There are plenty of reasons to visit or move to Tokyo.
For one, it’s Japan’s primary cultural, economic, and political hub. That means you’ll have everything you need for a comfortable stay, all in one place.
But if you want to make the most out of your time in Japan’s capital, you’ll need to understand the different Tokyo neighborhoods. After all, each area has something unique to offer to visitors and residents alike.
So, if you’re planning to visit or move to Tokyo anytime soon, here are the top 12 most popular Tokyo neighborhoods you need to know.
1. Akihabara – Tokyo’s Electric and Anime Center
Akihabara is a great neighborhood to visit.
Located in the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo, is considered a top destination for anime and manga lovers, as well as pop culture fans and tech-savvy individuals. Here, you’ll find many shops selling a vast range of merchandise from your favorite animes, mangas, and video games.
It’s also called Tokyo’s “Denki town” or “electric town,” where you can buy the latest gadgets, appliances, and other electronics at affordable prices. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants and cafés in the area, including many manga and maid cafés.
That said, some of the must-visit places in Akihabara are:
Yodobashi Camera – a massive department store selling all kinds of electronics
Mandarake – one of the biggest shops in Japan for anime and manga merchandise
2k540 – a specialty store geared towards all types of artists
Gachapon Kaikan – a store dedicated entirely to Gacha machines
Once you’re done shopping, you can also stop by the Kanda Myojin Shrine. It’s one of the most historically significant Shinto shrines in Japan.
2. Asakusa – The Go-To Town for Culture and History in Tokyo
If you’re looking to learn more about Japan’s rich history and culture, you should head to Taito ward’s Asakusa. Asakusa is the go-to destination for culture, tradition, and history in the capital.
It's super popular with tourists, and for good reason.
It’s home to the famous Sensoji, one of the oldest temples in Japan, dating back to the 7th century. This temple attracts an average of 30 million tourists every year, making it one of the most visited temples in the country.
Besides the temple, visitors can also check out Nakamise. It’s a street lined with many shops selling traditional souvenirs and snacks. You can even rent kimonos to wear while you stroll the streets.
By the way, Asakusa is one of the best neighborhoods in Tokyo to try local delicacies like unagi (Japanese eel).
Located in the Chuo ward, Ginza is where you should head if you’re looking for upscale boutiques and shops in Tokyo.
In fact, you’ll find almost every high-end brand name in beauty and fashion in Ginza. But, there’s more to this neighborhood than just shopping.
This neighborhood in Tokyo is also famous for its lineup of top-tier restaurants, many of which hold at least one Michelin star, if not more. Of course, Ginza also has plenty of smaller yet still fantastic dining options for those who have tighter budgets. Izakaya joints are also abundant in Ginza, especially near Yurakucho.
You’ll also find the Kabukiza Theater in Ginza, where you can watch Japan’s traditional kabuki plays almost every day. Other exciting areas to see and visit are:
Ginza Six – the largest shopping center in the area
Ginza Wako – Ginza’s famous clock tower where you can buy jewelry and other luxury items
Itoya – your one-stop shop for all things stationery
4. Harajuku – the Fashion Capital of Tokyo
If you love fashion or have a unique sense of style, you shouldn’t miss visiting Harajuku.
This neighborhood in Shibuya ward is famous for the many boutiques and shops geared toward fashion enthusiasts. Takeshita Dori, in particular, is popular among locals and visitors alike.
Most shops here target a younger audience, particularly teenagers and college students. Still, you can always find something that suits your own fashion sense. The street can get extremely crowded, though, especially on the weekends.
If it becomes too stifling for you, you can also consider walking along the streets of Omotesando, where you’ll find higher-end boutiques and shops. You can also check out the Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine dedicated to one of Japan’s most popular emperors.
Yoyogi Park is another notable place to visit in Harajuku, especially if you want to take a break from the hectic pace in the city.
5. Roppongi – the Heart of Tokyo’s Vibrant Nightlife
For those who enjoy a good night out, Roppongi is one of the best neighborhoods in Tokyo to visit.
Situated in the Minato ward, Roppongi serves as one of the main nightlife hubs in Tokyo. This is thanks to the many bars and nightclubs located in the area. The neighborhood has a bit of a mixed reputation, but there are some great experiences to be had here if you know where to go.
Most of them are foreigner-friendly, too, so you don’t have to worry about language or cultural barriers getting in the way of a good time. Some areas are also characterized as “cities within a city,” such as Tokyo Midtown and Roppongi Hills.
You’ll also find the famous Tokyo Tower adjacent to this neighborhood, which gives visitors a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. You’ll also see many museums in this town, including the Mori Art Museum and the National Art Center.
6. Shibuya – Tokyo’s Trendiest Neighborhood
Harajuku might be Tokyo’s fashion capital, but most of the hottest trends in fashion start in Shibuya.
It’s also where many young people in Tokyo hang out, which is why it’s also known as Japan’s “youth capital.”
Like Ginza and Harajuku, Shibuya’s streets are lined with various shops and restaurants that visitors can enjoy during their stay. It’s also home to the famous Shibuya Crossing, where you’ll often see waves of pedestrians making their way across the intersection.
Another notable point of interest in Shibuya is the memorial statue of Hachiko, Japan’s most loyal dog, in front of Shibuya Station. This statue also serves as a convenient rendezvous point for friends or couples.
