Tokyo Bucket List: 50 Top Things To Do in Japan’s Coolest City

Tokyo can not ever get boring—it has a plethora of bucket list worthy things to do and attractions to visit. While I was in Japan’s top city, I ate beef that was creatively shaped like a brain, served to me inside of my private jail cell by women dressed in pink nurses’ outfits. I drank my coffee next to a dozen felines at a quirky cat café, confirming my preference for dogs. And I found out exactly what all the buttons on the Japanese toilet do (enjoying some outcomes much more than others).

There are not many places that would provide such peculiar and cool forms of entertainment, but Tokyo is a city of many colorful facets; a mix of avant-garde and traditional. It is a town where the illuminated skyscrapers cohabitate with historic temples, unusual anime shops and cherry blossom lined streets.

It is a cool destination where your itinerary can include attending a lively tuna auction hours before daybreak, nightlife that can include eating skewers of yakitori in the seedy Piss Alley or scrambling across one of the biggest intersections in the world with hundreds of others.

In other words Tokyo, Japan is freaking fabulous and here are the best things to do there.

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 50 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City

1. ✧ Buy Some Vinyl at HMV Records

Tokyo is a paradise for Vinyl Lovers! They have more record shops than any other city in the world with new collections brought in every month. HMV Records is a huge store filled with Vinyl Records. We recommend you bring along plenty of cash because you will surely get lost amidst aisles of wonder records making you nostalgic and rekindling your passion for music and arts.

This vast second-hand record shop has plenty of items and genres for music lovers. They also have a handful of cassettes with a special corner for them along with CDs.

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City

2. ✦ Watch Wrestling Practice at a Sumo Stable

You can’t fully understand the intensity of the sumo wrestling sport unless you are up close and personal at an intense morning practice session to witness the panting, grunting and dripping sweat. The practices are not attractions created for tourists—the athletes are not putting on a show for you—they are in serious training and need to be shown respect while you are there. You can read about my experience here: Watch Wrestling Practice at a Sumo Stable in Japan.

Though there are over 40 training stables, most in the Ryogoku district, only a few accept visitors. The most common are Kasugano Beya, Takasago Beya and Musashigawa Beya. Make sure to call ahead to confirm that they will be having practice on the day you arrive! Or for an even easier option just book a Morning Sumo Training tour.

I went to Hakkaku Sumo Stable, which is a little bit trickier to get into without a translator. But, it was worth the effort because seeing this Japanese tradition was definitely one of the Top 10 things I did in Tokyo.

Book a Tour > More Sumo Related Experiences

3. ✧ See a Professional Sumo Match

Embark on this adrenaline filled adventure by witnessing Japan’s natural sport in all its glory! Sumo is the world famous Japanese style wrestling match which began in ancient times as a ritual to entertain the Shinto deities. You can easily get tickets for each day of the 15-day tournament. I highly recommend the ringside seats which is the closest seating available to the wrestling ring with cushions on the floor. You’ll always be able to find a few seats even on the tournament day or get the ticket on sale well in advance!

Your can easily see upcoming tournaments and book tickets at Voyagin

4. ✦ Make a Stop at Meiji Shrine

The historical significance of the Meiji Shrine cannot be overstated. The shrine was made for the first emperor of modern Japan – Emperor Meiji. Enter this austere and mystical place through a 40 foot high tori gate and find yourself surrounded by a 200-acre park with a 100,000 trees. The cleansing station has a communal water tank for purification of the hand and mouth before offering prayers.

You can also write your wishes and tie them up to the prayer wall. The Meiji Jingu Treasure House is at the northern end of the shrine where you will find several personal belongings of the Emperor as well as a beautiful Inner Garden with blooming flowers and a rustic well.

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan's Coolest City

5. ✦ Attend a Baseball Game

The game of baseball isn’t just one of America’s favorite pastime, the Japanese are passionate about it too. Things are just done a bit differently when you attend a baseball game in Japan, like waving umbrellas for home runs, snacking on edamame and having cheerleaders.

Though the Yomiuri Giants at the Tokyo Dome draw larger crowds, you can also see the Tokyo Swallows play at the outdoor Jingu Stadium.

Buy Tickets > Purchase Tickets to a Game

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City

6. ✧ Play an Arcade Game at Anata No Warehouse

By now you would have realized that Tokyo is a quirky city filled with wonders and oddities! The Anata no Warehouse is another addition to this wonderland which is a dystopian arcade that attracts both gamers and non-gamers alike!

It is constructed within a hold building of great historic value. The décor is highly creepy and impeccably realistic with heavy set doors carrying you to an entirely different realm. The walls have a grimy look with fake posters and moisture stains, stained glass, and eerie mannequins. You might have to muster up every ounce of courage to get through this warehouse! But don’t worry, there are hints of normalcies with gaming machines and wending machines scattered throughout the premise.

7. ✧ Go to the Intermediatheque Museum

The Intermediatheque (IMT) Museum is a psychedelic world of its own. Located in the Kitte Marunouchi building near the Tokyo Station, you’ll find yourself lost amidst the ancient wonders and treasures left behind for us by extinct civilizations. From early steam engines to Egyptian mummies, this kaleidoscopic wonderland has everything preserved and on display. Get inspired by the tribal art or see your kids’ faces light up by the wildlife specimens and the 19th century raconteurs of flora and fauna. Allow yourself at least half a day to absorb the richness and literary brilliance of this place.

