Tokyo Neighbourhoods – Our Top 31

Tokyo is vast. However, get to know its neighbourhoods one by one and you'll soon feel like a local. To help, check out our guide to the top 31 Tokyo neighbourhoods.

Provided by kankouyouhou.com

Tokyo proudly holds its place as the largest metropolitan area in the world. Each district feels like a city in itself, packed tightly alongside one another. While this makes Japan’s unique capital a hub of infinite things to do and see, the streets (and train lines) can take on an intimidatingly labyrinthine quality. 

Tokyo is divided into 23 different wards, each made up of several neighbourhoods, most commonly referred to by the name of the closest train station. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to live or somewhere to visit, somewhere in the midst of swarming crowds or somewhere quiet and undiscovered, this guide will point you in the right direction.

With over 1,000 stations littering Tokyo, we’ve divided the city into the following areas to help you explore the city with ease:

Central Tokyo

Old Town (East Tokyo)

West Tokyo

South Tokyo

North Tokyo

Map of Tokyo Districts

Tokyo map

Provided by Wikimedia Commons

 

 


 

CENTRAL TOKYO

Central Tokyo is home to some of the most popular and prominent areas and landmarks in Tokyo, including Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo Tower, the Imperial Palace and Harajuku’s Takeshita Street. With its ease of access and concentration of attractions, central Tokyo is one of the most convenient places to stay in Tokyo, especially if you find yourself within walking distance of the handy Yamanote Line. However, it goes without saying that central areas are pricey and popular, whether you’re just visiting or looking for somewhere to live.

Tokyo’s JR Yamanote Line

Yamanote

Photo provided by chill.co.th

The easiest way to map out the centre of Tokyo is with its most central train line, the JR Yamanote Line. This circular line passes through some of the most central districts of the capital, as well as the most popular spots in the old eastern part of Tokyo. But don’t underestimate the size of central Tokyo, with the Yamanote line covering a distance of 35km, you’ll need more than a couple of days to discover the numerous neighbourhoods that make up the heart of Tokyo.

1 – Shibuya 渋谷

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Photo credit: Joshua Damasio via Flickr cc

Although not geographically the centre of Tokyo, Shibuya’s population and popularity have earned it a reputation as the heart of the city. Shibuya Station has a number of amenities as well as easy access to the rest of the city and its suburbs, plus, its Hachiko Exit is one of the most popular meeting areas in the city and the gateway to Shibuya’s world of youth culture, fashion and business.

Shibuya is unarguably one of the must-sees when discovering Tokyo, whether you’re looking for things to do around the legendary Shibuya Crossing, enjoying the Japanese cuisine in one of Shibuya’s best restaurants or discovering the nightlife in Shibuya’s hippest bars.

2 – Shinjuku 新宿

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Photo credit: Takashi Hososhima via Flickr cc

Shinjuku is mostly known for its bustling entertainment district which can be reached via Shinjuku Station, the busiest train station worldwide. The maze of brightly lit streets is packed full of places to try out local cuisine and opportunities to carouse among the locals: Wander into any building and you’ll be warmly greeted with lively eating and drinking establishments on every floor.

Evening activities are endless in Shinjuku, with a whole range of Shinjuku bars, including those in the famous Golden Gai, Kabukichō (Tokyo’s red light district), Ni-chome (the gay district) and all night karaoke. But Shinjuku’s not just a nighttime playground, it also has its fair share of culture and nature in the form of Hanazono Shrine, one of the largest shrines in Tokyo, and Shinjuku Gyoen Park.

3 – Ginza 銀座

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Photo credit: dnc via Flickr cc

Ginza is Tokyo’s answer to Fifth Avenue, with luxury brand shops and well-dressed shoppers lining its pristine streets all day long. This up market neighbourhood also houses theaters, art galleries and an array of places to stay, from some of the most fancy modern hotels to more modest traditional ryokan.

