The Ultimate Guide to Tokyo’s Best Neighborhoods

Feb 11, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Then, visit the elegant (and modern) Tsutaya bookshop across from the museum, which also has a splendid cafe and terrace.

Ginza, Harajuku, Marunouchi, Shinjuku, Tsukiji. All terrific and interesting neighborhoods in Tokyo, with enormous depth, surprises and variety. Part of the challenge when visiting a city like this is not only knowing which neighborhoods to check out, but then, once you’re there, the challenge is what to do in them. Signage is often strictly in Japanese, there are lots of tourist traps, and it’s very easy, even for Tokyoites, to get lost.

One of the smartest ways to navigate these neighborhoods is to take advantage of the concierge services at your hotel, geared toward offering guest experiences that are both helpful and far from typical. The best concierges have been with their properties for decades, accumulating massive amounts of information.

When is comes to Tokyo, two of the best concierge services are at The Peninsula and Imperial Hotel, Tokyo. That’s why we asked Sumiko Saito, the veteran head concierge at the Imperial, and Akana Tanaka, head concierge at The Peninsula, to share their best neighborhood picks.

Daikanyama (Sumiko Saito)

Back in Japan’s Taishō era (pre-1930s), Daikanyama was a beautiful spot filled with gardens and architectural gems. Today, you can still find exquisite artisanal shops and museums here. Take in the Asakura House. Then, visit the elegant (and modern) Tsutaya bookshop across from the museum, which also has a splendid cafe and cocktails. Buy high-end Japanese clothing in Evisu. Take a short cab ride to the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Museum of Art, which is housed in an Art Deco mansion that once belonged to Prince Asaka, a far-right nationalist who had a hand in Japan’s descent into war.

Kagurazaka (Sumiko Saito)

Kagurazaka is a lovely part of town reminiscent of old Kyoto: very small streets, a pleasant vibe, a slower pace. Here you will find an array of sophisticated as well as affordable places to grab a bite. Try the Japanese dish tonkatsu, a fried pork cutlet.

Kagurazaka. (Photo by Hiroshi Higuchi/Getty Images)
Kagurazaka. (Photo by Hiroshi Higuchi/Getty Images)

Omotesandō (Sumiko Saito)

No part of Tokyo is cooler than Omotesandō, and, yes, it’s well-known. Check out the newly rebuilt Nezu Museum, which was designed by world-renowned architect Kengo Kuma. Enjoy sweets and savories at Andersen, a bakery that came to Tokyo by way of Hiroshima and Denmark, and is one of Japan’s oldest and best. New restaurants include Fratelli Paradiso and River Cafe.

Yanesen (Akana Tanaka)

Yanesen, filled with artisans, lots of tiny cafes and shops that reflect their owners’ unique perspectives, adds great modernity to the megapolis. Check out the tokyobike gallery, where the outgoing staff will serve you beer or coffee before renting you a bike and helping you plan your ride. Visit the SCAI The Bathhouse — not a place for bathing, but a cafe and art gallery showcasing the likes of Anish Kapoor and Mariko Opie, as well as up-and-coming artists. Stroll down Yanaka Ginza with its numerous tiny souvenir shops and street food.

SCAI The Bathhouse.(Photo by Isabelle Raphael)
SCAI The Bathhouse.(Photo by Isabelle Raphael)

Kōenji (Akana Tanaka)

Kōenji is a peaceful alternative to the delightful mayhem of busier parts of Tokyo. Here you can discover vintage shops and small businesses that reflect the personalities of their owners, like Clouds Art + Coffee or European Papa, which is jammed with thousands of vinyl records, CDs and DVDs. After shopping, you can indulge at Taiyo Ramen, which uses dried sardines in its broth. Cap it off with first-rate craft beers at Craft Beer Market.

@Frogg via Twenty20
Kōenji. (Photo by @Frogg via Twenty20)

Shibamata (Akana Tanaka)

Shibamata is a section of town that was the setting for the extremely popular film called “It’s Tough Being a Man,” and currently attracts visitors seeking to experience Tokyo as it was before it went global. On Taishakuten-Sando, you can enjoy shops, some a century old, selling snacks and doodads. Take a ferry ride across the river (and then right back) at Yagiri no Watashi. Enjoy first rate unagi (river eel) at Kawachiya, a local favorite that’s been in business about 200 years.

Pro tip: Before going to Tokyo, start an email correspondence with the concierge at your hotel — not just about choosing interesting neighborhoods and booking tables at restaurants, but also about dietary preferences, food allergies and hard-to-get appointments with artisans. Japan is a country that prizes planning, and if you start the conversation going before you arrive, it will be easier for the concierge to organize your stay.

Featured photo of Shibamata in downtown Tokyo, Japan, by TakEnd/Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.