8. ✦ Play a Game of Pachinko

Pachinko is a Japanese arcade game where the object is to fire balls that will then fall through a maze of metal pins. Try to capture as many balls as possible into the center hole. You won’t be able to miss Espace Pachinko Parlor, one of the most popular, with it’s flashing neon and clinking of the balls. It can be an addictive, yet fun thing to do in Tokyo!

Understanding the game of Pachinko can be tricky without lessons or guidance from someone who knows the in-and-outs. You can book the Original Japanese Entertainment Tour and you’ll get a half hour lesson along with playing time.

Tokyo Things to Do: Pachinko Parlor in Tokyo, Japan

9. ✧ Spend the Night in the Hello Kitty Room

Go to Kitty Town and spend the night in the fun Hello Kitty Room at Keio Plaza Hotel. The room is decked out in the cats signature decor and you can even get yourself breakfast kitty shaped/stamped food.

10. ✧ Try Batto, the ‘Art of Swordsmanship’

Exploring a new place can be a worthwhile experience if you indulge in the knowledge of the culture and heritage of its people, and understand and appreciate their influence and contribution to our world. Seeing a real katana used by the samurais of ancient and feudal Japan gave me goosebumps! Batto is an art very few have mastered, with careful and precise movements taught by the wizened men with vigilance and concentration etched on their faces. It’s artistic and truly beautiful. As a beginner you will the katana to chop a rolled up tatami mat.

11. ✦ Walk Across Shibuya Crossing

This iconic Shibuya Crossing is on most visitors “things to do in Tokyo” itinerary because it is one of the busiest intersections in the world. It is a fun place to visit to watch and participate in the organized chaos that ensues when hundreds of people walk across the intersections at once. For a different perspective, watch the crossing from the 2nd-story window of the Starbucks on the North side. For an even more unique bucket list experience, walk Shibuya crossing in a kimono.

Book a Tour > Tokyo: Shibuya Walking Food Tour

Tokyo Things to Do: Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, Japan

12. ✧ Explore the World of Peanuts at the Snoopy Museum

13. ✧ Stroll Through Yoyogi Park

Taking a walk through Yoyogi Park is a grand experience on its own. You’ll be setting foot on the ground which represents the ancient facets of Japan, as it was once a site of military barracks, and even served as an Olympics Gymnasium in 1964. The park is divided in two parts by a wide road, one side of which is a dense forest area where people usually take their strolls and enjoy the natural beauty of the place, have picnics and barbeques. The latter has a stadium and an outdoor stage that hold exclusive events and food festivals.

Taking a walk through Yoyogi Park is a grand experience on its own. You’ll be setting foot on the ground which represents the ancient facets of Japan, as it was once a site of military barracks, and even served as an Olympics Gymnasium in 1964. The park is divided in two parts by a wide road, one side of which is a dense forest area where people usually take their strolls and enjoy the natural beauty of the place, have picnics and barbeques. The latter has a stadium and an outdoor stage that hold exclusive events and food festivals.

14. ✦ Attend a Kabuki Theater Show

Kabuki is a unique form of Japanese theater where they combine song, mime, dance, costume design and elaborate makeup that is typically performed solely by men. At Kabuki-za you can buy Single Act tickets just to get an introduction to the style of theater.

Kabuki-za | 4-12-15 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo | MAP

Get Tickets > Kabuki Theater in Tokyo

Bucket List: Go to Kabuki Theater in Tokyo, Japanlensonjapan

15. ✧ Get a Photo of the Giant Godzilla Head

The Godzilla is thankfully not raising havoc on the streets of Tokyo anymore, but you can still see him peeking through the 8th floor of a hotel terrace at a busy street 40m below! The Godzilla Head is a popular attraction in Shinjuku with a giant 12m huge reptilian head with piercing eyes and sharp pointy teeth!

Roaring sounds and tremors are generated if you come at the right time on the ground floor. Enjoy the attraction up close or enjoy a cup of coffee with the magnificent view! Take pictures and enjoy the laser beam show the head gives off late at night.

16. ✦ Learn About the History at Edo-Tokyo Museum

Edo is Tokyo’s old name, and the museum conserves the historical culture and traditions of the city. I felt as if I’m approaching a UFO when I was walking towards the building but then I learnt that the architecture was inspired by the old Tokyo warehouse raised on stilts. It has an ultramodern feel to it with a lot of character. During my 2 hours tour, I marveled at the handcrafted figurines with unique clothing and expressions, the massive cavern room, the replica of Nihonbashi Bridge, recreations of houses and transports of the ancient people, market areas and stage settings of theatrical performances. It will be your guide to understanding how Tokyo evolved to be one of the most influential cities of the world.

17. ✧ Sing Karaoke

What to do in Tokyo for nightlife? Karaoke, of course. It is a big part of their culture and a huge attraction. Tokyo has plenty of fun (& sometimes weird) Karaoke bars where you can belt out a few tunes. One of the more well-known is Karaoke Kan, which was the location for Bill Murray’s singing session in the movie Lost in Translation.

Related > 10 of the Best Bars in Tokyo for Karaoke and Other Weird Stuff

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest Cityphoto by Leon Brocard

18. ✧ Get an Umbrella at SHU’s Umbrella Shop

19. ✧ See the Tokyo Tower at Night

The Tokyo tower is the second tallest architectural wonder of Japan. Standing at a height of 1092 feet, the tower glimmers with lights and serves as one of the symbolic features of the city. It is a true marvel to see at the night time. The themes and illuminations change according to seasons and occasions. You can also go up to the Special Observation Deck and get a night time view of the city. It is a sight you’ll never forget!

