Ah, Tokyo! The land of the old and new! The island where cosplay originated, the home of yummy sushi and ramen! This guide is for the off-beat traveller who is looking to do something more than visit the usual tourist haunts of Tokyo! Click some pictures at Kawaii Monster Cafe, fill your shopping bags at Don Quijote, fish for your dinner at Zaou, eat the best ramen at Ichiran Ramen and sleep like a baby at a Capsule Hotel! Want to know where you can train like a samurai at Tokyo? Or where you can cheer on a robot playing football? We’ve got it all covered. Read on and learn where to eat, shop and play! Here’s our list of things to do in Tokyo, Japan, that will help you to make the best of your trip.
1. Visit the Kawaii Monster Cafe
This is decidedly one of the most peculiar cafes at Harajuku district, even considering that this area is a melting pot of all things Kawaii. You enter into a psychedelic fantasy of dazzling colours the moment you step into the cafe! Themed around a monster, one enters through the mouth and lands up deep in his belly. Look around and your surroundings could be nothing further than the insides of a dark stomach! Feast your eyes on the crazy art, bright neon splashes of colours, flamboyant interiors and a candy themed merry-go-round! Be seated at one of the tables around the merry-go-round to be entertained by the lovely performers who are dressed in characteristic Harajuku fashion keeping with the theme of the place. Each room in the cafe has its own distinct personality.
Kawaii Monster Cafe
Address: 4-31-10 Jingumae 4F, YM Square Bldg, Shibuya 150-0001 Tokyo Prefecture
Website: Kawaii Monster Cafe
2. Shop at the Don Quijote Store
You can literally shop till you drop at Don Quijote! Often abbreviated to Donki, this store has its own adorable mascot, a penguin named Donpen! Donki sells souvenirs, cosmetics, health products, snacks, electronics and costumes all under one roof. They have stocks of inexpensive products lining their ceiling to floor shelves and are prepared to meet any need of yours. You can pick up Japanese Matcha flavoured snacks, cosplay costumes, cheap cosmetics and more for duty-free! Some stores are open 24 hours and most of them accept international currencies.
Don Quijote Store (Shinjuku branch)
Address: 1 Chome-16-5 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0021
Website: Don Quijote Store
3. Visit the Hedgehog Cafe
The hedgehog cafe is the newest addition to the list of animal cafes popping up all over Japan. Contrary to the name, it is not a regular cafe, but one dedicated solely to hedgehogs. You can choose to spend either a half hour or an hour with a hedgehog. These delightful creatures are much softer than their quills would lead you to believe! Don a pair of gloves and hold one in the palms of your hand and learn more about these adorable creatures. You can also feed them mealworms at an additional cost. Do be mindful of the rules at the cafe and follow them for the safety of the hedgehog as well as yourself.
Harry Hedgehog Cafe
Address: Jingumae 1-13-21, Shibuyaku, Tokyo
Website: Harry Hedgehog Cafe
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4. Enjoy ramen-for-one at Ichiran Ramen
Touted as the best ramen in Tokyo, Ichiran Ramen is a must visit! What sets it apart is the signature creamy tonkatsu broth topped with a dollop of the fiery red chilli paste. The long queues are a testament to the delicious bowls of ramen served here. Thin, springy noodles cooked to perfection, the fragrance of garlic and above all, the choice for you to customize your ramen, undoubtedly earns Ichiran Ramen the crown of being the best. There is a vending machine for you to pay before you eat. Collect your token and you will be guided to a single booth which has dividers on the side ensuring you have complete privacy to enjoy your ramen. The food is served through a small slot in the wall after which the slot is covered with a curtain. Words cannot do this place justice! So make sure you visit one of their many branches!
