When you think of Tokyo, what first comes to your mind? Most likely, most people think of the Skytree, Tokyo Tower, a sumo match or visiting Tsukiji fish market. In the biggest metropolis area in the world there really is too much to actually do in one visit to Tokyo.

In my experience living in Tokyo for 12 years, most foreigners flock to the well-worn tourist hot spots believeing they are actually taking in the Japanese culture at it’s finest! I am here to say, Oh hell No! There are so many unique areas around Tokyo that go undiscovered and are worth the mention today. The following are areas that I love and recommend visiting to take in the true culture of Tokyo.

Shimokitazawa

Shimokitazawa is known for a many things – a fantastic second hand clothing environment, awesome game centers, coffee shops and amazing Indie film houses. Tollywood is one of the theaters where you can catch a flick that you might not be able to see anywhere else.Coffee houses are abundant which you are also spoiled for choice, with plenty of 3rd-wave places popping up and prices as low as ¥200. For sweets, head to On the Way Coffee and Cupcakes.

Famed for its live houses,  there’s always something going on once darkness falls in Shimokitazawa, and there’s no excuse not to get involved. While some spots can be expensive (starting at ¥8,000 a ticket), there are plenty of affordable ones too—although not so much with the free entertainment.

Head to Garage for music nights starting from ¥1,000 and an assortment of bands and DJs from across Japan. Shelter’s entry prices start from ¥2,000 and hosts a good mix of performers—advance tickets are available at Lawson. Club 251  is a scruffy favorite with shows starting at around ¥2,000. Fever is another popular low-cost spot, with entry prices starting around the ¥2,500 mark but with an additional 600-yen drink purchase required.

Getting There : 

From Tokyo Station, Shimokitazawa is approximately 30 minutes away – you’ll have to switch trains to get there. Head out on the JR Chuo Line, getting off at Shinjuku – then hop onto the Odakyu Line until you get to Shimokitazawa!

Kichijoji

After visiting here for the 1st time last month, the one thing I was amazed with were how many stores and shopping alleys there really were. What an amazing place and neighborhood to actually be in for the day

. Harmonica Yokocho is made up of multiple alleyways, across from Kichijoji Station – there are fun places throughout the alleys to grab a bite to eat or have a drink or ten.Inokashira Park is one of Tokyo’s best green spaces, and a very popular spot when the cherry blossoms are blooming . You can even ride on a swan boat on the lake! Check out my video here on Kichijoji https://youtu.be/JNDEmzywrOs .

You truly need a day just to explore Kichijoji in the day and night.For sweets, try Kotori Cafe.Their desserts are out of this world adorable. For your caffeine fix, head to Blackwell Coffee. Their store decor is designed with tributes to t

he vintage and the modern, and their coffee is excellent.For eats, visit Cafe Zenon! As well as being a fun place to visit for manga and art, the food and coffee are amazing.

Getting There

Getting to Kichijoji is easy, and will only take you hopping on one train (the JR Chuo Line) from Tokyo Station to get there.

Koenji

Vintage clothes shopping is another big one here in Koenji – there are loads of stores to choose from to snag those unique, one-off wardrobe pieces. Koenji also has an awesome live music scene, with venues scattered across the suburb.For coffee, head to Coffee Cone Tokyo. Here, you can get your latte served up in an ice cream cone. How awesome is that ya’ll? As for sweets…there really are way too many shop to pin point one! Hit them all I say!For a great experience head to Hattifnatt Cafe. Their menu options include loads of cake choices, pastas, baked doria dishes, curry, and Okinawan style taco rice.

So the nest time you are thinking to visit Tokyo – give these areas a chance. You will NOT be disappointed!