Tokyo, the capital and largest city in Japan, is home to over 14 million people. With countless places to visit and experiences to enjoy, picking the 15 best things to do in 2022 is difficult but by no means impossible.
If you’re a first-time visitor or even a seasoned traveler, planning is key. Use this list of Tokyo’s top 15 must-do experiences and must-see attractions to help you get the best of your trip in Tokyo.
Treat your taste buds with a cooking class
Japanese food is famed for its freshness and unique yet subtle tastes. And Japanese food is more than just sushi.
Why not join a guided tour of a local Tokyo market and learn from an expert how to roll the perfect sushi or fry delectable tempura.
Let your feet do the talking and walk the city
There are few better ways to immerse yourself in a new place than to follow where your feet take you. Tokyo has countless walking tours with local guides who can point out the cultural, historical, and popular highlights.
You can immerse yourself in anime, manga, cosplay, and gaming to your geek heart’s content.
There is a walking tour for everyone so why not combine your passions? A culinary tour of Shibuya, Tokyo’s home of finance and fashion, will let you combine the city’s famed neon nightlife with back-alley eateries that only the locals know about.
Take a high-speed bullet train to wherever
Japan is at the forefront of innovative technology and their high-speed bullet trains, known locally as Shinkansen, are a great example of this. With a maximum speed of 150-200 mph (240-320 kph), they connect Tokyo to all corners of Japan.
Why not hop on a Shinkansen and experience the speed first hand?
Cycle the city
With polite drivers and friendliness all-round, Tokyo is a great city to see while on your bike. The local tour guides can answer all your questions and recite the city’s fascinating facts and figures.
For those of you who want to explore as much as possible without worrying about any daunting hills, a guided e-bike tour might just be for you.
Visit Shibuya Miyashite Park
In a city of 14 million people, space in Tokyo is at a premium. So when a new park precinct opens, it is a big deal. In 2020, The Shibuya Miyashita Park opened right next to Tokyo’s famed Shibuya Scramble.
A combination of shopping facilities, a hotel, and commercial precincts, the building has an amazing rooftop landscaped park.
And there is something for everyone, from the skateboard ramps and bouldering climbing wall to lush lawns perfect for picnics.
What better way to get a taste of the Tokyo of today, and see how it has been designed for the future.
Visit the Imperial Palace
During a tour, you will immerse yourself in Tokyo’s long and incredible imperial history.
While you are not allowed to enter any of the official or residential buildings, you will be able to walk the Kokyo Gaien plaza, gaze on the glamorous residences and view and the stunning Injubashi (Double) and Meganebashi (Eyeglass) bridges.
No trip is complete without visiting the stunning Imperial Palace East Gardens, which are open to the public.
Experience the Robot Restaurant
Sometimes, a popular tourist attraction is worth the hype. Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant in the Kabukicho red-light district in the Shinjuku area is one such place.
Described as the ‘greatest show on earth’ by the late Anthony Bourdain, the restaurant is more than a place to catch a meal.
It is a dazzling, neon experience with serving robots, laser beams, reams of color, and acrobatic Kawaii dancers.
Surround yourself with Sumo wrestlers
For a country at the forefront of technological innovation and the latest pop trends, Japan remains grounded in tradition.
Sumo, Japan’s national sport, is a modern martial art with a long history.
The game is simple – the wrestler (rikishi) tries to force his opponent out of the circular ring (dohyo) or to touch the mat with any part of his body other than the soles of his feet.
To catch a glimpse of how sumo wrestlers live and train, you can visit a real Sumo training house and watch the athletes go through their paces. Just be warned, their day usually starts at 6 in the morning.
Get digital at the MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM
Tokyo is already a visual delight but the creatives at Team Lab have upped the ante with the MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM. It is the world’s first digital art museum and it opened in Tokyo’s Odaiba area in 2008.
Thanks to 520 computers and 470 projectors, the museum is home to approximately 50 digital works to inspire and delight your senses.
See a Sento and experience Japanese bathing culture
Japan’s age-old bathing culture centers around the Sento, the public bath. Although not as popular as it was in the past, a trip to the public bath is a great way to immerse yourself in Japanese culture.
As long as you follow a few simple and courteous rules, such as no splashing or raucous behavior, you can enjoy the sento experience as millions have done for hundreds of years.
You might even want to try a modern sento, with electrical pulse baths, black spring water, and herbal baths.
Go wild at a Cherry blossom festival
No trip to Japan is complete without experiencing its world-famous and iconic cherry blossoms. Best viewed between March and April, you can experience Tokyo’s cherry blossoms throughout the city and along the Sumida River.
At the Sumida Park Cherry Blossom Festival, you can immerse yourself amongst its 510 trees, both Somei-yoshino and Oshima varieties. Take a walk along the riverbank or try a traditional yakatabune boat ride to get the best view in town.
And the fun doesn’t stop once the sun goes down – make sure you stay for the spectacular color of the illuminated trees during the nighttime viewings.
Go island hopping
If you fancy an invigorating ocean dip, your choice of delicious seafood dishes, a spot of surfing, or thrilling water sports, Tokyo’s nearby Niijima and Shikinejima islands are must-sees.
With towering cliffs and sandy-white beaches, Niijima is a short high-speed ferry away. And at only 3.8 square kilometers, the volcanic island of Shikinejima is easily explored on foot or with a rental bicycle.
Elevate to the Tokyo Skytree
The world’s tallest tower and the second tallest structure in the world, the Tokyo Skytree is a broadcasting and observation tower in Sumida.
Standing at an incredible 2,080 feet tall (634 meters), you’ll get more than stunning views of Tokyo. You can learn all there is to know at the Skytree Gallery or sit down for a gourmet meal at restaurant Musashi 634.
Take a Rickshaw tour
If you want to experience Tokyo like a local but aren’t interested in donning walking shoes or hopping on a bike, why not try taking in the city from the back of a traditional Japanese rickshaw.
With a local guide at the helm, you can take in the sights of temples, shrines, landscaped gardens, and soaring skyscrapers.
Visit a Sake brewery
Sake, or Japanese rice wine, is Japan’s national drink and if you like your libations, a trip to Tokyo’s oldest brewery, Ozawa Shuzu, is a must-do.
Nestled in the beautiful Mitake Valley and surrounded by gorgeous mountains, the brewery uses century-old techniques to brew alcoholic beverages.
Be careful, though! You must be over 20 years of age to visit – that’s the minimum legal drinking age in Japan.