This immense and fascinating contemporary metropolis brings high-tech visions of the future while preserving a rich traditional Japanese culture. This duality makes staying in Tokyo all the more interesting. Shinjuku, Shibuya and Ginza are the trendy districts. The district of Asakusa with its wonderful temples and gardens is the embodiment of Japanese history! From the bustling streets to the deserted traditional alleyways, discover the unmissable neighbourhoods that make Tokyo a unique city.
Olympics venues : Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium (Table Tennis).
Shinjuku is a district located in the heart of Tokyo that you must discover! It is served by the world’s largest railway station, where most train lines meet. From here, you can access every other district of the city. Very lively at night, Shinjuku is actually made up of 5 very different neighbourhoods.
To the west, many skyscrapers define the business and hotel district. A few minutes’ walk to the east is the busy, noisy and motley shopping district with the largest concentration of restaurants in the world!
Kabuki Chô is one of the most important nightlife areas of the capital, with a high concentration of cinemas, game rooms, restaurants, bars and clubs. In the evening, the neighbourhood becomes less reasonable: colourful neon lights, loud music and clubs all become one. The southeast is a section dedicated to arcades, video games and electronics stores and to the south, you will find gigantic shopping malls like Tokyu Hands.
Nearby: The Imperial garden of Shinjuku Gyoen is a magnificent urban park, over 50 hectares wide in the middle of the buildings. Former home of the Naito family, the public site offers 3 gardens of different inspirations: a Japanese garden, a classic French garden and a landscaped garden. It is a real oasis in the heart of the city where it will be pleasant to rest in the summer.
TIP: Have a drink on the roof of the Keio department store or in one of the 200 small bars in the narrow streets of the fascinating Golden Gai neighborhood. On the roof of a car park in the heart of Shinjuku, close to the Kabuki Chô streets, discover the Oslo Batting Center, a place where you can practice batting baseballs pitched automatically by a machine.
Olympics venues : Olympic Stadium (Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Athletics, Football)
Explore the fabulous district of Harajuku, known around the world for its mix of youth culture and extreme urban fashion. The show is in the street! You will meet lolitas, kawaii, punk, gothic and cosplay lovers! Takeshita-dōri is the district’s iconic street and includes dozens of small shops, the perfect place for window-shopping. Omotesandō is a boulevard lined with shops with impressive architecture, often compared to the Champs-Elysées. It is filled with upscale shops and chic restaurants. At the Omotesandō metro station, take a detour to see the Spiral Building. Two Rooms and the Baron de Paris, two of Tokyo’s trendiest clubs, are also nearby if you want to party in the evening. At the end of Omotesando Avenue is the Aoyama district, the capital’s most exclusive fashion district, but also the favourite hangout of a more bohemian population.
It is through the outer gardens of the Meiji-jingu Shrine that you will join the Olympic Stadium for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, and for Athletics and Football events.
While you are there, visit the famous Shinto Meiji-jingu shrine, a place of worship dedicated to Emperor Meiji, in the heart of a lush park.
Nearby: if you are looking for somewhere quieter, Cat street is for you. With its more traditional shops and small cafes, the street is an oasis in an otherwise bustling neighborhood.
TIP: Kiddy Land Toy Store, near Meiji-Jingūmae Station is the place to buy great toys for your kids! And it's at Daiso, a 100-yen shop that you can get the best bargains: all items cost the same price ... or almost! Don’t forget to take eccentric pictures in one of the many purika (Japanese photo booths) usually located in underground shops on Takeshita.
Olympics venues : Yoyogi National Stadium (Handball)
The futuristic district of Shibuya, a fashion temple with its clothing shops, restaurants and popular cafes, is a must-see. Located southwest of the capital, its famous Shibuya intersection where thousands of pedestrians can cross at once, is the archetypal image of Tokyo. This is where eccentric young Japanese like to meet! In front of Hachiko Square, with its famous dog statue, don’t miss the Shibuya 109: this amazing department store is Tokyo’s favorite shopping attraction. Basketball Street is the busiest street with its endless line of shops, restaurants, bars, game rooms and karaoke bars where huge billboards and neon signs seem to merge into one huge rainbow. If you pass a rusty clock, don’t forget to walk in and head to the 3rd underground level to discover the famous Mandarake manga store. A stone’s throw from there, Yoyogi Park and its surroundings is a favourite hangout for trendy young Japanese to meet on weekends. A former Olympic Village, this park is one of the largest in Tokyo and you can stroll among the ponds and the large trees, jog or bike (rentals in the park). Yoyogi National Stadium, famous for its suspended roof is in this park and will host the Handball competitions.
Nearby: A few blocks away from Shibuya is Shoto, a surprisingly peaceful neighborhood, far from the hustle and bustle. Nothing spectacular at first, but its narrow streets give the neighborhood a village-like feel, full of bars and restaurants from around the world: French wine bars, Australian steakhouses, creperies, burgers and Mexican burritos!
