In April 2019, I visited Tokyo, Japan for vacation. Now, this wasn’t my first time in Japan; I’ve been to Misawa and Yokosuka for sports tournaments with my high school, but this was my first time visiting Japan for leisure. If you’re anything like me, you’d probably be overwhelmed when first arriving in the bustling, over-stimulating city of Tokyo. Every street has about fifteen thousand things to look at, not to mention that the city itself is huge! It can take hours by train just get from one district to another.
I stayed in the Shibuya District of Tokyo, otherwise known as home to the world’s busiest railway stations. They’re not wrong – an entire subterranean city of subway systems, railroads, businesses, and restaurants exists just below the surface of Tokyo. I’m not exaggerating when I thought I’d never see the light of day again when I got lost in Shinjuku Station. Over the week I was there, I got to do and see a lot of amazing things. Here’s my top 5 list of things to do while visiting Tokyo, Japan.
1. Shopping in Harajuku
Harajuku is notorious for its shopping and fashion scene. This is truly the best place to get unique and niche clothing items. With a million shops, it can be quite overwhelming to pick just one. My personal favorites while shopping in the Harajuku District were the WEGO Store, Pink Latte, and the Line Friends store!
2. Asakusa District
The Asakusa district of Tokyo is famous for its preservation of Old-time Tokyo’s historic presence and culture. Home to the Sensō-ji temple, Asakusa has traditional crafts stores and countless food stands. I’d recommend spending a whole day there, as there are just too many things to see to fit into a couple hours. From a waterfront stroll, to trying delicious Japanese cuisine, to even dressing up in traditional Kimono, it’s a great way to relive Tokyo’s historic days, in contrast to the futuristic and fast-paced vibe of Shibuya and Harajuku.
3. Meiji Shrine
The Meiji Shrine, dedicated to the deity of Emperor Meiji, is an expansive park and shrine complex, full of tranquil paths, beautiful shrines, breathtaking Tori gates, and adjacent to Yoyogi Koen. If you are looking for a break from Tokyo’s crowded city atmosphere, the Meiji Shrine is the place to go. You can stay as long as you want and walk along paths through the forests. Remember to always remain dignified and respectful when visiting Japan’s cultural sights. (For a guide on how to pay respect at the Meiji Shrine, see here.)
4. Odakyu Department Store
Close to my hotel, the Odakyu department store proved to be a holy grail for basically anything – electronics, toys, stationery, makeup, clothes, and even a full grocery store. I spent a good portion of my trip just browsing the aisles in Odakyu. If you’re ever in the area, I’d recommend visiting one of these malls for great gift-shopping or unique Japanese products.
5. Shibuya Crossing
Last but not least, Shibuya Crossing is famous for being a crowded scramble intersection. You can climb to the top of some nearby buildings (most require a fee) to watch hundreds of people cross the intersection. It’s great for people watching and Instagram-worthy pictures. Nearby is the famous Hachiko dog memorial and a Starbucks, as well as several shopping malls.