The district’s sophisticated charm expands into its gastronomy with some of the best flavors to be discovered in Ginza’s restaurants, including some of the best sushi restaurants around, perhaps thanks to its proximity to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market

4 – Harajuku 原宿

If you’re not yet familiar with the meaning of kawaiiHarajuku will offer you a pretty good introduction. 

The essence of Harajuku is concentrated into the much-loved Takeshita Street, which starts just across the street from Harajuku Station. Join the cosplay-clad Harajuku girls in search of the cutest fashion items in the street’s unique stores followed by a crepe exploding with cream at one of the many pancake stalls.

Venture five minutes off Takeshita Street and you’ll find Yoyogi Park, as well as a number of cafés and high street shops in the area, including those along Cat Street.

5 – Yoyogi Park 代々木公園

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Yoyogi Park is one of Tokyo’s biggest and most popular parks found deep in the heart of central Tokyo, just a short walk from Takeshita Street and neighbouring Shibuya. The expanse of greenery offers relief from the concrete streets and is easily accessed from Harajuku Station or Yoyogi Koen Station.

Don’t expect just any old park: The quirky fashions of Harajuku overflow into the park and mingle with music, dance rehearsals and events which give the park its uniquely lively feel. Moreover, Yoyogi Park is one of the best places to see the cherry blossom and a good place to get in touch with your spiritual side at the immense Meiji Jingu Shrine tucked away in the greenery towards the north of the park.

6 – Tokyo Station 東京

Tokyo Station

Photo provided by Wikipedia

The namesake neighbourhood of Tokyo is often referred to as Tokyo Station to avoid confusion. This area acts more as a centre for businesses and offers much less to see and do than other stops along the circular Yamanote Line.

Nestled in a jungle of gray skyscrapers, Tokyo Station itself is a striking red brick building that has gone through several renovations since it was all but destroyed during the firebombings of 1945. The station houses the luxurious Tokyo Station Hotel and lies just a 10-minute walk from the Marunouchi area where you can visit the grounds of the Imperial Palace, the residence of the Japanese emperor.

If you are arriving into Narita Airport, the Narita Express will take you straight to Tokyo Station which has good connections to other stations all over Tokyo.

7 – Tsukiji Fish Market 築地

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Photo credit: Connie via Flickr cc

There is nothing remarkable about the area of Tsukiji until you happen across the biggest fish market in the world. From 05:00, the inner market bustles with local sushi shop owners bartering for metre-long tuna at the fish auctions. The surrounding outer market gives you the opportunity to try out some of the freshest sushi possible in one of the many restaurants.

You’ll be happy to hear that, in spite of rumours that the market is relocating outside of Tokyo, these plans won’t be going ahead until December 2017 at the earliest. For more on the market, check out our complete guide to the Tsukiji Fish Market.

The Tsukiji neighbourhood is a short walk from the sophisticated Ginza area and other attractions in the area include Namiyokei Inari Jinja Shrine and the Hamarikyu Gardens.

8 – Roppongi 六本木

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Photo credit: Sam valadi via Flickr cc

Roppongi, literally translating as ‘six trees’, is less known for its nature than for its foreign embassies, its young expatriate community and its sordid nightlife. The neighbourhood is the centre of the centre, conveniently located on the Hibiya Line directly between Shibuya and Tokyo Station.

Roppongi Hills is an entertainment complex at the heart of the Roppongi area. Made up of a shopping area, various restaurants, well-known art galleries and museums and much more, it’s not to be missed. 

If you’re visiting Tokyo over Christmas, don’t pass up the opportunity to see the less-than-discrete Christmas illuminations that Roppongi proudly displays every winter. 

9 – Ebisu 恵比寿

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Photo credit: Andy Yeo via Flickr cc

Just one stop south from Shibuya on the Yamanote Line lies Ebisu, a district overflowing with vibrant restaurants and bars. The area surrounding Ebisu Station is primarily made up of izakayas; Japanese pubs which epitomise the nation’s eating and drinking culture and which are a mainstay of its nightlife. Popular drinking spots include Ebisu Yokocho, a lively undercover seating area where locals enjoy food and drink from various vendors. 

