17 Reasons to Visit Tokyo, Japan

reasons to visit tokyo

Updated Jan 2022: 

When it comes to the number of reasons to visit Tokyo, I could probably go on until infinity (and beyond). I know it's not something you can measure, but Tokyo, and Japan in general, feels like one of the most unique places that you're allowed to travel to. This is, after-all, the place that brought us coffin shaped hotels (more commonly known as capsule hotels), bars where women pay male hosts to drink and talk to them (aka boys bars) and, my personal favourite when I was 15, Issei Sagawa - the man who killed and ate Rene√© Hartevelt to 'absorb her energy'.  

These are probably not your top reasons for visiting Tokyo.. I've gone off on a tangent of over-sharing... I'm not stopping now :) I have been collecting reasons, like these weird ones, to visit Tokyo since I can remember. I'm going to overshare with you one more time - the nail in the coffin reason why I first went to Tokyo, before I get onto something hopefully more useful - 'normal' reasons to want to travel to Tokyo. (Feel free to skip my main reason, it's just this next one paragraph, I won't be hurt because I won't know):

When my grandma, one of my best friends and my first 'big death' died, and I fell apart a bit. I was all like 'life is short', 'what am I doing with my life', 'should I become a lawyer', 'should I travel to South America' - all your classic questions. But then, the questions shifted from myself to my then-fianc√©, (now ex), Tanbay. I started waking up in the night, staring at Tanbay, wondering if he was breathing or not. I spent so much time doing that that I kinda had to explore it, and, unqualified psychologist that I am, I came to a conclusion: that I could never forgive myself if Tanbay died in his sleep, having never been to his dream destination - Tokyo... Yes, I probably should have seen an actual therapist at this point, but instead I started planning a trip to Tokyo, and within six months we were there. 

Once there, I stopped focussing on him dying so much, and collected some actually normal reasons why you might want to visit Tokyo Japan: 

17 Reasons to Visit Tokyo, Japan

#1. Asakusa

visit tokyo japan

Asakusa is what I think of when I think of quintessential Japan: beautiful temples (like Senso-Ji), beautiful art pieces and even fake geishas. This is probably one of the most touristy parts you'll visit in Tokyo Japan but definitely still worth a look!

#2. MOUNT FUJI

visit tokyo japan

Although Mount Fuji is massive, it's quite hard to actually see it from Tokyo because of all the skyscrapers, to see it you're going to have to get high(er). I recommend going up the Tokyo Metro Government Building (thank you Amy for the tip) - it's FREE.99 (aka free, I'm just trying to be cute) - and if you go on a clear day and you will see Mount Fuji. Go at sunset for beautiful colours. Debate what's better - the mountain or the awesome tacky souvenirs you can buy at the top of the Tokyo Metro Government Building (I think it's the mountain, but it's a close one, I love me some tack. 

#3. AKIHABARA

why visit tokyo

Akihabara is the place to go for anything and everything video game, manga or anime related. Even people who aren't that into anime or manga (like me) will probably enjoy a trip to Akihabara (like I did) because this is quintessential Japan (albeit a completely different type of quintessential Japan to Asakusa). IT'S SO CRAZY THERE!! Manga, toys, flashing lights, crazy noises, machines, dolls, anime, comic books, owls. You name it, it's probably there.

#4. NAKANO BROADWAY

why visit tokyo

Another must for anime and manga lovers, but less known and thus less touristy than Akihabara is Nakano Broadway. My ex and I both preferred this one to Akihabara: Tanbay (lover of all things anime) loved it because it had a better choice of merch and there were rare items you won't find anywhere else. I (little-to-no-interest in anime) preferred Nakano Broadway because there were far fewer tourists and the items were much more interesting looking. Plus these creepy af dolls. 

#5. YOYOGI PARK

reasons to visit tokyo

Another one of the many reasons to visit Tokyo is Yoyogi Park - a gigantic park right in the centre of Tokyo, Japan. Think Central Park but better because it's in Japan, not the USA. Lol. It's so peaceful, after a few minutes of walking we couldn't believe that we were in one of the busiest cities in the world! Come here to escape the crazy (it's actually situated next to Harajuku, one of the craziest parts of Tokyo).

#6. MEIJI JINGU SHRINE

why you should visit tokyo

In the centre of Yoyogi Park is Meiji Jingu Shrine - another beautiful Japanese temple. We were there on a Sunday and saw three beautiful weddings! The brides wore these awesome star-wars type headdresses, it was awesome. If you only have 24 hours in Tokyo Yoyogi Park and Harajuku are must-dos.

#7. SHIBUYA

reasons to visit tokyo

You'll almost definitely recognise this site because it's one of the most iconic symbols of Tokyo - if you don't have a photo of you stood on Shibuya Crossing, have you really visited Tokyo Japan?! Shibuya Crossing is just a lot of pedestrian crosswalks, also known as the scramble. It's cool to watch how well it works. That whole area is again quite touristy, and again well worth checking out.

