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50 Unusual And Weird Things To Do In Tokyo Every First Timer Must Try!

50 Unusual And Weird Things To Do In Tokyo Every First Timer Must Try!

Tokyo, one of the world’s biggest and most vibrant metropolises, is a crazy mix of past present and future that intoxicates travelers without fail. While you could stick to the traditional sites of Tokyo, why not spend some time exploring its weird and wonderful side? 

Follow this list of 50 weird things to do in Tokyo, and you are guaranteed to see the real Tokyo and better understand this mysterious and passion-filled city!

what to do in tokyo - ueno station

I had to limit myself to just 50 because – well for my sanity if I’m honest, and I didn’t think anyone would bother to read more than 50. But I’ve left some other bizarre attractions and things to do in Tokyo at the end of the article which I didn’t get the chance to experience – but they are 100% on my list for the next visit very, very soon!

Take your time to explore the neon-light landscape, seek out the curious and unusual, eat your heart out in the city that has more Michelin stars than any other, and let your soul wander freely. You never quite know what you will come across…

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Tokyo is a city you are never, ever going to see all of – let alone in one trip – so there is no need to stress about seeing everything all at once. For first-timers in Japan, I’d recommend one week, but you can easily spend more. If you are traveling more around Japan, get your JR Pass before you fly to save yourself time and money, and be sure to book your hotel in Tokyo far in advance.

The best options for hotels in Tokyo sell out months in advance, and choices last-minute are limited at best (and because everyone keeps asking where to stay in Tokyo, the Godzilla Hotel aka the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku is my favorite option)

godzilla hotel tokyo - hotel gracery shinjuku
Want To See More Of Japan ? Take a look at JR Rail Pass prices now...🤩

50 Unusual And Weird Things To Do In Tokyo Every First Timer Must Try!🗼

Page Contents

1. Have Your Own Mario Go Kart Adventure On The Streets Of Tokyo

I had to include this right off the bat, going on a real-life Mario Kart tour through the busy streets of Tokyo was one of the most bizarre and unusual things to do in Tokyo. There is nothing quite like it in the world, and besides getting your heart pumping and adrenaline running – you will probably be the most popular guy in Tokyo with locals running after your just for a picture!

Mario Go Kart Adventure On The Streets Of Tokyo

2. Shop Up A Storm At The Bizarre Don Quijote Store

Don Quijote is the biggest discount store in Japan, but it is so, so much more than that. Many are open 24/7 and sell everything you can imagine from Kit Kats and anime collectibles to children’s toys and sex toys (right next to each other in this case). Don Quijote is now on every tourist’s list of weird things to do in Tokyo – and for a good reason!

The largest Don Quijote in Tokyo is the newly opened Mega Don Quijote in Shibuya, but the Don Quijote in Shinjuku or Akihabara is pretty huge too! The perfect place to sort all your cute Japanese souvenirs!

Bizarre Don Quijote Store Shinjuku - tokyo attractions


   

3. Get Re-Fuelled At Any Katsuya Restaurant Chain Store

The Katsuya restaurants are basically Japanese McDonald’s, but far cheaper. There is fast service, large portions, a delicious Katsu, salad, and soup set menu, and an English menu. Katuysa can be found everywhere and are conveniently is designed to get in and get out: perfect for a busy day exploring Tokyo.

Katsuya Tokyo even hands out discount coupons good for any location after each meal, so once you have found one, you’re likely to return again and again. Who said Tokyo on a budget wasn’t possible!

Katsuya Restaurant Chain Store Tokyo - top things to do in tokyo

4. Experience Otaku Culture and Tokyo’s Akihabara Neighborhood

Otaku, in Japan, is generally a young person obsessed with computers or particular aspects of popular culture (generally to the detriment of their social skills). In Akihabara, they find a home with plenty of maid cafes, video game shops, and cosplayers shops.

Most of these are featured separately on this list – but the area itself is colorful and worth exploring on its own to see what new and bizarre things in Tokyo you will find. Anime fans can also find filming locations in Akihabara of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 and Darker than Black that are famous on Netflix Japan.

For a more female-centric version, head to Ikebukuro, where butler cafes are all the rage, along with indie stores for anime and manga.

