December isn’t a tourist season in Tokyo. So those “Awesome 100 things to do in Tokyo” may not be doable in winter. Apart from city vibes and typical tourist attractions in Tokyo, the city has zillion things hidden in’s womb. Here are some of the best things to do in Japan’s capital city to answer your question –
“How to spend 7 days in Tokyo.”
What do most tourists do in Tokyo in December?
Remember that Tokyo is expensive for travellers. Many tourist attractions need you to pay entry fees. As mid-range flashpackers, we figured out to replace “payable” attractions with “free of cost or affordable price places.” So you will not find some common things in our best things to do in Tokyo in December list.
Some Tourist attractions in Tokyo we avoided to save money are :
- Kabuki Theatre Performance – Witnessing Edo period traditional drama is surely exciting if you are ready to pay a minimum of 3500 yen to sit in the last and far most row.
- Tokyo Disneyland – We wanted to experience Nintendo world at USJ. So. we let go of Disneyland as it was out of our budget.
- Robot Cafe – Think, read and watch many vlogs. After researching Robot cafes in Tokyo, our verdict is that – Robots don’t serve you food. In fact, there is no robotics involved in this. It is some strange and glittering performance at a cafe by some dancers.
- Ghibli museum – This isn’t expensive, but away from all the other things we wanted to do. If you are travelling to Japan in Sakura season and are a Ghibli lover, combine the museum and Inokashira Park for otherwordly views of Cherry blossoms by the lake.
- Shibuya Hikarie – The entertainment complex is like a younger sibling of the gambling zone “Pachinko Slot.” As its name sounds, it can be entertaining, but your money flows out unknowingly.
- Street Go Karting Experience – 7300 yen for an hour! It is fun to do in Tokyo if you have an international DL and are okay with left-lane driving.
Tokyo landmarks that closed permanently post-pandemic in 2020 are
- teamLab Borderless is closed for restoration, but teamLab planet is open.
- Transparent toilets in Tokyo that were closed for restoration in December 2023.
- The KitKat factory in Shibuya is shut permanently.
Tokyo one-week itinerary in December.
Tokyo Sky Hob bus tour – Tokyo Central – Christmas Market – Memory lane for Dinner.
D1.1.Sky Hop Bus tour in Tokyo
I have always rejected using this tourist-oriented bus in other cities like Vienna or Innsbruck. But a hop-on hop-off bus tour is essential in Tokyo for first-timers! Tokyo is gigantic. From historical tales to technological marvels, the list of amazing things to do in Tokyo can overwhelm anyone, even during the offseason of December.
So, start your Tokyo expedition from the top of an open-top double-decker bus.
The rooftop bus gives an unparallel view of the city & a lot of sunshine on the cold days of December. Tokyo sky hop bus tour runs across its 3 different routes. Sit through all the routes without getting off anywhere except at the endpoint. This allows you to observe & tailor your interests. So start your tour on the first bus so that you cover all 3 routes by 3 or 4 PM.
Furthermore, you always have a 45 to 60 minutes gap to take your next route bus. So exploring the Marunouchi area during that time adds much more fun to your Tokyo day. Read more on how to take the Tokyo hop on – hop off bus tour here.
D1.2 – Get lost in Tokyo Central Station
Tokyo Station is much more than just a transportation hub. It is a cultural icon symbol of Tokyo’s rich history and modernity. You may expect a black and brown-themed traditional Japanese-style structure with wood. But this one flaunts its European style with brick, stone, niches and a black segmental domed roof.
What is Tokyo Station known for?
There are dozens of bakeries in Tokyo station underground. The homemade pastry bakeries fill most of the station with an amazing aroma. There are eateries where Tokyo’s work folks stop over for quick and affordable lunch. The Gatacha Gatcha machines are in uncountable numbers and make losing money a fun event. They even have smaller exhibition spaces, making it more of a landmark than a transit hub.
Japan isn’t a fan of the public plaza. Still, the one outside Tokyo station is a fine place to catch some sunshine during December’s chilly noon.
D1.3 – Have Lunch at Shin Marunouchi Mall
During the breaks between your Tokyo shop tour, head to the Shin Marunouchi building for window shopping and affordable lunch with a fantastic view of the area, especially Tokyo station. The mall is great for high-end shoppers. But the variety of cheap food makes it an awesome place for finding authentic Japanese lunch or an Italian Pizza.
D1.4 – Wander in Marunouchi Street Park for a Christmas vibe in the evening.
