The best area to stay in Tokyo

The best area to stay in Tokyo

Where to find accommodation during your stay in Tokyo ? District by district, here are the best places to stay in the Japanese capital!

Finding a neighbourhood to stay in Tokyo, the sprawling capital of Japan, will not be easy as each district of the Japanese capital boasts its own particular interest.

The Japanese capital has 13.6 million inhabitants and its urban area has more than 42 million inhabitants, making it the largest city in the world. Extending over a surface area of 2188 km², the Japanese archipelago is almost three times bigger than the surface of New York City, and has 23 districts. In 2016, 24 million tourists visited Japan, a record for the country. Accommodation in Tokyo for a foreign tourist – a gaijin in Japanese – will be expensive: the city is among the most expensive places in the world. Here is a brief presentation of the districts of Tokyo.

Asakusa and Ryogoku, the “popular” and traditional Tokyo

Asakusa, best area to stay in Tokyo

Photo credit: Flickr – sayot

Temples, low houses, traditional “zen” gardens, cherry blossoms, and giant pandas are typical features of the district of Asakusa. Located to the north-east of the city, Asakusa and its adjacent neighbourhoods – Ryogoku, Yanaka, Ueno – are often popular with tourists as they offer a singular juxtaposition of modernity and traditional culture. Very well served by public transport, these areas are easily accessible, vibrant during the day, but calm and relaxing in the evening, when temples and shops close their doors. Visit the famous Senso-ji Buddhist Temple, climb to the top of the Tokyo SkyTree, and watch sumo wrestling in the nearby Ryogoku district.

Stroll in the quiet streets of Ueno and Yanaka, both peaceful neighborhood where you can enjoy long walks, visit temples, and take poetic breaks in the large floral park of Ueno. If you are looking for a cheap, traditional, authentic, and rather quiet neighbourhood, book accommodation in Asakusa, Yanaka, or Ueno.

Akihabara, the geek’s paradise

Akihabara, best area to stay in Tokyo

Photo credit: Flickr – Nicolas Nova

Akihabara is a hive bursting with activity, night and day. With its rousing atmosphere that never sleeps, a paradise of mangas, video games, and electronics at the forefront of the Japanese economy, this district will appeal to geeks and hyper-connected tourists alike. In this bustling parallel world, you even have the choice of staying in a capsule hotel, ideal for tourists on a limited budget. A myriad of restaurants, cafes, and pastry shops line the bright, electronic avenues. Accommodation rates will be much lower here than in other parts of Tokyo, but the atmosphere can be noisy, even oppressive.

Marunouchi and Ginza, the luxurious Tokyo

Ginza, best area to stay in Tokyo

Photo credit: Flickr – Richard Schneider

Welcome to Marunouchi and Ginza the economic and geographical heart of the capital. These two neighbourhoods are home to the business district, an array of modern buildings, the Imperial Palace, and an eyeful of luxury shops. If your bank account doesn’t mind indulging in a refined shopping excursion in one of the most expensive on the planet, this place is bound to please you. Conveniently located not far from the central station, they are good areas to stay in Tokyo, although the accommodation rates are particularly high, especially in Ginza, the chic district of Tokyo. The apartments, especially those on high floors, offer a breathtaking view of the city. Whoever wants to enjoy a better view, must also be prepared to pay a steep bill: prestige, in Tokyo, is very expensive!

Shinjuku, Harajuku and Shibuya, tourist and dynamic areas

Where to stay in Tokyo ?

Photo credit: Flickr – Candida.Performa

Shinjuku is now world famous for being the location of the movie Lost in Translation in 2001, including the Park Hyatt, where one night costs $500… This is the business district where skyscrapers are juxtaposed with infamous areas where a much less gilded youth likes to hang out, especially in the streets of Golden Gai and Kabukicho. More than 300,000 people live in this area where you’ll find a range of international hotels. A great place to stay in Tokyo if you’re looking for a lively and festive area to spend your evenings. Accommodation-wise, the area offers a wide range of prices.

The Shibuya and Harajuku neighbourhoods are the favourite haunt of cosplay fans, who represent and role-play specific manga and movies characters by wearing custom-made costumes. In Shibuya, you will surely recognise Takeshita Dori Street and the famous crossroad – on every postcard – where thousands of workers, onlookers, and tourists wander in between bright-lit shopping malls. In this ultra-touristic district, accommodation prices are quite expensive.

Daikanyama, Ebisu and Nakameguro, peace and tranquility

Capsule-hotel, best area to stay in Tokyo

A bed in a capsule-hôtel in Tokyo – Photo credit: Flickr – JAPANKURU

Ebisu, Daikanyama and Nakameguro are a haven of peace and tranquility compared to their neighbour Shibuya. The area is packed with many cafes with terraces, trendy bars, and chic boutiques. In this neighbourhood, one fees like being in the West rather than East Asia. Many capsule hotels have emerged to allow penniless tourists to stay in Tokyo. Do not go there if you want a calm and relaxing atmosphere. Here, you will live at the same pace as the trendy Tokyoites, though it will require a relatively large budget to stay in this area.

Western Roppongi

Roppongi, best area to stay in Tokyo

Photo credit: Flickr – yoppy

Located to the south of Akasaka and not far from Shiba Park, Roppongi is known to house Westerners who emigrate to Japan while maintaining their American or European way of life. The nightlife is lively, and the area boasts many cultural centres as wall as trendy bars and clubs. The apartments can be very comfortable and elegant, though without the luxury of Ginza. It is therefore necessary to plan a relatively high budget for the international hotels, malls, and shops. Take to the streets to visit the museums, discover Japanese cinema, and enjoy a drink on the terrace. To offset the overwhelming cultural difference, this area is a good compromise to stay in Tokyo: a Western island in an ocean of Japanese culture.

I grant myself at least 3 to 4 trips each year to the four corners of the world, whether it is very close to my home, as in South America, Europe or Southeast Asia. A question about a destination, a visit, a deal? I answer them in the comments.

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