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Simple Goals for Things to Do in Tokyo, Japan

Man riding a bike in Tokyo, Japan

Arriving in Tokyo can be intimidating. Figuring out where to go and what to see is a challenge in a city that never stops changing.

But there’s no one right way to navigate Tokyo. You’re sure to see something interesting around every corner. One of the most rewarding ways to make the trip is to ground your visit with a couple of key places and spend the rest of the time wandering. Here’s what we recommend.

Hostel lodging

Hotels in Tokyo cater to businesspeople whose companies are footing the bill, so staying in one of their rooms can be prohibitively expensive.

For leisure travelers, staying in a hostel is the way to go. You’re likely to meet other visitors who can help you develop your list of spots to visit and things to do. Let their stories be the jumping-off point for your own adventure.

5 nights in a hostel
$300

Riverboat cruise

Touring Tokyo Bay on a yakatabune, or old-fashioned houseboat, is an all-you-can-eat-and-drink pleasure cruise. Your fellow passengers, seated all around you on tatami mats, will be laughing, singing, and having a good time. It’s a great way to experience the sights of the Tokyo skyline, as well as the country’s culinary and drinking culture.

Riverboat cruise ticket
$90

Cafe culture

Whether you want to sip your coffee with cats, dogs, owls, reptiles, studly Westerners, charming maids, amateur manga artists, or even fancy stationery enthusiasts, there is a novelty cafe for you.

You rent time in novelty cafes by the hour and can purchase themed beverages or snacks for an added cost. We’ve budgeted for you to visit a couple, since these kooky cafes are an aspect of Tokyo that visitors love. You won’t want to stop at just one.

Cafe visits
$120

Robot Restaurant

From the moment you step into the lobby of the Robot Restaurant, you’ll understand why this attraction is said to capture the hyper-modern polish people associate with Tokyo. Every surface is sleek and shiny, reflecting the pulsing LED lights that line the walls.

After buying your beer and snacks, you’ll descend a long, colorful hallway to the main arena, where the Robot Restaurant show takes place. We don’t want to spoil the surprise, but know that the 90-minute show is sensory overload you won’t want to miss.

Robot restaurant ticket and beer
$100

Market exploring

Different market roads have their own unique flavors, both literally and stylistically. There’s something energizing about sauntering along these crowded shopping streets for hours.

Souvenirs
$50

Japan rail pass

Don’t let your adventure end in Tokyo! If you have the time, flexibility, wanderlust, and one of these passes, you can extend your trip to anywhere else on the island. This pass grants you access to any train going anywhere in the country for 14 days. There’s no need to pay extra for fares. Even the super-fast bullet trains are included.

2-week JR Pass
$375

Tokyo style

Visitors to Tokyo will be impressed by the wide variety of personal styles — and the depth of residents’ commitment to expressing themselves in what they wear. If you want a piece of the sartorial action, head to Harajuku and Omotesando to find that one new item of clothing that makes you feel like you fit in or stand out, the item that represents the best version of who you are or creates a new vision of who you might be.

Not only will your purchase help you look like an in-the-know visitor rather than an out-of-place tourist, it will also provide a lasting memory of your amazing visit every time you put it on.

Clothes shopping
$150