- Shibuya: Where Worlds Collide
- Akihabara: Electronic District
- Ikebukuro: Japanese Fashion District
- Shinjuku: the Japanese Business Corner
- Nakano: Otakus Paradise
- Roppongi: A Taste of Western Culture and Lively Nights Out
- Ginza: Luxury at its Finest
- Ueno: Where Tradition Meets Family
- Meguro: Sweetness and Tranquility in the Capital
- Tsukishima: An Man-Made Island Near Tokyo's Craziness
"One of my favorite cities is Tokyo because of sushi, and Asian food in general, but then also the way Tokyo operates, because it's so clean, and there's space for a lot of variety of stores." -Lauv
The Japanese archipelago is one of the most visited countries in the world. From the island of Hokkaido to Shikoku, Japan knows how to impress its visitors!
Obviously, and for a good reason, Tokyo is the most visited city in the country of Japan. Tokyo mesmerises first-time visitors, ensures a change of scenery, and offers a delightful overview of Japanese tradition and modernity.
Nevertheless, since Japan, and especially Tokyo, have so much to offer, it is necessary to prepare your stay in advance and plan to make sure that you see or visit everything on your wish list.
Like all major cities, Tokyo is divided into districts or neighbourhoods, each with its unique charm. To help new visitors navigate the large city of Tokyo, Superprof will provide all curious readers with a guide of unique neighbourhoods that days could be spent in.
Nonetheless, without further ado, here are useful tips for choosing neighbourhoods to visit while in Tokyo!
Shibuya: Where Worlds Collide
Shibuya is a district of Tokyo that is usually on travellers list of things to see while in Japan; walking the Shibuya crossing is a dream come true for many!
Not only known for one of the busiest crossings in the world, but Shibuya is also a mecca for fashion enthusiasts and trendy visitors looking to get away from their everyday lives. For example, Shibuya 109 is a large shopping centre that makes fashionistas out of all types of people.
Also known for the active nightlife, Shibuya stays alive all night long; people from all over the world dance the night away or sing their hearts out at clubs and karaoke bars with the locals.
Near Shibuya Station, there are many narrow streets full of bars, shops, trendy nightclubs, and bistros that remind ex-pats of home. Warning: the noise and bright lights of Shibuya can be quite distracting for some; however, Shibuya is a quintessential neighbourhood of Tokyo showing its pure madness!
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Akihabara: Electronic District
All over the world, Akihabara is known as Akihabara Denki-Gai or "Electric City." It owes its name to the many electronics stores frequently found in the area. This district is a sharp contrast between traditional culture and modernity since it is situated near the Imperial Palace.
Nevertheless, for the majority of visitors, Akihabara is known for its manga!
Therefore, in the electronics hypermarket of Akihabara, massive stores selling electronic devices and video games can be found beside small speciality shops and cult classic places such as maid cafés. The neighbourhood of Akihabara is becoming more of an otaku landmark than an electronics district; to the delight of animation fans from around the world!
The following is a brief list of what can be visited in Akihabara:
- Yodobashi Camera (electronics store on seven floors),
- Supa Poteto (retro-gaming store),
- Club Sega and Taito Station (huge arcades),
- Yellow Submarine or Mandarake (large store of mangas and other goodies),
- Gundam Café (a coffee shop that has the theme of a Gundam anime),
- Maid Cafés (a must-see for cosplay lovers).
By visiting the previously mentioned places, a fantastic afternoon is ensured by all; even those who don't like manga!
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Ikebukuro: Japanese Fashion District
Located in the middle of the district of Toshima, Ikebukuro is a vivacious district that welcomes plenty of tourists to the northwest of the capital.
The Ikebukuro district is a fantastic place to spend some Japanese Yen: home appliance stores, manga bookshops, and many favourite restaurants to try local delicacies. In this neighbourhood, it is also possible to visit the Sunshine City Tower, a place that offers a shopping centre, aquarium, a theme park based on food, and even a planetarium.
It is essential to state that since the early 2000s, Ikebukuro has been a counterpart of Akihabara for the Japanese animation world, especially for women.
For example, Otome Road is a place primarily dedicated to female otakus!
Ikebukuro can be described as a place of leisure that helps shopping, food, and manga addicts get the fix they need; an ideal place of interest for those who genuinely want to experience all aspects of Japanese culture.
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Shinjuku: the Japanese Business Corner
The Shinjuku district is located around the busiest station in the world. Shinjuku's first face is business, and it can be referred to as the economic heart of Tokyo. Many skyscrapers form an imposing skyline that can be observed from far at observation decks.
Individuals who work in Shinjuku have the purpose of working hard and bringing life to the Japanese economy.
However, Shinjuku is not all business and no play; it knows how to have some fun!
The district of Shinjuku can be toured during the day or at night. For example, by day, Shinjuku offers many distinct shops that make this place an unprecedented shopping spot for those who love to buy new things. At night, Shinjuku comes alive and becomes a significant destination for Tokyo natives who want to let loose and enjoy some of the best gastronomical experiences available in Japan.