Address: Peace Building B1F 3-34-11 Shinjuku Shinjuku-ku Tokyo-to
Website: Ichiran Ramen
5. Emulate a cosplay character at Cospatio
This store has got all your cosplay needs covered! Right from a person just dipping their toes in the world of cosplay, to a person who is looking to replicate their favourite character, Cospatio has it all! The store stocks up costumes of hundreds of popular anime and video game characters. They also take up custom orders. It’s not just the costume which they sell, they have wigs and other accessories to get you perfectly into character.
Cospatio Akihabara Main Store
Address: 3F, 3-15-5, Sotokanda, Chiyoda City, Tokyo
Website: Cospatio Akihabara Main Store
6. Explore all the vending machines possible
Visit one of the many gachapon machines in Tokyo and let your inner child rejoice. The machine is aptly named after the sound it makes as you twist the lever and the toy drops. They accept coins, usually around the value of 100 YEN or approximately 1 USD. Turn the lever and this is when things get exciting! A small egg-shaped capsule which contains a toy is expelled! Open the egg and find your small figurine inside! Cartoon based characters like Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, Disney princesses, and Gundam, are the most popular.
Address: Yodobashi Camera, 1-1Kanda Hanaokacho, Chiyoda, Tokyo 101-0028, Japan
Website: Gachapon Floor
7. Sleep in a Capsule Hotel
Necessity truly is the mother of invention. Fairly popular now, capsule hotels are a concept in Tokyo introduced to battle the problem of space. The idea is to offer the basic necessities when you are travelling. The hotel normally has a front desk where you check in. You are guided to a common locker room, where you can deposit your luggage. Most hotels have a common area as well, where guests can work quietly or sip on a cup of coffee. The capsule describes the bedroom so to speak. There are rows upon rows of pods or capsules which each fit a long single bed. The floors are split, gender-wise, and no intermingling is allowed. There is a communal shower area where guests can clean up at the end of the long day. The best part about these capsule hotels is that they are incredibly cheap compared to normal hotels.
Nine Hours Akasaka
Address: 4-3-14 Akasaka, Minato, Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan, 107-0052 agoda
Website: Nine Hours Akasaka
8. Fish for your dinner at Zauo
Head over to Zauo for a completely novel experience! You can fish for your food here and have it cooked and served within minutes. Can it get any fresher than that? They take the theme right up to the interiors! You are seated in a boat, surrounded by a water moat with fish swimming in it. This is where you fish for your dinner! Catch a fish and the staff play a victory beat for you on their drums. It is cheaper for you to catch your fish than order one from the menu. So what are you waiting for? Catch a fish and enjoy the best sashimi or sushi of your life!
Address: 3-2-9, Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0023
Website: Zauo Restaurant
9. Watch a robot play football
You can’t come to Tokyo and leave without meeting the robot, Asimo! A humanoid created by Honda, Asimo has many tricks up his sleeve! He can play football, dance, speak in sign language, run and sing! There are daily demos happening at the Honda Plaza in both English and Japanese. The show lasts for 30 minutes at the end of which you can have your photo taken with Asimo. What’s more, this performance is completely free and a great way to keep kids entertained.
Asimo at Honda Welcome Plaza
Address: 07-0062 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Minamiaoyama, 2 Chome−1−1
Website: Asimo at Honda Welcome Plaza
10. Take a samurai course
Interested in the history of the samurai warriors of Japan? Attempt your hand at it at a samurai training course in Tokyo. The 60-minute experience starts with you attired in their traditional garb, and a small photoshoot. Then you head over to the Dojo where you will be trained in the basics of sword fighting. There are instructors ready, who help you wield a sword correctly. Don’t forget to book your slot in advance.
Address: 1-36-8 Asakusa | 2f, Taito 153-0044, Tokyo Prefecture
Website: Samurai Experience
Truly experience Tokyo
This is a comprehensive list of the many things which you should try, while you are at Tokyo to truly experience the city! Tokyo has many things to offer for all kinds of tourists. There is something for everyone to enjoy, be it history, food, anime or novel experiences.
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