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Where to Stay in Tokyo: Neighborhood Guide + Best Hotels

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Japan’s capital is a sprawling metropolis with an overwhelming number of things to do and places to stay. This guide breaks down the top neighborhoods and recommended hotels in the city to help you decide where to stay in Tokyo.

Where to stay in Tokyo | Asakusa Tokyo Japan

Tokyo is truly unlike any other city in the world.

First of all, the size of the city is almost unfathomable. Stand at a viewpoint atop Tokyo Skytree or Tokyo Tower and you will, quite literally, see the city stretch out in every direction for as far as the eye can see.

Tokyo is also a land of beautiful contradictions: futuristic skyscrapers next to historic temples and shrines; ancient traditions performed alongside dancing robots; relaxing onsens down the block from neon-lit nightclubs.

It’s breathtaking. It’s mind-boggling. And it’s what makes Tokyo such a special city that it has something to offer visitors of all ages, budget levels, and interests.

But it also makes planning a trip to Tokyo a *tad* overwhelming. Trust me, we’ve been there. One of the toughest things is deciding where to stay in Tokyo, and that’s why we put together this handy guide.

We’re breaking down the best neighborhoods to stay in Tokyo based on your specific travel style, needs, and interests. And we’re throwing in hotel recommendations for every budget, because why not??

Okay, let’s do this!

Where to stay in Tokyo for…

Shibuya Crossing Tokyo Japan

If you’re looking for quick answers, here are our suggestions on where to stay in Tokyo for different travel scenarios. 

To get the lowdown on each neighborhood plus hotel recommendations, click on the ‘hood to jump to that section of the article, or just keep reading.

Tokyo Neighborhoods Guide

Other resources for planning your trip to Tokyo:


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Overview of Tokyo’s neighborhoods

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Click on the name of the neighborhood you’re interested in to jump to that section of the article, or just keep scrolling to see them all.

Shinjuku

Stay here for: buzzy vibes and lots of dining & entertainment options

Things+to+Do+in+Tokyo+Memory+Lane+Piss+Alley

Shinjuku is one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Tokyo for your first visit. It’s close to a lot of major attractions, easy to get around, and the sheer volume of restaurants, shops, and entertainment options means you don’t have to go far to find something to do.

Crane your neck at the towering skyscraper district, home to some of Tokyo’s tallest buildings. Feel the city come alive in the neon-lit nightclubs and karaoke rooms of East Shinjuku and Kabuki-cho (aka the red light district).

Shinjuku Station is your gateway to exploring, connecting to every corner of Tokyo. Seeing through more than 2 million passengers on a daily basis, this is the busiest railway station in the world.

Most central subway stop: Shinjuku Station

Top things to do in Shinjuku

Things+to+Do+in+Tokyo+Golden+Gai
  • Sample yakitori (meat skewers) and other street foods in the traditional eateries of Omoide Yokocho (aka Memory Lane / Piss Alley).
  • Wander the narrow alleyways of Golden Gai and raise a glass at one of the tiny themed bars.
  • Find serenity amidst Tokyo’s hectic streets at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.
  • Get 360-degree views of the city from the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Unlike Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower, this is a view you don’t have to pay for!

Recommended accommodation in Shinjuku

yksi SAUNA & STAY Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Budget: Yksi Sauna & Stay

Despite the name, this hotel doesn’t have a sauna. But it does have great reviews and offers private rooms at a reasonable price.

Rosenheim Tokyo Shinjuku Okubo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Mid-range: ​​Rosenheim Tokyo Shinjuku Okubo

Though pretty basic, these apartment-style units have amazing reviews for service, comfort, cleanliness, and location.

Bellustar Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Luxury: Bellustar Tokyo

Modern hotel with room service, fitness center, onsite restaurant, and incredible city views.

Shibuya/Harajuku

Stay here for: youthful energy and trendy fashion

Shibuya Sky Tokyo Japan
Shibuya Sky

These adjacent neighborhoods border Shinjuku to the southwest and form another popular area of Tokyo for first-timers.