Ebisu has been an area for enthusiastic imbibers ever since the 19th century, indeed, it originally acquired its name thanks to the Yebisu Beer Brewery. Today, Yebisu Garden Place houses the Museum of Yebisu Beer, as well as other popular attractions such as Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and the Michelin 3-star restaurant Chateau Restaurant Taillvent-Robuchon.

10 – Ikebukuro 池袋

Ikebukuro

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Located in the north of central Tokyo, Ikebukuro Station is handily located along the Yamanote Line just 10 minutes from Shinjuku. This unassuming neighbourhood is a haven for shopping and cafés, combining the buzz of more central districts with the anime culture of Akihabara. This is one of the best spots to find a variety of themed cafés, including Owl Cafés and Butler Cafés.

A defining feature of the Ikebukuro district is the 60-storey skyscraper, Sunshine 60, nestled next to the commercial complex, Sunshine City. Here, Tokyophiles indulge in incredible views over the city from the top floor. 

11 – Omotesando 表参道

 

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Omotesando is a neighbourhood adjacent to Harajuku and Shibuya, with the main exit from Omotesando Station dropping you off right outside Omotesando Hills shopping complex. The complex is the brainchild of famous architect Tadao Ando which gives it the upper hand on your standard shopping mall.

The wide shopping street of Omotesando has drawn comparisons with Paris’s Champs-Elysées, while the criss-crossing streets off the main drag offer a quaint alternative with boutiques, independent restaurants and some of the best cafés in the capital.

Don’t miss our pick of the Top 14 Places to Visit in Omotesando.

12 – Marunouchi 丸の内

Imperial Palace

Provided by Foursquare

While one of the metro lines is named the Marunouchi Line, this area doesn’t have its own train station. The district of Marunouchi is a short walk from Tokyo Station and essentially consists of the grounds of the Imperial Palace, the Japanese emperor’s main residence. Marunouchi literally translates as “inside the circle” – a reference to its positioning within the moat of the Imperial Palace grounds.

In the environs of the palace, you’ll find the Marunouchi building (maru-biru) which delivers a spectacular birdseye view of the Imperial Palace from the its 37th floor. Further south down the river lies Marunouchi Brick Square, an impressive, modern structure with indoor restaurants and shopping as well as an outdoor seating area, with benches – a rare find in Tokyo.

13 – Shinōkubo 新大久保

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Shinōkubo is best-known for being Tokyo’s “Korea Town”. The busy streets heave with young Korea-enthusiasts gossiping about their favourite idols and K-pop songs. The shops offer up all sorts of Korean merchandise, while the karaoke is all in Korean and the food stalls and restaurants pump out the smells of Korean barbeque, kimchi (pickled cabbage) and makkori (Korean rice wine).

In addition to its large Korean community, Shinōkubo’s population is also made up of a large number of Chinese, Indian and South East Asian expatriates. This makes it a great spot for stocking up on hard-to-find spices and other goods in one of the several Asian supermarkets.

14 – Aoyama 青山 

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Photo credit: Dick Thomas Johnson via Flickr cc

Aoyama is a thoroughfare between Shibuya and Akasaka that passes through Omotesando. The main drag, Aoyama-dōri is made up of chic cafés and pricey stores. The district is also home to Aoyama Gakuin University and the United Nations University, where a farmer’s market – one of our top Tokyo Flea Markets – is held every weekend.  

The Aoyama area can be easily accessed from Shibuya Station at one end and Aoyama Itchome at the other end.

15 – Naka Meguro 中目黒

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Photo credit: Chris Dickey via Flickr cc

While Nakameguro is most certainly still classed as central Tokyo, in close proximity to Daikanyama, much of the neighbourhood is made up of residential housing, leaving little space for hotels and guest houses. The district straddles Meguro river, one of the Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Tokyo. The narrow river becomes impassable in the sakura (cherry blossom) season when everyone who’s anyone gathers to enjoy a picnic under the beautifully flowering trees.