TIP: Sushi restaurant "Uogashi Nihon-ichi" is small with standing-room only but the atmosphere is friendly and the sushi are excellent! A few minutes away, you will find the pedestrian streets of Nonbei Yokocho, a leap back in time with its many izakaya (small bars) selling chicken skewers. It is the perfect place to relax with a glass of sake or a local beer in Shibuya!
Roppongi is the go-to trendy district for exuberant Tokyo nights, mixing restaurants, bars and nightclubs. The busy Roppongi intersection, just off the metro, is fascinating because of its dynamism. The shopping streets of Azabu Juban allow you to enjoy the atmosphere of the old Tokyo. After nightfall, make sure you take in the spectacular view of the city lights from the Tokyo Tower and if you are a manga fan, this is where you can access the famous One Piece amusement park! Roppongi Hills is a short walk from Roppongi Station. This relatively recent commercial complex brings together all of the city’s urban pleasures: art, food, fashion, decoration shops, cinema ... The top floor of the Mori tower will give you a breathtaking view of Tokyo. It also hosts the Mori Arts Center, a must in the world of contemporary art in Japan.
Nearby: The National Art Center is where you can discover modern Japanese art. It is directly connected to Nogizaka Station. The Nogi-jinja Shrine is a fine example of Western architecture built during the Meiji era. It is one of the main Shinto shrines, dedicated to Imperial Japanese Army General Maresuke Nogi, one of the heroes of the Russo-Japanese war, won by Japan. Every fourth Sunday of the month, it hosts a small antique flea market where pottery, kimonos and trinkets are on display within the walls of the sanctuary.
TIP: Roppongi is full of upscale sushi restaurants and gourmet tables (Kanda, l’Atelier de Joël Robuchon's), Nishi-Azabu (Tsubaki) wine bars, posh bars (The Oaks Door Bar) and arts clubs (Super Deluxe).
In the heart of Tokyo, Asakusa District, along the Sumida River, you will be able to immerse yourself in a popular universe where the spirit of "old Edo" is still very much alive and steeped in tradition. It is a famous place of worship whose central point is the city’s oldest Buddhist temple and the country’s most revered: Sensoji Temple (Asakusa Kannon, goddess of mercy). You will certainly recognize Kaminarimon's famous door and its huge red lantern. The temple houses a 5-storey pagoda said to contain Buddha’s ashes. Next to the temple is the Asakusa Shrine. In front of the temple is the long paved Nakamise Dori street lined with a hundred traditional shops, selling food and all kinds of souvenirs.
Nearby: Sumida Park along the river of the same name is a nice walk after a visit to the temple. It is one of Tokyo's most popular parks, leading up to the Tokyo Skytree. Over 400 meters high, the tower offers breathtaking views of Tokyo; it is one of the highest observation points in the world!
TIP: admire the view from the top of the tourist office located in front of the gate: you will get an exceptional view of the temple and the whole neighborhood.
The district of Ueno is the shitamachi of Tokyo, in other words the popular district. Today, it revolves around Ueno park and Ueno station. The park is the largest and one of the oldest in the city. It is home to several museums including the National Museum of Tokyo, various temples and shrines, a zoo, and many cherry trees under which Tokyoites like to rest, come flowering season. Ueno Station is one of the city’s main railway hubs. It is also the end station of the Skyliner from Narita Airport. Outside the station are the pedestrian streets of Ameyoko market, an open-air bazaar where you will find just about everything! This huge district has a unique atmosphere.
Nearby: The Shitamachi Museum recreates the atmosphere and customs of Shitamachi, the old suburb of Tokyo. An early 20th century alley was recreated, showing the house of a geta craftsman, who makes wooden sandals, a dagashi store, which sells sweets and a copper utensil maker (doko-ya).
Tip: As you leave the park, an annex of the museum shows the old house of a sake seller. Across the street is the very picturesque Café Kayaba. Upstairs, enjoy a coffee or Matcha latte tea on tatami mats.
Olympics venues : Kokugikan Arena (Boxing)
Ryogoku is a place dedicated to Sumo tournaments. The whole neighborhood seems to reflect the fantastic world of Sumo. This is where many Sumotori live and train. Three times a year, in January, May and September, the Kokugikan, the Sumo National Palace, becomes a Sumo wrestling arena. The Sumo Museum on the first floor of Kokugikan, displays items related to the world of Sumo, such as the ceremonial aprons worn by the great Sumo champions, Japanese prints from the Edo period, and even sculptures and photos of famous Sumotori.
TIP: Have lunch or dinner at the Hananomai restaurant and enjoy the famous chankonabe, the Japanese fondue eaten by wrestlers. The Kappo Yoshiba restaurant also has a real dohyo (Sumo ring).
Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, Sumo-jinku (popular songs) are performed as traditional poems, which put you straight in the Sumo mood!
Olympics venues : Nippon Budokan (Judo, Karate)
Further to the east, the district of Akihabara, aptly nicknamed "Electric Town", is famous for its huge state-of-the-art equipment stores and its manga culture. Small shops specializing in electronic equipment and all kinds of repairs coexist with big department stores. You’ll find everything you need, new, second-hand, rental and even recycled items! At nightfall, Akihabara shows what it’s made of and the buildings all light up with hundreds of colors. At Yodobashi Camera, electronics fans will find all they need on the 7th floor. You’ll find countless arcade games in the Sega and Taito game centers or in the retro video game temple called Super Potato! An impressive selection of manga figures is on offer at the Mandarake store and audiovisual equipment at the Sofmap store. Also, don’t miss the maid cafes!