Shibuya is a dynamic hive of business, retail, and entertainment. Its frenzied urban energy is embodied in the world-famous Shibuya Crossing, a 7-way intersection where all the lights turn red at once and pedestrians scramble every which way.

Though Harajuku is technically part of Shibuya, it’s so unique that it deserves its own introduction.

This lively neighborhood in Tokyo is the beating heart of Japan’s youth culture and the essence of kawaii – aka all things cute. Think rainbow-colored foods, themed cafes, and sweets on sweets, from crepes and bubble tea to animal-shaped donuts and cotton candy.

Takeshita Street is known for its trendy fashion and offbeat vintage shops, while Cat Street connects Harajuku and Shibuya with tons of quirky boutiques (but no cats?).

Most central subway stop: Shibuya Station

Top things to do in Shibuya/Harajuku

Things to do in Tokyo
Takeshita Street in Harajuku
  • Witness the organized chaos of the iconic Shibuya Scramble Crossing.
  • Take a breath at Meiji Shrine, an understatedly beautiful Shinto shrine set amongst wooded pathways and tranquil gardens.
  • Discover Japan’s kawaii culture in Harajuku.

Recommended accommodation in Shibuya/Harajuku

Book Tea Bed SHIBUYA Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Budget: Book Tea Bed

Affordable capsule hotel in a prime location that has both women-only and mixed floors, as well as an onsite cafe.

Oku-Shibu Residence Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Mid-range: Oku-Shibu Residence

This centrally-located apartment complex has one-bedroom and two-bedroom units with varying amenities, such as air conditioning or a full kitchen.

TRUNK(HOTEL) YOYOGI PARK Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Luxury: Trunk (Hotel) Yoyogi Park

This hotel receives rave reviews for its location and amenities, including an outdoor pool, a hot tub, and bikes available for guests to use for free.

Ginza

Stay here for: luxury, pampering, designer goods, and fine dining

Ginza Tokyo Japan

If Tokyo was NYC, Ginza would be the Upper East Side: a bougie neighborhood of posh boutiques, luxury brands, designer flagship stores, glamorous cocktail bars, and high-end restaurants.

In addition to shopping and dining, Ginza offers more opportunities to indulge in a lavish lifestyle at its art galleries and exclusive theaters.

Unless you’re super rich, Ginza is probably not the best area to stay in Tokyo, but it’s worth a visit for window-shopping, admiring the ultra-modern architecture, and picking your jaw up off the ground. A spectacle to be sure, but not one that most of us can afford.

Most central subway stop: Ginza Station

Top things to do in Ginza

Tsujiki Outer Market Tokyo Japan
Savoring allllllll the sushi at Tsukiji Outer Market
  • Shop ‘til you drop at Ginza’s many high-end boutiques and department stores.
  • Experience traditional Japanese kabuki at Kabukiza Theater, where you can watch a full-length play or buy a single act ticket.
  • Sample fresh seafood and other traditional Japanese foods at Tsukiji Outer Market.

Recommended accommodation in Ginza

Sotetsu Fresa Inn Ginza Sanchome Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Budget: Sotetsu Fresa Inn Ginza Sanchome

Clean and comfortable rooms with multilingual 24-hour front desk staff, just steps away from Asahi Inari Shrine.

Dormy Inn Premium Ginza Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Mid-range: Dormy Inn Premium

This highly-rated hotel in the heart of Ginza boasts its own onsen and sauna.

Hotel The Celestine Ginza Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Luxury: Hotel the Celestine

Impeccable service, large rooms with great views, onsite massage spa, restaurant, and bar.

The Peninsula Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Super luxury: The Peninsula Tokyo

With a full-service spa, gym, multiple restaurants, lavish rooms, indoor pool overlooking the Imperial Palace Gardens, and a fleet of Rolls Royces on call, this hotel is next-level luxury.

