Quirky bars, foodie fun and real-life Mario Kart make the Japanese capital one for the bucket list, says Lifestyle Editor Catherine Bennion-Pedley.

Scoff sea urchin

A morning stroll around Tsukiji fish market is a must. Spy the huge new catches being prepared, and munch rolled omelettes on sticks (AKA tamagoyaki) and juicy barbecued scallops at the pint-sized stalls.

Later, feast on fresh sushi and be sure to try the sweet, pâté-like sea urchin. Finish with strawberry-custard mochi balls (which look like Pac-Men) and work it all off with a walk around the lake at nearby Hamarikyu Gardens, entry £1.60.

Be a big kid

Have incredible fun dressed as Super Mario or your fave animated character, go-karting through the centre of Tokyo and waving to the crowds.

Yes, really! Just be sure to get an international driving permit, £5.50, at the Post Office before you leave the UK.

Tours cost from £52 for two hours (Maricar.com).

Meanwhile, the canal-side neighbourhood of Ebisu feels a world away from all the neon billboards.

Grab a curry, from £5, and a fantastic garlic shrimp baguette, £6, at Bombay Bazar (Bombaybazar.jp), then sip oolong tea cocktails and play table tennis with locals at secret bar Nakame Takkyu Lounge – designed like a student common room (Mfs11.com).

Drink up at Golden Gai

Tokyo has nearly 200 tiny themed bars in the narrow alleys of Golden Gai.

One minute you’ll feel like you’re in a Bali beach bar, the next a decadent den.

Don’t be afraid to try any door with an English sign. We loved the spicy home-made gin at Albatross, £5.30 (Alba-s.com), the plum wine at Yadokai and the jazz vibe at If.

Shochu, a vodka-like Japanese spirit, is nice with just a splash of water – trust us! Then soak it all up at Rokkasan, cooking your own fish and meat feast, from £8 a dish (Rokkasen.co.jp).

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Get to Ginza

The swanky district of Ginza is like Tokyo’s MayfairCredit: Image Bank – Getty

This swanky district is like Tokyo’s Mayfair. Café de L’Ambre has served coffee since 1948 – it’s the ultimate hand-drip experience (Cafedelambre.com).

Stationery fiends won’t want to miss the eight floors of Itoya (Ito-ya.co.jp).

Sample tasty eats in the food hall of department store Mitsukoshi (Mitsukoshi.mistore.jp), then have a cocktail at The Iron Fairies, filled with trinkets and vials of “pixie dust”, where tipples, £12, are topped with goodies like candy floss.

For great steak cooked by your own personal chef, try Kurosawa in a traditional wooden house, and visit the cute tea lounge afterwards. A set lunch costs £24 (9638.net/tsukiji).

Think snappy

The Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills Mori Tower holds Insta-gold modern art exhibitions – seriously, you’ll be awe-struck.

You can snap fab views from the observation deck, too. A combined ticket costs £12 (Mori.art.museum).

Nearby at Fujifilm Square catch a free photography exhibition and check out vintage cameras at the Photo History Museum (Fujifilmsquare.jp).

Head for heights? Hit the world’s tallest free-standing tower, the 634m Tokyo Skytree – we got a little dizzy! Entry costs £27 (Tokyo-skytree.jp).

Kip with Godzilla

Well, kinda. Hotel Gracery, perfectly placed in the middle of entertainment district Shinjuku, has a giant Godzilla on its roof – handy when you’re trying to find your way home.

Bedrooms are compact, but the bathrooms are generous and the views are great. Doubles cost from £85

B&B (Shinjuku.gracery.com).

Photography: Bombay Bazar, Getty Images, Eyevine


Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing is said to have more than 1,000 pedestrians crossing at peak times.

G Adventures offers six-day tours of Japan, starting in Tokyo, from £899 (Gadventures.com).

Return flights from the UK cost from £526 (Britishairways.com).


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