#8. 100 YEN STORES

Is Japan as expensive as they say it is? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. Are there ways to not blow your budget? Of course!! One of these ways is with a visit to a 100 yen store - basically like a $1 store but filled with cool Japanese stuff! Shop for souvenirs here! Not all 100 Yen stores are created equally though, the one in Harajuku is much cooler than the one near Nakano Broadway.

#9. HARAJUKU

visit tokyo japan

Speaking of Harajuku, this is the place to go if you want to see cosplayers, up-and-coming J-pop bands, quirky shops and so much more!

visit tokyo japan

Actually, I hated Harajuku, we went shopping and I wanted to buy everything, but couldn't because nothing would fit my European hips. 

#10. KAMAKURA

why visit japan

What's a better reason to visit Tokyo Japan than a reason to visit somewhere that's not Tokyo? Lol. Kamakura is actually a 1-hour train ride out of Tokyo and isn't in Tokyo.. but Tokyo is a great place to visit Kamakura from, okay? Kamakura is a seaside town and it's awesome!! There you can find many things including a gigantic Buddha, cool temples, the sea and this Bamboo forest! We also found that lots of people wanted to take our photo here, especially kids - something that didn't happen once in Tokyo.

#11. The Subway System in Tokyo

visit tokyo

I LOVE the underground system in Tokyo. Well kind of. Firstly I don't love it because it doesn't really cover the whole city, like at all. Sometimes we had to walk for 30 minutes to get to the nearest station... but what I do love about it is that it's really, really clear - the stops and lines are colour coordinated and number coordinated, so instead of having to know the name of your station, all you need is that number. Plus everyone is super quiet and considerate on the underground, or at least they were when we were there. One time a woman moved so Tanbay could sit next to me. I love her.

#12. To wear a yukata

why visit tokyo

So I love kimonos, geishas, yukatas and everything related, but I was worried dressing up in a yukata might be cultural appropriation... my general rule with anything offensive is if it's offensive to the party in question then it's offensive. As we were invited by Japanese people to wear yukatas I was like, okay it must be fine. White privilege aside, it was so.much.fun wearing a yukata and walking around in one :) we did ours with the Westin and 100% recommend it!

#13. THE VENDING MACHINES IN TOKYO

The good news? Vending machines literally are on every corner. Literally. In fact, sometimes there's more than one to a corner. The bad news is, we didn't see any crazy kinds of vending machines :( the only ones we saw carried drinks, cigarettes or toys. Still, it was great to be able to buy a drink literally anywhere at any time.

#14. THE (VEGAN) FOOD IN TOKYO

visit tokyo japan

Initially, Japan was the first country I've travelled to where I wished that we weren't vegan, the temptation to go into a restaurant or supermarket and just pick any weird thing and try it was overwhelming (and subsequently extinguished when I thought about dolphins and whales, and frogs being eaten alive). [Find out how travel made us go vegan]

ANYWAY, luckily it turns out Tokyo can still be fun for a vegan. Firstly: there are lots of exclusively vegan restaurants in Tokyo, so I got to live out my dream of ordering something I knew nothing about from the menu and eating it (it was tofu and mushroom). Secondly, you can still enjoy sushi restaurants if you stick to cucumber sushi and tofu sushi. Thirdly, wait, I wrote a whole post about being vegan in Tokyo, check it out here if you're interested: How to Be Vegan in Tokyo :) 

#15. JAPAN IS CLEAN, IT'S SAFE, IT'S QUIET

why you should visit japan

We couldn't believe how clean, safe and quiet Tokyo was! Admittedly touristy spots like Asakusa, Shibuya and Akihabara were rammed with people, but pretty much everywhere else was surprisingly deserted, we couldn't believe how unlike a city most of the city looked - it looked more like lots of little villages tied together, which it probably is...

There is pretty much no rubbish anywhere - Tanbay said a lot of people take their rubbish home to get rid of it. And it doesn't stop there. You know how in some countries there are designated areas to smoke in inside, or perhaps you're not allowed to smoke inside at all? Tokyo takes it a step further: there are designated areas to smoke outside! Yes, you can smoke outside, but only in certain closed off areas :O (no roofs so it's not indoors).

And it doesn't just stop there, even building sites are clean: dirt is neatly pressed and there is wood put down around the edges to stop it spilling on the pristine streets. Would I eat off the street in Tokyo? Yes. Would I feel safe leaving my bag open on the street in Tokyo? Yes. Would I be able to fall asleep on the street? For sure, as long as it wasn't cold...

And talking about people sleeping on the streets - we stumbled across some house-less people in Tokyo. At first, we didn't notice them though because in-keeping with neat/tidy/clean Tokyo, they have fashioned makeshift huts out of cardboard boxes and umbrellas, these were genius contraptions - some even had lights and locks. Very interesting. Though still sad of course - many house-less people in Japan are business people who have lost their homes but are too ashamed to tell anyone - lots still go to their office jobs every day.