Tokyo Station

Stay here for: iconic sights and day trips from Tokyo to other parts of Japan

Hamarikyu Garden Tokyo Japan
Hamarikyu Gardens

As the city’s main transportation hub, Tokyo Station is connected to local metro, JR, and Shinkansen (bullet train) lines. If you’re basing yourself in Japan’s capital with the goal of taking some day trips outside of Tokyo to explore more of the country, staying near the station will cut down on the amount of transportation you need to take.

But the area around Tokyo Station itself is also worth exploring.

In the surrounding neighborhood, modern infrastructure is juxtaposed with important historic and cultural landmarks. The most prominent is the Imperial Palace, home to none other than the Emperor of Japan himself.

Most central subway stop: Tokyo Station

Top things to do in Tokyo Station

Things+to+Do+in+Tokyo+Ramen+Street+Tokyo+Station+Underground
Slurpin’ on Ramen Street
  • Explore the Imperial Palace grounds with its manicured gardens and historic sites, including the famous Nijubashi Bridge.
  • Participate in an informal tea ceremony at Hamarikyu Gardens. Or, if you have more time, learn about traditional Japanese tea ceremonies (which can take hours!).
  • Slurp some noodles on Ramen Street, a series of underground restaurants all serving different ramen styles.

Recommended accommodation in Tokyo Station

Tosei Hotel Cocone Kanda Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Budget: Tosei Hotel Cocone Kanda

Great location with decently priced rooms in the heart of one of the best foodie areas of Tokyo.

Hotel Intergate Tokyo Kyobashi Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Mid-range: Hotel Intergate Tokyo Kyobashi

Steps away from Tokyo Station, this very clean hotel has great reviews and excellent service.

The Tokyo Station Hotel Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Luxury: The Tokyo Station Hotel

Elegant European-style rooms with an onsite spa and buffet breakfast in an unbeatable location adjacent to Tokyo Station.

Akihabara

Stay here for: anime, Japanese pop culture, computers & electronics

Akihabara Tokyo Japan

Nicknamed “Electric Town”, Akihabara is the best area to stay in Tokyo for tech junkies, gamers, and diehard anime fans.

The streets are a riot for the senses with colorful buildings, digital ads, themed cafes, and the sounds of arcades, pachinko parlors, and vending machines.

Electronics stores sell the latest high-tech gear and futuristic gadgets, while other shops offer trading cards, figurines, and just about every anime and manga collectible you can think of.

Good to know: Anime & manga fans sometimes refer to themselves by the Japanese word “otaku”. In western countries, this just means a person belonging to those fandoms; but in Japanese it defines a person with “obsessive interests”, which some might perceive as negative.

Most central subway stop: Akihabara Station

Top things to do in Akihabara

Akihabara Tokyo Japan
  • Immerse yourself in Japan’s anime and manga culture by browsing the shops or catching an event at the Tokyo Anime Center. Don’t miss Akihabara Radio Kaikan, which houses various shops and a museum in a historic building.
  • Pick up the latest high-tech gadgets, cameras, and computer gear at Akihabara’s many electronics stores.
  • Geek out at Super Potato, a famous gaming shop with retro video games and vintage consoles.

Recommended accommodation in Akihabara

APA Hotel Akihabara Ekikita Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Budget: APA Hotel Akihabara Ekikita

Basic, modern hotel with friendly, attentive staff and comfy rooms.

THE TOURIST HOTEL & Cafe AKIHABARA Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Mid-range: The Tourist Hotel & Cafe

Spacious accommodations with lots of options, including family rooms that sleep up to 5 adults.

NOHGA HOTEL AKIHABARA TOKYO Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Luxury: Nohga Hotel

This highly-rated hotel has an onsite restaurant with woodfired pizzas and—this might sound strange, but—guests LOVE their showers.

Ueno

Stay here for: history, culture

Yanaka Tokyo Japan near Ueno

The neighborhood of Ueno is best known for its lively markets and its sprawling park, considered one of the best places in Tokyo to see sakura (cherry blossoms) in the spring.

