Tokyo might be my favorite city in the world. It’s got an amazing mix of world class food, an incredible culture, a rich history and well…lots of quirky and cool things to see and do. Of course when you go to Tokyo, you should go to Shibuya and see the famous crossing, have yakitori and a beer on the street, buy electronics in Akihabara, etc… but there might be some items you should consider adding to your list of must-do things when visiting Tokyo.
Here are my top recommendations:
Go to a cat cafe
Japanese apartments are tiny – think 30-40 square meters. And many apartment buildings do not allow pets. One solution to get your pet fix on for Tokyo denizens is to go to a cat cafe. This is a uniquely Japanese experience worth having for a visitor. Go to the cafe, pay about $10-20USD and get a cup of tea and an hour with a room full of friend, generally pure-breed cats. There are toys to engage the cats with, but generally a friendly head scratch works too.
Shop at a Ranking Ran-Queen Store
Ranking Ran Queen is a offshoot of the popular Tokyu Department Stores – and every month, Tokyu stores aggregate all their data from every location in Japan and rank the top-selling products in various categories and then sell them at Ranking Ran Queen stores. There are several locations throughout Tokyo where you can find all manner of things here from Hello Kitty compact mirrors to face care items and electronic devices.
Go People Watching on Sunday at Yoyogi Park
It feels like all of Tokyo goes to Yoyogi Park on a nice Sunday afternoon. Here, there are people enjoying the park in the very typical ways of any large public park around the world…running, biking, walking dogs, pushing strollers and the like. But some things you cannot see in other places in the world are the Japanese rockabilly dance troupes that dress up in 50’s style clothing, play live rockabilly music and throw some incredible dance moves.
Head to Kappabashi Dori, also known as “Kitchen Street”
Shopping and entertainment collide on Kappabashi Dori. I have never seen so many specific types of items – ever wonder where one purchases those fake plastic food displays commonly seen outside every Japanese restaurant in Tokyo? Well, it’s available at Kappabashi Dori. This is where restaurants buy all their serving ware, dishes and appliances. There is everything here to amuse the foodie – from Japanese cookware (like square omelet pans) to plastic, fake bowls of tonkatsu to stock pots for soup from home kitchen size to industrial sizes.
See the Tokyo Giants play Baseball at the Tokyo Dome
Even if you’re not a baseball fan, or sports fan in general, when in Tokyo do yourself a favour and go see the Tokyo Giants play. Have a bento box and a beer in the bleachers and behold the spectacle of Japanese baseball. The fans are incredibly well organised with cheers incorporating dance movements with chants – so much so, they almost look like professionals. And the beer servers are cute young girls with mini kegs on their backs traipsing up and down the stairs. There’s so much to see besides the game play that you may have trouble keeping track of which team is ahead.
For me, these things represent the non-tourist Tokyo and provide more of a real Tokyo experience, thus bringing to life the culture of Tokyo which is definitely quirky cool. Sure, you can go to a pub in Roppongi with all the other tourists and expats, but why, when you can have a cup of tea in a cat cafe or a draft beer in the Tokyo Dome?