Things to do alone Japan > Tokyo (prefecture) > Tokyo

Things To Do Alone In Tokyo, Japan

Chia Han Keong
Published Jul 12, 2018

Intimidation: often one of the first emotions travelers feel when they first arrive in the huge metropolis of Tokyo. Japan’s capital city has more than 13 million people and, if you have ever stood near the famous crosswalk junction in Shibuya during peak hours, you might feel overwhelmed by the sea of humanity and wish you had your friends around, for support. Yet, if you can muster up the courage and venture out to explore on your own, you will be considerably and consistently rewarded by Tokyo’s rich culture and hidden charms. Learn a few Japanese phrases, sling on a small backpack and check out these top things to do alone in Tokyo, Japan.

Top 3 activities to book in Tokyo

1. Guided tour around some temples and shrines

If you pick the right guided tour in Tokyo, not only can you avoid the confusion of crowded public transport, but you will also have a knowledgeable tour guide dispensing interesting facts and trivia about the places of interest. One of the most popular tours in Tokyo is the Temples and Shrines Morning Tour, a half-day trip visiting the most famous religious buildings in the city, such as the Meiji Shrine, the Senso-Ji Buddhist temple and the Imperial Palace. These are great sightseeing spots to be enjoyed alone, contemplating their impact on the Japanese culture.

Tokyo Temples & Shrines Morning Tour

Price: from 47 USD

Duration: 4 hours

Rating: 4.3 / 5

Number of Reviews: 12

See our full list of recommended hotels in Tokyo and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Tokyo

2. Sample the fresh food at some Tsukiji Fish Market restaurants

Get up early, beat the peak-hour crowds and head towards the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market. You will be richly rewarded with plenty of fresh breakfast choices, such as sushi, udon or omelet around the market’s many restaurants. If you go really early, like 5 a.m., you might even snare a prized “first come, first served” ticket, to see the daily tuna auction.

Sadly, the wholesale market that features thousands of stalls selling seafood of every kind is now closed, as it is getting ready to be relocated. Nonetheless, this is a must-do on your Tokyo itinerary, a marvelous distillation of Japan’s famous food culture you can lose yourself in.

Tsukiji Fish Market: 3.5-Hour Food and Drink Walking Tour

Price: from 95 USD

Duration: 3.5 hours

Rating: 5.0 / 5

Number of Reviews: 40

See our full list of recommended hotels in Tokyo and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Tokyo

3. Learn about animation at the Ghibli Museum

Could this be the happiest place on earth? While this is the famous tagline of Disneyland (and there is one in Tokyo), it could also be applied to the Tokyo Ghibli Museum, located in Inokashira Park in Mitaka prefecture. This museum showcases the wonderfully joyous works of the Ghibli animation studio, including My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away.

Learn about the animation process in its mock-up studio, take in the museum exhibitions and short films at your own pace, and enjoy snacks and desserts at its cafe. Don’t forget to get some cute souvenirs.

Tokyo Ghibli Museum Admission Ticket with Transfer

Price: from 52 USD

Duration: 1 day

Rating: 4.7 / 5

Number of Reviews: 28

See our full list of recommended hotels in Tokyo and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Tokyo

4. Skip the lines at Tokyo Skytree

You probably want to get a bird’s-eye view of the huge metropolis of Tokyo at Tokyo Skytree, the tallest tower in the world, but hate being stuck in the long queues alone. So, beat the crowds by getting a “skip the line” admission ticket to get to the top of the tower with minimal fuss, so you have more quality time to take in the breathtaking views. Go in the evening and the tower will be lit up in different colors, for a great photo opportunity.

Tokyo: Skytree Skip-the-Line Admission Ticket

Price: from 24 USD

Duration: 1 day

Rating: 4.8 / 5

Number of Reviews: 198

See our full list of recommended hotels in Tokyo and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Tokyo

5. Roam the streets on a go-kart

Racing fans can fulfill their fantasy by renting a go-kart, a mini version of a professional racecar, and go on an exhilarating exploration of the streets of Tokyo on this unique mode of transport. You can even hire a guide to accompany your go-kart ride, if you are new to the city and unsure of directions.

