Hip to it
Kichijoji is a quickly gentrifying hipster hangout in western Tokyo that’s packed with some of the city’s coolest cafés, bars and shops and is also home to the popular Inokashira Park. Try yakitori at Iseya, a local institution, hit the gaggle of alleyways known as Harmonica Yokocho for drinks at an old-style standing bar and then catch a cabaret performance at Circus Café.
Got kids? Keep them entertained at Tokyo’s hands-on museums. The Science Museum (¥720, ¥410 for high-schoolers, ¥260 for kids) is an obvious choice and your little ones will learn about everything from the genome to the “world of iron.” And what kid doesn’t love trains? Take them to The Railway Museum for a chance to take charge on the railway simulator and climb around old carriages (¥1,000 yen, ¥500 for kids).
Sea it now
You won’t find fresher sushi than at Tsukiji Fish Market unless you dive into the ocean yourself. If you can get to the market at 5am, you can watch the famous tuna auction. But don’t fret if you don’t; it’s fascinationg to explore at any time. After looking around, hit one of the many sushi shops for a bite to eat. The popular Sushi Zanmai is open around the clock and has a picture menu.
With so much to see in Tokyo, it can be exhausting just trying to get around the city and see it all. The way to make the most of your time is to focus on one neighborhood at a time and tackle each on foot. Luckily, the Japan National Tourism Association offers detailed walking plans for seven of Tokyo’s most popular neighborhoods, complete with maps, points of interest and loads of other helpful information.
The water works
Not only is Tokyo a seafront city, it’s also home to several major rivers. Getting out on the water is a great way to spend the day. The Water Bus (Suijou Basu in Japanese) travels between Asakusa, home to Sensoji Temple, and the lovely Hama-Rikyu Gardens. Audio guides, which are available in several languages, serve up information about the historic bridges that span the Sumida. Another option is go for a cruise on a yakatabune, an old-fashioned Japanese houseboat. Cruises generally include dinner. Funasei offers a five-course meal with unlimited drinks for ¥10,800, but you’ll have to ask a Japanese speaker to make the reservation for you.