Check out this list full of unusual things to do in Tokyo especially if you are a first-time visitor!
Tokyo is an incredible city that’s full of color and popular tourist sites.
But there are also plenty of hidden gems in Tokyo, you just need to know where to look.
This list of cool things to do in Tokyo is perfect for first-timers, but I also think seasoned Tokyo travelers will discover something new too!
And if it’s your first time traveling to Japan, check out my Japanese traveling tips!
I’ve made sure to include some of the more popular unusual things to do in Tokyo, Akihabara Electric Town, as well as some more off-the-beaten-path things to do in Tokyo.
Whether you want to explore Tokyo’s Electric Town, have dinner in the Vampire Café, or experience a VR art exhibit, there are plenty of must-see attractions in Tokyo.
So let’s take a look at 15 unusual things to do in Tokyo for first-timers!
- Gotokuji Temple
- The Vampire Cafe
- Akihabara Electric Town
- Tokyo Joypolis
- One-of-a-kind Museums
- Gold Leaf Soft Serve Ice Cream
- Asakusa Underground Street
- Omori Shell Mounds
- Stars Plaza
- Shop at Don Quijote
- Vending Machine Scavenger Hunt
- Costume Shopping at Cospatio
- See The View From The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
- See A Geisha Show
15 Unusual Things To Do In Tokyo For First-Timers
You’ve probably seen a Manekineko, or ‘lucky cat’, statue at some point, and probably never knew what it meant.
It’s typically a white cat, with its right paw raised, and often it’s holding a coin in its paw.
The symbol of the Lucky Cat, Manekineko in Japanese, is based on a Japanese folk tale about a lord who was beckoned into a Buddhist temple by a white cat.
He followed the cat, and ended up avoiding a thunderstorm and had a great conversation with the temple master – which he considered lucky!
And he believed that it was the white cat that brought him luck!
Today, the Gotokuji Temple is built on the site where the lord supposedly first encountered the lucky white cat in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo.
The temple is full of white lucky cat statues that visitors have brought as offerings, asking the temple god for their luck, prosperity, wealth, and happiness.
If you’re looking for a unique thing to do in Tokyo that is full of Japanese folk history, then check out the Gotokuji Temple.
Book Your Here: Gotokuji Walking Tour
Vampire Café Is One Of The Unusual Places To Visit In Tokyo
Tokyo is known for its unique café culture, from animal cafes to maid cafes, there’s something for everyone. But one of the most unusual things to do in Tokyo is easily the Vampire Café.
The Vampire Café is located in Ginza, the most popular shopping district in Tokyo, known for its high-end fashion boutiques.
If you’re looking for an experience that you can only get in Tokyo, then look no further!
You’ll exit the elevator and immediately step into a small parlor with mirrored walls and a small podium for the host, who will appear from behind a curtained coffin-shaped doorway.
A thrall (the wait staff) will show you to your table in a dark and secluded booth that is separated from others by curtains.
All of the menu items have funny names that are exactly what you’d expect.
Like the ‘coffin where a vampire sleeps’ (garlic bread) and the ‘resurrection ritual to awaken the dark one’ (Caesar salad with salmon and avocado).
Akihabara Electric Town
One of the most popular Tokyo tourist spots for tech and anime lovers is Akihabara Electric Town.
In this Tokyo shopping district, there are so many unique shops to explore.
If you love anime, manga, and video games I highly suggest you stop by the Tokyo Anime Center. It’s full of cool anime, manga, and video game items – and some of them you can only find in Tokyo!
Radio Kaikan is another famous place in Tokyo thanks to its 10 floors of collectibles, toys, and trading cards.
In Akihabara Electric Town you’ll also find some of the unique Tokyo cafes, especially the famous Maid Cafes.
Book Your Guided Akihabara Electric Town Tour Here: Getyourguide.com
A Most Unusual Thing To Do In Tokyo Is Visit Pigment
If you’re an artist and wondering what to do in Tokyo, I suggest stopping by Pigment.
Pigment is one of the more unique things to do in Tokyo because there aren’t many stores like it in the world.
It’s an art supply store, but it is unlike any other you’ll ever see!
They carry over 4,500 different pigment colors sourced from high-quality natural materials, 600 different brush styles, and more rare and valuable art supplies.
Pigment also has a Lab where they are constantly testing new artistic techniques and host workshops where they teach cutting-edge artistic techniques.
This Tokyo hidden gem is an artist’s dream and you can easily spend a few hours exploring.
Joypolis is an indoor amusement park, created by SEGA, that has several locations throughout Japan.
The Tokyo Joypolis has three floors of fun for the whole family.
On the first floor, you’ll find two rollercoasters, a VR game, and an interactive pirate ride.
The second floor features more VR games, another coaster, and a seasonal attraction space that changes themes throughout the year.
Tokyo Joypolis’ third floor has three more roller coasters, a few dark rides, a 3d ride, and some smaller attractions that change frequently.
There is something for every age, height level, and taste at this super cool thing to do in Tokyo!
