2020 is set to be an exciting year for Tokyo with the city hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics as well as new attractions and hotels opening up for visitors.
From diving into digital art at teamLab Borderless to staying at the new Muji hotel and checking out the first official Nintendo store, there are so many reasons to visit Tokyo this year. Here's my guide on the 20 top things to do in Tokyo in 2020.
- 1. Dive into the digital art at teamLab Borderless
- 2. Test your athletic skills at the Japan Olympic Museum
- 3. Take in the 360 degree panoramic views at Shibuya Sky
- 4. Enter into a digital dreamscape in one of Tokyo's favorite aquariums
- 5. Check out the first Nintendo store and new Pokemon Center
- 6. Watch live tuna auctions at the newly opened Toyosu Fish Market
- 7. Go wine tasting at a Tokyo winery
- 8. Have a peaceful breakfast at a Buddhist Temple
- 9. Take in the Tokyo sights while fine dining on a bus
- 10. Relax at a new Tokyo park - Share Green Minami Aoyama
- 11. Eat your way through the Tsukiji Outer Market
- 12. Immerse yourself in the Muji experience
- 13. Attend the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympic Games
- 14. Pamper your feet at an ashiyu cafe
- 15. Visit side streets by Harajuku's Takeshitadori Street
- 16. Waft incense for health and good luck at Sensoji Temple
- 17. Visit a museum that is outside your comfort zone
- 18. See cherry blossoms before the crowds
- 19. Watch the Shibuya Scramble Crossing from Starbucks
- 20. Snap a photo with the most loyal dog in Japan
1. Dive into the digital art at teamLab Borderless
One of the most jaw-dropping attractions in Tokyo is teamLab Borderless, the world's first digital art museum which opened in 2018.
All your senses will be stimulated as you navigate throughout the museum which spans 10,000 square meters and uses 520 computers and 470 projectors to create a one-of-a-kind sensory experience.
The 3D digital art is borderless, and is seamlessly dynamic from one exhibition room to another.
Be prepared for the intense, vivid patterns and designs where you let yourself be a child again by wandering, exploring and discovering.
Visitors spend about 2 - 3 hours there. General admission is 3,200 yen. Child is 1,000 yen.
2. Test your athletic skills at the Japan Olympic Museum
Get ready for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games by visiting the new Japan Olympic Museum.
Opened in 2019 and operated by the Japanese Olympic Committee, the museum features exciting exhibits where visitors can learn about the history and significance of the Olympic and Paralympic Games as well as the Olympic Movement.
You can also experience Olympic sports and try to match your physical abilities to Olympians.
Outside the museum, visitors can take a walk around the monument area which includes the famous Olympic Rings symbol as well as the Olympic Cauldrons from Tokyo 1964 and Winter Olympic Games Cauldrons from Sapporo 1972 and Nagano 1998.
3. Take in the 360 degree panoramic views at Shibuya Sky
Opened in November 2019, Shibuya Sky is a 2,500 square meters observation space which is 229 m above Shibuya on top of Shibuya Scramble Square - the tallest building in Shibuya.
The 360-degree panoramic views include the famed Shibuya Scramble Crossing, Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree, and, on clear days, Mt. Fuji.
Tickets can be purchased online or on-site at the ticket counter on the 14th floor.
4. Enter into a digital dreamscape in one of Tokyo's favorite aquariums
Newly launched at the Maxell Aqua Park Shinagawa in 2019 is the new immersive experience, "Patterns." This exhibit features colorful and dazzling displays set against an aquatic backdrop.
There you will find tanks equipped with interactive touch panels and a unique juxtaposition of digital art and sea life, creating unique and mesmerizing underwater visuals.
5. Check out the first Nintendo store and new Pokemon Center
Nintendo TOKYO, Nintendo’s first official store in Japan, opened up in late 2019 at CYBERSPACE SHIBUYA, alongside the new Pokémon Center Shibuya.
At Nintendo TOKYO, you will find products such as video game systems, software and character-based merchandise, as well as events and offer opportunities to play games at Nintendo TOKYO.
Pokemon Center Shibuya features Pikachu-themed goods, plushies and merchandise of numerous other Pokemon.
