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8 Must-See Tokyo Neighborhoods and How to Visit

Downtown Tokyo on a sunny day
Hi, I'm Karen!

Karen is a Scottish freelance travel and culture writer based in the US. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, National Geographic, BBC, and Condé Nast Traveler.

see more
Hi, I'm Karen!

Karen is a Scottish freelance travel and culture writer based in the US. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, National Geographic, BBC, and Condé Nast Traveler.

see more

Travelers can experience the full breadth of Japanese culture and history on a visit to the city of Tokyo. The sprawling metropolis is home to a wide variety of diverse neighborhoods, some of which offer a glimpse into the past and others that feel like stepping into a bold, bright future. And, thanks to Tokyo’s highly efficient public transportation system, getting from one neighborhood to another is a breeze. Whether you have a taste for temples, shrines, and leafy public parks or cocktail bars, upscale restaurants, and department stores, here are Tokyo’s best neighborhoods.


Iconic Shibuya Crossing as seen from above.
Iconic Shibuya from above. | Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Your first stop for that quintessential Tokyo snapshot

Shibuya is home to one of Tokyo’s most defining images: Shibuya Crossing. One of the world’s busiest pedestrian crossings, hundreds of people scurry across the road all at once when the pedestrian signal turns green. Throughout the neighborhood, Shibuya brims with vibrant energy thanks to the glowing neon lights of boutiques, record stores, and bars. Get an insider’s view of the neighborhood on a walking tour or discover its best eateries on a nighttime food tour.

Explore Shibuya


Shinjuku at night in Tokyo.
Shinjuku at night. | Photo Credit: Andrew Faulk / Viator

Where “Blade Runner” comes to life.

Rivaling Shibuya as the most representative picture of modern Tokyo, Shinjuku feels like visiting the future. The neighborhood’s wall-to-wall neon lights and crowded, tiny alleyways seem an obvious inspiration for the futuristic cityscape depicted in “Blade Runner.” This is Tokyo’s biggest nightlife district, and the small bars that line the alleys are full of atmosphere but can be tricky for foreigners to navigate; a bar-hopping tour is the key to opening those doors. While you’re there, take in the view from the Tokyo Metropolitan Building and stroll through the surprisingly serene Shinjuku-gyoen park.


Harajuku is a popular shopping district, known for its crowds.
Harajuku is a popular shopping district. | Photo Credit: Torjrtrx / Shutterstock

The home of kawaii culture.

Between Shinjuku and Shibuya, Harajuku is on the cutting edge of Tokyo’s youth culture. Quirky boutiques, vintage clothing stores, and cosplay shops line Takeshita-dori, which is almost always crowded with flamboyantly dressed teens and 20-somethings. It’s also the home of kawaii (“cute”) culture (think Hello Kitty, Pikachu, mascots, and “Lolita” fashion aesthetics). Get a taste of how the culture influences cuisine on a kawaii food tour, and learn about the area’s various subcultures on a walking tour. If the crowds and cuteness overwhelm you, head for the Meiji-jingu shrine for a calmer, more traditional Harajuku experience.

Explore Harajuku


Women in kimono walk to Asakusa temple in spring.
Asakusa in spring. | Photo Credit: Phattana Stock / Shutterstock

Step back in time in this historic neighborhood.

Sitting along the Sumida River, Asakusa offers a taste of Tokyo’s more traditional side. The neighborhood is centered around the city's oldest temple, Senso-ji, and the historic shopping street of Nakamise-dori, where you can peruse stalls and stores for Japanese street snacks and souvenirs. A rickshaw tour is a fun and effortless way to see the area, and traditional activities such as a tea ceremony offer insights into Japanese culture. For a different perspective of the area, visit Tokyo Skytree, Japan’s tallest building.

Related: Experiencing Old and New Tokyo


One of Ginza's many malls, in Tokyo.
One of Ginza's many malls. | Photo Credit: August_0802 / Shutterstock

The city’s prime destination for luxury shopping.

Travelers in search of Tokyo's premier department stores, restaurants, and kabuki theaters can find it all in Ginza. This high-end hot spot is home to the flagship stores for some of the country's top fashion houses. Even if you don’t have the cash to splash, you can stroll along Chuo-dori and check out the stores’ extravagant displays or admire the neighborhood’s architecture. For the ideal experience, visit on a Saturday or Sunday between noon and 5pm when Chuo-dori is open to pedestrians only.

Explore Ginza


Visitors enjoy the cherry blossom at Nakameguro.
This is one of Tokyo's prime cherry-blossom-watching spots. | Photo Credit: Nutto Nataphat Lordidentity / Shutterstock

Rows of cherry trees conceal hidden gems.

The Meguro River flows through this neighborhood, lined by a promenade where you’ll find a number of charming cafés and restaurants. In spring, the cherry trees that line the river burst into bloom and are lit up at night, creating a magical cherry blossom viewing experience. Even when it’s not cherry blossom season, you can still stroll along the quiet river paths in Nakameguro, stopping into bookshops and hip concept boutiques.


Shoppers explore the commerce area of Yanaka.
Yanaka is a peaceful neighborhood with lots to see. | Photo Credit: iamshutter / Shutterstock

Old-school vibes and retro charm define this area.

Typically overlooked by tourists, Yanaka exudes an ‘old Tokyo’ atmosphere, mainly because it was spared bombings during the Second World War. The neighborhood has a nostalgic feel, featuring well-preserved buildings and residential character. It’s a great place to spend a few hours strolling the streets and sampling snacks from some of the area’s many traditional food vendors.


Visitors walk around Odaiba, a large, artificial island in Tokyo Bay.
Odaiba out in the bay. | Photo Credit: Andrew Faulk / Viator

An ultra-modern entertainment hub.

Odaiba is a large, artificial island in Tokyo Bay. Access it from the rest of Tokyo via the Rainbow Bridge. This is where locals and tourists gather to shop at the malls, dine at the restaurants, and explore attractions such as the Joypolis indoor theme park. It’s also home to Odaiba Seaside Park, central Tokyo’s only beach.

Explore Odaiba

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Don’t-Miss Dishes in Tokyo
Don’t-Miss Dishes in Tokyo