You could easily spend an entire day exploring Ueno Park. Not only does the park offer green space, it also contains a large pond, multiple shrines, and 4 museums: the Ueno Royal Museum, the National Museum of Nature and Science, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, and the Tokyo National Museum. The park is adjacent to Ueno Station, making it easy to visit even if you’re staying in a different neighborhood.

Most central subway stop: Ueno Station

Top things to do in Ueno

Things to do in Tokyo | Yanaka Traditional Neighborhood
Yanaka
  • Wander Ueno Park and visit its museums.
  • Shop the lively market street of Ameyoko.
  • Step back in time in the nearby historic Yanaka district, known as “Tokyo’s most traditional neighborhood” due to its well-preserved Edo-period atmosphere and architecture.

Recommended accommodation in Ueno

Hiromas Hostel in Ueno Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Budget: Hiromas Hostel

Good-value capsule hotel with air-conditioned rooms. Note: gender-separate accommodation.

Hotel Resol Ueno Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Mid-range: Hotel Resol

Conveniently located across from Ueno Station and Ueno Park, this hotel has comfortable rooms and optional breakfast.

MIMARU TOKYO UENO EAST Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Luxury: Mimaru Tokyo Ueno East

This chain has several properties in the Ueno area alone, and they all have great reviews. We think this location is most convenient, just a 3-minute walk to Ueno Station and 9-minute walk to Ueno Park.

Asakusa

Stay here for: history, tradition

Asakusa Tokyo Japan

Compared to the modern or even futuristic vibes of some other Tokyo neighborhoods, Asakusa manages to retain the traditional atmosphere of “old Tokyo”. 

Gigantic malls and department stores are replaced with small shops and hole-in-the-wall eateries. Budget travelers wondering where to stay in Tokyo might consider Asakusa, as the area is pretty walkable and there are plenty of affordable hotels and ryokans.

Most central subway stop: Asakusa Station

Top things to do in Asakusa

Senso-ji Asakusa Tokyo Japan
  • Explore the grounds of Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, with its 5-story pagoda and Kaminarimon (“Thunder Gate”).
  • Shop for Japanese souvenirs at Nakamise-dori or Kappabashi (“Kitchen Town”).
  • Get your nostalgia on with retro rides and carnival games at Asakusa Hanayashiki, Japan’s oldest amusement park.
  • Immerse yourself in local culture at Asakusa Engei Hall, a traditional Japanese arts theater featuring performances of rakugo (comic storytelling).
    • Note: if you don’t understand Japanese, the jokes may not land, but the vibes are immaculate and they also host other talent, like concerts and magic shows.

Recommended accommodation in Asakusa

Far East Village Hotel Tokyo, Asakusa Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Budget: Far East Village Hotel

Modern hotel with quiet rooms close to all amenities. Rooms with city views are available.

Asakusa Tobu Hotel Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Mid-range: Asakusa Tobu Hotel

This top-rated hotel is conveniently located close to Asakusa Station and tons of restaurants. In addition to spacious modern rooms, they also have a couple of themed novelty rooms.

cyashitsu ryokan asakusa Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Luxury: Cyashitsu Ryokan

A traditional Japanese ryokan with modern touches and a private onsen with a view.

Sumida

Sumida River cruise Tokyo Japan

Stay here for: sightseeing, scenic riverfront

Sumida blends modernity and tradition in a delightful display of contrasts. 

On one hand, you have Tokyo’s sumo district, where the atmosphere at a tournament in the national arena could make you swear you’ve stepped back in time.

On the other hand, you have the iconic Tokyo Skytree, the 634-meter (2,080-foot) broadcast tower that defines the Tokyo skyline.

You have upscale shopping malls and traditional bathhouses. Modern apartments and narrow streets lined with wooden houses.

