Exploring Just a Handful of Tokyo’s Districts
Did you know: Tokyo has a whopping 47 districts (prefectures), 23 special wards, and over 1,000 train stations located within?
We were only in Japan for one week with roughly 5 days in Tokyo, so we had to choose the districts we wanted to explore wisely. Luckily, with a lil’ research, we were able to explore the places that most interested us.
Below I listed the districts we visited, and what we would recommend you visit too!
Known for it’s electronics, computer parts, and video games, Akihabara is a fantastic spot to overwhelm your inner nerd. We explored shops that were 7, 8, sometimes 9 floors high. Each shop was stuffed with trading cards, video games, action figurines, phone chargers, headphones, claw machines, etc.
My two favorite temples/shrines that I had the opportunity to visit while in Japan were Fushimi Inari and Senso-ji.
Senso-ji is located in Asakusa, and surrounding it’s gorgeous, red walls are rows of small trinket stores, bakeries, and other small mom & pop shops. We enjoyed several fried bean pastries while perusing and also donated money to the temple to find out what our fortunes were. Mine said “good fortune”, which I was happy about, until David opened his and it literally said: “The best, most high & wonderful fortune”.
It’s fine, I’m not jealous.
Tokyo’s “Red Light” district can be found in Shinjuku.
I put this in quotations because, even though it is considered the slightly edgier part of town, it is still relatively safe. I feel it necessary to point this out, because I am sure some hear the word “Red Light” and turn the other direction!
Kabukichō is home to the oh so famous “Robot Restaurant“, as well as peep-show places and several goofy bars. Of those in particular that we saw were a bar where you dined and drank in pitch black darkness, as well as one where you pretend you are in prison and zombies serve you?? If you aren’t feeling funky, however, the streets are filled with restaurants, sake bars, fast food joints, and more.
This district is also where you can scout out a love hotel, if you’re in the mood.
Tokyo’s fashion district is where you can witness all of the world’s up and coming styles.
The streets are so crowded you can barely move, as you attempt to pop in and out of stores. Oh, and everyone is more stylish than you, it’s just how it is, sorry.
In Harajuku, you can find familiar shops like H&M, Nike and Tommy Hilfiger, and an abundance of places you’ve never heard of.
Our favorite shop? Probably B-Side Label, where I purchased a button with a weird fat piece of toast just chilling.
If you are wondering where to find the emoji of Tokyo Tower in real life, then you’ve got to swing by Minato. We walked all of the way here from Shinjuku, and along the way encountered the Prince Sky Garden, which offers a framed view of the tower through the trees.
In addition to viewing the Paris-esque spectacle, Minato is home to the beautiful Zojoji Temple as well. At this temple, individuals place pinwheels and scarves upon statues of children to protect the unborn.
In Minato, you can also find the Rainbow Bridge, and other famous Tokyo sights.
When you think of Tokyo, you probably envision Shibuya.
With screens the size of a studio apartment blasting J-Pop, people crossing the road every which way, and spidery streets lined with shops upon shops, it is easily somewhere that one could spend days. It is very Times Square feeling and the primary focus is to shop and eat, then eat and shop.
Before coming to Tokyo, I figured that my favorite spot would be Shibuya. It’s so classically what we assume Japan will be like, and I figured it had to be the biggest and brightest for a reason. However, it ended up that my favorite place was…
Shinjuku was hands down my favorite spot.
It ended up that our Airbnb was in this district, and it was merely pure luck that led us there. It was the first district I saw when we got off of the limousine bus, and it felt almost storybook-like to look up and see all of the gleaming, neon signs.
The location felt like a mishmash of every district, harboring clothing shops, electronics stores and game stations, and a variety of hotels, restaurants and bars. Shinjuku is also where you will find the Red Light District as I mentioned above, and a handful of other cool spots not found elsewhere, such as the free observation deck at the top of a government building.
Additionally, the demographic was certainly younger in Shinjuku and it felt like the nightlife was a constant. We fit in well and enjoyed all the streets had to offer us!
These are our recommendations on where to explore once you find yourself in Tokyo, but don’t be limited! As I mentioned before, Tokyo is massive and it would take a lifetime to fully explore everything it has to offer.
Questions? Concerns? Comments? Perhaps recommendations….? Leave them in the comments section!
Getting there: We flew, and for cheap! Read my blog post on how we saved some hardcore cash on our flight. To get from the airport to Shinjuku, we took the airport bus – however, the subway will save you more money.
Staying there: Airbnb is by far your cheapest bet if you don’t want to stay in a hostel. We stayed in Shinjuku while in Tokyo, and I’d highly recommend this central and poppin’ spot.
Wearing there: You are going to walk a lot. Don’t be an idiot like me – pack some comfortable shoes! I also recommend walking around with a large bag or backpack. We have Herschel’s and we love them.
Shooting there: Images are all captured on my Nikon D750 with my 35mm lens, or my iPhone 7.
Etc., etc.: Though there are a ton of districts to explore, don’t feel overwhelmed – most of these spots are well within an hour of one another by the subway. In fact, Harajuku is basically within walking distance of Shibuya, and Shibuya is a long but doable walk to Shinjuku.
Note: Nothing in this blog post was sponsored and all thoughts are my own. Post contains affiliate links – click on them and do your Amazon shopping to support me!