CYBERSPACE SHIBUYA is a new destination for fans of all things anime, video game, manga, and Japanese pop culture. It is located on the sixth floor of the Shibuya PARCO department store.
6. Watch live tuna auctions at the newly opened Toyosu Fish Market
Replacing the historic Tsukiji fish inner market is the Toyosu Fish Market which opened in 2018.
Restaurants, shops and observation areas are open to the general public. There are 39 sushi restaurants, all of which were highly esteemed eateries at Tsukiji Market.
Watch the live tuna auction from the dedicated viewing area in the Wholesale Seafood Market.
Or take a breather and head to the rooftop garden, where you can sit on the green lawns and take in views of Odaiba and Tokyo Tower.
7. Go wine tasting at a Tokyo winery
Urban Tokyo is home to a few wineries which use high-quality grapes from various vineyards in Japan. For a boutique wine experience, consider going for a wine tasting or tour at one of these wineries.
Opened in 2017, BookRoad is an artisan winery in Okachimachi where they squeeze grapes, mature, bottle and label on site. The winery uses grapes from Yamanashi and Nagano prefectures. The winery has a wine tasting room for visitors.
Fukagawa Winery Tokyo
Fukagawa Winery Tokyo opened in 2016 in Koto City, just a short train ride away from the center of Tokyo. Their wines feature grapes from regions like Yamanashi, Yamagata, Hokkaido, Aomori, and Nagano Prefectures.
Visitors can look out onto the wine-making floor while enjoying wine at the tasting room or restaurant.
8. Have a peaceful breakfast at a Buddhist Temple
Japanese Buddhist Temples are a traditional and sacred place to reflect and seek peace of mind. Some temples have established modern cafes on the grounds to help visitors nourish the mind and soul.
Located near the Tsukiji Outer Market is Tsukiji Honganji Temple Tsumugi which offers vegetarian cuisine, low dining tables and carefully selected ingredients from the Tsukiji Market. Their speciality is Mozen soba.
One popular draw is their "18-style breakfast" of 16 small plates (including vegetables, tofu, and seasonal offerings), rice, porridge, and miso soup.
9. Take in the Tokyo sights while fine dining on a bus
Sightseeing meets fine dining in the Tokyo Restaurant Bus Tour, one of Japan's leading highway bus operators.
Guests will enjoy a full-course meal while driving past iconic attractions such as Tokyo Tower and Kabukiza Theatre.
The bus itself is outfitted with sleek furniture and decor to fit the elevated dining experience.
The bus even has a retractable roof so you can take in more of the sights and sounds.
Pricres are 7,800 - 9,000 yen for lunch or 10,800 - 12,800 yen for dinner. You can choose between a Japanese-style or Western-style dinner.
10. Relax at a new Tokyo park - Share Green Minami Aoyama
If you want some peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, there's a new park in Tokyo which is the perfect place to relax and enjoy nature.
Opened in 2018, Share Green Minami Aoyama is just home to a garden, cafe and local shops.
One popular gathering spot is Little Darling Coffee Roasters serving specialty coffee and Japanese treats in a renovated warehouse space.
How to get there: 4-minute walk from Aoyama-itchome Station (Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line, Ginza Line; Toei Oedo Line) or Nogizaka Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line)
11. Eat your way through the Tsukiji Outer Market
While the Tsukiji Inner Market where the fish auction takes place has now moved to Toyosu, the Tsukiji Outer Market remains in the same place as a bustling street food market.
There you will find 400+ stalls that offer fresh sushi and seafood as well as local shops selling high-quality ingredients and products.
Some of the recommended eats include tamago (Japanese-style omelet), skewers (from large prawns, scallops to grilled freshwater eel and more), onigiri (Japanese rice balls wrapped in seaweed), and ichigo daifuku, a mochi topped with a strawberry.
12. Immerse yourself in the Muji experience
The Muji Global Flagship Store in Ginza offers a complete brand experience from shopping, dining to accommodation.
The multi-purpose property features the signature Muji retail part but also has a Muji diner, a salon, a library, lounge and Atelier Muji Ginza - a "multipurpose facility of design and culture" with two galleries.
