If you thought Times Square in New York City is bright with flashing lights all over the place, then Tokyo is on a whole different level. From unique, high-fashion shops, busy streets flooded with people, fresh and healthy eats, and where oldest traditions merge with modernity—Tokyo has it all.
There’s so much to explore in this marvelous city, even two weeks is not enough. But for those who are traveling there for the first time, or have come back for round two, here are some of our favorites often missed attractions itching to be seen.
The neighborhood of Roppongi is a lively area filled with clubs and bars. But it has also become home to some of the best museums, galleries, shops, and restaurants in the world. If you’re a museum junkie, we recommend Suntory Museum of Art, located inside Tokyo Midtown. This museum hosts exhibitions that are constantly changing, and it also has a wonderful display of antique Japanese armory.
For all you foodies out there, we suggest you try Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi Hills, opened up by Takashi Ono, the son of the famous sushi chef, Jiro Ono (you may have seen his documentary, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”). Trying to make a reservation at the original Jiro may be tough, but the one owned by Takashi is a bit easier to grab a table at. And don’t worry, the quality and service are just as good as his dad’s, and the prices tend to be cheaper as well.
And once you’ve had your exquisite dinner, head over to Toraya, a bakery established almost 500 years ago. They sell authentic Japanese sweets such as monaka (wafers sandwiched together and stuffed with bean curd), and namagashi (fresh sweets that change every day).
If shopping is your thing, make sure to check out Muji, which sells unique, chick and very comfortable Japanese-style clothing made from cotton and wool.
Aside from fresh sushi, a good bowl of ramen should also be on your list of things to try while in Japan. Inside Tokyo Station, there’s an underground Ramen Street with the seven best ramen restaurants in all of Tokyo. Plus, there are so many different types to choose from—tsukemen (dipping ramen), miso ramen, shoyu (soy sauce) ramen and “junk food” ramen (crunchy noodles, egg, shredded cheese, bacon pieces and fat). It may be hard to choose just one, so if you’re in Tokyo for several days, make sure to make your way back down there and try a different bowl!
Kabuki-Za Theater was originally built in 1889 and showcases performances that date back 400 years. All roles are played by men (even the female ones); nonetheless, the actors bring to life powerful stories about Japan’s culture, literature, and history. Make sure to check their site for tickets and times—you won’t be disappointed!
Everyone who is anyone goes to Harajuku to check out the modern and hip styles worn by Japanese youth. If you do happen to pass by, make sure you make your round to Dog, an underground fashion shop with cheap vintage items that are re-made into interesting and unique pieces by the owner, Kai Satake. Lady Gaga is a huge fan and is known to shop there whenever she’s in town. But don’t worry, Kai aims to keep his clothes affordable—regardless if you’re a celebrity or not.
The best place to buy souvenirs is Nakamise Dori, a long shopping street established in the 17th century with about 90 stores. This street also leads to Sensoji Temple, the oldest and most visited temple in Tokyo.
But tucked away to the right of the Kaminarimon—the gate opening onto Nakamise Dori—is Kurodaya. This peculiar store, which has been around since 1856, specializes in washi. This natural, handcrafted paper is made using fibers from the bark of the gampi tree, the mitsumata shrub (Edgeworthia chrysantha), or the paper mulberry, but also can be made using bamboo, hemp, rice, and wheat. You can find images of cherry blossoms, temples, sumo wrestlers and others painted on washi, which makes great gifts to take back home with you! This is a much better option than your traditional keychain and T-shirt souvenir.
Regardless what you’re into, Tokyo has everything for everyone. It’s a city that never sleeps—from night until the day you can find yourself going from one end of the city to the other, and still not have enough time to explore the vast city. However, there are several attractions often missed and are itching to be seen such as Roppongi neighborhood, Ramen Street, Kabuki-Za Theater, Kurodaya and Dog. The next time you make your way over to Tokyo, plan a trip around these sites and get a taste of the real Japan.
If this or any other destinations speak to you, we’d love to help you get there in comfort and put some savings in your pocket. Submit a flight request or contact your agent and we’ll find the best dates to travel there!