“There are so many more people in Tokyo than in New York, but it’s pristine. It’s so organised, and yet the address system is in complete chaos.” ~ Nick Wooster.
Where are the most iconic streets in Tokyo?
If you’re preparing for a trip to Japan, there’s no doubt that you’ll want to create a Tokyo itinerary if it’s your first time visiting the country. But with 23 sprawling neighbourhood wards, Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world!
It’s understandable that overwhelm may set in when trying to figure out the most photogenic streets of Tokyo to explore. Where do you even begin?!
When I’m being an invisible tourist in Japan and beyond, I love seeking out the popular spots (they are for a reason!) as well as the lesser-known locations to gain a greater understanding of the local history and culture. I created my Japan travel blog in part to share my findings to help you do so, too.
After several visits to this incredible destination, I’ve hand-picked what I believe are the most iconic Tokyo streets you need to see to believe, as well as Tokyo roads for a spot of shopping. Read on for more!
This guide to iconic streets in Tokyo will cover:
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17 Iconic Tokyo streets you must see to believe
There is enormous variety to be found when exploring the different roads in Tokyo. One moment you can feel like you’ve been teleported to the Edo period centuries in the past, only to turn a corner to find yourself inundated by neon lights, countless overhead cables and futuristic buildings. Ahh, there is a lot to love about this exciting city!
In my humble opinion these are the best streets in Tokyo for admiring attractions, shopping, and grabbing a bite to eat. Of course, this list would not be complete without including the must-see photography spots to commemorate your trip!
Listed in no particular order:
Kabukichō Ichiban-gai, Shinjuku: A must for nightlife
Framed by a red intertwined overhead sign, Shinjuku’s Kabukichō Ichiban-gai 歌舞伎町 is one of the most photographed Tokyo streets at night. It’s prominent location in this neighbourhood means you’ll likely stumble across it without trying!
Kabukichō is one of the best areas in Tokyo to visit at night for a range of reasons, you could say it’s the city’s Red Light District.
It’s bright neon signs are alluring for photographers and CyberPunk lovers, its narrow noodle shops, pubs, whiskey bars, yakitori eateries and restaurants are perfect for foodies, its numerous karaoke rooms, pachinko parlours, bowling alleys, cinemas, nightclubs and gentleman’s clubs attract those looking to party the night away. It’s even a haven for manga fans.
No wonder it’s one of Shinjuku’s ultimate nightlife areas!
Godzilla Road, Shinjuku: One of the most exciting streets of Tokyo
I’m sure you’ve heard Shinjuku is home to Japan’s famous Godzilla with his blue laser beam eyes. Directly parallel to Kabukichō Ichiban-gai is where you’ll find him! Perched high above aptly-named Godzilla Road, this massive dinosaur-like creature appears to guard Hotel Gracery – closely resembling a massive black and white barcode.
Can you find him in the images below?
Completely surrounded by colourful neon billboards and sounds from all sides, it could be said Godzilla Street is one of the most exciting streets of Tokyo! One of the best times to visit Godzilla Road is the late afternoon once the lights slowly begin to come to life.
Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku: One of the most photographed streets in Tokyo
The narrow, cigarette-and-izakaya-smoke-filled laneway of Omoide Yokocho is an iconic spot for photographers. Crammed with eateries that only fit a small handful of patrons in each, it’s easy to walk right past if you’re not paying attention!
Omoide Yokocho is also known as “Piss Alley” for reasons that may seem obvious. To counterbalance the grungy vibe, delicate decorations that change with each season appear to float above the length of the alleyway – pink cherry blossoms in spring; green bamboo leaves in summer; red and orange maple leaves in autumn and rounded white leaves in winter.
TIP: Be a responsible tourist and take note of the eateries that display “no photography” signs. Taking photographs of people without their onset or knowledge is illegal in Japan, so be sure to crop out or blur any identifying facial features.
Shibuya Crossing, Shibuya: The most famous junction of streets in Japan
As I learnt during my Tokyo bar hopping tour, the word Shibuya translates to “bitter valley.” This kind of makes sense, as the junction of several streets at Shibuya Crossing is a low point in the city!
