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Where to go in Tokyo: Your first time vs. your second time

Tokyo is undoubtedly a popular destination, but sometimes you want to steer clear of the usual route when you’ve already been before and seen the key attractions. Here’s where to go in Tokyo, whether it’s the first time you’re visiting, or you’ve visited before already. Let’s see alternatives on where to go.

You can never get bored of Tokyo. The unique vibes, the great hospitality, the amazing food and drinks—every aspect is so welcoming, it’s like the city is begging you to come back to visit. Plus, there are simply so many things to do there. For food lovers, there is no shortage of good food to find. For the fashion crowd, it’s still such an enjoyment walking down Harajuku and finding something just right for you, even if it’s your fourth or fifth visit.

So, where would you go on your first trip to Tokyo, and where should you head to once you’ve covered the basics? We have a guide for exactly that.

[Hero image credit: Jezael Melgoza/Unsplash; featured image credit: Yoav Aziz/Unsplash]

Where to go and what to do in Tokyo, your first time vs your second time

Image credit: viiew.dk/Instagram

So it’s your first time in Tokyo… visit Sensō-ji Temple

It’s certainly one of the places you cannot miss when organising a trip to Tokyo. Sensō-ji is both a joy for people travelling on their own and those with a tour guide. There are photo opps, praying spots, relics you can buy as souvenirs, and more. You can even rent traditional kimonos and take a stroll down the temple’s own walking street.

Location: 2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0032

arakura sengen shrine
Image credit: arakura_sengen/Instagram

So it’s your second time in Tokyo… visit Arakura Sengen Shrine

Arakura Sengen is a bit more adventurous to get to, but so worth it. Surrounded by flora and fauna, as well as having a clear view of Mt Fuji, it’s certainly worth the effort. You can buy trinkets and souvenirs as at the other shrines, and the picture-perfect view makes it great for return trips. The best part is that the long walk uphill has deterred a lot of tours, so it’s not very crowded even when tourist season comes.

Location: 2-chome-4-1 Asama, Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi 403-0031

Image credit: ichiran_jp/Instagram

So it’s your first time in Tokyo… visit Ichiran Ramen

Ichiran Ramen is a favourite among locals and tourists alike. Upon arriving, you descend down the stairs of the shop noted by only a small sign. After you get through the queue, you order through a vending machine that contains a lot of options you can choose from. Want your noodles to be al dente with a richer broth? Sure thing. Ichiran is also the original “booth ramen” that a certain ramen place in Thailand got their “inspiration” from, so that’s a fun fact.

Location: B1F, 1-22-7 Jinnan Sibuya-ku Tokyo

Image credit: gsims89/Instagram

So it’s your second time in Tokyo… visit Kiraku Ramen

Located in Shibuya, Kiraku is more than just a ramen shop. It’s a standing monument that claims that experiences do matter, for they have been in business since 1952. Their Taiwanese-style ramen involves using a soy sauce-based broth, fried onions, fresh bean sprouts, and pork wontons. It’s certainly a type of ramen you wouldn’t expect, but very welcoming once you get to taste the broth—a culinary history lesson in a bowl.

Location: 2 Chome-17-6 Dogenzaka, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0043

Image credit: ryo_kawano/Instagram

So it’s your first time in Tokyo… visit Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

If you’ve considered going to Tokyo with a tour guide, this is very likely to be in the itinerary. The Shinjuku Gyoen is the prime location to reserve a spot for a picnic, then watch the sakura trees in full bloom. Even if it’s not sakura season, you’ll still get to enjoy the nature surrounding you, along with the vibes of happy people smiling as they take photos.

Location: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0014

Image credit: teamlab.planets/Instagram

So it’s your second time in Tokyo… visit Teamlab Planets

Teamlab Planets is a permanent exhibition in Koto City featuring a mix of lights, digital technology, and components from nature. Its unique combination makes the place fairly crowded even in off seasons. The installations also change fairly often, making return trips still worth the money. Keep in mind that prior booking is recommended—you’ll still find yourself in a queue but the wait is worth it.