No other non-Christian nation would celebrate Christmas as much as the Japanese do. Especially people of Tokyo go unimaginably delighted when they see Christmas decorations. The Marunouchi Nakadori & Gyoko-dori avenue is lit with winter illuminations in December.
A dozen food trucks, small kiosks selling sweets/pastries and some cute Carousel appear in the evening. Tokyo in December can get cold, but if you are here, you need not worry. The sidewalks are often dotted with heating lamps so you can watch people in the fascinating winter illumination until midnight.
The best places to eat in the Marunouchi area in Tokyo are
- Rigoletto wine and Bar at Shin Marunouchi mall– Tasty Italian food with plenty of choice for vegetarians.
- Godiva cafe – They have affordable hot chocolates and other sweet treats.
- Try food trucks in Christmas markets for pumpkin soup and roasted chicken with Japanese sauces.
Explore Shibuya and Shinjuku
The most famous tourist places in Tokyo and Japan are Shibuya and Shinjuku for all the right reasons. The funny thing about Shibuya is you can’t have enough of it. So we kept coming back here in the night for three nights.
D2.5 Get amazed at the maze of Shibuya crossing.
Coming to Japan and not visiting Shibuya crossing is a crime. This crossing is a scramble and the busiest pedestrian intersection in the world. So observing this place from other buildings is a thing. But being part of the scramble mania pumps up your blood faster.
Watching street artists dancing by the side, tiktokers at the scramble suddenly stop walking to dance and stretch their bodies in the middle of the crossing – This is organised chaos, and we never get bored of it.
- You can see the crossing from the second floor of Starbucks in the QFRONT building.
- But you can watch it for free at Shibuya Station bridge to Mark City. This place is never crowded as hardly any tourists come here to watch.
- But we loved Mag’s Park Rooftop most – From the 8th floor, you can have a fantastic aerial view of Shibuya crossing. You must buy a drink to enter their terrace and an indoor cafe. So for the cost of 200-300 yen, you get an uninterrupted sight of the world’s busiest crossing without human intervention.
D2.6 Explore Hachiko Square:
As a dog mom, I loved the story of Hachi, a famous Akita dog who waited for his owner at the Shibuya train station every day, even after his owner had passed away. This real story is so emotional that I have never watched the movie climax. But visiting the place where Hachi waited until his dad died was a holy thing for me! For ordinary tourists, this may be a famous spot. But for dog parents, this is a place for love that triggers your emotional connection with the dogs you lost in the past.
After bursting into an ocean of tears here, I decided not to visit Hachi’s grave, which is a kilometre ahead.
D2.7 Take a walk through Shibuya’s backstreets:
Shibuya’s backstreets are a maze of narrow alleys and streets. Strolling here is a great way to discover some of the neighbourhood’s hidden gems that house crazy cafes, affordable shops and bars. Pachinko slots, dog cafe, maids cafe, and even places that sell grasshopper-based dish thrives here. I loved these alleys in the night more on weekends -Tourists and Japanese get high, sing, dance & pass out – the Shibuya night vibe is beyond compare.
D2.8 Try Shibuya Streetfood.
It is bizarre how a high-end brand showroom is attached to a humble chestnut roasting kiosk in Shibuya. The Octopus balls “Takoyaki” shops co-exist beside tall and posh buildings. On a chilly noon eating Melonpan ice cream sounds crazy, but it is one of the best things to do in Tokyo in December.
D2.9 Realise there are more colours than you have ever seen at Pigment at Shinagawa
This isn’t just an art supply store, but a journey into a world of colour where a rainbow exploded and all the pieces landed neatly on the shelves. At first glance, a Tokyo Pigment store may seem like a simple shop filled with tubes of paint and paintbrushes. Still, once you delve deeper, you’ll discover a universe of hues waiting to be unleashed.
Being partially colour-blind, Ashrith was stunned – He kept swaying, trying to understand how reds become orange. And why do the cool blues and green shelf look so different yet similar?
This is an offbeat place to visit in Tokyo in December but throughout the year.
You will meet artists buying the kind of brushes you never knew existed. Some even sit there and try to get the perfect shade with the help of staff from the pigments. Remember to be respectful and not go gaga-making reels and tiktoks – As of now, they don’t discourage visitors. But if we make this a tourist hub, surely they will restrict entry somehow!
D2.10 Climb Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building at Shinjuku for an amazing aerial view.
After wandering in Shinjuku, you ought to feel tiny. Because it is the land of skyscrapers & you will crave an aerial view of the city. The vista of Tokyo from above reveals why it is the busiest yet best city in the world. The famous tourist spots in Tokyo, like Tokyo tower and Shibuya sky, are expensive. But This skyscraper offers observation decks with panoramic views of the city from 9-22.30 all day year.