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan's Coolest City

20. ✦ Use all the Buttons on a Japanese Toilet

Can a toilet really be that cool and worthy of a spot on your Tokyo things to do bucket list? In this case it can. A Japanese commode isn’t any ordinary potty, it’s like a spa for your private parts. Not only will your butt be warm with their seated heats, but they can also clean your derrière with a hot stream of water. Luckily, you can experience these toilets at many restaurants, hotels and public attractions. {photo credit: rob lee}

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City

21. ✧ Visit the Red & White Cats at Gotokuji Temple

The Gotokuji Temple is a place that comes with a highly engaging, legendary tale of the maneki neko – the beckoning cats. They are believed to bring good luck and are a symbolic figure of the temple. The visitors make offerings and prayers in front of thousands of red and white cat statues. The kitties are wearing a red collar with a hanging golden bell and a paw raised in the air to bring you good fortune! You’ll find cat art in the neighborhood leading up to the temple as well! This place is surely a treat for all the cat lovers out there.

22. ✦ Do a Kimono Fitting

Wearing a kimono is a large part of the Japanese culture. A kimono is a traditional Japanese garment that is typically worn by women on special occasions. There are few places to be fitted for a K2mono while traveling to Tokyo, but you can find a couple. My personal tour guide, Tomomi, offers private fittings in her home, whereas with Voyagin you will tour the streets of Asakusa wearing your kimono.

Book Tour > Walk the Streets of Asakusa in a Kimono
Book Tour > Wear a Kimono at a traditional house in the Bonsai Museum
Read > Do a Kimono Fitting in Tokyo, Japan

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City: Do a Kimono Fitting

23. ✦ Visit the Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace is the place of residence of Japan’s Imperial family. It has a beautiful park area surrounded by grand stone walls and moats in the center of Tokyo. The main Palace area is open only on the New Year’s Greeting Event on 2nd Jan and the Emperor’s Birthday on 23rd Dec. but the palace grounds are open for public throughout the year. The rivers are surrounded by magnificent Sakura trees. You can enjoy boat rides, or the Marunouchi Area with skyscrapers and great shops or take a stroll through the Kitanomaru Park with beautiful trees and spots for picnic.

24. ✦ Buy a Japanese Knife

Japanese knives are known to be some of the best in the world due to there keen edges, quality of steel and made-by-hand techniques. Of course, being a chef myself, I could not leave Tokyo without purchasing one! Though I bought mine at Masahisa, there are plenty of other reputable knife shops around town. You can try walking down Kappabashi Street, the kitchen district. Not only will you find plenty of knife shops, but you will also find every kitchen product imaginable, including plastic food samples used as window displays by many restaurants.

Masahisa | 4-13-7 Tsukiji Chuo-ku Tokyo 104-0045 Japan | MAP

Related > How and Where to Buy Knives in Tokyo

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City: Buy a Japanese Knife in Tokyo

25. ✧ Walk Across the Rainbow Bridge

The iconic Rainbow Bridge of Japan has a pedestrian pathway on both its north and south ends. It is free to take a walk across the bridge and takes about 25 minutes on foot but you can also go on a bicycle. Take the elevator up the bridge span and get your walking shoes on! The north route has breathtaking views of the Tokyo Tower along with stunning skyscrapers around Roppongi and Toranomon, Toyosu and the Shiodome area. The south route offers views of Odaiba as well as the neighboring islands and the Shinagawa area. Odaiba looks stunning at sunset so you can start with the south route and enjoy the city lights at night on the return route from north.

26. ✧ Relax at an Onsen

Ooedo Onsen Monogatari is an onsen (hot springs) theme park where you can soak in one of their relaxing baths, get your fortune told or have a foot massage. There’s plenty of entertainment on the premises to keep you occupied for at least an afternoon. {photo credit: tuija aalto}

Ooedo Onsen Monogatari | 2-57 Aomi, Koto, Tokyo | MAP

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City

27. ✧ Go to Tokyo Disneyland

Welcome to the happiest place in the world – Disneyland Tokyo edition! We highly recommend you spend at least 2 days here to enjoy all the wonderful attractions and food. There are several attractions unique to Tokyo Disneyland like Dream Lights with a magical nighttime light parade, Minnie oh! Minnie! – a life show with Latin music and dancers that we thoroughly enjoyed, the interactive Monster’s Inc. Ride & Go Seek and Western River Railroad to name a few.

You can splurge a little by staying at the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel which is at a short walk from the theme park with many perks, so if budget is not an issue I highly recommend staying within the property and enjoy the full Disneyland experience.

28. ✧ Go to Yasukuni Shrine

The Yasukuni Shrine is the most interesting and controversial place in Japan. Founded in 1869, this place is said to hold 2.5 million shrines! It was made in honor of the men who lost their lives in the Boshin War and has expanded to include war martyrs since then.

The entrance of the shrine is made from a massive gray metal Daicihi Torii standing at a height of 72 feet and giving it an eerie feel. The arch than gets smaller with Daini Torii which is the second shrine gate, and the Shinmon gate which leads into the area of shrine. The Chumon Torrii then leads into the main hall. Photography isn’t allowed but there is a lot to take in with rich cultural significance and a war museum.

29. ✧ Visit the Meguro Parasitological Museum

The Meguro Parasitological Museum is one of a kind, and the only one in existence that displays the weirdly fascinating collection from the world of parasites! It is a unique experience that you’ll carry with you all your life, although if parasites make you feel squeamish, we recommend you look away or forever have nightmares!

