Make a list of things you’d like to do,  but understand,  you cannot do it all so don’t even try.

Things to do in Tokyo, in no particular order.

  1. Go to a department store and go to the basement.  Here is a world of wonder all dedicated to eating.  Sometimes there’s samples.  It’s packaged foods,  a grocery store, green tea,  a few casual restaurants…. It’s amazing.
  2. Watch the Shibuya crossing – over 1000 people cross with each change.
  3. At the end of Nov,  the Christmas Illuminations will light.  You can see them in Ginza, Shinjuku and I’m sure a few other places I’m not thinking of right now.
  4. Shinjuku Robot Show is a must!  Book your ticket through a concierge or Japanican (often the cheapest).  Do not get the ticket that includes the meal because the food there sucks and there are too many amazing places in Japan to eat at to waste a meal.  Also,  go to the location early to see where to go.  It’s a bit confusing.  You go to one location to get your ticket and another for the actual show.  Do not read up about it, or watch videos or look at photos before hand.  You want to be surprised and delighted when you see it.  Not knowing about it before hand increases it’s charm.  I will say this,  it’s kind of like animae on LSD. And bring earplugs. It did not survive the Pandemic.
  5. Buy some clothes!
  6. Shop at Uniqlo for affordable clothes
  7. If you are into creating art,  one of the world’s largest art supplies store is in Tokyo.  If interested let me know and I’ll get the address for you.
  8. Go to Yodabashi or BIC camera to check out the latest electronics. If at Yodabashi,  bring earplugs.  Their jingle plays on repeat, and it’s awful.
  9. Spend a decent amount of time exploring Shinjuku station.  It is its own city.  There’s over 120 exits.  And don’t feel bad about getting lost there, even people living in Japan say they get lost.  It is the busiest station in the world.
  10. If you like kitchen stuff,  go to Kappaboshi. It’s the restaurant supply district but is open to the public – you’ll find knives,  fake foods,  plates, etc.  Also the Panasonic home stores have kitchens set up to view.
  11. Eat at mister donut
  12. Try some Japanese wine,  but you are warned – it’ll give you a nasty hangover so just drink  a little.
  13. Go to Odaiba.  Also, there is the Toyota Showcase with their latest cars and their concept cars.  There’s a huge ferris wheel too (the Japanese LOVE ferris wheels),  a mock statue of liberty,  the science museum, and an onsen theme park.
  14. Pick a train station/stop,  get out on foot and explore
  15. Eat ramen at Shinagawa Ramen Row. – Ramen shops are operated through a ticket machine as a lot of casual restaurants are.  Select your choice (most likely it will be random unless your kanji and hiragana reading is amazing), put your money in, out comes the ticket, hand it to the host and wait for your food.  They tend to be crowded and not a place people linger but oh so fabulous food. – shinagawa ramen row is now closed.  There is a ramen row inside Tokyo station.
  16. Yoyogi park and the temple there- If you go on a Sunday,  you can see teenagers in wacky outfits and maybe see a wedding at the temple.  If you are there during Thanksgiving,  you might get to see the 7-5-3 celebration.
  17. Pick up a good Tokyo subway map.
  18. Saturday night go to Shinjuku’s kabuchiko (red light district) – and watch the host boys strut their stuff.  To get a glimpse into this sad world, watch the documentary the happiness space: tales of an Osaka love theif,  before you go. Also wander around and check out the different love hotels. 
  19. I haven’t done this yet but it’s on my radar for my next trip – the 3d/VR video arcades.  Currently there’s about 6 in Tokyo
  20. If you like cats,  a cat café.  Pay a small fee to hang out with cats.  There’s a lot of rules… but then again… it’s Japan.  They love rules.
  21. Drink coffee in a kissaten – an old school coffee shop
  22. While it may be tempting to go to an Izakaya – Japanese style bar – very few have English menus or people that speak English. And for some reason,  communication just breaks down in these places.   I’ve been to one that had an English menu, but it was a chain and felt like going to Bennigans to experience a “ real” Irish bar.   If you do want to go to one,  either make sure your Japanese is semi-decent or go with a local. All the food and drink items are written on paper taped to the walls.  In Kanji. 
  23. While not the best quality sushi,  it is a lot of fun – a rotating sushi restaurant (there’s a bunch in Shinjuku)
  24. Go to the top of the government building – great view and it’s free.