Other areas in Shibuya you might want to check out include the following:
Koen Dori – a famous street for shoppers and leads to Yoyogi Koen
Center Gai – a bustling pedestrian area where most of the latest trends in Tokyo begin
Dogenzaka – home to the popular Shibuya 109
7. Shinjuku – Tokyo’s Top Entertainment District
Shinjuku is one of the top destinations in Tokyo for those who want to enjoy different activities, no matter what time of day it is.
Whether you’re interested in history and culture or unique culinary experiences, you’ll surely find somewhere to enjoy it in Shinjuku. It’s an excellent neighborhood to explore a new hobby or two.
Shinjuku is also home to the city’s tallest buildings and skyscrapers. One example is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office. Some even have restaurants where visitors can enjoy a stunning view of the city while they dine.
Of course, if you want a more intimate dining experience, you can always go to the Golden Gai or Omoide Yokocho to look for smaller options. Aside from those, you’ll also find Tokyo’s red-light district in Shinjuku, the Kabukicho area.
If you’re visiting Tokyo in spring, going to the Shinjuku Gyoen can be a good idea. It’s one of the best spots in the city to see the sakura trees in full bloom. But, keep in mind that it can be pretty crowded during this time.
8. Ebisu – Peaceful Residential Area in the Heart of Tokyo
Ebisu is one of the most popular places in Tokyo to live — especially for foreigners.
Ebisu is unique and somewhat different from the rest of the neighborhoods above due to its more relaxed and laid back vibe. This is mainly because it’s more of a residential area than a commercial one. Still, it’s close enough to some of the busiest spots in Tokyo, such as Shibuya.
And don't get me wrong, Ebisu still has plenty of bars, restaurants and things to do. It can be a great balance for people who want to be near the action, but not right in the middle of it.
This Tokyo neighborhood is also an excellent place to live for foreigners due to the large volume of expats living in the area. So, if you’re looking for more foreigner-friendly housing in the city center, this neighborhood might be worth checking out.
Of course, there are plenty of things to see in Ebisu as well, such as:
Yebisu Garden Place – a building complex built on the old Sapporo Beer factory
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography – a museum that caters to photography enthusiasts
Yebisu Beer Memorial Hall – a museum dedicated to the history and culture of Yebisu beer
The only downside is that living in Ebisu is expensive since it's one of the most popular areas for affluent Japanese and western residents.
9. Kichijoji – the Perfect Balance Between Nature and City
For those who want the perfect balance between rural and urban life, the residential area of Kichijoji is a must-see.
It’s not as well-known to foreigners as Ebisu or Nakameguro. But it’s considered one of the most desirable areas in Tokyo to live by locals.
It’s not just close enough to busy Tokyo neighborhoods like Shinjuku and Shibuya. It’s also just minutes away from Inokashira Park. Here, residents can fully immerse themselves in nature without straying too far from the major hubs of Tokyo.
Kichijoji is also a little cheaper to live in than places like Ebisu.
10. Koenji – Tokyo’s Hipster Neighborhood
If you’re a fan of alternative music, vintage clothing, and hipster culture, Koenji should be at the top of your must-visit list.
Whether you're looking to live in Tokyo long-term, or just visiting, it's a great place to check out.
Located in Suginami ward, Koenji is known for being one of the coolest towns in Tokyo. It’s particularly popular among the youth, considering it one of the most desirable places to live in the city.
You’ll find many vintage clothing and record stores here, especially along the Koenji Junjo Shotengai. Aside from these stores, this town also has many bookstores that bookworms are sure to love.
Koenji also doesn’t have a shortage of cozy cafés, but one is particularly beloved among artists – Nanatsu Mori. It’s a neighborhood where creatives thrive, especially in its fantastic underground music scene.
11. Nakameguro – Another Good Option
Nakameguro is one of the hottest neighborhoods to live for Tokyo's foreign residents.
Located close to Shibuya and Roppongi, it's super convenient but it avoids the hustle and bustle of these larger stations.
It also features a river (the Meguro river) and some of Tokyo's most iconic sakura (cherry blossoms) during Spring. It also has plenty of restaurants, bars, and daily conveniences like supermarkets.
Nakameguro is a convenient yet livable area. The only problem is that rents here are very expensive. Similar to Ebisu, it's one of the most popular areas for foreigners, but it's not cheap.
12. Shimokitazawa – Hipster Neighborhood #2
Koenji might be the best example of a "Hipster" area in Tokyo, but Shimokitazawa is a close second. It also features a large number of eclectic shops selling vintage clothing, music and more.
Plus, Shimokitazawa is home to a huge variety of bars and restaurants, some of them quite unique. It can be a super fun place to wander around, with lots of small winding streets to get lost in.
Shimokitazawa is also located close to Shibuya, so it's a relatively convenient place to live. And while it's not a cheap neighborhood either, it's generally a little more affordable than places like Ebisu and Nakameguro.
Tokyo Neighborhoods – the Bottom Line
The different Tokyo neighborhoods showcase just how diverse and unique the city really is. In fact, whether you’re an otaku, a history buff, or a foodie, Tokyo definitely has a town that can cater to your specific needs and preferences.
More than the convenience and opportunities you’ll find in Tokyo, these towns show just how much Japan’s capital has to offer its visitors and residents alike. They also highlight what makes this city distinct from the others.
So, if you’re planning to visit or move to Tokyo soon, you might want to consider exploring the different Tokyo neighborhoods. Not only will doing so help you learn more about the city’s rich history and unique culture, but it can also make your stay even more worthwhile.
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