With 3,000 people crossing it at any one time, Shibuya Crossing proudly holds the title of world’s busiest intersection. While that number of people may seem daunting, navigating your way across this Tokyo icon really isn’t as bad as you may think! It’s organised chaos and essential to add to your Tokyo trip.
It’s easy to find Shibuya Crossing from a distance if you keep your eyes out for the new Shibuya Scramble Square building, directly above JR Shibuya Station. It’s one of the newest landmarks of Japan.
Sakura-dori, Shibuya: Most picturesque of Tokyo roads in spring
While I am yet to visit Sakura-dori in springtime myself, you can bet it makes my list as one of the most beautiful streets in Tokyo for cherry blossoms. Featuring a winding black road with a flurry of pink blossoms draped above, it comes as no surprise where Sakura-dori gets its name.
Lined with dozens of Yoshino cherry trees, my extremely talented friend Lisa in Japan shared her secret for photographing this photogenic street. Be sure to take notes if you’re planning to visit Japan in spring!
TIP: It’s also known as Sakura Street or Sakuragaokachō.
Center-gai, Shibuya: Incredible nightlife vibes
With traditional Japanese eateries and karaoke bars between a scattering of familiar Western franchises, East meets West here along Shibuya Center-gai. Punctuated with what appears to be endless vertical billboards reaching towards the sky, Shibuya Center-gai is one of the most lively streets of Tokyo, especially at night!
Lampposts that somewhat resemble UFOs are dotted along the street illuminating pill-shaped black and white signs that read Shibuya Center-Gai in Japanese. While the flickering lights and music blaring from the establishments may seem overwhelming at first, it doesn’t take long to be left in awe at just how “Tokyo” this atmosphere feels.
Along this paved street you’ll have the options of enjoying drinks at an Irish pub or craft beer bar, sampling conveyer-belt sushi, singing your heart out at karaoke, grabbing a snack at a convenience store, savouring sushi at a stand-up bar and much more.
For a relatively small street, Shibuya Center-gai packs a big punch and is a great place to kick off your night!
Omotesando, Shibuya: The best of designer shopping streets in Tokyo
Hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the fanciest streets in Tokyo? You can’t go past the city’s answer to the Park Avenue of New York City.
Completely lined with tall bushy trees and an elegant vibe, Omotesando is where you’ll find the flagship stores for international designers such as Gucci, Givenchy, Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Harry Winston and the like. Even if you’re only there to window shop, it’s lovely to stroll along and dream!
TIP: The crazy mirrored staircase of Tokyu Plaza is at the junction of Omotesando and Meiji-dori.
Takeshita Street, Harajuku: The most popular of Tokyo streets for tourists
Takeshita-dori (pronounced Tak-e-shhta-do-ri) is perhaps one of the most famous streets in Tokyo for foreign visitors. Once the hangout for trendy teens known as Harajuku Girls adorning quirky, bright clothing, in recent years Takeshita Street began to cater to the wants of foreigners seeking out Instagram-worthy foods.
If you make it past the usual crowds along the 350 metre stretch, be sure to indulge in “kawaii” treats such as picture-perfect crepes, rainbow-themed grilled cheese sandwiches and candy floss, animal-themed ice cream cones and much more. Check out some of the popular fashion boutiques selling everything from Hello Kitty to grungy apparel.
While local teens seem to gravitate towards Shimokitazawa these days instead, there is still plenty of colour and fun things to be found along Takeshita Street. Nearby Cat Street Tokyo is also a great little place for trendy independent Japanese clothing boutiques.
TIP: Don’t miss the balloon-like sculptures on the Takeshita Street’s entrance sign, these decorations change several times a year!
NOTE: For a retro twist on Takeshita Street in the city’s north, head to Sugamo Jizo – known as “Grandma’s Harajuku.”
Nakamise-dori, Asakusa: One of the old cultural roads in Tokyo
Most tourists to Japan have heard of Tokyo’s beloved Senso-ji, the oldest temple in the city dating back to 645 AD. But what they may not be familiar with before visiting is the lengthy shopping street of Nakamise-dori that leads up to the temple.