During the rest of the year, local Tokyoites can be found enjoying a beer and yakitori (chicken skewers) in one of the numerous bars or restaurants along the river. Your best bet for staying here as a tourist is through Airbnb – for some tips, take a look at our Tokyo Airbnb Guide.

16 – Gotanda 五反田 

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Photo credit: Toshi Island paddy via Flickr cc

Gotanda Station, located on the Yamanote Line, as well as the Toei Asakusa Line and the Tokyu Ikegami Line, brings you out in the east of the Gotanda district. The area is made up of businesses, a variety of independent restaurants and a small red light district. 

This populous area is surrounded by other residential areas, such as Togoshi Ginza and Osaki, and is a good place to search for an Airbnb to get that local spin on Tokyo life.  

17 – Daikanyama 代官山

Daikanyama

Provided by Foursquare

Daikanyama has only come under the radar in more recent years as it has gradually grown in popularity. The cultural diversity of the district can be seen in the diverse crowds, melange of art museums and the vast number of trendy European-style cafés, restaurants and boutiques. Thanks to its status, the area has attracted a young and hip crowd as it has gradually grown to become one of the mainstream hangout places.

Come on a tour of the whole area with our Complete Travel Guide to Daikanyama.

18 – Nihonbashi 日本橋

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Photo credit: Dick Thomas Johnson via Flickr cc

Nihonbashi is a large business district in the eastern part of central Tokyo. Nihonbashi means “Japanese bridge” and refers to the wooden bridge which crosses the Nihonbashi River, built in 1603. Some of Tokyo’s most important business buildings can be found in Nihonbashi, including the Bank of Japan, the Tokyo Stock Exchange and Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower.

Although there is little to be seen in terms of sightseeing, top hotels such as the Mandarin Oriental are located in this district and it makes for a handy access point to Asakusa, Ginza, Shinbashi and the neighbouring Ryogoku area.

19 – Kagurazaka 神楽坂

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Official Photo Provided by kaguramachi.jp

Kagurazaka is a small neighbourhood found on a hill near Iidabshi and Waseda University. While the main street through the town will give you a taste of French cuisine thanks to its large French expat community, the little, cobbled streets that branch off reveal some of the oldest preserved Japanese Edo culture in the form of old machiya (wooden houses), traditional shops and even the occasional passing geisha.

The area’s rich culture makes it a popular spot for festivals and matsuri, such as the Street Stage O-edo Tour, an annual festival of live street performances.

 


 

OLD TOWN (EAST TOKYO)

After the Tokyo bombings during the war, few old buildings remained in the city. However, many parts of east Tokyo stayed intact, thus acquiring its name as the Old Town or Shitamachi (the low city). As one of the few places to taste traditional Japan in this modern city, the Old Town remains a popular and touristy part of the city with easy access via public transport.

20 – Asakusa 浅草

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Photo credit: IQRemix via Flickr cc

Found in Shitamachi (the low city) along the Sumida river, Asakusa is one of the most favoured tourist spots in Tokyo. Asakusa’s popularity is mainly thanks to its centrepiece, the Sensoji Temple. This immense red, Buddhist temple is Tokyo’s oldest, built back in the seventh century. It is frequented by thousands of people every day, especially on New Year’s Eve when locals and tourists alike pray for a prosperous year to come.

Asakusa has other culture on offer including Nakamise Dori, a pretty street leading up to Sensōji Temple which offers a whole host of stalls selling traditional sweets, snacks and souvenirs. Other attractions include Kappabashi Dori, a whole street dedicated to the plastic food found in restaurant window displays, the golden flame-shaped Asahi Beer Hall and Hanayashiki, the oldest amusement park in Japan.

21 – Ueno 上野

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Photo credit: Christopher Gonzalez via Flickr cc

Ueno Station is found on the eastern side of the JR Yamanote Line and is within walking distance of both Asakusa and Akihabara. Ueno is focussed around one of Tokyo’s largest green spaces, Ueno Park. The park offers a fantastic contrast of nature in an urban setting and its hundreds of sakura (cherry blossom) trees bring hordes of people to visit during cherry blossom season.