Some rental shops also loan out fun costumes to wear while driving the kart, ensuring that heads will turn to look at you during your travels. Note: you will need a valid international driver license to enjoy this activity.

Akihabara Go Kart Guided Tour or Rental

Price: from 26 USD

Duration: 1 hour - 2 hours

Rating: 4.8 / 5

Number of Reviews: 42

See our full list of recommended hotels in Tokyo and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Tokyo

6. Dinner cruise in Tokyo Bay with Oiran performances

One great way to escape the crowds in Tokyo is to take a cruise around Tokyo Bay. There are many tour operators offering dinner cruises, where you can enjoy the night skyline of this wondrous metropolis while enjoying some fine dining. Some cruises also include shows on the cruise ship, such as an Oiran show, where traditional courtesans perform their Kabuki-style dance routines. Don’t forget your camera on this tour.

2-Hour Tokyo Bay Dinner Cruise and Oiran Show

Price: from 78 USD

Duration: 2 hours

Rating: 4.6 / 5

Number of Reviews: 31

See our full list of recommended hotels in Tokyo and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Tokyo

7. Go on a pub crawl to meet fun people

If you want to meet new people, you can always head down at night to Tokyo’s numerous watering holes (called izakaya), especially those found in Roppongi, Shibuya or Shinjuku, where they are guaranteed to be filled with boisterous drinkers. Strike up a conversation, or just enjoy the fine sake, beer and finger food. Better still, sign up for a Pub Crawl tour and follow a gang of merrymakers around town, with games and activities to keep all entertained.

Tokyo Pub Crawl

Price: from 21 USD

Duration: 4.5 hours

Rating: 4.9 / 5

Number of Reviews: 27

See our full list of recommended hotels in Tokyo and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Tokyo

8. Experience ancient culture with a geisha show

An “ochaya” was historically an exclusive tea house for customers, where they could be entertained by geishas. Geishas are courtesans who study the ancient traditions of art, dance and song and are distinctively characterized by their traditional costumes and makeup. Nowadays, some of these ochayas have opened to the public, who can come in for a geisha performance.

During the performance, geishas will do a traditional seasonal dance, play musical instruments and even recite some haiku poetry. This is a great way to experience Japan’s ancient culture and there are many tour operators who sell tickets for such shows.

Geisha Encounter: Cultural Experience at Chaya in Tokyo

Price: from 85 USD

Duration: 1.5 hours

Rating: 3.0 / 5

Number of Reviews: 1

See our full list of recommended hotels in Tokyo and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Tokyo

9. Learn about the samurai at a museum in Shinjuku

Probably the coolest thing to come out of ancient Japanese culture, the samurai are military warriors from medieval times. Their legendary sword, unmistakable helmet and striking costume have enthralled many modern fans and one can find out more about them at the Shinjuku Samurai Museum.

While the time of the samurai has long passed and they are no more, you can learn all about them at this museum. You can even try on one of their war helmets and pose alongside the costumed samurai warriors.

Tokyo: Shinjuku Samurai Museum Entrance Ticket

Price: from 22 USD

Duration: 1 day

Rating: 4.9 / 5

Number of Reviews: 14

See our full list of recommended hotels in Tokyo and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Tokyo

10. Bar-hopping for great food and drinks

Japanese food is some of the most unique in the world and many come to Tokyo to sample some of the exotic dishes. The problem is, there are so many eateries all over this huge city that you can get dizzy just trying to decide where to eat. So, why not join a bar-hopping tour, where a guide will take you around the city to chow down at some of the izakaya bars and street food stalls. It is a great way to meet some like-minded foodies and have a great night out.

Tokyo Bar-Hopping Tour

Price: from 91 USD

Duration: 3 hours

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Number of Reviews: 2

See our full list of recommended hotels in Tokyo and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Tokyo

Pockets of fun everywhere

Tokyo may be gigantic, but there are pockets of fun to be discovered everywhere. Whether you are a culture vulture or a food junkie, you can always find top-rated cultural performances or eateries, all over the city. Public transport is convenient, even though it may take a few trips before you figure out the complicated network. And, you don’t really need your friends around in order to enjoy these urban pleasures.

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Han Keong is a former sports journalist in Singapore whose lifelong passions are travel and music.

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