The skin crawling museum has parasites from all facet of life at display with hundreds of jars. These endless jars of horrors come with stories of their own with parasites collected from nipples and what not! Even though it sounds gross, we ensure that you will thoroughly enjoy its bizarreness and it will be top on your places to visit!

30. ✧ Go to a Maid Cafe

Maid cafés are all the buzz in Japan! They are fun cosplay restaurants where waitresses are dressed up as working maids to serve the customers as a master in a private home rather than as a café patron. The key word is “iyashi” that translates into “to be soothed”.

Your quintessential Victorian maid fantasy will come to life with spa like services, scrumptious food along with relaxing classical music while you are enveloped by verdurous greenery! There are numerous maid cafés, each offering a unique service with the cutest undertones like chanting “moe moe kyun” to make your drinks taste better or writing over your food with ketchup! It is definitely something to look out for.

If you don’t want to navigate a maid cafe on your own, you can book one of these tours with Voyagin: Akihabara Tour with Your Own Personal Maid! or Enjoy Maid Cafe Maidreamin in Akihabara.

31. ✦ Go to a Cat Cafe

Tokyo is filled with weird things to do and going to a cat cafe ranks really high on that list. Calico Cat Cafe in Shinjuku is an attraction that gives you the opportunity to play with unique feline breeds while drinking a cup of coffee. So odd that it’s definitely worth a spot on your things to do in Tokyo bucket list itinerary. If you prefer, you can also play with cute hedgehogs in Roppongi!

Related > Play With Felines at a Cat Cafe in Tokyo

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City: Visit a Cat Cafe

32. ✦ Dine in a Jail Cell

Most people would avoid (at all costs) dining in a jail cell, but Alcatraz ER will give you an offbeat dining experience of a lifetime. This restaurant is designed as a jail and each cell or prison represents a dining area for a group. Staff that are well dressed in nurse uniforms tend to the call of the bang of a metal rod against the cells bars.

Brave diners (like myself!) will nosh on things like blue curry served in a urine tin or drink cocktails out of dummy’s head. Can you ever imagine eating sausage in the shape of bowel movement; well this place has more quirkiness to offer than you can imagine. A must have nightlife experience for your Tokyo itinerary even you prefer not to visit again.

Alcatraz ER | 2-13-5 Dogenzaka | Harvest Bldg 2F, Shibuya, Tokyo | MAP

Related > Eat at a Themed Restaurant in Tokyo

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City: Annette White at Alcatraz ER Themed Restaurant

33. ✦ Eat Dinner with Robots

From the moment you enter The Robot Restaurant lounge to the time you depart, you will feel like you are diving into the colors of neon that bounce off the mirrors.  There are dramatic fights between bikini clad girls riding atop robots, the sound of the cast playing the charismatic drums and visitors are given a glow-stick to cheer during all the action.

This place is more dedicated to a flashy show than on food, but you can order a sushi bento box or caramel popcorn to dine on while you are entertained. Plus, flowing beer and a few drinks are available, but the core attraction is the captivating chaos of the show.

Though you can buy tickets at the door for around $80, you can get them at a discount by booking in advanced at Voyagin.

34. ✦ Indulge in a Massive Matcha Dessert

Offbeat food in Tokyo is not limited to main meals, but extends to sweet desserts too, and some of the most popular is made from matcha, a green tea.

Desserts like ice-cream, mousse, cream, jelly and many more variations are available. But, I say if you are going to do it go big! I ordered this this quadruple layered matcha gateaux chocolate parfait that was topped with an entire piece of cake!

Yes, I ate the whole thing! No shame.

The most popular hot spots serving these delectable and divine tasting desserts are Kinozen, Marunouchi Café, Nana’s Green Tea (that’s where I ate) and many more.

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City:

35. ✧ Attend a Tuna Auction

You will need to wake up really early for a chance to go to the famous tuna auction at Tsukiji Fish Market (folks start lining up before 4am). But, it will be worth getting an insiders view of the buyers checking the fish quality and bidding for their prize one. After, explore Tsukiji’s inner and outer market where you can watch them expertly cut the large tunas they just purchased. 

Book a Tour > Tsukiji Tuna Auction Tour With a Guide During the Night
Book Tour > Explore Tsukiji Fish Market and Make Sushi and Sashimi

Related > Tsukiji Fish Market Tuna Auction: Worth it to Wake up at 3:45am?
Related > Pay a Visit to Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City: Go to the Tuna Auction at Tsukiji Fish Market {photo: randomwire}

36. ✦ Participate in a Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony

Happo-en Japanese Garden sits in Shirokanedai district of Tokyo and is an exquisite example of natural beauty with its ancient bonsai, koi pond and blanket of cherry blossoms in the Springtime. Not only is it a beautiful representation of a Japanese garden, but you can schedule to participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony where you will be drinking Matcha in their wooden Muan tea house.

Read > Participate in a Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony
Book Tour > Experience a tea ceremony or wearing kimono at Bonsai Museum

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City: Participate at the Japanese Tea Ceremony at Happo-en

37. ✦ Bar Hop in Golden Gai

What’s a trip to Tokyo without a little nightlife? Golden Gai is a neighborhood in the Shinjuku ward of Tokyo that squeezes in over 200 miniature bars into a network of six narrow alleys, made only for pedestrians. Enjoy the unique Japanese nightlife by bar hopping in the section of town where most of the drinking holes only seat 8-12 people total. Ready to go? Get the location here.

