With the otherworldly natural beauty and charisma of Japan, it is no wonder that its capital, Tokyo, is also one of the world’s most visited destinations by tourists, Filipinos included. It is a vibrant, bustling city full of things to do and see.
Some of the most common recommendations you’ll hear from people is to go the usual route—Imperial Palace, animal cafes, Tokyo DisneySea or Ghibli Museum, or battle your way to get an Insta-worthy shot at the very famous and very busy Shibuya crossing. But if you’re somehow not the traditional type (or have already done all of those before) and just want a more unique Tokyo experience, you can dive into a different side of the Japanese capital with this list of super cool things you can do in Tokyo that you don’t hear a lot about.
5. Go see a robot show in Shinjuku
Tucked in the neon-lit alleys of Tokyo’s Shinjuku district is the Robot Restaurant, where you can watch the single most amazingly bizarre show you’ll ever see in your life. So amazing that even Anthony Bourdain was once lured in to this place, and afterwards called it “the greatest show I’ve ever seen in my life.”
How do we explain it? It’s like a small theater where you’ll witness dance numbers, acts, and even live fight scenes, but by giant animatronics, dancing robots, and performers dressed in outrageous costumes. Of course during the show you can drink, eat, and be merry all you want. The energy of this place is incredible and will leave you in a happy daze.
If there is one thing that you must not miss in your pursuit of a unique Tokyo experience, this is it. It truly doesn’t get any more Tokyo than this.
The shows at Robot Restaurant run by schedule. Secure your schedule early by booking ahead here.
4. Get lost in the alleys and find a vinyl bar
One beautiful thing about Tokyo is despite being one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world, their locals seem to have a penchant for vintage things—and so there’s an effort to keep it alive. So for anyone who enjoys a drink or two, one of the most charming places you can go to is one of Tokyo’s many inconspicuous vinyl bars.
These places won’t have a large neon sign to advertise its presence down a street, so your best bet is to look online for any of these in your area. Or better yet, ask a local. Most vinyl bars will have a small almost unnoticeable door amidst Tokyo’s hustle and bustle, and inside you’ll find an equally small sitting capacity, enough only to hold maybe about 20 people.
But its charm is in that discreetness exactly, aside from the cocktails you know they’ve mastered, and the music impressively handled by the bartenders themselves—of course out of their vast collection of vinyls usually displayed proudly behind the bar.
3. Shop at a retro video game store
Super Potato, Akihabara District
Any child from the 90s or earlier will flip out at one of Japan’s many retro video game shops. And by retro we mean Family Computer, classic Game Boy, Super Mario, and those cassette tape games we used to blow the bottom at to get them to work (were those actually ever proven effective??) In Tokyo, you’ll find these shops just filled with vintage games, consoles, and arcades, making you feel like you’re actually back in the 90s. And yes, you can buy them, because they actually still work.
The arcade room at Super Potato
At Super Potato in Akihabara District in Tokyo, for example, you’ll find a three-story building filled with vintage games and consoles. Super Potato is a chain of retro video game shops, the one in Akihabara being their flagship store. If you’d like to relive your childhood, they have piles and piles of the classic Family Computer in stock, Game Boys, and even the Play Station 1 (and more!). Of course, they have the actual games for those consoles, too. At the top floor of the building is an arcade room where you can play old favorites like Street Fighter with your buddies.
2. Have a ~smashing~ time at the Batting Cages
A popular hangout spot for Tokyo locals especially for the younger crowd is their batting cages. Simply put, it’s an indoor baseball center where a machine throws a ball at you and you try to hit it! Baseball is big in Japan, and with these indoor batting cages, it’s no wonder the Japanese are so good at it.
No worries if you’re a beginner. You can get to choose the speed at which a ball is thrown to you. At Shinjuku Batting Center, for example, different cages have different ball speeds. At other batting centers, there’s a machine in your cage where you get to choose the speed, as well as which Japanese baseball star will throw the ball from the digital screen across from you! It’s a fun, adrenaline-pumping activity that lets you experience one of Japan’s most popular sports.
Plus, some establishments like the Shinjuku Batting Center also has arcades in the building, making it a great spot to hang with friends.
1. Stand on glass at the tallest tower in the world
How many people can get to say this? That you stood at more than 600 meters (approx. 2,000 feet) above ground, on glass, and looked down at the world below you even with just a few seconds of courage? Well, you can do that at Tokyo Skytree, the highest tower not just in Japan, but in the whole world.
Tokyo Skytree is primarily a TV and radio broadcast tower, but the tower is now also a popular tourist destination. Its observation deck, located at the 350th floor, gives guests an amazing 360 view of Tokyo. A day visit can get you a clear view and even a chance to see the elusive Mount Fuji on a really good day, while a night visit will present you a wonderful sea of city lights. A cafe is also located at the deck, where you can get snacks and dessert while marveling at the remarkable sight that is Tokyo skyline.
And if you’re feeling adventurous, find the 2×3 meter glass floor at the deck, stand on it, and don’t forget to take a picture as proof that you did it!
Tokyo Skytree can be busy on some days, so skip the long ticket lines and book your visit ahead here.
With all the many, exciting things to do in Tokyo, be sure to plan your trip ahead and start booking some activities early to avoid the hassle. KKday, a travel platform, connects you to tours and activities in countries around the world, and offers convenient online booking and special discounts. Check them out at: www.kkday.com
What are other cool things to do in Tokyo? Do you have more recommendations? Tell us in the comments!