D2.11 Dine at Omoide Yokocho.
Omoide Yokocho, also known as “Memory Lane”, is a tiny alleyway in the heart of Tokyo that serves up a delicious dose of nostalgia with every bite. This narrow street, lined with traditional Izakaya bars, makes you feel like you are stepping into a scene from a movie. Air is thick with the scent of grilled meat and Sake from the traditional Izakaya bars. The warm glow of vintage lanterns, the sound of clinking glasses, and lively chatter.
Best places to eat in Shibuya and Shinjuku
- Takoyaki bar Cureo-ru Dogenzaka – A small and cosy Izakaya bar for Octopus bar in Shibuya.
- Mominoki House for vegan Ramen
- Any Izakaya at Memory lane is an excellent choice for dinner. We recommend you do a bar hopping until midnight. Some even give vegetarians grilled vegetables like green onion, mushroom and tofu. We tried at Izakaya Kameya, Kabuto and Kushiyaki. They were really good.
Wander around Hibiya Park for the “Death Note” pilgrimage -Take a Walking Tour at Nihombashi – Akihabara.
Now that you have soaked in Tokyo’s contemporary heart Shibuya, you may long for a quieter neighbourhood or be keen on how old Tokyo was. There are ways to do it.
D3.12 Wander in Hibiya Park and its surroundings.
You will find at least 20 large parks in Tokyo. But what caught our eye after a lot of digging is Hibiya park. Because the surrounding of this green patch is home to many locations of the most famous and our favourite Anime, “Death Note.”
What started as a holy pilgrimage of following the footsteps of Light Yagami turned out to be a peaceful start to the day.
History of Hibuya Park
The vast park was the grounds of feudal lords from the 1600s to 1870s. In 1903, it became a pretty park. But, the bad time for the park was yet to come. During World War 2, almost all the trees in the park were cut down for timber, and the fences melted down for steel. Fortunately, it was restored in the 1960s with western inspired garden elements like foundations and statues.
There were joggers, cyclers and a Christmas market too. At the park’s end is a typical Japanese garden where giant saffron colour maple leaves paint the sky. However, most people remain at the entrance. And this pretty pond can almost be yours for an hour.
D3.13 Take a free walking tour in Older Tokyo.
It can come as shociking to you how historic “world’s most expensive city” is. So opting for at least one walking tour is essential to understand Tokyo’s layers. There are several free walking tours on Guru Walk (I highly recommend them)
If you are keen to know how Tokyo was before it all got covered in glass facades and technology, “Nihonbashi: Cultural walk through the history of the heart of Tokyo”, is your best Tokyo walking tour from Guru Walk.
Because Nihonbashi has seen it all – From the days of merchants and traders in traditional clothing hakama and Haori conducting business in the Edo period to its current status as a shopping and cultural destination. The first departmental store in Japan, “Mitsukoshi”, also emerged in 1904 here.
This area looks like a postcard in December because of Tokyo’s fall season, which adds a subtle bright colour to the old neighbourhood.
The area still has a strong connection to its past. For example, Nihonbashi Bridge, one of the cities over centuries a landmark. This beautiful bridge has been the starting point of the Tokaido Road, the main highway connecting Edo for centuries. This is where you realise Tokyo was the city of canals which got covered later to make more land!
It is home to some of Japan’s oldest bakeries that have made Mochi sweets since 1870. The Instagram-famous “Fish shaped” Taiyaki is also a signature of this neighbourhood.
D3.14 Get Electrified at Akihabara
I fondly call this “Junk Pile”. In contrast, my gamer husband calls it “Treasure Pot” Akihabara became a hub for electronic goods in 1920. Since then, it has undergone several changes and become Japan’s hub for video game arcades, e-goods and tourist traps like Taito stations and Maid’s cafe. You will have the time of your life when you ignore the last two things, even if you aren’t an e-freak.
What is Akihabara famous for?
There are all kinds of electronic stores here. Big giants like Yodobashi Camera and BIC Camera sell some goods you didn’t even know could exist. Remember, these aren’t cheap, but of amazing quality.
So the next thing you want to do in Akihabara on a cold evening in December is – Get nostalgic at gaming arcades.
Playing vintage games like Bomberman, Pacman, and the first version of the most beloved game, Mario, at the arcades is a thing to do while in Tokyo, irrespective of the season. Super Potato at Akihabara is a Mecca for gamers to play and eat crazy snacks that can make you feel nostalgic.
Best places to eat in Akihabara.