Book a Tour > Kabukicho and Shinjuku Golden Gai Night Tour
Related >Shinjuku Nightlife: A Guide to Tokyo’s Best Golden Gai Bars
Related > The 5 Best Bars in Shinjuku’s Golden Gai

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City

38. ✧ Learn to Make Classic Japanese Ramen at Chagohan 

39. ✦ Eat at the Kill Bill Inspiration Restaurant

Gonpachi restaurant, in the Roppongi district of Tokyo, is known as being the inspiration for the fight scene from the Kill Bill movie and it’s easy to spot the similarities. Not only can you enjoy the interior design, but you can also indulge in a bowl of Soba.

Related > Eat at Tokyo’s Kill Bill Inspiration Restaurant

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City: Eat at the Kill Bill Gonpachi Restaurant in Tokyo

40. ✧ Make Your Own Matcha at the Urasando Garden Mini-Mall

The Urasando Garden is a collection of shops within a traditional Japanese–style house giving you the ultimate kick of nostalgia as soon as you enter. It gets its name owing to its unique location at the back street of Omotesando, hence the name Urasando meaning “ura” – back and “omote” – front.

There are many fun things to do and shops to explore but what I enjoyed the most was making my own matcha. We had to choose our own cup and blend our own matcha alongside matcha and houjicha-flavored chocolate and cream filled breads! Everything is delicious here and will surely satiate your sweet tooth.

41. ✦ Eat Chankonabe (Sumo Wrestlers Stew)

Chankonabe is the nutritious stew that sumo wrestlers eat daily as part of their bulking up diet. It is a hearty dish that is relatively healthy, low in fat, high in protein and filled with tons of veggies. There are many Chankonabe restaurants in Tokyo, conveniently located close to the sumo stables where the wrestlers practice and live. But, Yoshiba is the most unique because it is located in an old sumo stable with a sumo dohyo (ring) right in the center of the dining room.

Yoshiba | 2-14-5 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tokyo | MAP

Book Tour > Chanko-nabe with Robot Restaurant
Book Tour > Duel with Sumo Wrestlers and Eat Chankonabe in Asakusa

Read More > Eat Chankonabe in Tokyo. Sumo Wrestler’s Stew.

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City: Eat Chankonabe in Tokyo

42. ✧ Drink a Cat Coffee at Oshiage Nyanko

Are you a cat person who loves coffee? This quaint little café boasts stuff dreams are made of! Tucked away in a tiny pocket-sized treasure cove, this hidden gem is located near the Tokyo sky tree. You will be amazed at the wonderful 3D latte art of “Oshiage Nyanko”. Although the café isn’t that prominent, it is so famous that you can easily find it.

The delightful drink will warm your heart and the wonderful 3D cat latte art is full of fun foamy goodness. It is hand crafted with love to give you a visually pleasing beverage with flavorful richness in every sip!

43. ✦ Take a Sushi Making Class

If you are a sushi lover, what better thing to do in Tokyo than learn how to make it?  I got a personal sushi lesson with Tokyo Tours with Tomomi, where we first paid a visit to Tsukiji Fish Market to pick up some fresh tuna for our meal and went to her private home to assemble. Viator also offers a fabulous Sushi Making and Tsukiji Fish Market tour. The best part is when you are rewarded by getting to eat your efforts. Afterwards you can wash it all down with sake by booking a sake tasting.

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City

44. ✧ Eat at the Ramen Museum

Travel a little under an hour out of town to enjoy the flavors of traditional ramen in this re-creation of Tokyo in the 60s. The fun Ramen Museum features narrow alleyways with a selection of ramen restaurants. Not only will you get a ramen education, but your belly will be full too.

Ramen Museum | 2-14-21 Shin-Yokohama, Kohoku-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa | MAP

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City: Ramen Museum

45. ✦ Eat at a Yakiniku Restaurant

This bucket list attraction is for all the carnivores out there. At a Yakiniku (grilled meat) restaurant in Tokyo you will be barbecuing your choice of raw grub on your own table top grill. If you choose to have your dining experience at the highly rated Yakiniku Jumbo Shirogane, you will be indulging in A5 Kuroge Wagyu, the highest rank of Japanese beef.

Yakiniku Jumbo Shirogane | 3-1-1 Shirogane, Minato 108-0072, Tokyo | MAP

Related > Tokyo’s Tastiest Yakiniku

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City

46. ✦ Eat Grilled Salamander in Piss Alley

Piss Alley, also known as Omoide Yokocho (or Memory Lane), is best described as the restaurant version of Golden Gai, a section that squeezes in over 200 miniature bars into a network of six narrow alleys. Piss Alley is a small area filled with quaint yakitori restaurants, and a few drinking holes, most with just a handful of seats.

If you are an adventurous eater head over to Asadachi, a name that translates to Morning Wood, where you will get the privilege of tasting Grilled Salamander.

Yes! Salamander!

Maybe not the best food in the world, but visitors who love to challenge their eating habits visit this restaurant for the most bizarre meal. Here you can also try pig testicles, frog shasimi, raw pig testicles and snake liquor. Yum!

Piss Alley | Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo Prefecture | MAP

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City: Annette White walking through Tokyo's Piss Alley

47. ✦ Get Your Meal From a Vending Machine

You heard right — eat a meal from a vending machine!  You can barely walk a block in Tokyo without passing by a half dozen vending machines

Though most are filled with an array of beverages, many will have food products that can easily make a meal. The list includes special items like flying fish soup, eggs, hot dogs, hamburgers, sushi, ramen and so on. My afternoon lunch of warm corn soup was surprisingly tasty!

