Without a doubt, almost every traveller visiting Japan will visit Tokyo. It is the country’s capital city and a great first place to start for your trip to Japan. However, within Tokyo itself it feels like there are tiny mini cities, each with their own themes, vibes and attractions.
Tokyo has 23 central city districts, some popular to visitors and tourists and some that are more focused on the business life. Where you stay can have an influence on your entire Japan experience, so it’s a good idea to do some research before you choose!
Here is a guide to Tokyo’s most popular districts and what you can find around each one.
Train line: JR Yamanote Line, JR Saikyo Line, JR Shonan Shinjuku Line, Hanzomon, Ginza and Fukutoshin Subway Lines, Tokyo Tokyo Line, Tokyo Den-Entoshi Line, Keio Inokashira Line and the Narita Express.
Known for: Youth fashion and culture.
What’s around: Shibuya Scramble, Spain Slope, Center Gai, Koen Dori, Love Hotel Hill, Shibuya 109, Hachiko Statue, Bunkamura, Marui, Parco, Tokyu Hands, Shibuya Mark City, Tokyu, Shibuya Hikarie.
Train line: Ginza, Hibiya and Marunouchi Subway Lines.
Known for: High end shopping and dining.
What’s around: Upmarket shopping, dining and entertainment, big department stores such as Mitsukoshi, Matsuya and Printemps, international brands such as Zara, H&M, Apple, Chanel and Louis Vuitton, boutiques, art galleries, Kabukiza Theatre, Yurakucho Gado-shita Dining.
Train line: Ginza and Asakusa Subway Line, Tsukuba Express and Tobu Railways. Also, the Tokyo Water Bus.
Known for: Senso-ji Buddhist Temple & Nakamise Shopping Street.
What’s around: Senso-ji Buddhist Temple, Dempoin Temple, Asakusa Shrine, Nakamise Shopping Street, Shin-Nakamise Shopping Street, Kappabashi Shopping Street, Rox Department Store, Sumida River Cruise and Park, Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Centre, Hanayashiki Amusement Park, Asahi Beer Tower, Rokku Entertainment District.
Train line: JR Yamanote Line, or via Meijijingu-mae Station on the Chiyoa and Fuktoshin Subway Lines.
Known for: Teenage culture and crazy fashion.
What’s around: Takeshita Dori, Omotesando (Japan’s Champs-Elysees), Meiji Shrine, Yoyogi Park, Togo Shrine, Nezu Museum, Omotesando Hills, Daiso Harajuku (100 Yen Shop), LaForest Harajuku, Tokyo Plaza Omotesando Harajuku, Oriental Bazaar, Kiddy Land, National Yoyogi Stadium, Ota Memorial Museum of Art, NHK Studio Park.
Train line: Shinjuku Station is the busiest railway station in Japan and the world, served by over dozen railway lines.
Known for: The world’s busiest train station.
What’s around: Tokyo’s skyscraper district, Kabukicho (Japan’s largest red light district), Golden Gai, Omoide Yokocho, Robot Restaurant, shopping including international brands such as adidas, H&M and Forever 21, Shin-Okubo Koreatown, Shinjuku Gyoen, Central Park, Japanese Sword Museum, department stores such as Isetan, Takashimaya, Odakyu, Keio, Lumine and Mylord, electronic stores such as Yodobashi Camera, Bic Camera, and Yamada Denki.
Train line: JR Yamanote Line, JR Keihin-Tohoku Line, JR Sobu Line, the Tsukuba Express and Hibiya Subway Line.
Known for: Hundreds of electronic stores.
What’s around: Major electronic stores Sofmap, Laox, Yamada Denki, Akky and Yodobashi Camera, Maid Cafes, Tokyo Anime Centre, Mandarake, Radio Kaikan, Super Potato, Gamers.
Some other interesting districts to know about are…
Marunouchi: One of Japan’s most prestigious business districts for powerful companies located out the front of Tokyo station.
Yurakucho: Adjacent to Ginza, this is a popular restaurant district built under the elevated train tracks of the JR Yamanote Line.
Tsukishimia: A man made island in Tokyo Bay, across the channel from Tsukiji fish market.
Ameyoko: A busy market area between Okachimachi and Ueno Stations, selling everything from fruit and candy to souvenir t-shirts and knock off DVDs.
Ryogoku : The centre of the Sumo Wrestling world.
Sugamo: A shopping district that specifically caters for the elderly, with Jizo Dori Shopping Street being known as “Old Ladies’ Harajuku”.