We are aware of the discrete oriental culture that has been kept away from the prying eyes of the intruding world. There is no better way to explore the essence of Japanese culture by choosing to go off-the-grid way. By skipping the typical and mainstream ‘must-visit’, or ‘must-try’ lists and go wandering the ‘not-so-common’ places, where you will find the other side of the sublime Tokyo city. Get deep into the world of extremity, where the old culture cohabits the modern and futuristic one. From its food to its gigantic, sleek and traditional architectures, Tokyo unveils itself in a whole new way. Below find a list of some of the top non-touristy things to do while visiting Tokyo, Japan.
1. Shopping at Shimokitazawa
Stroll along the buzzing street of Shimokitazawa or Shimokita as the locals have dubbed it, and find a smorgasbord of quirky, trendy, and boho-chic clothing accessories. This place is a haven for fashionistas where they will find many alleys fringed with shopping stores ranging from traditional to western style, art galleries, theaters, cafes, and restaurants. Dive into the local lively atmosphere which can be noticed as you head to the southern part of the area. The northern part is quieter and reserves some elegant-chic elements. Visitors will be surprised to see the varied choices of clothing which some are recycled, and others are of a sophisticated level. You can find leather jackets, chiffon stylish dresses, traditional Japanese cards, you name it! The Shimokitazawa is reachable just five minutes by train from Shibuya.
Address: 2 Chome-24-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo 155-0031, Japan
2. Book a stay at a love hotel
Fulfill your fantasies or simply experience the quirky side of Japanese culture by booking a love hotel. Love hotels are an affordable way to discover more about Japanese culture and are a great alternative to the usual dingy hostels. They offer luxurious amenities such as TV and mood lighting and some even offer a private jacuzzi. Most of them are also themed so it adds to the fun. So the next time you travel to Japan, search for a nearby love hotel and reserve your preferred themed room! You’ll be surprised that you’ll get to enjoy relatively more luxuries than your regular business hotel room.
Book a stay at a love hotel
3. Visit the Parasite Museum
Heading to the Meguro Parasitological Museum might be something you wouldn’t look forward to during your trip to Tokyo, but not going there means missing out a great deal. Here, you will get to study the world of the microscopic organisms which usually linger in animals. An entirely different perspective to what we are usually offered in our day to day life. This medical museum is nestled in the center of Tokyo, where visitors can visit free of charge and learn some interesting facts about these alien-like parasites. One of its highlights is the world’s longest tapeworm measuring 29 feet (8.8 meters)! As mind-boggling as it may seem, you will certainly be intrigued by the 300 ranges of the preserved spine chilling specimens.
Address: 4 Chome-1-１ Shimomeguro, Meguro, Tokyo 153-0064, Japan
Website: Parasite Museum
Opening hours: 10.00am - 05.00pm
4. Go second-hand book shopping at Book Town
If you’re a book collector, an avid book reader, or simply want to chase the musky smell of old books, then head to the Jimbocho Book Town-a haven for book lovers! Located some 15 minutes away from the Jimbocho Station, stroll along the alleys of Yasukuni-Dori to Hakusan-Dori street. You will find a tremendous collection of old to new bookstores with a range of traditional Japanese art books, western books, woodblock prints dating to the Edo period, and antique maps.
Jimbocho Book Town
Address: 2 Kanda Jimbo-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0051
5. Bless your electronics at the Kanda Myojin Shrine
If you want to spare your life from hackers and computer viruses, especially to IT entrepreneurs or gadget lovers out there, then you must pay your tribute to the sacred Kanda Myojin Shrine or the Anime Shrine. Get your IT talisman and feel protected like a warrior! Located just a walking distance from Akihabara-a popular electronic shopping hub, the historical Anime Shrine is a much-revered site among tech geeks who come to bless their electronic devices. Additionally, you can pray for prosperity, success, and good luck in your life. Here, you will find a range of beautiful and daunting Japanese pantheon. To see the cultural and religious side of the Japanese culture do not miss to attend the Kanda Matsuri, one of the greatest festivals which is celebrated with much pomp at the shrine.
Kanda Myojin Shrine
Address: 2 Chome-16-２ Sotokanda, Chiyoda, Tokyo 101-0021, Japan
Website: Kanda Myojin Shrine
Opening hours: 10am - 6pm
6. Visit a real film location
Wondering how does the real Japanese film setting look like? Then consider visiting some of these lovely locations that have been used as film locations. Zojoji Temple tucked behind the soaring Tokyo Tower is one such example. The temple was featured in the Marvel movie ‘The Wolverine’, where ‘Mr. Yashida’ was buried. It’s definitely low on tourists’ radar and shouldn’t be too crowded. As a bonus, the location also gives you an amazing glimpse of the Tokyo Tower.
Address: 4 Chome-7-35 Shibakoen, Minato City, Tokyo 105-0011, Japan
7. Visit the giant Buddha statue
Sense the serene atmosphere of the sacred Jorenji Temple predominantly known as the Tokyo Daibutsu. The Zen setting is idyllic for those who admire the Buddhist philosophy or are just curious travelers who wish to enjoy the tranquil and rejuvenating setting of the temple. Contemplate the beauty of the bronze Buddha which is the third largest Daibutsu (giant Buddha) in the country. Lies at the Akatsuka Botanical Garden, you might also visit the Itabashi Art Museum and Akatsuka Joshi Park which are in close proximity.
Address: ５丁目-28-3 Akatsuka, Itabashi, Tokyo 175-0092, Japan
Website: Tokyo Daibutsu
Opening hours: 08.00am - 04.00pm
8. Explore Piss Alley
Stroll along the quirky and boisterous Piss Alley, also known as Omoide Yokocho ((Memory Lane), where you will find great booze and barbecue options. Located outside the west gate of Shinjuku Station, which is one of the main railway stations in the area, the Piss Alley owned its name back to the World World II period. People were relieving themselves at the nearby train tracks as there was a lack of toilet facilities. Today, the area has flourished into a lively hub where visitors will find numerous eating choices. One of the main dishes you should not skip is definitely the ‘Yakitori’ which consists of grilled chicken pieces on a skewer. Vegetarians might be disappointed due to the very limited food option.
Address: 1 Chome-2-8 Nishishinjuku Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0023 Japan
9. Spend an afternoon at Hanayashiki
Skip the mainstream Japanese amusement parks and head to the oldest park- Hanayashiki, where you will find some amazing rides, a traditional flower park with a sublime pond, a mini-zoo, and sometimes cosplay events. Experiencing the culture with fun and getting acquainted with the local history are what you are likely to look forward while coming over here. The amusement park is located five minutes away from Asakusa Station.
Address: 2 Chome-28-１ Asakusa, Taitō, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
Opening hours: 10.00am - 06.00pm
Price: 9 USD
Go off-the-grid in Tokyo, Japan
There is so much to look forward while vacationing in the Japanese capital. Skip the mainstream activities and consider our compiled list of some of the amazing non-touristy things to do in Tokyo, Japan
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