11 Tokyo Bucket List Experiences
It’s time to update your Tokyo Bucket List!
Tokyo is an eclectic city that has its own special vibe. There are some very unique experiences here that you won’t see anywhere else. I was able to book a flight to Tokyo for only $500. If Tokyo is on your Bucket List, I highly recommend you make the trip. Even if you only have enough time for a quick visit, you can still cover quite a bit. I was only in Tokyo for 5 nights and easily managed to see everything I wanted to see. These are my favorite Tokyo experiences that I recommend you add to your own Bucket List!
1. Eat & Drink Unusual Delights
Tokyo is a culinary delight to explore! You’ll experience delicious creations you’ve never seen anywhere else in the world, and will likely only see in Tokyo. My weirdest favorite was a purple sweet potato latte, which was quite a treat. It sounds terrible, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was very sweet and smooth, not gritty at all like I had assumed it would be. Try lots of new things and keep an open mind. You’ll walk around the city so much that you’ll burn right through those extra calories, I promise! So go ahead and experience Tokyo’s unique flavor. You won’t regret it.
2. See the Show at The Robot Restaurant
It’s called the Robot Restaurant, but in my opinion, it is more of an entertainment experience that just happens to serve food. The food is average at best, but the show is one of a kind. Dinner consists of a bento box style platter that is passed out in bulk. They do serve an assortment of beverages including alcohol. The food in Tokyo is generally pretty amazing, so I wouldn’t “waste” a dinner here. Eat somewhere tasty beforehand and then come here to enjoy the show. I won’t spoil it with details because you really need to experience it for yourself.
You’ll be fully immersed in neon lights, pumping music, and more visual entertainment than two eyes can possibly take in at once. If you blink you will miss something! Make sure to reserve your space in advance, as it tends to sell out. There are limited seats in this very intimate venue. Ask for front row seating if you want to get the best view. You can save money by passing on the dinner and just buy a ticket for the show. You need to arrive early either way or you won’t be allowed in. They lock the doors when the show starts because the robots are operating on the walkway. You can save time and money by purchasing discounted tickets here.
3. Get Naked in an Onsen With a View of Mount Fuji
Yep, I checked this one off of my own Bucket List! 🙂 “Onsen” is the Japanese word for hot spring, and bathing naked in the hot springs is a favorite pastime of the Japanese culture. Here’s a Fun Fact: Bathing suits are not even allowed!
If you’re looking to unwind like a local, take a break from the city and hop on the train to the small town of Hakone where you can fully relax. Go to the Hotel Green Plaza Hakone where you can actually enjoy the onsen without being a hotel guest. You’ll get to unwind in a steamy hot spring with this stunning view of Mount Fuji right at your feet. The view alone is well worth the $16 fee for a day pass. They also serve free sake after 3 pm. The baths are separated for males and females of course, and cell phones are also prohibited.
4. Dine at Gonpachi: The Kill Bill Restaurant
Do you remember the infamous fight scene in the movie “Kill Bill’ starring Uma Thurman? Eating at the restaurant where the movie was filmed is surprisingly inexpensive! Tokyo can typically be very expensive so I was surprised to see how reasonable the menu prices are. Their tapas style menu allows you to order small dishes that are made to share, and they only cost a few dollars each. We ordered an assortment of dishes to taste, including two desserts and two cocktails. The total bill was only $67. Since tipping is not customary in Japan, we only spent about $34 per person for a nice dinner out at a beautiful restaurant, which happens to be a fun tourist attraction. Go Kill Bill and not your budget! 😉
Read Next: 5 Tokyo Travel Tips You Should Know Before You Go!
5. Take a Stroll Down Takeshita Street in Harajuku
No trip to Tokyo is complete without a stroll down Takeshita Street in the Harajuku district. This pedestrian only street offers unique boutiques with Harajuku fashions and tasty treats from local vendors. Takeshita street is not very long so you can plan to visit here the same day as the Kawaii Monster Café or Yoyogi Park. Both the cafe and park are only a 5-minute walk. If you are looking to take home some Japanese souvenirs, this is a good place to get them.
6. Eat a Rainbow Pasta with Harajuku Girls at The Kawaii Monster Cafe
This place is just fun! Grab a colorful snack with the Monster Girls at the Kawaii Monster Café. The colorful food is a little pricey, but that’s what I’d expect when ordering a rainbow colored pasta. It was tasty for sure, but mostly fun and pretty. There are several vibrant dining rooms all with a different theme. You are free to walk around and have a look at each room no matter where you are seated to dine. The Monster Girls who are dressed in true Harajuku fashion will entertain you with a lively show while you enjoy colorful treats.
7. Get Lost in the Crowd at Shibuya Crossing
Do not miss this! I really didn’t think that this was really going to be a big deal. I mean, it’s just a street crossing, right? Yes, that’s true, but when you go, you will see what I mean. When you are there in person, it becomes an experience. You become part of the energy of all the people crossing in multiple directions at once. It is pure organized chaos at it’s best, and the feeling of being fully submerged into the Tokyo culture is 100% free. Make sure you get the full experience by walking through the actual crossing and then grabbing a seat upstairs at the Starbucks for the best view of the madness.
8. Become an Anime Character at Purikura No Mecca
Have you ever wanted to see what you’d look like as a Japanese anime? Now you can! Just a few blocks from Shibuya Crossing, Purikura No Mecca is an arcade-like venue where you can create your own anime photos. You’ll need to bring cash (Yen) to exchange for coins in the change machine to use in the picture booths.
FYI – All of the directions are in Japanese, so you’ll have to ask for help or just wing it like I did. Insert your coins and attempt to follow the prompts. Good luck! If you can’t figure it out just keep pressing different buttons. Luckily, the response is timed, so eventually, the machine will just make a choice for you. ( I didn’t choose the bear theme! Grrr! lol ) Go with an open mind and ready to be silly. This is tons of fun for only a few dollars, and you’ll have some very unique Instagram photos as a souvenir.
9. Explore the Tsujiki Fish Market
The Tsukiji fish market is a fun stop near the Hamarikyu Gardens and the Tokyo tower. This is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world! Make sure you are hungry when you arrive, so you can sample some of the tasty treats you’ll encounter and maybe even stay for a fresh seafood lunch. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a bunch of bananas there priced at $30! I chose the economical strawberries instead.
10. Relax Next to the River at Hamarikyu Gardens
Walk off lunch with a visit to the beautiful Hamarikyu Gardens nearby. You can relax under a tree near the Sumida River for a much-needed break from the busy city of Tokyo. The gardens are quite an unexpected peaceful retreat amongst the wild energy of the city. The gardens are beautifully kept and will invite you to take solace after a busy day of sightseeing.
11. Enjoy Live Jazz & Panoramic Views at The New York Bar
The New York Bar is located in the Park Hyatt Tokyo and has a live jazz band on the 52nd floor. The panoramic views are worth the $25 entry fee. The menu is a little pricey of course so I would recommend saving this for a splurge. This bar was featured in the movie Lost in Translation where Bob (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) meet. She smokes a cigarette here in the movie scene, and the bar still allows smoking in real life as well. There is an extensive cigar menu if you choose to indulge. The band is great and the vibe is swanky. Dress to impress and enjoy a fun night out.