Sumida’s mix of cultural landmarks, scenic riverfront, and contemporary attractions make it a multifaceted district that captures Tokyo’s dynamic spirit and diverse offerings.

Most central subway stop: Tokyo Skytree Station

Top things to do in Sumida

View from Tokyo Skytree Japan
View from Tokyo Skytree on a clear (but smoggy) day
  • Get a bird’s-eye view of the city (and maybe Mount Fuji, if you’re lucky) from Tokyo Skytree.
  • Watch sumo at Ryogoku Kokugikan National Sumo Arena. Tournaments are hosted here in January, May, and September. If you can’t get tickets or it doesn’t align with your trip, it’s still worth visiting the stadium and sumo museum.
  • Take in the sights on a Sumida River cruise, including the iconic Tokyo Gate Bridge.
  • Soak in centuries of history at the Edo-Tokyo Museum.

Recommended accommodation in Sumida

東京日和 hotel Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Budget: 東京日和

In addition to double rooms, this hotel offers family rooms with Japanese-style futons that sleep up to 6 people.

Petit Grande Miyabi Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Mid-range: Petit Grande Miyabi

These apartment-style units are all equipped with a kitchen, microwave, seating area, flat-screen TV, washing machine, and private bathroom.

The Gate Hotel Ryogoku by Hulic Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Luxury: The Gate Hotel Ryogoku by Hulic

Guests love the breakfast at this well-appointed hotel in the sumo district that boasts a restaurant, bar, and open terrace with beautiful views of the Sumida River.

Roppongi

Stay here for: art, entertainment, nightlife, party scene

Roppongi Hills Tokyo Japan
Image by Narain Jashanmal via Unsplash

Situated in central Tokyo, Roppongi is primarily an entertainment district, known for its wild nightlife. There are countless bars and nightclubs that will have you partying until the sun comes up, if that’s your thing. Due to a large expat community, the bars and restaurants here are especially popular with foreigners.

Flanking the neighborhood are two gigantic multi-use complexes: Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown. Both house a mix of residential and commercial facilities, including restaurants, museums, and shops.

Most central subway stop: Roppongi Station

Top things to do in Roppongi

Roppongi Tokyo Japan
Image by Kentaro Toma via Unsplash
  • Go museum hopping in the Roppongi Art Triangle, which includes the Mori Art Museum, Suntory Museum of Art, and the Tokyo National Art Center.
  • Enjoy panoramic city views from the Mori Tower Observation Deck (aka Tokyo City View) at Roppongi Hills.
  • Experience the wild nightlife in Roppongi’s many bars, lounges, and nightclubs.

Recommended accommodation in Roppongi

Sotetsu Fresa Inn Tokyo Roppongi Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Budget: Sotetsu Fresa Inn Tokyo Roppongi

Affordable accommodation less than half a mile from Roppongi Hills. Services available for an additional fee include massage and a buffet breakfast.

Act Hotel Roppongi Tokyo Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Mid-range: Act Hotel

This hotel has a spacious patio with ambient lighting and offers free coffee, tea, and soft-serve ice cream.

Mitsui Garden Hotel Roppongi Tokyo Premier Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Luxury: Mitsui Garden Hotel

Modern hotel in the heart of Roppongi with an onsite restaurant offering sweeping city views, including Tokyo Tower.

Odaiba

Stay here for: family fun, indoor activities, everything you need in one place

Odaiba Tokyo Japan
Image by Cem Ersozlu via Unsplash

If you’ve ever wanted to time-travel to the future, Odaiba is the place for you.

This man-made island in Tokyo Bay offers high-tech attractions, futuristic architecture, and innovative entertainment on a cosmopolitan waterfront.

Odaiba probably has the highest density of tourist attractions of all the Tokyo neighborhoods and a lot of them are child-friendly, making this a popular “staycation” spot for Tokyo families.

If you’re looking for historic sites and traditional Japanese culture, this isn’t it. You won’t find ancient temples or shrines here. What you will find are whacky experiences and innovations that will make you say, “only in Tokyo!”.