  25. Go to the Toto store to check out the latest toliets.
  26. Have a drink at the top of a skyscraper building – the Park Hyatt is the most famous but does charge a $20 cover to get in, plus your drinks.  The Top of The Shinagawa – at the Shinagawa Prince hotel  has no cover.
  27. There are lots of tiny weird museums in Tokyo like the samurai sword museum, the kite museum,  the fire museum,  the Edo Period museum, the currency museum, etc etc.   But they can be hard to find.  Addresses don’t make sense to Americans.  Building numbers are based on when they were built,  not in the order they line the street.
  28. I’ve never done this but always wanted to.  You’ll probably need a translator though.  There’s a natural disaster museum, but it also has a fire simulator, where they stick you in a stairwell and fill it with smoke and an earthquake simulator to feel what a major earthquake is like.  I think it’s free but you need reservations.
  29. The parasite museum – all exhibits are in Japanese but you get the idea.  I found it fascinating.
  30. Repeat #14 using a different stop
  31. Kijichoji neighborhood has a different feel to it. Explore, eat, and stop in the Inokashira park for some greenery,  maybe take a ride in the duck boats.
  32. There’s a ramen museum in Yokohama.  It’s OK.  If you are in the area, check it out, but I’m not sure I’d go out of my way for it.
  33. The park in Shinjuku near the Government building has a yard sale on Saturdays. 
  34. Ueno area has a more old school feel to it.  Explore the back streets and buy some crackers from a store that has been selling crackers for 120 years.  Also check out the shops near Ueno station.  It used to be the black market.   And there are stores between Ueno and Asakusa that sells only red underwear to old men and ladies.  They think its lucky underwear. Ueno park often has live concerts at night.  Sometimes they are idol shows.
  35. Stop in a pachinko parlor and even play if you think you can stand the noise. 
  36. There is a bamboo valley in Tokyo.  Really cool,  a bit tricky to find.
  37. There’s a random Godzilla statue in Ginza.
  38. If you like watches,  there’s a watch store next to the Takashimaya department store,  Nihonbashi location. Owned by the Takashimaya.  Be prepared to have the staff handle the watches with white gloves on.
  39. Check out the oldest department store – Mitsukoshi Honten in Nihonboshi.; Although the Daimaru is right behind it in terms of longevity.
  40. Go to Akihabara for the otaku culture,  but honestly,  otaku culture has moved to Nankano, or so I have been told. Still, in Ikeburo you’ll get to see maid cafes,  nerds,  etc.
  41. I haven’t done this but people who live in Tokyo says it’s the best thing for  tourists to do – take a boat ride through the river system.
  42. Before going see what kind of interesting art exhibits there might be.  Hahaha.  I went to the goldfish exhibit.
  43. Eat at Iron Chef Kenichi’s restaurant – he has a casual tantanmen and mappo tofu restaurant in Yokohama and a more upscale one in Tokyo proper. 
  44. Eat Mexican food and be…. Puzzled.
  45. If you are a Ghilbi fan,  then get tickets to the museum in the USA,  a minimum of three months in advance.  Tickets are not sold in Japan.
  46. See an idol concert!  I haven’t done this, but I want to.  And I need to figure out how to make it happen. 
  47. Lots of people like the Skytree.  It’s  a bit pricey to go to the top and the restaurants inside are expensive but the surrounding neighborhood is interesting with a different feel to it.  Also by the sky tree is a Life Grocery Store, which is fun to poke around in and has great cheap sushi.
  48. Stop in a grocery store (not a department store one).
  49. Stop in the Family Mart, Seven-eleven or a Lawsons. Fascinating places. No, seriously.  The egg sandwich is amazing.
  50. Buy Japanese sunscreen.  It is the best.
  51. Explore and see the major neighborhoods – Shinjuku,  Shibuya,  Ginza, Ikeburo, Akihabara, Ueno and Asukasa,  and a few of the ones less likely to be on a tourist radar, Nankano,  Kichijoji,  Jiyugaoka
  52. Get a custom pen made based off of how you write.  I have no idea what this costs, but I’m sure it’s not cheap. It seems really cool
  53. Shopping is Japan’s national sport.

I’m sure I can think of more.  This is just a list of ideas.  The must do ones are – the department store basement,  random exploration of a train stop; exploring Shinjuku station; eating a donut at mister donut (unless you don’t like donuts) and going somewhere high up to have a drink or two.

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