of Kamakura.

New Tokyo attractions coming in 2023

We’re very excited about these new things to see in Tokyo!

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Tokyo Activities Map

Our map shows all the best things to do in Tokyo mentioned in this post.

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Tokyo Tips

Memory Lane in Tokyo
Memory Lane
  • I think Shinjuku is the best place to stay in Tokyo for its excellent access to transport, good food, and many of the attractions above. 
  • Buy a Airalo digital eSIM before you arrive for affordable data. Having access to Google Maps makes it so much easier to get around, although there’s free WiFi in many stations.
  • The Narita Express train is the easiest way to get from Narita airport to Shinjuku, Shibuya and Tokyo stations. 
  • Get a Suica card from machines at train stations to use as a ticket on all trains and metro lines in Tokyo. You can also use it for lockers, vending machines, and even in many shops.
  • Use Navitime to check train times.
  • Don’t forget travel insurance as Japanese health care is expensive—we have used and recommend SafetyWing (affordable, worldwide), Heymondo (more comprehensive, worldwide), and True Traveller (UK and EU residents).
  • Pack light as hotel rooms are tiny in Tokyo. We travelled to Japan with just one carry-on backpack each—see our packing list here.

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More Japan Posts

Our Tokyo Travel Guides

Other Japan Posts

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On our first trip to Japan, Tokyo just didn’t compare to the beauty and tradition of Kyoto, but on more recent visits we’ve come to appreciate it for all the fun things to do, diverse neighbourhoods, and fantastic food. We’ll definitely be back!

I hope this post has helped you decide what to do in Tokyo for a fun trip. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. 

What are your favourite things to do in Tokyo?

If you enjoyed this post, pin it!

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