Related > 18 Things You Can Buy From a Japanese Vending Machine

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City: Annette White eating from a vending machine in Japan

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan’s Coolest City

48. ✦ Go to an Owl Café

Oh, what a hoot! Ever thought of having an eye staring contest with an owl? Here in Tokyo, everything is possible! One minute you are strolling through parks the next you have an owl named Peanut perched on your arm!

This cutting-edge café is always packed with customers, and you need to be very careful around the majestic owls. No flash photography or sudden movements allowed. You can spend an hour in the café with over 20 owls at a time perched on the bars each with their own unique names and personalities. I slowly approached an owl and tentatively avoiding its sharp beak, caressed its soft fur and we instantly bonded! Make new friends and take pictures, you will not get to experience this anywhere else in the world!

49. ✧ Stay in a Capsule Hotel

These pint-sized pods have become popular for those that want something trendy, easy and economical. There are several all around Tokyo, but one of the top ones is Capsule Net Omotenashi.

50. ✧ Sleep in a Ryokan

For a unique cultural experience stay at a ryokan, an old-school Japanese inn typically with tatami-matted rooms, low tables, and communal baths. Ryokan Sawanoya will give you this traditional feeling or opt for the updated Andon Ryokan.

Annette White in a Kimono having tea in a traditional ryokan

More Hotel Options:

With so many wards in Tokyo, choosing a hotel location can be mind-boggling. But, if you want to be where the action is, Shinjuku or Shibuya may be the best district to stay for your first visit; both are conveniently located with easy access to shop-ping, restaurants, nightlife, and public transport. Plus, they look like the Tokyo you typically see on television with bustling streets, towering skyscrapers, and flashy neon lights. In Shinjuku the JR Kyushu Hotel Blossom is just a three-minute walk from the south exit of Shinjuku station. For a more budget-friendly gem try Tokyu Stay that has locations throughout the city including Shinjuku and Shibuya.

If you want to venture to other wards, the Tokyo Station Hotel is conveniently located in the heart of the city and right above the Tokyo JR station.If you want to avoid the bustle of the city, head off the beaten path to the original boutique hotel, Claska.


Japanese Culture & Tradition Facts: 11 Etiquette Tips Before You Go
Tokyo: 8 Offbeat Food & Drink Experiences
Japan’s Hottest Show: Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku
Watch Wrestling Practice at a Sumo Stable in Japan
Visit Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market
Shinjuku Nightlife: A Guide to Tokyo’s Best Golden Gai Bars
Play with Felines at a Cat Cafe in Tokyo
Eat at a Themed Restaurant in Tokyo

2018-12-23T08:57:57+00:00December 20th, 2017|Categories: Asia, BUCKET LISTS, Japan, TRAVEL|Tags: , , |


  1. rebecca January 12, 2015 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    awesome bucket list! book marking this one

  2. Rahman @ Destination Iran January 13, 2015 at 8:01 am - Reply

    Wow! It’s completely a different world! It’s so different to connect with some of the cultural settings you’ve been through. Some were quite odd to me and some very interesting. It seems that eating is important and collective actions are spectacular scenes there.

    Honestly, the Japanese toilets were very unique to me. Piss Alley wasn’t so appealing. Relaxing at an Onsen was something that I would have liked to do too!

  3. Marie January 13, 2015 at 9:44 am - Reply

    Hi. I found your blog through Instagram and I just looove your pictures there.
    You really have a great blog. And your list of Bucket Things to do in Tokyo is definitely something I will remember when I get the chance to go 🙂 Keep up your good writing!

    • Annette White January 14, 2015 at 8:26 am - Reply

      Happy to have you as a new reader 🙂
      Tokyo is an incredible (& quirky) city, I hope you make it there someday.

      • Li May 10, 2018 at 4:10 pm - Reply

        Hi like to get more information

  4. Dale January 16, 2015 at 3:01 am - Reply

    …and now I want to return to Japan.

    There’s so much about the country that we didn’t get to see during our month there at the start of our travels. It would be fantastic to return there in 2015 to see things with a new more experienced traveller perspective, plus through the eyes of a vegan – a challenge that I’d gladly accept.

    • Annette White January 16, 2015 at 8:05 am - Reply

      It would be really interesting to get a vegan Tokyo perspective! I would also love to go back to explore more of the Country, since I loved Tokyo so much.

  5. northierthanthou January 25, 2015 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    The sumo wrestler’s stew looks good.

  6. Hugo Martins February 3, 2015 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    Amazing descriptions of one of the most exciting cities of the world. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Balint Farago February 20, 2015 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    This was a very informative post, thank you Anette!

  8. Doug April 19, 2015 at 3:00 am - Reply

    Where is the Hakkaku sumo place? I’m in Tokyo for one more day and would love to check it out! I cant seem to find it online anywhere. Thanks!

    • Annette White April 19, 2015 at 10:12 am - Reply

      It is near Ryogoku Kokugikan at 1-16-1 Kamezawa, Sumida-ku, Tokyo, Japan 130-0014. This map may help: MAP

      • da10107 May 10, 2016 at 7:08 am - Reply

        omg u so cool (^o^)

  9. Valoree P August 21, 2015 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Going to Tokyo next month, this has been helping with my final itinerary.Thank you and this is a great travel blog overall!

    • Annette White August 21, 2015 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      Have a great time!! It still remains one of my favorite cities for the quirky culture and delicious food!

  10. Lotte December 7, 2015 at 7:04 am - Reply

    Thanks for these great tips! I am planning to visit Japan in 2016, so really helpful post and a lot of fun to read:-)

    • Annette White December 7, 2015 at 9:15 am - Reply

      I hope you love Japan as much as I did!

