Tokyo is a city of extremes. A city with ultra modern skyscrapers stand next to ancient temples. The politest city dwellers anywhere on the planet that also have a strange kinky side to them. Traditional restaurants next door to bizarre maid cafes. You will see more weird and wonderful things in a day in Tokyo than you would in many other cities combined. There are many guides on Tokyo suggesting that you go and see Tsukiji Fish Market (which is moving very soon), Shibuya Crossing and Akihabara Electric Town (Denki-Gai) which we recommend you do too but we also wanted to share 5 alternative things you can do in Tokyo.
Visit Memory Lane, a.k.a. “Piss Alley”
If you’re trying to live your Blade Runner fantasies while in Tokyo, then this is the place to come and eat. It’s a narrow alley that’s bursting with little restaurants serving a range of food, from traditional yakitori to the more adventurous pig testicles and frog sashimi, yum.
The alley provides a more local and authentic eating experience and is normally packed with Japanese professionals enjoying a few beers and a quick bite before heading home.
The name “Piss Alley” comes from when the area was a lot less built up and shady characters would be drunk staggering about. There were no toilets in the area so they went where they could. Unsurprisingly the authorities hate the name and have been trying hard to rebrand the alley to memory lane.
GETTING THERE: Take the west exit at Shinjuku station. Look for signs pointing to Memory lane, it’s less than 5 minutes’ walk.
See the Future for free at TEPIA
Tepia, which is short for “Technology Utopia” displays Japan’s world famous future technologies.
The exhibition (which is also free, yay!) is set up really well, allowing you to try out the different technologies and see them work. Playing with all the different gadgets turned us to kids again and had us ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ at all the great inventions.
We were greeted by a gorgeous robot who melted our hearts when we were leaving, saying things like “don’t go” or “I am lonely now” as we were leaving (it said these in Japanese and the lovely lady who was taking us around translated for us). We would have taken him home with us if we could.
From playing cards that speak, to machines that make loo rolls out of shredded paper, the exhibits were fun, interesting and informative.
If you do decide to visit, consider turning up early like we did. We had a very friendly assistant who came round with us explaining the exhibits in more detail and showing us how to use them.
GETTING THERE: Tepia is on 2–8-44 Kita Aoyama, Minato-ku. From Gaienmae Station (Tokyo Metro, Ginza Line, Exit 2) go up the stairs, turn right and right again at the corner. TEPIA is straight ahead, about 5 minutes’ walk away.
Sleep in a manga cafe
We did this on our first night in Tokyo. We left our backpacks at the vast Tokyo train station which has a floor devoted to leaving your luggage. When I say a floor I really mean a car park sized space for leaving your luggage!
We then headed to Roppongi to find ourselves a manga cafe. People stay the night in them when they miss their last train out of Tokyo. Instead of paying a fortune for a taxi or hotel, they can stay in these places. You can also rent out a thing called a DVD room which as it says on the tin, is a room that has access to thousands of DVD’s. We preferred the manga cafe though as it felt more Japanese. I apologise for the sound quality on the video clip above but everybody is so quiet in Japan that I felt I had to talk in whispered tones to be respectful.
You will not actually sleep much in this place especially if you are like me and overdose on e-numbers from the free ice cream but it is well worth the experience. There are manga books in English for you to read and in your little booth you will have a game console, computer and T.V.
Visit Tokyo Bay
A lot of visiters forget that Tokyo is actually a city on the Pacific Ocean. You can get so wrapped up in the Blade Runner-esque surroundings I can see why. But stop looking up and get some fresh air! It was a pleasant change walking next to the sea on the man made island in the middle of the bay. There are plenty of things to do on the island but we were content to be just outside soaking up the sun.
Tokyo apartments are notoriously small which means that when people want to do any kind of activity they head for the outdoors. Yoyogi park is a perfect example and a great place to people watch. Whilst we were there we witnessed exercise classes, play rehearsals, dancing, painting groups, rockabilly gangs, many, many Elvis lookalikes and much more. The atmosphere was brilliant. Head there on a Sunday to witness the whole kaleidoscope of talent.
While this is very much on the tourist trail we really recommend going from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko to viee Mount Fuji. You can real all about it here.
What have we missed? Where are your favourite spots in Tokyo?
Heading to Japan? Check out our other Japan posts before you go!
Japan Trip Planner – Amazing Places To Visit In Japan | Japan Trip Planner. Check out our post on our favourite places to visit in Japan. Discover islands, cities, and villages.
From Tokyo to Kawaguchiko – An amazing Trip to Mount Fuji – Click here to find everything you need to plan an amazing trip from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko to visit Mount Fuji. How to get there, what to eat, do and see.
Finding Peace In Hiroshima – Our first port of call in Japan was in Hiroshima. Read about how we and the city itself found peace in Hiroshima after utter devastation.
Things To Do In Kyoto – Are you thinking of visiting Kyoto? Read our Things to do in Kyoto blog before heading there to make the most of your visit.
Where To Stay In Kyoto – Choosing where to stay in Kyoto can be tricky as there are so many great places to choose from. Read our post to help you decide.
Sleeping In A Manga Cafe In Tokyo – A video blog of us sleeping in a manga cafe in Tokyo. Why? Because it felt so Japanese. Did we sleep well? Watch the video to decide if it looks comfortable.
What To Do In Osaka – Are you heading to Japan? Read our post on What to do in Osaka before heading to this foodie city. From museums to river walks we list our top highlights.
How We Gatecrashed A Japanese Pop Stars Wedding In Tokyo – This is the tale on how we gatecrashed a Japanese pop stars wedding in Tokyo. We honestly did it by mistake but it took us a few hours to realize what we did.
Things To Do In Nara – Read our local’s guide of top things to do in Nara. From temples to the deer park and amazing food we share the best tips to make the most of your trip to Nara.
The Best Ryokans and Hotels in Nara – Are you looking for accommodation in Nara, Japan? Then read our post on The Best Ryokans and Hotels in Nara Japan before booking. Stay in a traditional style Japanese Inn for amazing food and incredible hospitality.
A Guide To The Yaeyama Islands – Discover Japan’s secret tropical location The Yaeyama Islands, Okinawa. They are a perfect add on to your Japanese adventure.
5 reasons to visit Taketomi Island – If you are heading to the land of the rising sun on your next trip then here are 5 reasons to visit Taketomi Island, Japan when you go.
Things To Do On Ishigaki Island Japan – If you are heading to the Yaeyama Islands in Japan, then read our blog post on what to do on Ishigaki Island, Okinawa.
Okonomiyaki Recipe (Japanese Pancakes) – This week on global recipe swap we have an Okonomiyaki Recipe (Japanese Pancakes) a favourite dish of ours when we were travelling in Japan.
Things to do on Iriomote Island – Are you heading to the Yaeyama Islands? Then read what are our Top things to do on Iriomote Island, Japan. Enjoy Japan’s tropical paradise.
Walking On The Nakasendo Trail – Discovering the Nakasendo Trail (Following Ancient Footsteps In Japan). Read about an ancient walking route in Japan & see traditional ways of Japanese Life.
Gujo Hachiman Castle – If you visiting Gifu Prefecture in Japan then we highly recommend you visit Gujo Hachiman Castle which is also known The Castle In The Sky. Read our post to find out how to get there and what’s it like.
During our stay in Tokyo, we slept at the super hip hostel; Khaosan Tokyo Laboratory. You can book it through Booking.com
Going to Tokyo? Get the guidebook before you go:
[…] and decided that you would not book accommodation? We hadn’t either until we arrived in Tokyo. But after hearing about the DVD rooms and Manga Cafes that double up as accommodation for […]