Where to Stay in Tokyo, Japan for the First Time

Shinjuku, Tokyo

This is for all of the people who have contacted me asking where in Tokyo they should stay.

Tokyo is a huge city, with thousands of delights for the first time visitor to discover.

For me, even though I have lived in Asia and have been to almost every Asian country, it was an out of body experience, as the culture, daily life, people and customs are so different to anything I’ve seen anywhere.

There really isn’t a WRONG area to stay (each area is called a ward in Japan), unless you need to be close to a particular area for a reason.

But you do want to stay close to a station (you want the Yamanote line) as using the train to get around is the quickest way to get anywhere, especially during peak hours.

Shinjuku, Tokyo
Shinjuku, Tokyo

Tokyo isn’t designed like Singapore or Hong Kong with fairly clear areas to hang out in, or a centre. The town planning here is far more relaxed and dense. I think of it as almost little cities within the city itself.

Shinjuku: This area really is like a city within the city of Tokyo and is the largest entertainment and shopping area, and packed with people. A study in 2015 found almost 19,000 people live in every square kilometre of this area. 

There are plenty of impressive architectural buildings, shops galore, and loads to explore. It is a very trendy, bustling area by day with a vibrant nightlife, and the station here is the busiest train station in the world.

There are many fabulous department stores, and the area is family-friendly.  There are loads of great restaurants, many of them casual and easy.

There is abundant fresh food in Tokyo.

Don’t be afraid to eat in food courts as some of the best (and most affordable) food is served in the restaurants within the shopping centres and food courts.   

Ginza/Hibiya – One of the most glamorous shopping areas, this is where you go for every designer label you could ever dream of.  The department stores here are gorgeous; Ginza Wako is the most famous. The streets are well-designed, which are wider than any other area in Tokyo. 

The main thoroughfare Cho-Doru is closed to traffic on weekends from 12-5, making it super pedestrian-friendly. Hamarikyu Gardens are an oasis away from the hustle and bustle that is Tokyo.

The two Zara stores here are huge and have personal shoppers to assist – I believe this is a first for Zara.

There are gorgeous art galleries here too, as the art scene in Tokyo is big, with both paintings and media installations.

For Aussies, Bill Granger has his restaurant here, and for one of the most upmarket dining experiences of your life, The Bulgari Restaurant is also here.

The Peninsula Hotel is one of the most gorgeous hotels you can stay in this area, read more about it here.

The Tsukiji sprawling seafood wholesale markets are world famous, and a short walk from Ginza, with loads of fresh seafood to eat on the spot.

Plus, you can eat amazing premium sushi here at the following locations:

Sukiyabashi Jiro

Sawada (Japanese only)

Sushi Kanesaka

The busiest crossing in Shibuya
The busiest crossing in Shibuya

Shibuya – This is a popular place to stay and has a young crowd and upmarket vibe, as it is known both as the fashion centre of Tokyo and has a reputation for having the best nightlife. I loved walking the streets here discovering little alleyways packed wih designer shops full of labels I had never heard of.

The Shibuya station is one of the busiest in Tokyo, and the street crossing outside is legendary as all of the lights turn green at the same time, meaning thousands of people cross the street together, a sight to behold (it was the street seen in Lost In Translation).

There is a coffee shop here where you can sit and watch this over and over, it is a visual feast for the eyes.

There are restaurants galore. The Museum of Yebisu Beer is popular, as is Yoyogi Park and the shopping is full of pop culture items and the latest fashion items and gadgets. Fun.

Renae at The Park Hyatt Tokyo, in Shinjuku.

The Hachiko Statue outside the station is also a popular spot, as the dog statue was created after a dog would go to the station and wait for its owner to return from work every day, and one day the owner never got off the train. Legend has it the dog returned every night for seven years waiting for its owner to return.

Roppongi – There are some fantastic restaurants in this area, but many don’t like to stay here due to the cold/overly- developed feel of the area, although there are those who love it.

You can get a 360 degree view of it all at Tokyo City View. Roppongi Hills West Walk is packed with amazing shopping with lower levels for women and upper for men. Gallery Side 2 is a very cool gallery, and A-Life is one of the all-night clubs the Japanese love.

Image of traditional Kimono in a store window in Japan
A kimono is a common souvenir for Westerners to take home from Tokyo.

This area was developed later than the rest in Tokyo and so has a super modern feel with a lot of escalators, lifts and shiny buildings.

Nihombashi – This is the business and commerce centre. the powerful Japanese Mitsui family have a museum here filled with their art. Shop here for beautiful lacquered goods,  and food is excellent here too, especially oysters. Shop at Ozu Washi for gorgeous Japanese fine paper.

Click here for Tokyo travel tips: https://renaesworld.com.au/travel-tips-park-hyatt-tokyo/

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