      • Lotte December 7, 2015 at 3:41 pm - Reply

        Me too:-) Congrats on your book deal btw, awesome!

  11. the travelogue (by Anna & Vanessa) January 18, 2016 at 5:03 am - Reply

    Wow ok, well… Need to try all of them cause I’m flying to Japan at the end of March. This seems to be lots of fun and apparently there’s SO much to do and see.. Hope that two weeks will be somewhat “enough” to experience at least some traditions.
    Love , Anna & Vanessa

    • Annette White January 19, 2016 at 4:49 pm - Reply

      You’ll be able to do and see A LOT in two weeks. Have a great time!

  12. Amanda February 23, 2016 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    I’m trying to plan a trip to Tokyo this spring. I’ll definitely keep these in mind! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Annette White February 23, 2016 at 11:45 pm - Reply

      Tokyo is one of my favorite cities in the world! I love it quirkiness and bustling streets. Hope you love it as much as me 🙂

  13. February 27, 2016 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    Hi! Anything special you recommend to do / see with kids? Boys age 1.5 and 3.5. Tia!

    • Annette White February 27, 2016 at 4:20 pm - Reply

      There are so many fun kids things to do too (besides of course legoland and disneyland). There are a number of kids museums, playgrounds, zoos and aquariums. The huge Shinagawa Aquarium has an underwater tunnel, sharks, and kids activities.Ueno Zoo is famous for Giant Pandas and inside the Monkey Park the monkeys roam free.
      Here’s a pretty good list:

  14. Shane Humpty March 27, 2016 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    Thankyou for the awesome ideas. My wife and I are currently in Japan visiting her family. I am looking forward to trying as much as possible from your list.
    Also do you know of any shops that sell Higonokami folding knife in Tokyo?

    • Annette White April 1, 2016 at 1:16 pm - Reply

      I’m not exactly sure which shops will sell one, but there are several knife shops around the Tsukiji fish market and on Kappabashi street. I’d check these two places first!

  15. LaToya Hall April 12, 2016 at 11:26 am - Reply

    Thank you for all the great ideas…I will be visiting my sister in August she lives in Sendai but we are planning on visiting Tokyo one weekend and I hope I get to experience some of your places of interest. This will be my first time in Japan so I want to make all my experiences/excursions count!

    • Annette White April 13, 2016 at 7:02 am - Reply

      How exciting that it will be your first time in Japan! Tokyo is incredible, even if you can only have time for a couple of the experiences listed. There is just a cool and quirky vibe wherever you go in the city, so just aimlessly walking will be entertaining!

  16. Stu April 14, 2016 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    It looks like the Tuna auction is closed to outsiders, Tourists are not allowed in until 9:00 AM.

    • Annette White April 15, 2016 at 4:44 pm - Reply

      That is a bummer for those visitors who could have woken up early enough to catch the auction!

      • Cheryl May 12, 2016 at 5:23 am - Reply

        Tsukiji is open for the tuna auction, but the 120 tickets are sold on a first come first served basis and the first group are admitted between 5:25-5:50 and the second group from 5:50-6:15am.
        The rest of the fish market though is only open from 9am. Still worth visiting.

  17. ron April 19, 2016 at 5:33 am - Reply

    pleasant site, the name is very good, keep it up !

  18. Sapphire May 3, 2016 at 12:56 am - Reply

    I love this website so much! Me and my family are currently going to Japan this website is such a help. Once again thank you so much!!?

    • Annette White May 3, 2016 at 6:32 am - Reply

      I hope you and your family have as much fun as I did in Japan!!

  19. Allie May 9, 2016 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    Tokyo is my spirit animal! 😉 I didn’t have time to do everything on my bucket list there, although I drank all the vending machine tea I could get my hands on.

  20. Kalei May 17, 2016 at 2:40 am - Reply

    Love this list! It’s unique and adds several different highlights to a never ending list of amazing things to do and see in Tokyo!

  21. Asia's Wildest Cities - Nothing Familiar June 26, 2016 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    […] entire city. While the cramped streets might not be for everyone, the lights, the dance clubs, and the spectacle that is Tokyo, makes it an important item on the bucket […]

  22. where to stay in tokyo July 7, 2016 at 8:26 am - Reply

    Wow ! Thank you for all these informations! Now I have a great list about things to do in Tokyo! 😉

  23. Kishor September 16, 2016 at 8:27 am - Reply

    What an awesome city to be in. I have had Japanese food before, but that’s got to be done in Japan I know. Nice pictures, nice colors, nice city.

    • Annette White September 16, 2016 at 12:58 pm - Reply

      It is an incredible city and the food is enhanced by the vibrant ambiance!

  24. Libby Shubert September 23, 2016 at 11:14 am - Reply

    I love Japan only some places dont speck english but most do. These people are very kind and very nice. If anyone would want to go on a trip i recimend them to vist the flower park in Japan. Its so pretty and so worth going.

    • Annette White September 23, 2016 at 11:48 am - Reply

      I definitely agree that there can be a bit of a language barrier in Japan, but the people are so kind. I’ve never been to the flower park, but it sounds like a place I need to go!

  25. Libby Shubert September 23, 2016 at 11:18 am - Reply

    but dont disrespect them they get really upset i have seen it go down. They all are very nice but dont like when other people talk bad about Japan or the people there abd tbh i dont blame them because i would be the same way. I go to Japan every year and not once have they disrespeded my Countery or my people and the deffently deserve the same respect.

