12 Best Tokyo Districts and Neighbourhoods to Visit on Your Holiday

12 Best Tokyo Districts and Neighbourhoods to Visit on Your Holiday

How many have you visited so far?

Japan has reopened to international tourists albeit with certain limitations still in place. But that’s enough to get all of us excited about returning to one of our fave places in the world. Once tourists are allowed to explore Japan’s gorgeous cities without a guided tour, we ought to take that opportunity to explore every nook and cranny of Japanese prefectures. And what better place to start than Tokyo? This time, you don’t want to miss a thing. Take note of these best Tokyo districts and neighbourhoods for you Japan journey!

Also read: 32 Things to See and Do in Japan for First-Time Travellers

1. Akihabara

tokyo districts

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Get the ball rolling in Chiyoda ward’s good ol’ Akihabara district, where electronics and otaku culture abound. There are hundreds of electronic shops in the district, from small stalls to large stores that sell the latest cellphone gadgets, cameras, televisions, and even electronic parts you might need in the future. 

But anime and video game geeks are sure to make a beeline for the manga stores and cafes scattered throughout the district. Enter shops like Mandarake, Gamers, and Super Potato to play and purchase popular video games, both old and new. Even better, you’ll find a Don Quijote store in Akihabara for your budgeted shopping. What’s not to love?

2. Ikebukuro

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Ikebukuro in Toshima is like the second coming of Akihabara among all the Tokyo neighbourhoods. It’s lively, popular, and has a high concentration of anime merch, manga, and maid cafes. But unlike Akihabara, the Ikebukuro neighbourhood panders more toward women with its cosplay-related shops for girls. It’s also a haven for Pokemon fans because Ikebukuro is home to the Sunshine City shopping complex. And what’s in this complex? Only Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo, which houses the largest collection of Pokemon merchandise in all of Japan!

If you’re looking for affordable Tokyo areas, Ikebukuro isn’t a bad place for tourists to stay either, especially with its selection of inexpensive hotels. If you book a stay in this district, the fun can be within arm’s reach. 

Also read: A Japan Guide: The Ultimate Must-Visit List for Gamers & Anime Fans!

3.  Shibuya

tokyo districts

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Everyone visits Shibuya at least once on their trip to Japan. We all know that it’s where the much beloved Hachiko statue is located, and in close proximity to Shibuya Crossing — the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. This unique view of throngs of people crossing a wide pedestrian has become such a fascination that restaurants around it get fully booked for their window-side seating and view of the road. 

The famous pedestrian crossing is also a go-to meetup place for fun events like Halloween and the New Year countdown. But aside from these two famous attractions, Shibuya is also known as Japan’s “youth capital.” The ward has a vibrant nightlife culture, what with its collection of clubs, bars, and izakaya. Would you be down to welcome the next year in this awesome Tokyo area?

4. Harajuku

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Now, to Shibuya’s fashion hub. The Harajuku neighbourhood is where people go to feel Japan’s modern and youthful pulse. Here, young Japanese locals express themselves in whatever fashion style they feel like flaunting, whether it’s experimental or trendy. Take this time to explore all the fashion shops on Takeshita Street, the focal point of the district’s vibrant culture. From there, not only will you be treated to all the trendy boutiques, but also fast food outlets like the crepe stands. Harajuku basically has all the things that the youth have no problem consuming.

The young at heart can also enjoy all these, as well as the nearby green areas for a breath of fresh air. South of Takeshita Street is Omotesando, a broad tree-lined avenue and what Tokyo considers its version of Champs-Elysees. Most of all, the iconic Meiji Jingu shrine and Yoyogi Park are only a few minutes away from the chich streets of Harajuku!

5. Ebisu

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Ebisu is another famous district in Shibuya, especially for younger generations, if only because there are a lot of high schools and universities in the area. Naturally, that also means there’s an array of cool shops, restaurants, and cafes that cater to the youth. If you want to go restaurant hopping, make your way to Ebisu Yokocho, an alley where you’ll find 20 restaurants and food stalls that serve battered skewers of meat, veggies, and cheese. Are you a ramen fan? Head to Afuri that’s popular for its shio ramen, shoyu ramen, and even vegan ramen. 

But most of all, Ebisu is one of the top Tokyo districts for drinking with your pals. Try out bars like Buri, which serves 70 different varieties of sake from all over Japan. Have fun but just make sure you can hold your liquor!

6. Ginza

tokyo districts

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Ready to head to Japan’s shopping mecca? Chuo ward’s Ginza district awaits your arrival with bated breath. This place isn’t considered a shopper’s paradise out of all the Tokyo districts for nothing. In Ginza, you’ll find every possible international brand that comes to mind. Department stores like Mitsukoshi, Matsuya, and Tokyu Plaza will spoil you with both high-end brands and old Japanese boutiques, all of which give a fair selection of fashion preferences for the ultimate shopping experience. 

Aside from its shopping complexes, Ginza also offers interesting attractions. For instance, Seiko Museum Ginza educates visitors about the history of Seiko, Japan’s best watch manufacturer. Yurakucho Gado-shita Dining, one of Tokyo’s best dining districts, is also astounding. It’s basically a 700-metre stretch of restaurants that are built into brick arches below the Yamanote Line. Enjoy authentic Japanese beer or imported French wine to cap off your night. 