Most central subway stop: Odaiba-kaihinkōen Station

Top things to do in Odaiba

Odaiba Tokyo Japan
Image by ribbons6775 via Pixabay
  • Embark on a sightseeing tour to snap photos of iconic landmarks, such as the Gundam Statue (a giant robot), Rainbow Bridge, and the replica Statue of Liberty.
  • Enjoy an urban beach day at Odaiba Marine Park.
  • Feel like a kid at Tokyo Joypolis, an indoor amusement park with rides, games, and VR experiences.

Recommended accommodation in Odaiba

Sotetsu Grand Fresa Tokyo-Bay Ariake Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Budget: Sotetsu Grande Fresa Tokyo Bay Ariake

Technically located on the neighboring island of Ariake, this reasonably-priced hotel is just a 20-minute walk from Odaiba Beach.

Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Mid-range: Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba

The upper floors in this high-rise hotel boast panoramic views of Tokyo Bay. With multiple restaurants and cafes onsite, an indoor pool, and a large gym, you’ll have everything you need.

Hilton Tokyo Odaiba Japan (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Luxury: Hilton Tokyo Odaiba

Waterfront hotel with onsite spa, pool, and an outdoor jet bath with views of the Tokyo skyline. All rooms have balconies, and there’s a free daily shuttle to Tokyo Disneyland.

Akasaka

Stay here for: budget-friendly hotels and a quieter feel

Akasaka Tokyo Japan

While Akasaka doesn’t have the same recognition as Shinjuku or Shibuya, it does offer really great budget-friendly hotel options, which is why we’ve stayed here on our last two trips to Tokyo.

It’s also far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the more popular areas that are packed with tourists, giving you a more relaxed and local feel. 

That said, there aren’t a ton of big attractions in Akasaka itself, so you’ll need to spend more time on the subway in order to explore Tokyo to its fullest. 

Most central subway stop: Akasaka Station

Top things to do in Akasaka

Akasaka Tokyo Japan
  • Visit Hie Shrine, whose orange torii gates make it look like a smaller version of Fushimi Inari in Kyoto.
  • Get excellent coffee at BunCoffee.
  • Visit the National Art Center.
  • Wander around the Meiji Jingu Gaien park.

Recommended accommodation in Akasaka

Hotel Mystays Premier Akasaka (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Budget: Hotel Mystays Premier Akasaka

These compact-but well-designed rooms are a great choice for budget travelers.

Mimaru Tokyo Akasaka (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Mid-range: ​​Mimaru Akasaka

This chain of apartment-style rooms is an excellent choice for families. The rooms are incredibly spacious, and they offer great value. This is where we personally stayed and we loved it!

The Okura Tokyo (Booking)
Image source: Booking

Luxury: The Okura

Well-appointed rooms and facilities make this hotel a great splurge option.

Bonus neighborhood: Shimokitazawa

Shimokitazawa Tokyo Japan

This neighborhood isn’t very well-known amongst foreign travelers, and I doubt you’ll find it on any other lists of “best places to stay”. But next time we’re in Tokyo, this is where we want to stay! 

We hadn’t heard of it until one of our last days in Tokyo on our 2023 trip, when we had dinner in a local family’s home through an organization called Nagomi Visit. The couple’s home is in the Shimokitazawa neighborhood, and we immediately fell in love with this area. 

It has all sorts of vintage shops, small restaurants, buzzy izakayas, and lots of young people out and about. 

There is a local vibe and very few tourists. Plus, it’s a very short subway ride from Shibuya, meaning it’s not far out of the way of many attractions you’ll want to see.

The downfall is there aren’t many hotels in this area, but here are two we’ve found:

  • Mustard Hotel: This reasonably-priced hotel has a minimalist design and is located in a quiet part of Shimokitazawa.
  • illi: This apartment-style hotel has a beautiful design and is perfect for a family who needs a little extra space.

