What to Do in Tokyo, Japan

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Mandarake

Tokyo, Japan

You don’t have to go all the way to Akihabara to see cosplay. Mandarake is the largest second-hand manga shop in Tokyo, also housing anything to do with anime. Staff can often be spotted dressed up in wigs and full costumes – get involved.

Address

B2F Shibuya Beam 31-2 Udagawachoi Shibuya-ku 150-0042

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Oedo Antiques Market

Tokyo, Japan

Address

Tokyo International Forum 3-5-1 Marunouchi Chiyoda-ku 100-0005

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Tower Records

Tokyo, Japan

This is Tokyo’s largest record shop, catering to the younger generation’s enthusiasm for music, particularly vintage records. Tower Records also has a novelty café which is Rilakkuma themed (a famous Japanese toy bear). Rice dishes come in the shape of a bear on a yellow pillow of omelette and even the teas and coffees have Rilakkuma on them.

Address

1-22-14 Jinnan Shibuya-ku 150-0041

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T-Site

Tokyo, Japan

Bookshops are booming in Tokyo. Tsutaya has branches all around Japan but the mothership, T-Site, is located in Daikanyama. Incorporating a packed restaurant (Ivy Place), a music library within three beautifully designed buildings and a mini park, you could and should spend hours here. There are magazines from all over the world to peruse with your coffee, music of every genre can be listened to in Italian leather armchairs and the restaurant has an amazing flatbread selection. The only setback is that you have to book if you want to eat.

Address

17-15 Sarugaku-cho Shibuya-ku 150-0033

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Yayoi Kusama Museum

Tokyo, Japan

One of Japan’s most high-profile artists, Yayoi Kusama’s lavish polka-dot style has popped up at exhibitions in capital cities across the globe. The artist now has more permanent lodgings for her eye-popping pumpkins, mirror rooms and dazzling installations, in central Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighbourhood, just a short stroll from the psychiatric institution where Kusama has voluntarily resided for 40 years. Despite the minimalist exterior of the building, the displays inside are – in true Kusama style – anything but. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and go on sale on the first day of each month for entry the following month. Tickets can only be purchased on the museum website. All booking slots are for 90 minutes.

Address

107 Bentencho, Shinjuku-ku 162-0851

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Yakatanbune

Tokyo, Japan

A party boat with class, yakatabune are Japanese-style historic wooden boats which sail the Tokyo Bay and Sumida River area. The boats interiors feature tatami mat floors and paper lanterns, which work to create an atmosphere of Edo-Period Tokyo – a nod to when these boats thrived as entertainment for rich merchants and samurai warriors. For first-time visitors, this is a great way to take in some of Tokyo’s most iconic skyline attractions, and tick lunch or dinner off your list in the process. Cruises depart from a variety of areas in the city, depending on your selected route.

Address

1-5-10 Yanagibashi Taitō 111-0052

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Mario Kart Tour

Tokyo, Japan

Several companies in the capital offer unofficially branded, Mario-style go-kart tours of the city, allowing you to take to the streets and re-enact your favourite scenes. Tours are guided so there’s no concern about getting lost in the city’s seemingly infinite maze of streets. Most last between one and a half to three hours and dressing up is optional – costumes are provided for an additional rental fee. You’ll need to show evidence of your driver’s license to take part.

Address

4-12-9 Sotokanda Chiyoda Ward 101-0021

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Origami Kaikan

Tokyo, Japan

A shop, gallery and workshop combination, this is the one-stop destination for origami fans and those wanting to learn. The artisan origami displayed and sold here goes well beyond the simplicity of paper cranes, while craft lovers will adore the third floor, dedicated to reams of origami paper in varying colours, sold from fabric-like rolls. Beginners’ origami lessons take place daily on the upper floors for around 1,000 yen (£7).

Address

1-7-14 Yushima Bunkyō 113-0034

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Oedo Antiques Market

Tokyo, Japan

Held on the first and third Sunday of every month between 9am and 4pm, this is one of the largest open-air markets in Japan (it features over 250 dealers) and is the place for picking up things like kimonos, which can be extortionate first-hand. The women in the stalls will let you know if you have gone for the wrong style − a man’s kimono or one meant for staff − and point you towards a more suitable one, such as long-drop sleeves signifying an unmarried women. Another great thing to keep an eye out for are the soba bowls – Japanese sets traditionally have five bowls, so you can get a set of four for next to nothing.

Address

Tokyo International Forum 3-5-1 Marunouchi Chiyoda-ku 100-0005

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Tower Records

Tokyo, Japan

This is Tokyo’s largest record shop, catering to the younger generation’s enthusiasm for music, particularly vintage records. Tower Records also has a novelty café which is Rilakkuma themed (a famous Japanese toy bear). Rice dishes come in the shape of a bear on a yellow pillow of omelette and even the teas and coffees have Rilakkuma on them.

Address

1-22-14 Jinnan Shibuya-ku 150-0041

thingstodo

T-Site

Tokyo, Japan

Bookshops are booming in Tokyo. Tsutaya has branches all around Japan but the mothership, T-Site, is located in Daikanyama. Incorporating a packed restaurant (Ivy Place), a music library within three beautifully designed buildings and a mini park, you could and should spend hours here. There are magazines from all over the world to peruse with your coffee, music of every genre can be listened to in Italian leather armchairs and the restaurant has an amazing flatbread selection. The only setback is that you have to book if you want to eat.

Address

17-15 Sarugaku-cho Shibuya-ku 150-0033

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Visit a Sumo Stable

Tokyo, Japan

Visiting a sumo stable provides an insight into sumo-wrestling culture without devoting a whole day at a tournament – while beautiful events bound by tradition, it’s easy to lose interest if it’s not your passion. But wrestlers at a stable start as early as 6am, with training finishing by 8am. You’ll sit right behind the trainer, probably smoking and shouting at the wrestlers, and often just as interesting as the athletes. You are expected to bring a small gift from your home country as a thank you for being allowed to spectate, so come prepared.

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Maid Café

Tokyo, Japan

Maid cafés are the perfect way to get some exposure of the Kawaii or “cute” culture in Tokyo. The girls are dressed as maids and sing to your food to make it taste better. If it is especially busy then they’ll dance too. Do not go on an empty stomach as the food is usually fairly disgusting, as are the drinks – but it is all about the experience. A seating charge is about £3 and limited to an hour – which is usually more than enough.

Address

4F-7F Mitsuwa Building 1-11-4 Soto-Kanda Chiyoda-ku 101-0021

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Jardin des Fleurs

In “ikebana”  – the Japanese art of flower arranging or the “way of flowers” – you're taught to listen to the voice of the flower and consider it not as an object but as a living thing. Transcending the role of a traditional florist, Azuma Makoto embraces the practice of ikebana while circumventing elements of the tradition. A pioneer in his field, Azuma founded his floral atelier, Jardins des Fleurs, in 2002 with photographer Shunsuke Shiinoki. Creating conceptually radical botanical sculptures, his frozen florals embalmed in massive blocks of ice for Dries Van Noten’s SS15 show made international headlines. Take a basic course in floral arrangement with bespoke lessons, in which flowers and styles are chosen according your likes. Hosted in Makato’s subterranean studio space in Tokyo, a basic course lasts one hour and costs £215.

Address

B1F 4-15-43 Minamiaoyama, Minato-Ku, Tokyo, #107-0062