Get Your Entry Ticket Here: To Tokyo Joypolis
Explore One Of The Unique Museums
Tokyo is full of some cool and unique museums.
One of the most popular museums in Tokyo, thanks to social media, is the Digital Art Museum: Epson teamLab Borderless.
It’s a 10,000-square-meter space full of different rooms where art is digitally displayed in each room and meant to be interactive. It’s the first digital art museum in the world!
Along with the wonderful, there are also some weird museums in Tokyo.
Like the Meguro Parasitological Museum, dedicated to the study of parasites, or the Unko Museum, which means the “Poop Museum”.
There’s also the Cup Noodles Museum, where you can make your cup noodles to take with you, or the Ghibli Museum, dedicated to the world of Studio Ghibli films.
Get Your Tickets Here: teamLab Digital Art Museum Entry
Gold Leaf Soft Serve Ice Cream
Most people take a trip to the Imperial Palace Outer Gardens to try and take a peak at the Imperial Palace while they’re in Tokyo.
They do this because without scheduling far in advance and passing all the security screenings to enter the Imperial Palace, the Outer Gardens are the closest you can get.
But what most people don’t know is that while you’re there, you can get a cone of gold leaf-flecked ice cream!
Right by the statue of Kusunoki Massashige is the Japanese Sweet Parlor Kusunoki. There, they serve vanilla and matcha soft serve ice cream – and you can add edible gold leaf flecks to it!
It’s one of the few places outside of the ‘City of Gold Leaf’, Kanazawa Japan, where you can find gold leaf-decorated soft serve!
If you’re planning to visit one of the most famous Tokyo landmarks, I suggest enjoying a gold leaf ice cream cone while you’re there!
Book Your Imperial Palace Garden Tour Here
Asakusa Underground Street
The Asakusa District is another popular Tokyo tourist attraction thanks to its extensive shopping options and the Senso-ji Temple.
But a lot of people don’t know about the Tokyo hidden gem located underneath their feet!
The Asakusa Underground Street is the oldest subterranean shopping district in Japan, accessed only by a stairway that looks pretty unassuming.
Here you’ll find an array of vendors selling everything from vintage Japanese goods, a few old-school barbershops, and some of the most authentic Vietnamese and Thai eateries in Tokyo.
If you’re looking to step away from the hustle and bustle of the streets above and experience one of the most unusual things to do in Tokyo, you’ve got to explore the Asakusa Underground Street.
Book Your Tickets: Asakusa District Guided Tour
Omori Shell Mound
Due to an earthquake that created a massive fire and damage during WWII, there aren’t a lot of ‘old’ structures remaining in Tokyo.
But, you can still find pieces of ancient Tokyo history if you know where to look!
I think the Omori Shell Mounds are one of the coolest Tokyo landmarks that many people don’t know about.
The Omori Shell Mounds are an ancient dump site in Tokyo and archeologists have searched the area for decades.
Inside the remnants of the mounds, they’ve found ancient earthenware vessels, animal bones, and ancient stone implements.
You can find the mounds in the Omori Shell Mounds Park in the Shinagawa District while you’re out Tokyo sightseeing.
Book Your Customizable Tokyo Sightseeing Tour Here
One Of The Most Unique Things To Do In Tokyo Is to Visit Stars Plaza
Most people know about the ‘Walk of Fame’ in Hollywood.
But most people don’t know that Japan has their version, located in Tokyo, called Stars Plaza.
Stars Plaza is located in Asakusa, outside of the Asakusa Public Hall.
It was created in 1979 and features the handprints and signatures of celebrities – particularly those associated with the Asakusa district in Tokyo.
New celebrities are honored with their spot in Stars Plaza every March, along with a huge celebration.
Book Your Tokyo Hidden Gems Tour Here
Shopping At Don Quijote Is One Of The Unique Things To Do In Tokyo
One of the best places to find unique souvenirs is also one of the best places to visit in Tokyo – Don Quijote!
Don Quijote is a chain store known as the ‘biggest discount store in Japan’. It’s a store that has some of everything – plus they offer tax-free receipts for foreign travelers!
No Don Quijote store is the same, and I’ve been to several different ones. At each one, I find something new!
Whether you’re looking for kitschy souvenirs, funny souvenirs, R-rated souvenirs, or anything in between I highly recommend a stop into Japan’s best discount store!
Even if you leave the store empty-handed, which I highly doubt, it’s one of the more fun and unusual things to do in Tokyo!
Book Your Shopping Tour In Tokyo Here
Go On A Vending Machine Scavenger Hunt
Like its café culture, Japan is also known for its unique, and abundant, vending machines.
There are truly vending machines all over Japan – often in seemingly bizarre and out-of-the-way places.
So, I think one of the most unusual things to do in Tokyo is to go on a vending machine scavenger hunt.
I’ve seen vending machines in Tokyo that sell macrons, hot ramen, freshly squeezed juice, bottles of sriracha, beautiful cakes in cans, and even bugs!
