Monday, March 30, 2015

Cities Less Traveled: Discover Tokyo’s Lesser Known Districts

Tokyo is a city filled with contradictions: history and innovation, temples and skyscrapers, busy bustling streets and peaceful city parks. When you travel to Tokyo, you will definitely want to visit Shinjuku, the famous skyscraper district, as well as the Asakusa district with its many ancient temples. Tokyo’s 23 wards are home to numerous distinctive districts. You can broaden your Tokyo travel experience by visiting some of the not-so-well-known districts.

Photo by まーくん via


The Kōenji district is an area that lets you glimpse Japan’s pre-building-boom personality. It’s known for its small secondhand shops that sell clothing, books, music, and toys that are in good condition and are reasonably priced. Kōenji is also a great place to take in Tokyo’s live music scene at a small club called a “live house.”  In addition to live houses, there are several other exciting nightlife venues including themed bars, ethnic bars, and karaoke bars.


You will be entertained in true Japanese style when you visit the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Stadium. Ryōgoku is the center of sumo wrestling and is home to many sumo-related activities. In January, May, and December, 15-day grand tournaments are held at the stadium. If you aren’t in town for a tournament, you can still catch a training session at one of the sumo stables by having a staff member at your hotel make arrangements.

Photo by Free Your Mind Travel via

In addition to viewing a sumo tournament or training, you can even eat what the wrestlers eat at one of several Ryōgoku restaurants. Sumo wrestlers consume large amounts of a stew made with protein-rich meats or seafood, vegetables, and sake to help them gain weight. The stew is called chanko nabe, and if you’re lucky, you might even get to meet a retired sumo wrestler, as many of the restaurants are managed by them.


Speaking of food, your visit to Tokyo won’t be complete unless you visit Ogikubo for some deliciously distinctive ramen. The district is known as the birthplace of Tokyo ramen and often called “Ramen Town.” The ramen here is different because it is cooked with fish bones rather than pork bones, and this gives it its one-of-a-kind flavor. Many different items can be added to your ramen. It is commonly served with chicken or pork, vegetables, and soy sauce.


Sakurashinmachi is an area in Setagaya Ward where anime comes to life. Because the late Machiko Hasegawa, a famous manga artist, spent several years of her life in Sakurashinmachi, there are several statues and themed restaurants that pay tribute to her famous manga turned anime, Sazae-san. Walking through the area and seeing the cheerful bronze statues is sure to put a smile on your face. And it is great fun for kids to be greeted by live versions of the characters at themed restaurants.

Photo by Tom Tomidokoro via

There are many more districts in Tokyo where you can take in the amazing culture, past and present, and there are numerous Tokyo hotels throughout the districts, so you shouldn't have a hard time finding one for your travel plans and needs. 

Tokyo is a very welcoming city, and you will be glad you went.

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project.

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