Unforgettable Travel Company

The Best Hidden Neighborhoods in Tokyo

Tokyo is without question one of the world’s greatest travel destinations. Dedicated travelers could spend a week or more and feel like they have barely scratched the surface. 

The most commonly visited areas – Marunouchi, Shibuya, Asakusa, Ginza – will easily fill 2-3 days of sightseeing on their own. This leaves little opportunity to explore the Japanese capital’s more unique, traditional, or downright unusual districts. 

Should you find yourself with some valuable extra time, or are simply curious to stray a little, below is our list of hidden gems in Tokyo – away from the beaten path. We’ve picked just five neighborhoods here, with many more sadly not making the cut. If you’re looking for ideas on how to spend your time in Tokyo, particularly if you have specific interests (food, history, arts, shopping, technology, anime…), please let your consultant know and they will be very happy to discuss!

Vintage shopping in Shimokitazawa Tokyo

Shimokitazawa

Located a few stops west of Shibuya and Shinjuku, Shimokitazawa is a laidback and somewhat bohemian district, popular with younger Tokyoites. 

Fewer chain stores, glitz, and neon; Shimokita is packed with vintage clothing shops, cafes, and low-key music venues. The shopping streets are great for strolling, people-watching, and dining both night and day. 

Buildings in Ebisu District Tokyo

Ebisu

Set on the site of a former brewery, Ebisu is a gourmand’s dream. This compact neighborhood at the southern end of Shibuya houses dozens of small, independent eateries catering for both high-end and casual and everything in between. 

It’s a particularly great area to try out tachinomaya – standing bars – which are an ideal pitstop after an hour or two in Yebisu’s Beer Station beer hall.

Bustling streets in Harajuku Tokyo

Harajuku

Just one stop around the JR Yamanote Line from Shibuya Station, Harajuku is Tokyo’s most infamous youth district. As the epicenter of teenage Tokyo, it is not a subtle area: fashion stores, record shops, fast food, gaming – all color, all noise, all fun. 

A good tip is to visit on a Sunday and combine with a walk into Yoyogi Park, which sees weekend congregations of Tokyo’s more obscure sub-cultures: rockabillies, cosplayers, dance crews, and street artists.

Sunrise over Yanaka district Tokyo

Yanaka

A short walk north of Ueno, Yanaka Ginza has survived earthquakes, fires, and WWII bombing to stand as one of Tokyo’s last remaining ‘shitamachi’ – old-style neighborhoods. 

The district is a throwback to the Edo period – a world away from the department stores and neon lights of Ginza and Shinjuku. Spend a pleasant afternoon perusing its quiet streets, antique shops, and small temples, or stroll through the picturesque tree-lined Yanaka cemetery.

Cherry blossom in Naka Meguro district Tokyo

Nakameguro

Stylish but laidback, this quiet and artsy district houses numerous galleries, boutiques, and uber-cool cafes and restaurants. The district is cut through by the Meguro river, a narrow canal that is flanked by cherry trees, making this area a prime spot for hanami – cherry blossom viewing – every March and April. 

Nakameguro pairs well with neighboring Daikanyama, one stop further down the Tokyu Toyoko Line. This area is home to high-end boutiques, trendy coffee shops, and possibly the world’s best bookstore, Tsutaya located in Daikanyama T Site.

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