Also, the area of Shinjuku can be very peaceful since one of the largest and most famous parks of the capital is located in the district. Therefore, it is quite clear to see that Shinjuku is a diverse neighbourhood with many intriguing characteristics.
Shinjuku is urban happiness; however, caution must be exercised as a tourist since things could take a hit on the monthly budget.
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Nakano: Otakus Paradise
When we mention manga in Tokyo, the district of Nakano must not be neglected; it is a temple-like area dedicated to Japanese animation.
If Akihabara were not enough to convince otakus that Tokyo is the world capital of mangas, Nakano would do the trick since it is specialised in this genre.
Countless manga shops, figurines, goodies, and many other things bring together all the aficionados of Japanese manga. The Mandarake store is a real institution for manga lovers that cannot be ignored.
Dragon Ball, Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Fairy Tail and Fullmetal Alchemist; they all can be found in Nakano!
Nakano also has galleries, clothing stores, and restaurants to satisfy the significant others of manga nerds! Finally, if there are too many pirates, ninjas, or other fictional characters, Tetsugakudo Park is perfect for a walk in the calm and philosophy of nature.
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Roppongi: A Taste of Western Culture and Lively Nights Out
Right in the centre of the Japanese capital, Roppongi is famous for being a trendy place where you can go out at night and hit the town! The Roppongi district is very urbanised and cosmopolitan; both are lacking in the Tokyo area.
In an international atmosphere, visitors can find night clubs, bars, and plenty of Japanese restaurants to fill their bellies with delicious food items that are not readily available anywhere else in the world.
Roppongi offers many places to participate in various activities, such as the following:
- Art museums,
- Large luxury hotels,
- Roppongi Hills: "a city within a city."
The neighbourhood of Roppongi that has been nicknamed the heart of the night in Tokyo, unfortunately, has a reputation for being unsafe in the evening, but this is only a minor risk to experience all the glitz and glamour that Roppongi has to offer!
Ginza: Luxury at its Finest
In Tokyo, when locals talk about luxury, they immediately think about Ginza, in the district of Chuo, it has been nicknamed the "Oxford Street" of Japan.
The wide variety of luxurious shops featured in Ginza include Chanel, Dior, Printemps, Louis Vuitton, and many others. Also, individuals may find trendy art galleries, great restaurants, quaint cafés, and nightclubs that are more upscale than the ones found in Roppongi.
Visitors are in for a real treat since it is possible to see traditional Kabuki theatre in the area of Ginza.
Also, many typical Japanese stores such as Wako, Sony, Mikimoto, and Tokyu Plaza can be found by walking the streets of the Ginza area. It would be a sage decision to visit Ginza with a stacked wallet since it is almost impossible to resist the neon illuminated lights and fantastic deals.
Ueno: Where Tradition Meets Family
Northeast of the Japanese capital, Ueno stands as the traditional tourist place to visit while staying in Tokyo.
Despite the stark difference in wealth between Ueno and the rest of Tokyo, this district offers an exciting experience for everything related to art, history, and the Shinto religion.
The Ueno neighbourhood has a large park where a Shinto temple stands in the middle of cherry blossoms; breathtaking and easy on the eyes!
The park of Ueno includes a large zoo and museums like the National Museum of Tokyo. Also, for shopping lovers, Ueno features a shopping sector known as Ameyoko.
Ueno is an excellent compromise between religious tradition, modernity, and leisure galore if you are visiting Tokyo!
Meguro: Sweetness and Tranquility in the Capital
While it is true that the district of Meguro is close to the centre of Tokyo, it does not prevent it from being a haven of peace far away from the eccentricities of Shibuya or Akihabara.
Nature and tranquillity are the hallmarks of this quiet, familial, and historic district.
This delightful corner of Tokyo offers the following activities:
- The Shizen-Kyoiku-En or Institute of Nature that possesses large green areas,
- Tokyo Teien Metropolitan Museum of Art,
- The Meguro Gajo-en, an old building famous for its weddings,
- Temples and shrines such as Daien-Jin which is nearly 500 years old,
- The Meguro river that comes alive when the cherry blossoms line the shore.
Meguro is a well-deserved break in the heart of Japan's capital!
Tsukishima: An Man-Made Island Near Tokyo's Craziness
Built from scratch at the end of the 19th century, Tsukishima is an artificial island in Tokyo Bay that is worth visiting. Specialising in fish and seafood, Tsukishima has a vast market where it is possible to taste the culinary delicacies of the area such as the monjayaki: a delicious filled pancake with a salty flavour.
It is essential to state that the island of Tsukishima is mainly for savouring and tasting Japanese culinary delicacies and not so much for shopping. This traditional neighbourhood has shops that date back to the Edo era.
Tsukishima is a very special island since it cannot be compared with other natural and more peaceful islets such as Miyajima since it is only minutes away from hectic Tokyo.
Did this article make you want to take a trip to Japan? We sure hope so! For what are you waiting? Start packing your bags for a whirlwind adventure through Tokyo's various districts!