Make a scavenger list of vending machines you want to find, and then go out and explore!
It’s a really fun way to adventure around Tokyo – and you’ll probably find a vending machine full of items you would have never imagined.
Book Your Go-Kart Adventure Tour of Tokyo
Find A Costume At Cospatio Is One Of The Truly Unique Things To Do In Tokyo
Japan is the birthplace of ‘Cosplay’ – which is dressing up in costumes to represent a specific character, often from your favorite movie or TV show.
So there’s no better place to get an epic cosplay costume than Cospatio, a one-of-a-kind cosplay costume shop, and one of the most unique things to do in Tokyo.
Cospatio is located in Chiyoda district in Tokyo, and it’s a massive shop!
They have everything from full costumes to materials you can use if you are creating your own costume from scratch.
You can even custom order a costume from them that is specifically made to fit you – and everything is top quality.
Cospatio is the cosplayer’s dream shop, and it’s one of the coolest hidden gems in Tokyo.
Book Your Anime And Gaming Adventure Tour Here
Check Out The View From The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Tokyo Japan at night is a city like no other – even New York City can’t compare. That’s because Tokyo is actually the largest city in the world.
One of the best places to see Tokyo Japan at night is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.
Most people will pay to go up the Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Skytree to see the view – which is fun.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building has two free observation decks – and they are often less crowded than the more popular Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree.
If you don’t do anything else on this list, you have to see the Tokyo skyline at night at this hidden gem in Tokyo.
Book Your Asakusa and Tokyo Skytree Tour
See A Geisha Show Is One Of The Most Unique Things To Do In Tokyo
Gieshas are Japanese women who are rigorously trained to be entertainers, and in fact, they are highly skilled artists and entertainers.
There is a common misconception that Geishas were all sex workers in ancient Japan – but that isn’t entirely true.
For the most part, they were artists, entertainers, and business owners first and foremost.
However, they could choose ‘patrons’ and had the autonomy to make that choice for themselves.
Today, the art of the Geisha is still very much alive in Tokyo and Kyoto, but it is a dying art. There are only five Hanamachi in Tokyo and six in Kyoto.
These are the only eleven places in the world where you can have the chance to see a traditional Geisha show – which makes it one of the more unusual things to do in Tokyo!
Book Your Traditional Performing Arts Show
Packing Tips When Searching For Things To Do In Tokyo
Need packing tips? Read my guide on how to pack lightly for your next trip.
This unisex RFID-blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colors.
These RFID sleeves would be handy in preventing identity theft.
This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips.
My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek Selfie Stick and Tripod for my birthday. It has Bloothtooth connectivity so it is very easy to use.
This world traveler adapter kit can charge several devices at the same time.
This is the exact set of packing organizers I use whenever I travel.
I never leave home on a trip without my Bobble filtration bottle. the 18.5-ounce size is perfect for travel and it fits nicely in the pocket of a backpack or your purse.
And the replaceable carbon filter ensures fresh clean water whenever you fill the Bobble.
This foldable water-resistant backpack would be great. It is very affordable and is available in many colors.
I highly recommend these Vionics adjustable strap orthotic sandals. I have several pairs of Vionics that I bring with me *everywhere* I travel. They are very comfortable.
These unisex polarized sunglasses come in a lot of lens colors and frame designs and are extremely affordable too.
If you are fond of the aviator-style of sunglasses these polarized aviators may interest you.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualified purchases.
Where To Stay In Tokyo
Prince Park Tower Tokyo – This is a premium hotel option in the heart of Tokyo! The Prince Park Tower Tokyo boasts epic views of the city skyline – right by the Tokyo Tower!
It’s within walking distance of a major subway station and JR train station, tons of restaurants, and plenty of Tokyo attractions.
Check Rates Here: Booking.com
Muji Hotel Ginza – Ginza is the major luxury shopping district in Tokyo. So the Muji Hotel Ginza is perfect if you want to place yourself in one of the best shopping districts in the world!
It’s also right by many major attractions, like the Chirori Memorial and the Godzilla statue.
Check Rates Here: Booking.com
Hyatt Regency Tokyo – When you’re exploring unusual things to do in Tokyo, the Hyatt Regency Tokyo is a great home base.
It’s in Shinjuku, which is an extremely popular tourist destination in Tokyo. It’s also directly connected to the train station and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.
Check Rates Here: Booking.com
How To Get To Tokyo
Since it’s the largest city in the world, there are tons of ways to get to Tokyo.
There are two major airports – Narita International Airport and Haneda International Airport.
Here are my tips on how to navigate a long-haul flight!
And here are my tips on how to avoid getting sick on a plane!
If you’re already in Japan, you can typically reach Tokyo from most major cities in Japan via the bullet train!
The Weather In Tokyo
Tokyo is known for having a humid subtropical climate. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have four distinct seasons!
The best equivalent to Tokyo weather is probably the Mid-Atlantic region in the US.
There are hot and humid days in the summer, but it can get pretty cold in the winter months.