Fun Things to Do in Tokyo
1. Cosplay Go-Karting
Dressing up as your favourite character and driving a go-kart around the Tokyo streets has to be the coolest thing you can do in Tokyo. Yes, you drive a tiny go-kart on the real streets of Tokyo amongst cars, buses, and trucks!
Go-karting was a dream come true for Simon, but as I hadn’t driven in years I spent the first hour of the two-hour tour terrified and the second hour having so much fun!
It’s a surreal experience as you drive past skyscrapers and tiny shrines, busy crossings and quiet residential neighbourhoods, all while people stare, wave, and take your photo.
Our tour was from 4 – 6 pm, so we experienced the golden late afternoon light, sunset, and the neon lights once darkness hit. A highlight was driving across the massive Rainbow Bridge at full speed (60 kmph and you feel it in a go-kart) with an incredible view of the Tokyo skyline.
The go-karts are easy to operate, but you do need an international driving permit so make sure you get one before you leave your home country.
Note: This used to be called Maricar and you could dress up as Mario characters but Nintendo shut that down. It’s still the same experience, but you now dress up as different characters.
I do recommend the two-hour course rather than the shorter one as it takes a while to get used to driving the karts.
2. Tokyo DisneySea
It might seem a waste to spend a day of your Tokyo trip at Disney, but DisneySea is unlike any of the other Disney parks in the world (and is possibly the best).
The nautical theme park features seven ports inspired by real places and ocean legends including American Waterfront, Mediterranean Harbor (which looks just like Italy), Arabian Coast, and the unique Mysterious Island complete with erupting volcano.
Attractions are more adult-orientated than at neighbouring park Tokyo Disneyland and you can even see a Broadway show and have a cocktail in a 1920s lounge aboard a cruise liner.
It’s such a fun day out! Read about our favourite DisneySea rides including a recommended itinerary for adults and tips for avoiding the crowds.
Tokyo Disneyland is the more classic Disney park with the fairytale castle and much-loved rides like Space and Splash Mountains. If you have the time, spend a day at each.
If you are a theme park fan, we also recommend Universal Studios Japan in Osaka which is home to thrill-seeking rides and the magical Harry Potter World—one of the top Japan tourist attractions.
Traditional Things to Do in Tokyo
3. Sensoji Temple
Sensoji is a Buddhist temple in Asakusa, one of Tokyo’s most traditional neighbourhoods where you can still find old wooden shops amongst the concrete.
The vibrant red temple gets crowded but you can escape by wandering off through the gardens to one of the quieter shrines. In the main area make sure to get your fortune told and cover yourself in incense for good luck.
Nearby head up to the 8th floor of the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Centre opposite Asakusa Station for free views of the Tokyo Skytree (the world’s tallest tower) and the Nakamise shopping street leading to Sensoji.
Details: Take the Ginza subway line to Asakusa. Entrance is free and the temple grounds are always open.
4. Ota Memorial Museum of Art
The Ota Memorial Museum in Harajuku is a small gallery with changing exhibits of beautiful ukiyo-e, Japanese woodblock prints.
We were lucky enough to see the 36 Views of Mount Fuji by Hokusai including the famous Great Wave off Kanagawa.
Details: 700 – 1000 yen ($6-9) entrance fee depending on the current exhibition. Closed on Mondays and for certain holidays (check the calendar on their website). Take the train to Harajuku Station.
5. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
This beautiful park is at its best when the cherry blossoms are blooming or the autumn leaves have turned red, but even in late summer we enjoyed strolling past the ponds, pagodas, and teahouse. There are Japanese, French, and English gardens.
It’s a wonderful oasis from the busy city and having a picnic here is one of our favourite things to do in Shinjuku.
Details: 500 yen ($5) entrance fee. Open 9 am – 4.30 pm. Closed on Mondays. The Shinjuku Gate is a 10-minute walk from the New South Exit of Shinjuku Station.
Things to Do in Tokyo at Night
6. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
There are a number of spots in Tokyo where you can enjoy views of the city skyline, but the best place for a free view is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku.
The North Tower is open until 11 pm and you can see the skyscrapers and highways lit up in the darkness. On a clear morning you might be able to see Mt Fuji from the South Tower.
Details: Free. 9.30 am to 11 pm (South Observatory until 5.30pm). North Observatory closed second and fourth Monday of the month. South Observatory closed first and third Tuesday of the month. 10-minute walk from the West Exit of Shinjuku Station.
7. Sky Circus Sunshine 60 Observatory
Sky Circus is an observation deck in Ikebukuro that features views of the city as well as cool interactive elements and virtual reality rides.
You can visit at any time of day but we timed it for sunset so we could see the views by day and night.
We spent about an hour and a half there taking photos, exploring areas like the mosaic mirror and kaleidoscope hall, and enjoying the VR rides.
The shooting VR game wasn’t amazing although it does have some cool effects. Better was the Tokyo Bullet Flight where you get into a cylinder and fly over the city. The Swing Coaster is also popular.
Details: Entrance is 1200 yen ($11). You’ll save 100 yen if you book online with Voyagin. VR rides are an extra 400-600 yen ($4-6) each.
Open every day from 10 am – 10 pm. It’s located a 10-minute walk from Ikebukuro Station which is only a few stops from Shinjuku Station.