On the first floor is where you will find a food area featuring fresh fruits and vegetables from farms near Tokyo as well as juices and desserts.
Spend a night at the newly opened Muji Hotel Ginza where you get to enjoy Muji products and services.
The hotel which opened in 2019 occupies the sixth to tenth floors of the Muji Global Flagship Store.
13. Attend the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympic Games
Tokyo will be hosting the Summer Olympics for the second time, from July 24 to August 9, 2020.
Following that, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will be taking place August 25 - September 6, 2020.
If you are looking to be a spectator for the games but are living outside Japan, you will need to go though an authorized reseller in your country. Check out this Tokyo 2020 Authorized Ticket Reseller List.
Aside from watching the competition, the city will have a range of activities, Partner Houses, performances, celebrations and so forth.
14. Pamper your feet at an ashiyu cafe
You might be doing a lot of walking while exploring in Tokyo so much that your feet might need some pampering.
Ashiyu cafes offer footbaths in warm water while you enjoy some cafe fare. There are two recommended ones which are located in Taito City.
At Hogurest, an hour in a calming foot bath with a drink (like a herbal detoxing tea) is 1080 yen. Their treatment menu includes other relaxation massages, body care and facials.
At Mominoki House, the experience is Sri-Lankan inspired from the food, drinks to the treatments offered. The basic course starts at 45 minutes for 1,000 yen and includes a tea imported from Sri Lanka.
15. Visit side streets by Harajuku's Takeshitadori Street
Harajuku's Takeshita Street is a pedestrian shopping street that is known for being the center of teenage culture. This 350-meter long street is one of the top attractions in Tokyo.
However, some have described it as having lost a bit of that true culture by becoming an overated tourist spot.
Head off the main street and towards the backstreets like Brahms Path where you can find hidden away shops and cafes. Its calming, European-style vibe will put you at ease from the hustle and bustle of Takeshitadori.
Or explore the area across Takeshitadori around Harajuku Street where you will find many vintage shops and thrift shops.
16. Waft incense for health and good luck at Sensoji Temple
Sensoji Temple is the most famous and most photographed Buddhist temple in Tokyo. It was first built in 645 AD and is an icon of Japanse history and culture.
Many visitors would gather around a large, copper incense burner in the middle of the temple grounds.
It is said that if you waft incense smoke over your body, this will help cure any ailments you may have and improve health.
Incense is for sale at various shop in and around the temple. You can purchase some and light it at the common incense burners.
17. Visit a museum that is outside your comfort zone
There are hundreds of museum to visit on Tokyo ranging from the scientific to the arts to the weird and wacky.
Why step out of your comfort zone and visit a different museum for a unique and memorable experience? Here are a few weird museums to check out in Tokyo:
- Meguro Parasitological Museum
- Sewerage Museum
- Sand Museum
- Tokyo Trick Art Museum
- Origami Museum
- National Museum of the Future: Robots in Your Life Exhibit
18. See cherry blossoms before the crowds
There are areas in Tokyo where certain types of cherry blossoms go into bloom as early as mid-February.
The great part is that you can see the beauty of the cherry blossoms while avoiding the higher travel costs during the peak season.
The early blooming type of cherry blossoms can be found are three locations in Tokyo: along the Kyunaka River; at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden; and at Kiba Park. Check out this guide on early cherry blossom viewing.
19. Watch the Shibuya Scramble Crossing from Starbucks
The iconic landmark in Tokyo, Shibuya Scramble Crossing, is where upwards of 1,000 people cross the multi-cornered intersection at a time.
Head to the second floor of the Starbucks in Shibuya to catch a view of the Shibuya Scramble Crossing from up top.
20. Snap a photo with the most loyal dog in Japan
The Hachiko Statue is a symbol of enduring loyalty for Japan.
Story has it that in the 1920s, an Akita dog named Hachiko would wait for his owner at Shibuya Station to return from his daily commute.
One day, the owner did not return having suffered a fatal brain hemorrhage while at work.
Hachiko, which is everlasting loyalty, returned to same spot to wait for his owner every day for the next nine years.
Travelgressing 2020 Travel Guides
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