Tokyo's Akihabara Neighborhood - places to visit in tokyo


   

5. Unleash Your Inner Child At The Yamashiroya Toy Store

Competition is fierce for the best toy shop in Tokyo. Still, the Yamashiroya Toy Store must surely top the list with seven floors of pretty much every weird and wonderful toy or collectible you could ever imagine. You could easily spend hours inside Yamashiroya Toy Store – I’m not even kidding.

Our favorite finds where a cat piano, naked baby figurines, a Pokemon chess set, an entire Totoro corner, and more Moomin collectibles that I ever saw in Finland!  Conveniently located a one minute walk from Ueno Station, the Yamashiroya Toy Store is one of the most unusual places to explore in Tokyo (and I loved it!).

Yamashiroya Toy Store Ueno Station Toyko tourist attractions

6. Get Lost In The Gaint Uniqlo Ginza Flagship Store

Uniqlo, the Japanese casual wear designer, currently taking the world by storm, has its flagship store in Ginza, and you really should check it out. Cheap fast fashion with a difference selling high quality, modern wardrobe essentials that are not going out of style – Uniqlo has become an international phenomenon (move over H&M!)!

If you’re a fan, you have to visit the Uniqlo Ginza store, sprawling a ridiculous 12 floors, making it the largest branch of Uniqlo in the world! No kidding this one store hires 530 staff – and around 100 of which are foreigners, so if you need some assistance in English, you’re in luck!

Gaint Uniqlo Ginza Flagship Store - Shopping in Tokyo


   

7. Visit The Rather Controversial Yasukuni Shrine

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to include the Yasukuni Shrine here, but if you’re going to understand Japan’s past and present, a trip here is essential. Founded by the order of Emperor Meiji in 1869, the Yasukuni Shrine commemorates and houses the souls of all those who died in service of Japan from 1868 through to the end of WW2.

Controversy exists due to the enshrinement of war criminals (as decided by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East) here and the connected war museum, which is somewhat nationalist.

The shrine is often described as “a microcosm of a revisionist and unapologetic approach to Japanese crimes of World War II,” claims which still plague Japan to this day. The frequent far-right activities and protests which occur here, along with visits to the shrine by Japanese Diet cabinet members in general and Prime Ministers in particular.

For the full story, read the controversies surrounding Yasukuni Shrine or just read about the cute, cuddly, and iconic Kyoto Fox Shrine instead. 

Controversial Yasukuni Shrine Tokyo

8. Wander Down Takeshita-Dori, a.k.a The Famous Harajuku Lane

Probably the most touristy spot in Tokyo, Takeshita-dori, or Harajuku Lane is still an unusual thing to do in Tokyo solely for the crazy array of shops and boutiques focussed on peculiar fashion items for mainly high school girls.

Designated an adult entertainment-free area by local authorities, there are no pachinko parlors or dirty sex shops anywhere nearby. Still, plenty of young teens (or older) can be spotted here exhibiting the latest in crazy Harajuku fashion trends.

Watch on perplexed as they each try to out-do each other with their eccentric outfit, all while waiting in line for the latest soft-serve ice cream phenomenon to open in the lane.

akeshita-dori a.k.a The Famous Harajuku Lane - things to see in tokyo


   

9. Take a Gamble In Any Of The Pachinko Parlours In Tokyo

What used to be a harmless recreation game has skyrocketed to popularity as Japan’s #1 gambling game of choice. Noisy, smoky,  garishly lit and oh-so-hypnotic this Pachinko Parlours are dotted all over the cityscape, and it would be hard not to find one merely wandering Tokyo for a few hours.

Pachinko is only government-tolerated as gambling is illegal in Japan. Some places can feel a little seedy – but practically everyone in Tokyo seems to go here. Choose a particularly bright one, head in, and drop a few hundred yen trying to figure out this weird pinball-esque game.

If you want to learn how to play and spend waste a few hours, head to the MARUHAN Pachinko Parlour in Shinjuku, which has a reputation for being foreigner-friendly.

P.S There are rumored connections with the Japanese mafia, though most have cleaned up their act recently. Still, I didn’t want to photograph any of the Pachinko Parlours in Tokyo – so enjoy a photo of the original style Pachinko I found in Nasu – north of Tokyo!

Pachinko Parlours In Tokyo

10. Marvel & Take Part In The Famous Shibuya Scramble

The busiest intersection in the world outside the Shibuya Station Hachikō exit, you can’t miss the iconic site of hundreds or even thousands of people running in all directions with every pulsing light change – Yes, the Shibuya Scramble really is a scramble!