Spanning 250 metres, it’s easy to be tempted by aromas of street foods on approach to Senso-ji. Why not take time to sample some traditional street foods along the way? Try fresh senbei crackers, hot taiyaki, various ningyoyaki, or grab a matcha ice cream. If you aren’t sure what these are, my beginner’s guide to Japanese snacks explains them all!
Nakamise-dori is a must-see when in the Asakusa neighbourhood and is great to pick up little handcrafted Japanese souvenirs such as daruma dolls, maneki-neko, folding fans, upcycled kimono items, trinkets, umbrellas and much more.
Buzzing with an old-world charm in our modern day, it’s believed the store vendors on this pedestrian-only street were first granted permission to set up their stalls in the 18th century. However, they have been rebuilt several times due to destruction from earthquakes and fire raids during WWII. Don’t miss it!
Denbouin-dori, Asakusa: Where old meets new
Running directly through Nakamise-dori is Denbouin-dori 伝法院通り, known as “Edo Town” for its rows of old style buildings. If visiting in the early morning before store vendors have begun their day, enjoy a lengthy stroll along this street to admire various Japanese-themed artworks on the roller doors dotted along the way.
It’s here you can feel a sense of old-world Tokyo while the modern metal latticework of the Tokyo SkyTree overlooks the street at a distance – not one of your typical Tokyo city streets!
TIP: If using Google Maps to find your way, it will recognise the spelling of this street as “Dempoin.” It’s just a 3 minute walk from Asakusa Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line.
Kappabashi-dogu-gai, Asakusa & Ueno: A chef’s dream
Are you a budding chef or simply enjoy cooking from home? Kappabashi Street running from Ueno to Asakusa is one of the best Tokyo shopping streets for kitchenware, knives and anything you can think of to do with the hospitality industry (with the exception of food itself).
The entrance to Kappabashi Street or “Kitchen Town” can be found on Asakusa-dori, with a huge chef’s torso planted above one of the buildings. You can even see the Tokyo SkyTree looking east through the overhead power lines on a clear day.
This area is where you’ll find the incredibly realistic plastic plates of food used to display in restaurant windows, some of Japan’s best knives, pots, pans, dishes, even paper Japanese lanterns to decorate an eatery. The street will turn 100 years old in 2023.
TIP: As Kappabashi street is so lengthy, to find the chef’s head search for Niimi Cooker in Google Maps.
TIP: Keep your eyes peeled for a golden statue depicting a mischievous character in Japanese folklore, named Kappa – coincidently sharing the name of this street, Kappa has become its unofficial mascot!
Ameya Yokocho, Ueno: Bargain outdoor market
With its retro-style signage a welcome sight beside overhead rail lines, if you enjoy scouting for a good bargain Ameya Yokocho in Ueno is one of the best shopping streets in Tokyo (or set of streets) to spend your time.
Known as Ameyoko for short, this open-air market running alongside train tracks between Okachimachi and Ueno Stations began as a black market selling American goods after WWII.
Today, it is not as touristy as Nakamise-dori leading up to Senso-ji in Asakusa, but still filled to the brim with 400 stores selling a range of street food, clothing, cosmetics, handbags, dried foods, fresh fish, spices, candies and much more.
I first came here nursing a massive hangover in search of an authentic sukajan jacket and Japanese souvenirs to bring home – Ameyoko has a massive selection of goods to choose from!
Chazawa-dori, Sangenjaya: King Kong in Tokyo
Perhaps you’re sensing a theme here with interesting figures on rooftops? Dangling his lengthy arms down a three-storey building is a massive gorilla in Sangenjaya!
Located on Chazawa-dori, if you look closely you’ll see he is holding a young girl wearing a backpack in the palm of his hand. Informally known as King Kong, you can find him just 10 minutes’ walk from Sangenjaya Station.
This area is nearby the trendy Shimokitazawa area, with both neighbourhoods perfect for exploring quirky stores, boutiques and cafés.
Akabanebashi, Minato: One of the underrated roads in Tokyo
It’s obvious that Tokyo Tower can be seen from many vantage points throughout the city, however did you know there are some lesser-known spots to admire it close-up?
