Tokyo neighborhoods are identified by their train stations. When people ask you where you live in Tokyo, they’re really asking which station is closest to your home.
Tokyo is big and Tokyo is spread. There are over 1000 train stations in Tokyo that translate to an equal number of identifiable neighborhoods.
Making sense of Tokyo neighborhoods isn’t always easy. If you’re planning a stay in Tokyo, this guide may help. It’s a list of the best known Tokyo neighborhoods ranked by notoriety.
These are the neighborhoods that all the locals know.
Shibuya is the Tokyo most visitors are expecting: bright lights and big city. It’s a major entertainment, dining and shopping district. Shibuya is best known for Shibuya Crossing — the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing.
Shinjuku is Tokyo’s largest neighborhood. Shinjuku is so big that it’s really many different neighborhoods. One of them is Asia’s largest red light district.
Ginza is a large luxury shopping area featuring hundreds of flagship retail locations. During Japan’s economic bubble land here was the most expensive in the world. In the fashion business, opening a shop in Ginza means that you’ve made it.
Omotesando is a posh shopping and dining area. Its main street is a wide tree-lined boulevard that’s often compared to the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
Odaiba is an artificial island in Tokyo Bay that has cost the government trillions of yen in infrastructure spending over 200 years. Today it’s a massive leisure and entertainment district that has a great view of Tokyo.
Akihabara is the nerdiest neighborhood in Tokyo. That makes it high in the running for the most nerdy neighborhood in the world. If you’re building a robot and need parts this is your place. It’s also a great place to find maid cafes and otaku shops.
Asakusa was once a massive pleasure district. It’s now known as the old part of town — filled with temples, izakaya, charming ryokan and mom and pop shops.
Harajuku is a youth-oriented shopping area that’s well known for Japanese street fashions.
Shimbashi is a massive business district known for its charming restaurants and nightlife. It’s the playground of Tokyo’s salarymen.
Ikebukuro is another Tokyo neighborhood that’s massive beyond comprehension. It’s second only to Shinjuku in terms of size and crowds. Ikebukuro is well known for its haunted skyscraper and nerd girl shops.
Shimokitazawa is what Japan would be like if it was run by hipsters. It’s a charming old neighborhood filled with cafes, restaurants, bars, shops and concert halls.
Marunouchi is Japan’s largest business district. It’s a interesting place on weeknights and completely deserted on weekends.
Gaienmae is a fashion district that’s filled with the offices of modeling agencies, fashion brands and photographers.
Ebisu is know for its international atmosphere and pleasant cafes and restaurants.
Yoyogi is a quiet neighborhood sandwiched between massive Shinjuku and Shibuya. It’s home to Tokyo’s wildest park.
Kichijoji is the type of neighborhood where housewives shop with their friends on weekday afternoons. It’s home to Inokashira Park, one of Tokyo’s best parks. It’s also a university town with reasonably vibrant nightlife.
Ueno is known for its large park, colorful markets and numerous cultural attractions. There are over a dozen major attractions in the area including Ueno Zoo and a number of art and history museums. Ueno is at the Imperial Palace’s demon gate. This direction is considered unlucky — Ueno has always been a low rent area.
Tokyo’s 50 year building boom has somehow skipped Koenji. It’s filled with old buildings that attract young business owners. As a result its home to many offbeat shops, cafes and bars.
A downtown business area that hasn’t changed much since just after WWII. Known for its tiny restaurants jammed under train tracks.
Nakameguro is best known for its sakura tree lined section of the Meguro river. The high stone walls of the river resemble an urban canal. The river has a dark history but has become one of the best spots for hanami in Tokyo.
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