For the best view, head to the Starbucks Shibuya Crossing location, which has an epic bar with front-row seats from above, though you better be prepared to wait up to an hour or more for positions.

If you have a bit more cash to splash, there is always the L’Occitane Cafe Shibuya across the road for a far more refined way to view the chaos. I have literally sat and watched this go on for hours, it’s insanely hypnotic and one of the weirdest things to do in Tokyo!

Famous Shibuya Scramble - what to see in tokyo

11. Pretend To Be A Ginza Richlister For The Day

Or hey, maybe you don’t need to pretend, which will probably make it even more fun to explore Ginza, the most esteemed neighborhood in Japan where all the top fashion, gourmet, beauty, and luxury brands are located. No kidding, this neighborhood is so filthy rich Ginza’s Public Elementary School recently announced new Armani uniforms for all students.

Kashoen Boutique Ginza.Tokyu Plaza Ginza. Matsuya Ginza. Suzunoya Ginza. Sanrio World Ginza. Toriba Coffee Ginza… These are just a few of the luxury malls here, but I think you get the idea. So pack your credit card (or better yet, leave it at home!), don your best attire, and window shop like you’re going to buy it!

A visit to Ginza is best on weekend afternoons when the main street is closed and becomes a large pedestrian zone; I guess they have to make the ordinary people feel welcome sometimes…

where to go in tokyo - Ginza Richlister

12. Dine At The Kawaii Monster Cafe in Harajuku

Kawaii, or the Japanese obsession with cuteness, is in full force at the Kawaii Monster Cafe – found in the already bizarre Harajuku district. Best described as a child’s psychedelic dreams come to life with plenty of vivid colors and sounds, the Kawaii Monster Cafe is one of the most popular things to do in Harajuku.

Inside there is  (to name a few) a merry-go-round of life-sized gummy bears and sweets, a jellyfish cocktail bar, gender-bending wait staff, and rainbow-colored food that often looks like it was thrown up by a baby unicorn. Like so many other weird things to do in Tokyo – I’m at a lack of words to describe this place, so your just going to have to book the Kawaii Monster Cafe and experience for yourself!

Another option for kawaii-ness is to visit the new Pokemon Cafe in Tokyo – which I loved so much I had to write an entirely separate article…

Kawaii Monster Cafe in Harajuku - top 10 things to do in tokyo


   

13. Taste Delicious & Cheap Sushi At Genki Sushi

A famous chain of conveyor belt sushi restaurants established in 1990. Genki Sushi has now expanded worldwide, but it still just tastes best in Japan, where you can order hundreds of sushi combinations, including horse meat sashimi and a sushi burrito off a tablet in front of you and have them all come whizzing along on a train direct to you.

All the fun of a sushi train – but none of the ‘what on Earth did I just pick up.’ My favorite Genki Sushi outlet was the Genki Sushi Shibuya, but be aware wait times can get very long in peak periods.

For maximum effect, try to get a table furthest away from the kitchen, and while you can order up to three things in on order, you should only order one thing at a time so you can maximize the deliveries!

Ginki Sushi Shibuya - fun things to do in tokyo

14. Take A Helicopter Trip Over The World’s Largest City

Sure, it’s not going to be cheap, but dam – taking a helicopter trip over Tokyo at night is going to be one of those things you never forget. Seeing the glittering glory extend out as far as the eye can see in all directions, there is no better way to appreciate the vastness and complexity of Tokyo.

Perfect for an anniversary or unique experience in Tokyo, and if you have got the cash to splash…Maybe take me?

Tokyo Helicopter Trip At Night


   

15. Party All Night In The Shinjuku Party District

If you’re a night owl who loves nothing more than hidden bars, smoky karaoke, and loud pop music, then you’re going to fit right into the Shinjuku nightlife scene. Hundreds of bars, clubs, and more dot the backstreets here, and even though this infamous area can feel sleazy – it’s perfectly safe, even at night.

In true Japanese style in the Kabukicho district of Shinjuku, you will find everything from fine dining to loud Irish pubs, deep underground clubs, and a side of sex and sleaze. If your more interested in gay nightlife in Tokyo, you have Shinjuku Ni-chome just a few blocks away, which is the beating heart of the Tokyo gay scene.