7. Koenji

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In case you want a break from the crowded Tokyo districts, head to Tokyo areas like the Koenji neighbourhood in the Suginami ward for a change. It isn’t well-known yet compared to other Tokyo neighbourhoods, but it does have a magnifying charm about it. This area exudes retro vibes thanks to unique fashion stores and its underground music scene. 

Pockets of music bars and vintage record stores define Koenji, as well as affordable delicious eateries that the typical tourist hardly knows about. Explore all your shopping and culinary options in places like Koenji Junjo Shopping Street, Koenji Street, Koenji Pal Shopping Street, and Koenji Look Shopping Street

8. Kichijoji

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The Kichijoji neighbourhood in the city of Musashino is one of the best places to live in Tokyo, thanks to its more relaxed and rural vibe. It has enough large commercial areas to be modern, but at the same time boasts of vast green spaces for tranquil and slow living. The most famous of these green spaces is Inokashira Park. This park features rejuvenating woodland, a swan lake where you can go boat riding, and the Inokashira Park Zoo

In the spring, stunning cherry blossoms create a magical atmosphere throughout the park and make Kichijoji a go-to destination for sakura season. You can complement this otherworldly experience by visiting the Studio Ghibli museum, located just at the West Garden of Inokashira Park. Once you see the giant Totoro statue, you know you’ve arrived. 

9.  Roppongi

tokyo districts

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Want to see Tokyo’s breathtaking night lights? Head to the top of the iconic Tokyo Tower in Roppongi. Considering that Roppongi is the most popular nightlife destination among all the Tokyo districts, it isn’t a surprise that this would also be the place to build the tower which affords you a 360° view of Tokyo’s Minato ward

In the 2000s, two of Tokyo’s largest development projects were established in Roppongi; these were namely Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown, where art museums, elegant retail stores, offices, and residential areas were further developed to attract tourists and rebrand the district as one of the best places to live in Tokyo. Roppongi also flaunts three of Tokyo’s most precious museums: The National Art Center, Mori Art Museum, and the Suntory Museum of Art

10. Shinjuku

tokyo districts

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Shinjuku is best known for Shinjuku Station, the busiest railway station in the world as it services more than two million passengers every day. That aside, the ward itself is a centre for entertainment, business, and shopping. You’ll find the Nishishinjuku, aka skyscraper district, just west of the station, where you’ll surely gawk over Tokyo’s tallest buildings which include cool hotels and the Metropolitan Government Office twin towers. These towers offer observation decks that are open to the public for free and you’ll even spot Mt. Fuji from where you’ll stand, so don’t miss the chance to see the view from up there. 

Meanwhile, the east side of Shinjuku hosts the largest night life district where there are several bars, izakaya, and karaoke parlours to enjoy the night with your friends. Shinjuku-nichōme, on the other hand, is the established enclave of Tokyo’s LGBTQ+ community where many historical milestones for them took place. Who knows, you might chance upon a Tokyo Pride Parade while you’re there.

Also read: 12 Most Interesting Train Stations You Can Find in Japan

11. Odaiba

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Another ward that you might fancy as one of the best places to live in Tokyo is Odaiba. This interesting destination is composed of artificial islands on Tokyo Bay. Matched with the views of the Tokyo skyline and the peaceful bay, Odaiba makes for a sweet family retreat in Tokyo. Take your little ones to the indoor arcade parks of Tokyo Joypolis by SEGA and feast your eyes on the actual Unicorn Gundam statue in DiverCity Tokyo Plaza

There’s a wide selection of shopping and dining avenues at Odaiba’s malls; plus, green spaces for you to enjoy some peace and quiet. Although not much for nightlife, Odaiba has enough places for your family to get the bonding activities you need for a memorable vacation in these Tokyo districts. 

12. Meguro

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Image credit: Sora Sagano

With its perfect balance of commercial, residential, and cultural attractions, Meguro makes for a wonderful city to live in Tokyo. This ward is loaded with museums, galleries, and cinemas, as well as various parks scattered all over the place. But nothing really beats the view of Meguro River and how the scene changes during different seasons. Needless to say, the river is at its most breathtaking during sakura season when the water is framed by pink cherry blossoms. This pretty much constitutes a perfect backdrop for a lovely family photo. 

Also read: Third Wave Coffee in Tokyo: Where to Get the Best Brew, According to Baristas

There are so many Tokyo districts and neighbourhoods to explore, and it’s almost impossible to visit all of them in one trip. But that’s exactly what makes us come back to Japan for more. Check these areas off your bucket list the next time you’re in Tokyo. Good luck!


Featured image credit: Harold Wainwright | Unsplash

About Author

Therese Sta. Maria
Therese Sta. Maria

Therese's close friends know that if they haven’t seen her around recently, then she’s probably having an adventure with her luggage and camera in hand. Though she loves staying at home and spending lazy afternoons with friends, there are times when she has to be "away from home to feel at home," — that’s when she’s bitten by the travel bug. See her travels on Instagram @reesstamaria.

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