Inside Ueno Park, you can find several of Tokyo’s Top Museums, two Shinto shrines and Ueno Zoo, one of the Best Zoos in Japan and home to some celebrities in the animal world, most notably its pandas. Just outside of the park lies Ameya Yokochō, shortened to Ameyoko, a web of little alleyways brimming with salarymen drinking in outdoor establishments reminiscent of old Japan. To the east of the park out of the Iriyaguchi exit is the Korin-cho Motorcycle Neighborhood, a whole area dedicated to motorbikes.

22 – Tokyo Skytree 東京スカイツリー

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Photo credit: Koichi Oda via Flickr cc

The Tokyo Skytree was completed in 2011 when it became not only the highest building in Japan but also the second tallest structure in the world. It goes without saying that making your way to the top observation deck of the tower offers one of the best viewpoints over the mass of sprawling Tokyo and will even get you a glimpse of Mount Fuji on a clear day.

Its very own stop on the metro, Tokyo Skytree Station, will you bring you right to the bottom of the monument and the shopping complex that the tower sits in. The complex provides a number of shops and places to eat as well as the Sumida Aquarium. With its location slap bang in the middle of the Old Town, a quick trip west across Sumida river and you’ll find yourself at Sensōji Temple in just 20 minutes.

23 – Akihabara 秋葉原

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Photo Credit: © 2016 Annie Jones

Akihabara, also known as Electric Town, is the mecca of all things electrical and all things anime. This colourful neighbourhood is the ultimate hangout for the city’s diehard otaku (anime geeks) with every building swimming with manga cafés, maid cafés and places to stock up on every genre of cosplay outfit. 

The Akihabara area is the proud owner of a seven-storey Don Quijote store as well as the newest (and vintage) phone, laptop and robot-related shops. This is also the place to go to hire out Mario carts to whizz around the city in.

Read our pick of The Top 16 Things to Do in Akihabara or find out more about the world of cosplay with our Ultimate Guide to Cosplay in Japan.

24 – Ryogoku 両国

Ryogoku

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Ryogoku: The city of sumo. This district holds the Ryogoku Kokugikan, the biggest sumo stadium in Tokyo and one of the best places in the country to catch a sumo match. Besides the stadium, find sumo stables where you can watch the wrestlers train for free and even sumo-themed restaurants serving up traditional chanko nabe, a sturdy stew designed for bulking up.

Read on for our complete guide to the sumo world of Ryogoku.

25 – Yanaka 谷中

The Yanaka district is found in the space between three stations: Yanaka, Nippori and Sendagi. The traditional neighbourhood’s narrow winding streets and small buildings come in welcome contrast to much of the surrounding city and there’s much to explore here. 

Yanaka is one of very few places in Tokyo where you won’t need to crane your neck to see the tops of the buildings, especially along the muddle of shops and indie restaurants that line the Yanaka Shotengai. At the end of the street, you’ll come to the Asakura Museum of Sculpture, which is neighbored by the Yanaka cemetery.

26 – Okachimachi 御徒町

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Just south-east of Ueno Park lies Okachimachi, one of the more unassuming of Tokyo’s shopping districts. Okachimachi translates as “the town of the low-class Samurai” and is one of the only remaining geisha districts left in Tokyo – something that only adds to its charm.  

Contrasting with the generally organised and contained shopping streets of Tokyo, the somewhat unorthodox market stalls here spill out into the streets and offer up everything from jewellery to Indian spices and cow’s innards. The walk from Okachimachi to Ueno Station will find you stumbling across Ameyoko, a vibrant street full of outdoor, old-fashioned eateries.

 


 

WEST TOKYO (SUGINAMI, SETAGAYA & NAGANO)

With central Tokyo set to burst with people, shops and places to eat and drink, new businesses are trickling out to the surrounding districts. West Tokyo is currently the go-to area if you’re to set foot outside of Central Tokyo. In recent years it has become home to some of the most alternative neighborhoods and exudes nothing but the coolest of hipster vibes. The west of Tokyo is spread over several wards, including Nagano, Setagaya and Suginami, all of which can be easily accessed on the metro.