#16. THE PEOPLE IN TOKYO!

why visit tokyo

By far the number one reason to visit Tokyo is the people. At first, we were shocked how no eye contact is made ever, then we were shocked by how insanely helpful all the service people are - i.e. people working in the airport/on the bus/in hotels/ in 7-11 etc. It's like they are too shy to talk to you, but if it's their job to be helpful they will go above and beyond.

We met up with a Japanese man through an app called Travel Pal, he was almost as obsessed with Germany as Tanbay (German) is obsessed with Japan. It was so cool to meet him and hear more about what it's actually like to live in Tokyo. We highly recommend you meet some locals too, through Travel Pal or through Couchsurfing or mutual friends or anything.

#17. The Westin Tokyo

why you should visit tokyo

I'll be honest, staying at the Westin really made my trip. But this was mostly because I worked with them. The stay was luxurious and I highly enjoyed it, but I don't think I'd have enjoyed it if I'd paid for it - who enjoys bankruptcy amirite. I'm grateful for the Westin for working with me and letting me stay for three nights, and I'd love to encourage you to stay if you have the dough - but the commie in me says if you have the dough, redistribute your wealth and help others <3 Still, the Westin gets a mention at place 17 because I truly am grateful - the rest of my time in Tokyo I spent in an airbnb with cockroaches the size of my fist.

Useful Information

FLIGHTS TO TOKYO

Flying to Tokyo is kind of annoying, almost no matter where you do it from it's kind of expensive and the flight is kind of long - even if you do it from South East Asia. If you can tie it in with another trip and fly in from South Korea or Hong Kong - do it! We find all the best flight deals around the globe by using the flight comparison site Kiwi. It's awesome. And if you're flying in from or flying out to the Philippines fly with Cebu Pacific Air - we flew from Tokyo to Cebu with them and LOVED it (again, we were working with them). We had a meal and the staff were great.

WHERE TO STAY IN TOKYO

LUXURY PLACES TO STAY IN TOKYO

For those looking for a luxury stay, look no further than the Westin, I've said it before and I'll say it again - this place is perfect. - It's a luxury hotel and they let me stay for four days for free, what else am I going to say lol.

CHEAP PLACES TO STAY IN TOKYO

For those on a budget, check out Agoda. Tokyo isn't really great for budget accommodation, frankly, I think it's better to splash out a bit here because of the price/quality ratio. By that I mean I'd rather spend £100 a night on something good, than £40 a night on something crap and not worth it. Don't let your trip be ruined by a bad night's sleep!

In fact, if you book early enough (because demand is higher than supply), on Airbnb you might find something that's cheaper than a hotel and has a kitchen (thus you will spend less money on food).

Note that capsule hotels whilst awesome aren't great for couples - most of them are male or female only, so you will have to be prepared to say goodbye to bae for the night, I wasn't. Finally, two of my good friends had a lot of success with Couchsurfing and Tokyo - they were hosted the whole time and made great friends. Also not great for couples though as most places in Tokyo are tiny and not really equipped for one extra person, let alone two!

SOMEWHERE IN-BETWEEN LUXURY AND CHEAP PLACES TO STAY IN TOKYO

Again Airbnb is your friend, and you can still find reasonable places on Agoda for less than £100 per night.


More on where to stay in Tokyo: my friend Cory from Romania wrote this post where to stay in Tokyo for first-time visitors :) 

House sitting in Tokyo

House sitting in Tokyo is always an option, I often see house sits come up for Japan. It's of course free accommodation (with a friendly furry friend or two), however, the problem with this is being flexible enough to get to Tokyo for whatever dates they need - not always possible. But we've found house sits in Australia, Thailand and all over Europe so you know you can make it work too. You can browse house sits in Tokyo here.

INSURANCE

Yes, Japan felt like one of the safest places I've ever been, but it was also one of the most expensive - Travel Insurance with SafetyWing costs just $40/month and has the potential to save you thousands should something awful happen. 

INTERNET

Not sure where to eat? Not sure where you're going? Can't speak Japanese? Having internet on the go can be a life saver, but data roaming will cost a lot - I recommend getting a mobile internet device like a Travel Wifi



More Japan: Looking to stay longer in Japan? My friend Laura wrote a post about a 2-Week Japan Itinerary which I like. 


Wrap Up: 17 Reasons To Visit Tokyo, Japan

TOKYO, the best city we've ever been to. We loved it so much here and hope you do too!! If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask them in the comments below :D Also, here is a vlog we made about our time there, enjoy :)


P.S.: If you're interested in a way of travelling and getting accommodation cheaply, you might wanna check out house sitting. Trustedhousesitters.com was kind enough to provide us and our readers with a 10% discount, feel free to click on the link to use it :)

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