There is so much to see and do in Tokyo, and unless you're armed with a month or two to explore it, chances are you might have to be more careful with how you spend your time to ensure you see and do everything on your bucket list! While Tokyo is devoid of "scams" which plague some other cities in Asia, there are some overrated attractions which aren't worth your time or money. Hopefully, this list will help you make the most of this magical city!
A view from atop the city, especially somewhere as large and spread out as Tokyo, is always a valuable experience. But the lines and cost for Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Skytree far exceed the enjoyment you'll get once you get to the top. If you're only in Tokyo for a week, chances are you don't want to spend some of that time, lined up for a trip up an elevator.
Instead, travel over to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and take the elevator up to the rooftop where you get an unbelievable view of the city, PLUS a view of the Skytree itself. If you're looking for a view that comes with a stylish rooftop garden then header over to the Tokyu Plaza Omotesando in Harajuku where the 7th floor provides a stunning green space with ample room for relaxing. Despite the fact that there is a Starbucks which the gardens back out on, you can grab your own food and drinks up to the top. It really is the perfect place for a conbini picnic ("conbini" is a short term word for Japanese convenience stores).
Often when travelling, you want to make the most out of your experiences and don't want to waste your money on a touristy or subpar restaurant. For this reason, even I find myself obsessively looking up reviews of where I want to eat whenever I'm travelling. Sometimes this is done in advance but when I'm stuck reading review after review in the middle of my adventure I can't but help feel like I'm wasting precious travel time. In Japan, this is just not necessary. You can close your eyes and twirl around to walk straight into a restaurant with the best food you've ever eaten!
Instead, walk in anywhere with a line or with a gaggle of locals happily chowing down inside. Don't waste your time trying to find the perfect place to eat, instead, wander until something calls your name and draws you in. If there is one particular restaurant, you ABSOLUTELY have to find, then make sure to make reservations because popular joints in Tokyo often fill up in advance very quickly.
Instead, head to the nearest 100 yen shop! 100 yen shops are the coolest place to find all sorts of things to use both on your trip and when you get home. If you are a crafty person, you'll find some adorable and CHEAP items here like notebooks, stickers, washi tape and more! It was honestly hard for me to hold back from buying up the entire section. But best of all are the things for sale here for our purposes are the souvenirs. You can find delightful Japanese themed magnetics, ceramic bowls with cherry blossoms, bamboo chopstick sets and more - all for only 100 yen (plus tax).
TIP: most 100 yen shops only take cash. If you don't want to spend all your cash here, try the DAISO in Harajuku. Since they deal with such large purchases due to being in a tourist-traffic area, they are currently accepting credit cards.
Golden Gai is one of those long talked about tourist attractions that is the only real "scammy" areas in Japan. Golden Gai is located in Shinjuku and is known for its narrow, winding alleys and teeny-tiny bars. They charge outrageous prices just to get in the door of some of these establishments. Each one has a different theme and fits about 6-8 people. Some of the bars roundly object to foreigners, so much so that they have signs outside saying "no nonnatives" or "For Japanese speakers only". The ones that do let tourists inside have overpriced drinks, and any sense of authenticity has long since been lost.
And if you're anything like me, it will be again, and again, and again, and again...