27 – Shimokitazawa 下北沢

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Photo credit: Sae Fujimura via Flickr cc

Shimokitazawa has seen an incredible boom in popularity over the last 15 years. It has gone from being a small, unknown part of western Tokyo to one of the coolest hangouts in town. For those that know the area well, the narrow streets of Shimokita are the place to be seen shopping for a new vintage turtleneck in one of the many vintage shops or checking out some alternative sounds in a local bar or live house.

Discover more with our Guide to the Hippest Part of Tokyo.

28 – Kōenji 高円寺

Koenji

Provided by Foursquare

Koenji most certainly swaggers somewhere very near the top of the list of the coolest neighborhoods in Tokyo. Whether you’re looking to live or just to visit, its quirky, independent bars and alternative events will never leave you bored. 

In comparison to its partner in crime, Shimokitazawa, Kōenji is still a little more underground and needs a good search to hunt out the best vintage shops and live houses hidden on street corners in the heart of the town. Read our Complete Guide to Koenji to check out some of our favorites that the area has to offer.

29 – Kichijōji 吉祥寺

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Photo credit: kanegen via Flickr cc

Kichijōji lies out to the west of Tokyo in the city of Musashino. The neighborhood has been voted one of the most liveable areas in Tokyo, perhaps thanks to its family-friendly vibes combining seamlessly with its quirky art scene.

This is all takes place right next to the beautiful Inokashira Park whose nature lures in everyone from star-crossed lovers hiring out rowing boats on the cherry blossom-lined lake to Miyazaki enthusiasts visiting the park’s Ghibli Museum.

Have a read of our Kichijoji Area Guide to learn more about this fascinating neighborhood.

30 – Sangenjaya 三軒茶屋

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Sangenjaya is one of the biggest up-and-coming neighborhoods of west Tokyo. Sangenjaya Station is found in the Setagaya ward, just five minutes from Shibuya on the Denentoshi Line. In spite of its proximity to central Tokyo, prices in Sangenjaya start low thanks to its lesser known name.

Avoiding the crowds of central Tokyo, you can peacefully browse this area while enjoying dinner or drinks from the range of affordable but one-of-a-kind restaurants and bars, including one of Tokyo’s Best Vegetarian Restaurants and our personal favorite, Space Orbit. This neighborhood is sure to become as popular as Shimokitazawa and Koenji so get over there quick if you want to be a trendsetter.

31 – Eifukuchō 永福町

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Eifukuchō is a quiet residential area found in the Suginami ward just a few stops from Shimokitazawa on the Keio Inokashira line. With no specific attractions to see, this area wouldn’t be found on most tourists’ itinerary. However, the undeniable benefit of this is the rare feeling of a tranquil and local ambiance.

As well as small, local restaurants, Eifukuchō is the proud owner of the pretty Wadabori Park and the Omiya Hachimangu shrine with its torii gates tucked away in nature.

 


 

SOUTH TOKYO

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Photo credit: Toshihiro Oimatsu via Flickr cc

Heading to the south of Tokyo will bring you to the Tokyo coastline and Tokyo Bay. Although these parts of Tokyo aren’t known for their beaches, areas including Odaiba will give you your urban beach fix. Have a look at the Top 23 Things to Do in Odaiba.

Also found in the south of Tokyo is Shinagawa on the circular JR Yamanote line. Shinagawa Station is a common transfer point thanks to its connections to seven different JR and metro lines. Trains from here go directly to Haneda Airport. South west of Tokyo is a range of popular residential areas such as Kawasaki.

Heading further south west out of Tokyo will take you to Yokohama, a port town found an hour outside of Tokyo. Worth a day trip, have a look at the Top 20 Things to Do in Yokohama.

 

NORTH TOKYO

The north of Tokyo consists of several residential areas which back onto Saitama prefecture. Neighborhoods include Sugamo, a little town known for its aged population, Akabane, a popular entertainment district in the Kita ward and Kitasenju, a busy station town in the Adachi ward.

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