  26. When In Vietnam... The Vietnam Bucket List - The Next Somewhere September 28, 2016 at 9:52 pm - Reply

    […] 22 Things To Do: Tokyo Bucket List by Bucket List Journey […]

  27. Faruk October 4, 2016 at 9:50 am - Reply

    I will be in Tokyo at 18 October for ten days. Glad to hear your advices.

    • Annette White October 5, 2016 at 5:40 am - Reply

      Have a great time! There is so much to see and do that you will go home with many interesting stories to tell!

  28. Tori October 5, 2016 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    I am going to Japan (Tokyo and Kyoto) for the first time for a week on October 12.
    Do they accept credit cards everywhere?
    Is public transportation available to get to the hotel from NRT airport?
    What do you recommend to bring as gifts for a baby? Adults?
    Thank you

    • Annette White October 6, 2016 at 5:51 am - Reply

      Credit cards are not accepted everywhere, so make sure to bring some cash with you. From NRT you can take the JR Narita Express (N’EX; into the city center, which takes about an hour and costs roughly $27 USD. Depending on where your hotel is, you may need to take the subway or a taxi from the drop off location. From what I understand, good gifts are high-end foods that they can’t get in their area. Most Japanese homes are small, so it’ll be more difficult to store a trinket. Useable or edible gifts are best (chocolate, candies, socks, etc.)

  29. Patrick January 5, 2017 at 7:49 am - Reply

    Great post, I agree on almost everything. I would just add that even better than sumo practice is the sumo tournament which really is a fun experience!
    As for the tuna auction… it’s becoming crazy lately. It has to do with the increasing number of tourists and the planned moving of Tsukiji at Toyosu: at the moment people start lining before 2 am! I am not sure it’s worth more than 3 hours of wait in an empty room

    • Annette White January 5, 2017 at 4:27 pm - Reply

      I agree with you about the sumo tournament, I bet that is a cool experience! As far as the auction goes, I’m sure people will have to determine how much they like their sleep 🙂

  30. Laila March 17, 2017 at 12:41 am - Reply

    Wonderful list, for budget traveler like me you might want to check list of free things to do in Tokyo here

  31. Katharina Parsons March 31, 2017 at 12:04 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing these awesome bucketlist items for Tokyo. We went two years ago and only did a fraction of these. Our favourite being the sumo match. But we definitely want to go to a Kabuki Theatre this time around

    • Annette White March 31, 2017 at 8:34 am - Reply

      The Sumo Stable was one of my favorites too!! I hope you get to go back and experience the rest of Tokyo.

  32. Shota May 17, 2017 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    Such awesome ideas for my next trip into Tokyo! Thank you so much for sharing! If anyone wants to learn some Japanese before their trip to Japan, please get in touch with me and I will be more than happy to help you! Shota

  33. soli September 17, 2017 at 10:00 am - Reply

    Thank you for the post, we are going with our children to spend christmas and new years, any ideas?

  34. Never Stop Travelling October 18, 2017 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    I still have a couple of things pending, I will addthem to my ‘to do’ list. Thanks!

  35. Majed December 22, 2017 at 12:59 am - Reply

    I wish I have seen this Bucket list before my trip to Japan 5 years ago. there is so many interesting things to do in this list.

  36. Heart Surgery in Ranchi December 23, 2017 at 1:06 am - Reply

    Thank you to tell us so much useful information. I’m glad to read it.

  37. Jessica December 23, 2017 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Of course I would love to do all of these things, but the big thing I’ve always wanted to do was check out the arcades in Tokyo. I know that Japan has some of the best in the world (whereas arcades in the US are going extinct), and finally being able to see one myself would be a dream come true.

  38. Buy Business Class December 24, 2017 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    Japan is just the right blend of culture and leisure. If you are looking for some good travel possibility then do consider to visit Japan.

  39. @Pamela December 27, 2017 at 5:31 am - Reply

    Wow! It’s absolutely a special world! Very exciting. It seems that consuming is essential and collective movements are remarkable scenes there.

  40. Linda February 27, 2018 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    Going to Japan for the first time next month. Will travel from Tokyo to Hiroshima in 7 days.
    Would it be worth while to get a JR Pass for the week we’re there?
    Any reccomendations on family (with toddler) accommodations that is reasonably priced?

    • Annette White March 3, 2018 at 12:13 pm - Reply

      I definitely think it’s worth it if you plan on making many stops along the way!

  41. Lila Harvey April 6, 2018 at 3:05 am - Reply

    Hi Annette – only reading this now – we are planning about 10 days in Japan in early June. Can you recommend a good tour guide that’s not too expensive to help us get around Tokyo so we can get to most of your ideas! Please reply via email if you can. Thanks, Lila

  42. Kelley April 19, 2018 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    I’m leaving for Japan on Thursday, April 26! I’m super excited. My son is stationed at Camp Zama. He and his wife had their first baby (a boy) 3 months ago. We will definitely be spending some time in Tokyo.

    • Annette White April 20, 2018 at 7:57 am - Reply

      I bet you are excited! You get to spend time with a new grandson and see Tokyo. Have a wonderful trip.

  43. Alessia June 30, 2018 at 12:31 am - Reply

    Hi Annette,

    You have some cool pictures of yourself here – did you travel by yourself? If yes, how did you take them? I will be going to Japan in September on my own, and at the moment I am bumped about the idea of only taking selfies or “unnatural” tourist poses

  44. Nigel Silvester July 21, 2018 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    A really well written and presented guide. Good work. I am going to try some of these ideas!

  45. William Goerge December 12, 2018 at 4:38 am - Reply

    Thanks for the article I would definitely do it when I visit Tokyo.

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