Tokyo is more than just a city; it’s the most populous urban center in the world. The city has more than 13 million residents (that’s more than NYC), and the greater metropolitan area is closing in on 38 million. In order to manage this sprawling metropolis, Tokyo is divvied up into 23 “special wards.” Each of these wards is a city in its own right, but the whole is governed by the metropolitan government.

My point is that Tokyo is big. So big, it’s liable to overwhelm visitors. If you want to tackle a city like Tokyo, your best bet is to do what the Japanese did: divvy it up into manageable portions. To get you started, here are three neighborhoods you don’t want to miss:

Akihabara: Northeast of central Tokyo—less than 2 miles from the Imperial Palace—you will want to visit “Akihabara Electric Town.” This is where you will find the newest technology. Shops here sell all the newest gadgets, video games, and manga. If you have an interest in the more unique aspects of Japanese culture, Akihabara is home to the first “maid café,” Cure Maid Café. Waitresses are dressed in black-and-white Victorian maid uniforms and pride themselves on offering friendly service.

Maid Cafe


Harajuku: Located on Tokyo’s west side, in Shibuya ward, Harajuku is considered the center of Japanese youth culture. The neighborhood is close to Tokyo’s popular Yoyogi Park and Meiji Shrine, so it attracts a lot of tourists. But Harajuku is best known for its shopping and is the city’s fashion district. You’ll find shocking outfits, eclectic style and cosplay at every turn. In addition to the usual high-end retail chains, visitors come to browse the smaller shops where fashion trends are made.


Roppongi: A couple miles southwest of the Imperial Palace, Roppongi has numerous bars and clubs. The area is perfect for experiencing the best of Tokyo’s nightlife and is popular with the city’s expats. We recommend joining Tokyo’s Pub Crawl, that visits at least 3 different bars/clubs and is perfect for the solo-traveler. The pub crawl includes with discounted cocktails and free shots at each bar.


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