Best place to stay in Tokyo in our opinion…

Team Lab Planet Tokyo Japan

If it’s your first time in Tokyo, we would personally recommend staying in Shibuya or Shinjuku because it will be the most convenient for seeing all the major sights. Both neighborhoods have a wide range of hotels as well, so you’ll have lots of options to choose from.

If you’re on a tight budget and don’t want to stay in a shoebox-size room, Akasaka has some of the best options; however, you’ll be spending more time in transit as there aren’t all that many main attractions in this neighborhood.

For our next visit to Tokyo, we hope to stay in the Shimokitazawa neighborhood, which has such a fun local vibe!

Getting around Tokyo

Riding the trains in Japan with the Japan Rail Pass

Public transportation is without a doubt the best way to get around Tokyo. The trains and metros are some of the cleanest and most efficient in the world, and the rail system is extensive.

There are two major companies that operate the subway system in Tokyo: Toei and Tokyo Metro. Tokyo Metro has 9 different subway lines, whereas Toei only has 4 lines.

Transit cards

Instead of purchasing tickets each time you ride the subway, download a transit card onto your phone (Apple Wallet or Google Wallet, depending on your phone). It will make your life so much easier, trust me!

You can load money onto it and you just tap your phone on the turnstile sensor when entering the metro. No need for a ticket! You can also use this to pay for purchases at most convenience stores.

There are 3 transit cards in Japan: Suica, Pasmo, and ICOCA and they’re all relatively the same.

Suica app statue Tokyo Japan

Tokyo Metro 1-Day Pass

If you plan on doing quite a bit of exploring in a day, another cost-effective option is to purchase the Tokyo Metro 1-Day Pass. The 1-day pass only costs 600 yen (~$4 USD) and you can purchase it at any ticket vending machine. 

There’s also a Toei 24-hour pass (700 yen and gives you access to Toei subways and buses). You should only get the Toei pass if your hotel is close to a Toei station with no Tokyo Metro stations nearby.

Insider Tip: The Tokyo metro system can feel pretty overwhelming at first glance. Just take a look at that spaghetti-like map above! But if you download the Japan Official Travel app (available for iOS and Android), you will be saved a HUGE headache. It is literally a lifesaver for navigating all transportation in Japan.

The Greater Tokyo Pass

Japan rail station platform

An alternative would be to purchase the Greater Tokyo Pass, a 3- or 5-day pass that grants purchasers unlimited rides on railways, trams, and ordinary fixed-route buses around the Tokyo metro area and surrounding suburbs.

The cost of the 5-day pass is 7,200 yen (~$48 USD) for adults, or 6,000 yen (~$40 USD) for the 3-day pass.

You can do your own research into the valid lines included on the pass to see if purchasing one will save you money, depending on which places in Tokyo you plan to visit.

What about the Japan Rail Pass?

Japan Rail Pass

Does it make sense to purchase the JR Pass for your visit to Tokyo?

Here’s the simple answer:

  • If you are staying only in Tokyo: NO
  • If you will be traveling to at least 2 more places in Japan: YES

Read more about how much money the Japan Rail pass will save you and find out how to get it. We have a whole guide and are happy to answer any questions you may have.

FAQs about where to stay in Tokyo

Tokyo Japan

We’ve covered a lot already in this guide on where to stay in Tokyo, but here are the answers to some other popular questions regarding where to base yourself.

What is the safest area to stay in Tokyo?

Tokyo Japan

Japan in general is a very safe country, including most of Tokyo. In fact, Tokyo is often listed as one of the safest cities in the world.

We’ve heard tons of stories of people losing their wallet on the Tokyo subway and having it returned to them. Likely your biggest chance of anything unsavory happening would be getting pickpocketed by another foreigner in one of the busy tourist districts, like Asakusa. As with any big city, just be cautious in crowded areas.

We can only speak to our personal experiences, but we’ve always felt very safe in Tokyo. We personally think all neighborhoods listed in this guide feel very safe, even for wandering at night. 