Location: 6 Chome-1-16 Toyosu, Koto City, Tokyo 135-0061

Image credit: life.moments_photography/Instagram

So it’s your first time in Tokyo… visit Omoide Yokocho

Omoide Yokocho is a narrow lane down Shinjuku. Embrace the concept of a traditional, homey izakaya with amazing yakitori and drinks ready on tap. Throughout the whole lane, you can see rows upon rows of these dining spots with only a handful of seatings. It’s a way to unwind after a long day while really getting a feel of the Japanese drinking culture.

Location: 1 Chome-2 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0023

Image credit: bar_trench/Instagram

So it’s your second time in Tokyo… visit Bar Trench

When it comes to cocktails, you simply cannot miss the magic that is Bar Trench. Occupying the No. 25 spot on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list and having an appearance on Netflix’s Midnight Asia, this bar has become a destination for when you want a good drink in Tokyo. Many wouldn’t think of a seriously sophisticated drinking spot when arriving in Japan, so let Bar Trench change your mind.

Location: 150-0021 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Ebisunishi, 1 Chome−5−8

Image credit: elinathorsell/Instagram

So it’s your first time in Tokyo… visit Shibuya Crossing

Walking down Shibuya in all its entirety will take you a few days. The abundance of clothing stores, souvenirs and trinkets, along with the amount of food will keep you occupied and on your feet for hours without feeling bored. It’s an iconic street where everyone has to feel the vibes at least once when in Tokyo. It’s also likely that you’ll see a million other Thai people at Shibuya Crossing.

Location: 2 Chome-2-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0042

Image credit: theedheng/Instagram

So it’s your second time in Tokyo… visit Shimokitazawa

Shimokitazawa is a trendy neighbourhood just a brief walk away from Shibuya, but not as crowded. It’s home to many bookstores, clothing shops, and cute cafes you can easily spend an afternoon in. The best part is that this area is iconic for its vintage clothing stores, so book yourself an evening for some good ol’ thrift shopping and get your wardrobe a vintage makeover.

Location: Tokyo, Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa, 2 Chome−23−9

Image credit: jimbojetset26/Instagram

So it’s your first time in Tokyo… visit Tsukiji Fish Market

Every morning, cooks and food enthusiasts gather to join the fish auction at Tsukiji Fish Market. After all, people want the best and freshest ingredients for themselves. Many tourists hang around the outer streets that are filled wall-to-wall with amazing food stalls and food-related souvenirs for aspiring home cooks. Expect only the freshest ingredients in those tamagoyakis.

Location: 4 Chome-13 Tsukiji, Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0045

Image credit: shiho928/Instagram

So it’s your second time in Tokyo… visit Toyosu Fish Market

Toyosu is a lesser-known fish market, but one that should not be overlooked. Even though they don’t have walking streets like at Tsukiji, they have shopping areas and wholesale markets that are perfect for those looking for fresh ingredients. However, what makes the whole trip worth it is Sushi Dai, an omakase experience located in the lower section of the building. If you get there by 4am, you’ll probably get to eat around 8am, but the freshness and hospitality in the first bite will make you forget you were even waiting.

Location: 6 Chome-6-1 Toyosu, Koto City, Tokyo 135-0061

Image credit: Tokyo Skytree/Facebook

So it’s your first time in Tokyo… visit Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree is the world’s tallest free-standing broadcast tower. With an observation deck offering a 360-degree view of Tokyo, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience. You can also treat yourself to food and clothing stores in the building, which are equipped with nothing but excellent service and products. It’s one of the city’s highlights for a reason, and the views are breathtaking.

Location: 3-7-1-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 163-1055

Image credit: y.i.yae/Instagram

So it’s your second time in Tokyo… visit New York Bar, Part Hyatt Tokyo

If you’re looking for gorgeous views of the city, along with a venue that screams “good vibes only,” look no further than the New York Bar. Perched on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo, the bar actually made a cameo in Lost in Translation. It’s buzzy and sophisticated, but not to the point of feeling pretentious. The cocktails are made by a team of mixologists utilising seasonal local ingredients in each drink. The daily live jazz sessions don’t hurt either.

Location: L52, Park Hyatt Tokyo, 3-7-1-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 163-1055

Where to go in Tokyo: Your first time vs. your second time

Vichayuth Chantan

Content Writer, Bangkok

A bar enthusiast with passion for good food, Vichayuth can be found trying out new menus and making friends over drinks. His hobbies include video games, listening to live music, and silently judging you from across the room.


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