Nearby: Under the elevated railway line, Chabara Aki-Oka Market is home to a number of high quality craft stores for unique gifts. Over 1000m2 of ingredients and sometimes rare local specialties are on offer. At Aki-Oka Caravan, you will travel all over Japan thanks to the local specialties of different regions offered in the 9 food trucks.
From here you can reach in 20 minutes, on the Shinjuku Line, the Nippon Budokan site located in Kitanomaru Park and take in Judo and Karate events.
Tip: Gundam café is very popular and you will be immersed in the world of science fiction inspired by a very popular Japanese series. Somewhat crazier, Neko café, the cat kingdom, lets you have a drink surrounded by cats, or even play with them!
To the Northeast of the capital, the districts of Yanaka and Nezu, near Nippori Station, are a maze of steep streets and narrow alleys, with a quiet and art-like atmosphere. Here and there, temples, shrines, traditional coffee shops, tofu and tatami makers, small museums and art galleries all contribute to the peculiar charm of these districts.
Nezu-jinja, a Shinto sanctuary founded in 1705, is a haven. The tour ends in Hongo district, Tokyo's university district. The old-fashioned wooden buildings are sure to take you back in time.
Tip: visit the Scai bathouse, a contemporary art gallery built on a sento (traditional public bath).
Ikebukuro, symbolised by an owl, is a very lively district, active day and night. Located in the northwest of Tokyo, it caters to shoppers and diners with its many shops, manga bookstores, popular restaurants and the Sunshine City Tower. It is home to Animate, Japan's most famous manga store, and houses many cultural centers including the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space. It is also one of the most popular areas to enjoy high quality ramen (delicious sort of broth) available in most shops.
Nearby: Temples and shrines in Zoshigaya. About fifteen minutes from Ikebukuro station, in the narrow streets of Zoshigaya, you will find the lovely Iko Inari shrine dedicated to the God of the same name. This is the first one you will come across, easy to recognise with its distinctive red Torii (porticoes).
Further on is the Homoyo-ji temple: it looks abandoned but oozes charm. A little more eccentric still, the Koshimojin-do sanctuary dedicated to the God of childhood is home to a pretty building and to the oldest sweets shop in Japan!
Tip: For an iconic view of the city or Mount Fuji, head up to the Sunshine 60 Observatory. Try the Tokyo bullet flight, a virtual attraction or visit the rooftop aquarium, designed as an "oasis in the sky"!
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space
Olympics venues : Tokyo International Forum (Haltérophilie)
Ginza is one of the most famous districts of the Japanese capital, known for its luxury boutiques and show-rooms, art galleries, and great restaurants, cafes and high-end clubs. On weekends, the neighborhood turns into a huge pedestrian street, coffee tables are set in the street and various events dot the sidewalks.
Nearby: The small sanctuary Tyoiwa Inari, dedicated to the God of fires and keeper of love and marriage is nestled among the buildings! A lush green area, the traditional Hama-Rikyu Garden is located on Tokyo Bay.
Tip: Discover sushi at Sushi no Midori, an excellent place to taste their eel-based specialty. As night falls, try the spacious and glitzy karaoke in Bagus.
Olympics venues : Odaiba Marine Park (Swimming marathon, Triathlon) / Ariake Tennis Park (Tennis) / Olympic BMX Race (BMX Cycling) / Olympic Gymnastic Center (Gymnastics) / Ariake Arena (Volleyball) / Olympic Aquatics Center (Swimming, Diving, Synchronized Swimming) / Dream Island Archery Field (Archery) / Tatsumi International Swimming Center (Water Polo) / Aomi Urban Sports Venue (Basketball 3x3, Sport Climbing) / Shiokaze Park (Beach Volley) / Sea Forest Waterway ( Canoe-Sprint, Rowing) / Sea Forest Cross-Country Course (Equestrian - Eventing)
This artificial island in Tokyo Bay, southeast of the city, is entertainment heaven and hosts many exhibitions on futuristic technology. At the Toyota showroom, Mega Web, you will be able to see their latest creations and prototypes but also experiment with simulators. At Miraikan (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation), you will meet droids and robots! Decks Tokyo Beach is an ever-lively commercial complex. It’s best known for Tokyo Joypolis, an amusement park created by SEGA. Palette Town is a huge shopping complex with shops, rides, restaurants and a 115-meter Ferris Wheel.
Nearby: Odaiba-kaihin Park is a nice place to take a stroll and admire the Rainbow Bridge. In the Summer, the beach is a great place to swim and windsurf.
Tip: the spa-themed Oedo Onsen Monogatari park is the ideal place to relax. It has a large pool, drawing hot waters 1,400 m underground, as well as outdoor pools.
Tokyo Aquatics Centre