Party All Night In The Shinjuku Party District - things to do in tokyo japan

16. Discover Japanese Cuisine Beyond Sushi With A Tokyo Food Tour

There is no doubt that Tokyo is a foodie city, but finding the best of Japanese cuisine can be a real challenge amongst so many options. I highly recommend you try to book a Tokyo Food Tour to savor legendary Tokyo flavors and culture with the help of a local Tokyoite guide.

Try yakitori (skewered BBQ chicken) streetside, Monja-yaki Japanese pancakes at the place they were invented, or try wagashi, a traditional sweet with different flavors depending on the season. Food tours are possibly the quickest way to understand a city, and in Tokyo, this is no exception.

Tokyo Food Tour - places to see in tokyo


   

17. Spend The Day At The World’s Best Disneyland

I thought Disneyland would be the same everywhere in the world…How wrong I was!

Forget Harajuku, Disney  Resort Tokyo is where you are going to see the absolute weirdest outfits ever as teen Japanese go all out. The Japanese queue for absolutely everything (including to get selfies on blank walls), go crazy for curry popcorn (and other bizarre flavors) which must be consumed from limited edition Disney Popcorn buckets and all dress as twins in identical outfits (with identical soft-toys!) in something called the Osoroi Code…

DisneySea Tokyo
Discovering Hidden Gems And The Best Tokyo Local Experiences
DisneySea Tokyo

While Disneyland Tokyo is the worst Disneyland I have ever been to (and will probably never, ever return), I’m convinced DisneySea Tokyo is the best theme park in the entire world!!

Inspired by ocean tales and legends, DisneySea Tokyo has seven-themed areas and far too many attractions for just one day (I recommend two days). It’s like nothing else you have ever experienced. Such an unqualified statement may seem hyperbolic, but trust me on this – Once you visit DisneySea Tokyo, you are going to understand what I mean.

Disney Sea & Land Tokyo - Unusual Things To Do In Tokyo

18. Delight In The Spring Cherry Blossoms In Tokyo

The most famous annual event in Japan, the Sakura / Cherry Blossom event in Tokyo is fleeting – only lasting a few weeks at the end of March and beginning of April. During this time, millions of people take to the parks and cherry blossom viewing spots in Tokyo, and hotel prices surge.

Seeing an otherwise nature-free city suddenly covered in pink blossoms is rather otherworldly, and there is no better time to visit Tokyo – if you can afford it. Pack your camera, brace for the crowds and get your hotel in Tokyo sorted far in advance, the magic of cherry blossoms of Tokyo will make it all worth it!

Spring Cherry Blossoms In Tokyo


   

19. Seek Out All Of The Wacky Vending Machine in Tokyo

Vending machines are a way of life in Japan. With high labor costs and petty crime almost non-existent, you can find drink vending machines on practically every corner in Tokyo. The Japanese didn’t stop there, and nowadays, you name it, and chances are there is a vending machine for it.

Umbrellas, hamburgers, surgical masks, and I kid you not: Used Ladies’ Underpants (found on the ground floor of M’s pop life sex department store – in case you are wondering). I even heard rumors of a puppy vending machine but never managed to find one myself. Keep an eye out on all the vending machines around Tokyo to see the weirdest things you can come up with!

Wacky Vending Machine in Tokyo

20. See The House Of The Japanese Emperor, the Tokyo Imperial Palace.

Still very much in use by the Japanese Royal family, the Tokyo Imperial Palace cloistered away in the very heart of Tokyo is quite the sight to behold (if you can ever get in). The private grounds of the Tokyo Imperial Palace are only open to the general public on January 2nd (New Year’s Greeting) and on December 23rd (Emperor’s Birthday) when you can enter and see the members of the Imperial Family make public appearances from a balcony.

Your best bet of visiting the Tokyo Imperial Palace otherwise is reserving tickets far, far in advance – like as soon as you book your hotel in Toyko – for 75 minutes guided tour of the palace grounds held in Japanese.

Visit The the Tokyo Imperial Palace.


   

21. Step Back In Time At The Edo Wonderland Themepark

Technically not in Tokyo (ok-not at all) but only a 2-hour train trip away with the essential JR Pass, Edo Wonderland is a uniquely Japanese theme park that resurrects and showcases the life and culture of the Edo period. You can dress up for the day as a geisha, samurai, lord, or farmer and attend ninja training, geisha shows, oiran processions – all the while exploring an authentic town straight from the Edo period.