Akabanebashi is one of the most underrated roads in Tokyo to see this red and white icon of the city with little obstructing the view from ground level. What’s more, this intersection is a stone’s throw from nearby Zojo-ji temple and Shiba Park rose garden.
In Japan, some of the most amazing sights are where old meets new. The modern Tokyo Tower as a backdrop against the centuries-old wooden Zojo-ji Temple is one such place that shouldn’t be missed.
TIP: Zojo-ji is one of my favourite hidden spots in Tokyo!
Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Avenue, Minato: A stunning Tokyo street in autumn
From mid-November to early December, 150 ginkgo trees lining both sides of this wide avenue transition from brilliant green to vibrant yellow hues. It’s also known as Meiji-jinju Gaien.
While Japan is known for fiery red shades during the autumn months, the amber-coloured wall of leaves here present a beautiful contrast. This magical time during autumn in Japan creates a golden carpet along the adjacent footpath, making it a lovely spot to stroll and enjoy the leaves as they slowly flutter from the branches above.
Ginza-dori, Ginza: Unique buildings & department stores
Welcome to one of the most expensive places to visit in Tokyo. Ginza is home to Ginza-dori shopping street (or just Ginza shopping street), an up-market and famous shopping street where you can find plenty of international designer brands. On Sundays the road is closed off and becomes pedestrian-only.
Even if luxury shopping is not your thing, you may enjoy discovering the highly unusual modern architecture in this area. For instance, the Louis Vuitton building resembles moving water housing a giant jellyfish inside!
Ginza is also the home to numerous Japanese department stores. They are wonderful to browse for different things. Believe me when I say: If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, it probably doesn’t exist.
Some popular Japanese department stores in Ginza are:
- GinzaSix: The biggest shopping complex
- Ginza Mitsukoshi: Established in 1930
- Matsuya Ginza: Jewellers and fashion brands
- Ginza Wako: Built in the Meiji era and its famous clock tower is an icon of Ginza
TIP: The Ginza neighbourhood near Tokyo Station is not to be confused with Togoshi Ginza further south of the city. Togoshi Ginza shotengai (local market street closed off to vehicles) is usually featured on foodie shows in Japan as it has some of the best street food known to locals. Also, don’t confuse it with Yanaka Ginza near Nippori Station – this is where you’ll find a 1950’s era shotengai with a stone staircase popular with locals for watching the sunset.
Chuo-dori, Akihabara: Perfect for weebs & rare electronics
Known affectionately as Akiba for short, Akihabara is a haven for weebs (foreigners obsessed with anime and manga) as well as people on the hunt for different kinds of electronics. It’s the place to go for cosplay items, figurines from your favourite anime, manga and comic book stores.
Mentioned in my Tokyo neighbourhood guide is Super Potato, a retro gaming store bursting with all kinds of second-hand gaming consoles, video games and other collectables in immaculate condition. It’s a sure-fire way to spark some nostalgia with so many items being blasts from the past!
As with Ginza-dori, the main street of Chuo-dori in Akihabara is closed off on Sundays and becomes pedestrian-only. Why not check out one of the quirky maid cafés during your visit?
TIP: Akihabara is easily reached on the JR East Yamanote Line. And yes, you can use the Japan Rail Pass to journey on this line for free!
NOTE: There have been quite a few closures and changes in Akihabara since early 2020. As yo can see from the images above I took in 2022, the iconic Sega building is no longer! I’ve written an article about impacts of overtourism in Japan and what happened around the country when the tourists stopped coming.
Quick links to useful resources
You may find these resources handy for planning a trip to Tokyo:
Concluding these iconic Tokyo streets
That completes this epic list iconic Tokyo streets, as well as some lesser-known spots thrown in for good measure. From older Edo-era roads and traditional shopping streets to modern-day photogenic locations, at the risk of sounding cliché there truly is something to delight every interest!
I hope this article has given you some inspiration for your future Japan trip planning, but if you’re hungry for more be sure to check my full Japan travel blog with dozens of articles to help you plan the perfect trip.
How many of these Tokyo streets had you heard of? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time,
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