A Guide To Tokyo's Neighbourhoods: Part 1
The sprawling metropolis of Tokyo is an exhilarating place to visit. With its diverse mix of leafy parks, serene shrines, and endless shopping and dining opportunities there's definitely something for everyone to enjoy.
If you're wondering which areas to explore first, then look no further! Today we're excited to announce the first of a 2 part guide to Tokyo's neighbourhoods, courtesy of Deal Checker. We're kicking off with the first 4 today - Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Nakameguro and Harajuku.
Busy, bustling and always full of life, Ikebukuro is a humming commercial and entertainment district with much to offer the curious Tokyo visitor. Never knowingly mediocre, its most renowned mall, Sunshine City, is home to an aquarium, planetarium and amusement park, surrounded by streets that simmer with performances and anime enthusiasts touting their wares. What really makes this neighbourhood tick however, is its foodie scene. Aromatic stalls selling succulent gyoza and frothy bowlfuls of ramen can be found on every street corner, and experimental culinary enthusiasts have set up shop in Ikebukuro’s countless avant-garde restaurants, noodle bars and, that’s right, cat cafes. Seeking a real taste of Tokyo? You’ve found it!
What not to miss…
● Yamanote Line - Ikebukuro’s main vein of shopping, eating and entertainment, this extended train station runs through the heart of the neighbourhood.
● Nishiguchi Park - A tranquil haven amongst the hustle, Nishiguchi Park is a green space in which to relax and take a weight off.
● Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space - A glittering, angular example of pioneering architecture, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space is home to an ever-changing roster of exhibitions and performances.
● Sunshine City - A monolithic shopping mall, as well as its plethora of boutiques and stores, Sunshine City houses an aquarium, amusement park, planetarium and an observation deck from which to take in the views from above.
Nearest tube station: Ikebukuro
Fast-paced and endlessly energetic, Shinjuku is at the helm of all things business and commercial in the city. With street upon street and plaza upon plaza of designer boutiques, glimmering malls, K-Pop shops and rickety stalls, if you’ve got Yen burning a hole in your pocket, this is the place to spend it. Shinjuku’s Koreatown is a tangle of fragrant street-food, life-sized anime characters and trashy karaoke bars in which to warble away an evening. As well as some of Tokyo’s most vibrant and ebullient nightlife, Shinjuku is also home to the city’s busiest train station - its endless cycle of commuters seething through barriers on the daily commute is worth witnessing alone.
What not to miss…
● Tokyo’s skyscrapers - Home to the city’s largest concentration of skyscrapers, Shinjuku keeps on rising. ● Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building - An imposing structure with some of the best city skyline views around from its top deck.
● Nightlife and micro bars - Shinjuku is home to many of the city’s greatest clubs, bars, lounges and venues. Golden Gai is a great place to start - big enough to sink a few pints, this street of poky watering holes is a novelty way to get the party started.
● Pachinko parlours - The Japanese equivalent of a games arcade, these parlours of fun are dotted throughout Shinjuku. ● Shinjuku Gyoen - One of Tokyo’s best loved parks, this expansive green space is especially beautiful in cherry blossom season.
● Shinjuku Ni-chōme - A multi-coloured warren of streets and the centre of the city’s gay culture.
Nearest tube stations: Shinjuku, Tochomae, Nakanosakaue, Shinjukugyoen-Mae and Shinjuku-Nishiguchi
A trendy, canal-side enclave of the Meguro District, laid back Nakameguro is best enjoyed in full bloom, when the iconically Japanese cherry blossoms embellish its narrow streets and hang in garlands across the water. It is also during this season that Nakameguro’s canal is lined with food stalls and pop-up bars, and residents spill out to soak in the atmosphere. As you might expect of a hip, city hangout, Nakameguro has more than its fair share of chic coffee houses, vintage stores, izakayas and bookshops, most of which can be found along the buzzing Nakameguro Ginza, which also happens to be the district’s oldest shopping street.
What not to miss…
● Cherry blossom season - Usually taking place in the Spring between the start of March and end of April, this is the prime time to visit Nakameguro.
● Nakameguro Ginza - The district’s oldest shopping street, overflowing with vintage shops and izakayas.
● The canal - Running right through the heart of Nakameguro, the serene canal is hard to miss, and endlessly picturesque.
Nearest tube stations: Naka-meguro and Maguro
Renowned the world over for its unique, candy-pop-and-sparkles trends, Harajuku explodes from Tokyo’s streets in a kaleidoscopic cataclysm of colour, cosplay and Kawaii. Often revered as the city’s fashion capital, this flamboyant congregation of self-styled icons is Tokyo at its most spirited, youthful and experimental. The neighbourhood’s Takeshita Dori is the hub of all things Harajuku-cool - a street lined with neon fashion shops and boutiques overflowing with weird trinkets and wacky costumes. Omotesando Avenue adds an element of elegance and class to the area, often referred to as ‘Tokyo’s Champs-Elysees’ and home to a sprinkling of high-end restaurants and designer stores. Whatever your style, Harajuku welcomes you into its fold - come as you are, and leave as you want to be.
What not to miss…
● Meiji Jingu Shrine - A little out of Harajuku’s multi-coloured hordes, this ancient temple is a beautiful example of ancient architecture.
● Takeshita Dori - Lined with quirky fashion shops and unique boutiques, this is the street on which to kit yourself out with all the latest Harajuku trends.
● Omotesando Avenue - Airy and chic, this is the neighbourhood’s most upscale shopping destination.
● Harajuku Station street art - The neighbourhood’s main station is a hotbed of some of the city’s best graffiti art.
● Street food - Street vendors line every street, and Harajuku is particularly renowned for its crepes.
● Harajuku Taproom - One of Tokyo’s only microbreweries, this is a great way to sample the local hops.
Nearest tube stations: Harajuku and Meiji Jingu-Mae
Next week we'll be bringing you an insight into other 5 Tokyo neighbourhoods. But if you can't wait that long - head on over to Deal Checker to view the full article online.