One area that may feel slightly dodgy in the later hours of the evening is Kabuki-cho, the “red light district” in Shinjuku. It isn’t necessarily unsafe, just one of the areas where you’ll find people stumbling out of bars late at night. If that’s not your vibe, you may want to stay elsewhere.

Insider Tip: We always recommend getting travel insurance to make sure you’re covered in case anything gets stolen or you run into other emergencies. We’ve never had to use it in Japan, but it has saved our butts more than once traveling elsewhere!

Is Tokyo a walkable city?

Harajuku Tokyo Japan

I mean, there are areas where you certainly can and will walk around. But Tokyo is MASSIVE, and if you want to explore more of the city than your immediate neighborhood (which you definitely should!), you’ll need to use public transportation.

The good news is that Tokyo’s public transportation is top-notch – clean, efficient, and can easily get you anywhere in the city. For more info, jump to our section on how to get around Tokyo.

Where to avoid staying in Tokyo?

Pig cafe Fukusawa Tokyo Japan
This pig cafe in Fukuzawa was super fun to visit, but pretty far removed from all the main attractions in Tokyo.

For the sake of convenience, we would avoid staying too far away from the city center.

We chose this list of the best neighborhoods to stay in Tokyo because they all have a lot to offer in terms of fun things to do, great restaurants, and top-rated accommodations. Staying way out in the ‘burbs (have we mentioned Tokyo is big?) might give you fewer options.

Is it better to stay in Shibuya or Shinjuku?

Shibuya Sky Tokyo Japan
Shibuya Sky

The answer to this question really depends on what it is you’re looking for. Both are great options and you can’t really go wrong either way, but here are a few things to think about:

  • Accommodations: Shinjuku has some dirt-cheap-but-not-great places to stay, while Shibuya has more value-for-money options. Shinjuku also has more luxury hotels than Shibuya.
  • Food: Shinjuku is generally considered the better foodie area, but Shibuya has no shortage of great places to eat.
  • Transportation: Both Shinjuku and Shibuya are well-situated and have central metro stations for ease of transportation, but Shinjuku’s station is bigger (literally the busiest railway station in the world!).
  • Shopping: Shinjuku has more luxury brands, whereas Shibuya has more trendy boutiques. Since a lot of the shops in Shibuya are geared more towards younger consumers, they tend to be a bit more affordable.
  • Things to do: Both Shinjuku and Shibuya are home to some of the most iconic sights in Tokyo, and both have plenty of entertainment options. The two are also only 3 stops (6 minutes) apart by metro, so you can easily explore both. If it’s nightlife you’re after, then Shinjuku is the way to go.

What is the best area to stay in Tokyo for food?

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Shinjuku and Ginza are considered two of the best areas for foodies.

The bougie neighborhood of Ginza is home to multiple Michelin-starred restaurants, both Japanese and international. This could be a good choice if you’re traveling with more picky eaters. Ginza is also close to Tsukiji Outer Market, one of the best food markets in Tokyo.

Shinjuku is more traditional and generally more affordable, with late-night ramen and yakitori joints serving Japanese salarymen. It’s a pretty cool experience to cram yourself into a tiny bar or hole-in-the-wall restaurant that only seats 10 people and brush shoulders with locals.

Two of our absolute favorite ways to experience food culture on our travels are with food tours and cooking classes, and both Ginza and Shinjuku have tons of options.


Other resources for planning your Japan trip

We have TONS of resources on travel in Japan and destinations throughout the country. Check out our Ultimate Japan Travel Guide for all the answers to your most burning questions, or read some of our favorite articles below.

Be sure to download our complete packing list for Japan! It’s packed with good suggestions and insider tips to help plan your Japan trip. And it’s completely FREE, so why not!?

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We want to hear from you!

Have you been to Tokyo before? Where did you stay? Which of these neighborhoods sounds like the best fit for you? Let us know in the comments below!

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