Tokyo is a city all about discovery — getting lost in a neighbourhood and finding magic. Make sure you carve out time in your exploring for these six spots.
Yayoi Kusama Museum.
If you’re visiting Tokyo, it’s worth paying a visit to an entire museum showcasing the work of the queen of pop art, Yayoi Kusama. Located in the Shinjuku area, the museum is open from Thursdays to Sundays, and tickets must be purchased in advance for one of the four 90 minute time slots. Opened in 2017, the aim of the museum is to spread and promote Kusama’s art, exhibit her incredible works and related materials to contribute to the development of art as a whole. With two annual exhibitions — which in the past have included her legendary red polka dots, infinity/mirror room, and her pumpkins — it’s the perfect place to go if you’re in need of some inspiration (or just a good photo for your Instagram).
Kawaii Monster Cafe.
One of the most popular places to dine in Tokyo, Kawaii Monster Cafe is located in the heart of the city’s pop culture, Harajuku. Step inside, and you’ll feel like you’ve walked onto the set of a Tim Burton movie or Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The restaurant is supposed to evoke the spirit of Harajuku itself — colourful, flashy, loud, and growing outward, consuming everything in its path. Artist and stylist Sebastian Masuda is behind the lurid colours, surrealist installations and other-wordly outfits throughout the space. The menu is as vivid as its interior; serving up various unique and colourful dishes that range from a “candy salad” to bowls of multicoloured noodles. The waitstaff fit the Harajuku theme too: each dressed to reflect one of the five Monster Girl archetypes.
The Harajuku district is basically Tokyo’s style centre. Stores, boutiques, and food outlets geared toward Tokyo’s youth surround Takeshita Street, and there are more high-end restaurants, stores and cafes along Omotesando (referred to as the city’s Champs-Elysees): this is the area to spend all your hard-earned dollars; a world-renowned shopping destination where the ultra-chic come to browse, but also to be seen. One of the area’s other main attractions is its grand shrine, Meiji-jingu.
Rumoured to be the busiest intersection in the world (it definitely is in Japan), Shibuya Crossing is like the heart of Tokyo, sending people in all directions with every pulsing light change. Passed by about half a million people daily, the view of passengers coming from all directions at once is a sight to behold (and the hottest spot for a photo). Known as the city’s trendiest district, the crossing is surrounded by a number of malls, small boutiques, clubs, restaurants and bars. It’s also a popular location for films set in Tokyo — appearing in Lost in Translation and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. The sprawling intersection serves as an embodiment of Tokyo itself: action in all directions.
The Tokyo Skytree is the best way to get a view of the entire city. The television broadcasting tower stands at 634 metres tall — making it the country’s tallest structure, and the second tallest tower in the world. A shopping complex and aquarium are located at the base — and depending how well you stomach heights, the tower’s two observation decks are located at 350 and 450 metres respectively.
Animal-themed cafes are one of the most significant representations of kawaii (cuteness) culture in Japan — and there are plenty throughout Tokyo where you can meet, touch and play with all your favourite four-legged friends. And it’s not just cats and dogs — put one of the city’s owl or hedgehog cafes at the top of your must-visit list.