Edo Wonderland was perhaps the most fun things to do in Japan. Thanks to their handy shuttle, you can visit Edo Wonderland in one day from Tokyo, but I recommend taking a more extended stay in Nikko and enjoying Old Japan.

Edo Wonderland Themepark In Nikko

22. Visit Mandarake, The World’s Largest Anime And Manga Reseller

Established way back in 1987 as a pre-owned manga dealer, Mandrake today has morphed into Tokyo’s largest vendors of used anime and manga-related products with 25 branches in Tokyo. My favorite is Mandarake Akihabara, which spread out across eight floors, with each level dedicated to different collectibles, manga works, and art.

Not for the faint of hearted, the middle floors have some pretty hardcore anime works that cross some boundaries (let’s just say Japan only made the possession of child pornography at crime in 2014, and explicit anime is not covered). A time capsule of Japanese pop culture, a visit to the claustrophobic aisle of Mandarake has got to be one of the most unusual things to do in Tokyo, and if you’re not careful, you could spend days here.

Mandarake, The World's Largest Anime And Manga Reseller


   

23. Make A New Prickly Friend At A Tokyo Hedgehog Cafe

It seems no adorable creature is safe from Japan’s animal cafe crazy, and the latest iteration of this trend is the Tokyo Hedgehog Cafes (who needs cat’s and dog’s anyway right!). I was somewhat skeptical at first, but surprisingly Hedgehog’s are not as spiky as you would assume and are very kawaii. 

I visited Cheese Hedgehog Cafe in Akihabara, and while I still have reservations about the stress caused to these nocturnal animals,  I can say the staff here are genuinely passionate about their little buddies. They frequently swapping them out when they get tired and making sure everything is clean as a whistle.

Whether it’s your cup of tea or not, you have got to admit the Tokyo Hedgehog Cafe of the most unusual things to do in Tokyo, right?

Tokyo Hedgehog Cafe - weird things to do in tokyo

24. Visit The Insanely Popular Japanese Animation Studio Studio Ghibli Museum.

If you have gotten this far, you will probably have any idea how crazy Japan is over anime, and no place does this come together more than the Ghibli Museum.  See all the stories of Hayao Miyazaki’s creative mind in real life and spot the famous characters from this many films. If you don’t know about Studio Ghibli – creators of Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle – then you are missing out!

At the Studio Ghibli Museum, you can learn about the history and techniques of animation as well as visit the famous rooftop garden. Normally sold out weeks or even months in advance, no tickets are ever sold at the Studio Ghibli Museum, and you need to book far in advance to avoid missing out. If you’re a Studio Ghibli fan, you won’t want to miss this!

Studio Ghibli Museum - weird things to do in tokyo


   

25. Try Your Luck At Catching A Crowded Tokyo Subway At Peak Hour

You can’t claim to have seen or experienced Tokyo until you have been on the Tokyo subway at peak-hour. It is true – there is order in chaos. There is no better example of this than the Tokyo peak hour subway commute, where thousands of people somehow form snaking lines and fit themselves orderly and calmly into every available space in the subway cars.

It is not for the faint of heart, but luckily there usually are platform guards on hand with white gloves to give a diplomatic push to help get the doors close and the next subway along. I’d recommend avoiding the weekday rush hour peak in Tokyo between 8 am and 9 am and just after 5 pm, if possible – except for the first experience.

If you need to go, wait for a full train to depart, and then you will be front of the queue for the next one and quickly get in without having the doors close on half of you. If you have a backpack or suitcase in these hours, forget it and take a ride-share in Tokyo.  Want to save yourself from this unique experience in Tokyo? Just take a look at these photos of the Tokyo subway at rush-hour!

Tokyo Subway Rushhour - weird things to do in tokyo

26. Head To The Toto Daiken YKK AP Tokyo Collaboration Showroom

It doesn’t get much weirder than this, but yes, the Toto Daiken YKK AP Tokyo Collaboration Showroom is open to the public in the heart of Shinjuku – and they even have English guide-maps for you to show yourself around. A collaborative of iconic Japanese companies showing the very best of interior design, robotics, windows, and yes – Japanese toilets to the