These trips will show you the real Tokyo, with crash lessons in bar language, secret hideouts, and boozing up in the suburbs.
It is common knowledge that visiting Japan’s capital is a sensory overload. You’ll never run out of things to do in Tokyo, from the neon-lit avenues of Akihabara to the grungy pubs of Koenji to the elegant back lanes of Shibuya.
While tourist spots might be entertaining, getting off Shibuya scramble and into the city’s outskirts is necessary for understanding the city. The people are relaxed, the cuisine is delicious, and the real Tokyo shines brighter than any LED display. Signing up for a tour is the greatest approach to get behind the scenes of the city if you don’t speak Japanese or have local acquaintances. Check out a few favorites below.
1. Hashigozake Bar Hopping Tour in Kichijoji
Foodies, adventurers, history and culture aficionados will enjoy this.
Tokyo is made up of what appears to be hundreds of microcities. Each has its own distinct culture, atmosphere, and hidden idiosyncrasies, as the fashionable Kichijoji area exemplifies. This new Kichijoji Hashigozake Bar Hopping Tour is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in Tokyo’s local culture. The tour, which is organized by the Kichijoji Hashigozake Executive Committee, includes an hour-long cultural event as well as two bar visits, giving participants the best of both worlds.
Cultural events vary depending on the day of registration, but they cover a wide range of interests. Participating in a samurai or awaodori traditional dance performance, learning traditional shodo calligraphy or kado flower arrangement, or getting crafty with an art class are all examples of cultural classes.
After the cultural experience, it’s time to explore Kichijoji’s streets to see why this area is considered the most popular place to live among Tokyo residents. Guests can interact with regulars, enjoy a few refreshing beverages, and completely immerse themselves in an authentically laid-back, everyday slice of Tokyo while hopping between bars.
- 3 hours
- Around July, August and September
- ¥2,000 / person
2. Japanese Survival Tour
Suitable for 20-40 year old’s, drinkers, newcomers to Japan, outgoing people.
Kevin and Naoki, the Tokyo Handsome Boys, are two guys who don’t take themselves too seriously but are serious about making sure you have the finest time possible in Tokyo. The guys offer a variety of walking and bar-hopping tours throughout the city, but their “Survival Japanese Tour” is the way to go if you want to immerse yourself in local Tokyo culture rather than merely observe it.
The tour was created by Kevin, the non-native Japanese half of the duo, to allow visitors to pick up some fast Japanese language skills before stepping out and applying them in the real world.
The tour begins with a one-hour crash course on survival Japanese at a neighboring cafe in the ultra-local area of Asagaya in west Tokyo. When it’s time to put your new language skills to the test, guests are asked to participate in the traditional Tokyo practice of purchasing necessities from a convenience shop using only Japanese. The tour proceeds to a local pub, where tourists can practice their freshly acquired Japanese by conversing with locals.
- 3 hours
- ¥3,500 / person
3. Old Town Tokyo Tour
Foodies, families, history and culture buffs will like this.
If you’re interested in learning more about Tokyo’s history, Yanaka is an excellent place to start. Yanaka is one of the few areas of the city to have survived both the Great Kanto Earthquake and Fire of 1923 and the Allied fire bombings of WWII, therefore most of the area has kept its old-world “shitamachi” (downtown) ambience and charm.
Arigato Food Tours offers a “Old Town Tokyo Food Tour,” where you may take in the atmosphere of this delightful part of the city while also feeding your stomach. The tour takes you through Yanaka’s food stall-lined streets, stopping at senbei (rice cracker) vendors, kushikatsu (fried goods on sticks) businesses, and other more mysterious sites that you’ll have to join the tour to find out about. This tour is ideal for those looking for a unique gourmet Instagram image, since it includes a visit at a local izakaya before concluding with a tea ceremony. This is a fantastic alternative if you want to meet the city’s longer-term residents (a.k.a. senior citizens with dazzling smiles) and see a side of Tokyo not generally seen by visitors.
- 3 hours
- Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
- ¥14,000 / person
4. Shimokitazawa Walk in the Neighborhood
Families with older children, music aficionados, vintage shoppers, theater and nightlife fans will enjoy this.
Shimokitazawa, or “Shimokita” to locals, is one of the city’s most unusual and complex neighborhoods; it’s a location where hipsters and long-time residents reside in peaceful harmonyShimokita is a microcosmic embodiment of the greater city’s cultural diversity, with its trendy cafes, ubiquitous live music venues, and much-loved family businesses; spending some time here will offer you a true insight into what Tokyo is about.
Shimokita’s layout is complicated, which makes it both fascinating and challenging for first-time visitors. Even if you’ve lived here for years, the neighborhood’s labyrinth of crisscrossing lanes and multistory buildings buried with yet-to-be-discovered gems means you’re always finding something new.
Taking Ellista’s Shimokitazawa local neighborhood walk tour is one way to gain a feel for the area. You’ll stop by the beautiful Suzunari theatre, Captain Donut, a local soy-donut hole-in-the-wall, and overflowing record shops and antique stores. Along the way, the tour provides a fascinating overview of the area, reveals some of its hidden secrets, and leaves you wanting to return and explore deeper.
- 2 hours
- Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday
- ¥5,000 / person
5. EYExplore Tokyo Rush
Instagrammers, bloggers, techies, science fiction fans, singles and couples (no kids).
Tokyo is probably one of the most picturesque places on the planet, and a must-see for anyone serious about improving their photography skills. In fact, Japan is home to some of the world’s top camera companies, including Sony, Olympus, Ricoh, Canon, Nikon, and Pentax. EYExplore’s collection of photo tour classes will help you master new talents, find secret picture sites, and leave you with memories you’ll never forget, whether you’re a professional or just an aspiring shutterbug.
The company’s Tokyo Rush Tour is ideal for people who want to avoid hackneyed cityscape photoshoots and instead capture the true spirit of large city life. The tour will take place in Nihombashi, Tokyo’s financial district, where the EYExplore headquarters are located. The tour guides know the area like the back of their hands. Expect to learn everything you need to know about the history of the city’s scenery, as well as a variety of tips and tricks on long-exposure night photography and how to arrange the perfect shot.
- 2.5 hours
- ¥24,000 / session