Kyushu jangara: You get delicious chicken and also tasty vegan ramen here.
Day 4 –
Sumo Stable Tour – Explore Asakusa – Zojoji temple- Harajuku.
Learning about Tokyo’s heritage and ending the day at the town’s most hipped neighbourhood.
D4.15 Take a tour of Sumo Stable.
Truly a unique experience that’s a half sporting event, half cultural immersion. The Sumo stable tour is the way to go if you want a break from typical tourist activities in Tokyo, especially in December.
D4.15 Can you watch sumo wrestling in Tokyo?
The Sumo wrestling match happens between March to May. Hence visiting a stable is your only choice if you are in Tokyo in December.
Where can I see sumo training in Tokyo?
Most stables are located in the Ryogoku district. Peeping through the windows to have a glimpse at wrestlers isn’t a good idea to save money.
You aren’t allowed to enter stables unless accompanied by a Japanese guide. Hence booking this tour through a legit organiser is a must. For us, we got the stable near Oshiagae.
Their routine starts with certain exercises like thudding the foot on the floor and stretching. Then the junior fighters have to compete against their seniors in a mock fight even if they are sweating profusely.
In the end, you can take photos with senior soldiers and ask all your doubts about Sumo fighters with your guide.
It is shocking how many Japanese men volunteer to become Sumo fighters after high school! First, however, they must choose the master and stay at the stable for a long time. Then, their lunch, “Chako Nabe”- a chicken-based soup- makes them gain weight. Once a Sumo wrestler, always a Sumo wrestler.
D4.16 Take a dose of culture mingled with modernity at Asakusa.
Imagine you see an old Japanese temple beside a tall Pagoda. The trees with autumn leaves surround this sacred place. But you see glass-cladded towering skyscrapers right behind them – It shocks you if you are in the old part of Tokyo or the new!
There are hand-pulled rickshaws where men in traditional Japanese outfit and their hat “kasa” pulls you through the asphalt road. You see old buildings with a wooden ladder reaching a giant bell over the roof that acted once as a fire alarm. When you turn 10* to your left, you will spot again weird modern buildings – One with a giant sculpture that resembles poop.
The next structures feel like a beer mug with a front beside a skyscraper that looks like a beer mug! A 630m tower stands at a distance to dominate all the above, with a small shrine at its foot.
This is Asakusa for you.
You will spot women in kimonos wandering joyfully in this shrine town; meanwhile, girls in skirts and heels passing by show you how chic Tokyo fashion is.- Asakusa is a beautifully mysterious place where you don’t know if you are in the past or future. You can spend a whole day here wandering, wondering if you don’t mind the crowd.
Don’t forget to take the elevator to the topmost floor of the Asakusa Tourist information centre – The view here shows you how the old is blending with the new in Tokyo.
Best places to eat in Asakusa
Asakusa is the second most popular destination in Tokyo. So the place is expensive for tourists. So we recommend -Yoshinoya- for chicken and seafood lovers. It is best to stick to Kombini veg to save money!
D4.17 Peace out at Zojo-ji temple.
Asakusa temple may be the oldest but lacks the peace a Shinto shrine usually offers. So if you want to do an offbeat thing in Tokyo in December, go to Zojoji temple. A few minutes walk through the “non-touristy” neighbourhood takes you to a calm place.
City’s most famous landmark, “Tokyo tower” (which is overrated in our opinion), stands behind this small temple. The aroma of incense sticks grows as you move closer to the shrine. The interiors are fine, but the exteriors, with a garden and colourful leaves, leave you stunned.
A few steps away, you see a cluster of small “dolls” – This is the most beautiful part, yet disheartening. Because it is the “Garden of unborn babies
” Shinto followers who lost their children before birth offer these stone statues and add hand-knitted cute beanies. Honestly – You feel joy looking at these cute statues, but the bitter truth behind their reason haunts you. You can easily spend 2 hours here.
Where and what to eat near Zojo ji temple in Tokyo.
If you walk 100m straight from the entrance, you find a line of food joints that serve Tokyo’s working crowd. Hence things are cheaper, but most foods are pork and beef. If you want to witness how solo dining works in Tokyo and how Tokyo people eat with 100% silence, without talking or looking at anyone, head to Mc Donalds.
D4.18 Experience the “Cyberpunk” culture at Harajuku.
The best thing to do in Tokyo in the cold month of December is to head to this district that is famous for its fashion late in the evening. You may question what magic can happen in fashion in one neighbourhood – All over Tokyo, you will see people dressed like in the movie “Devil wears Prada.” Here, they go in line with “Tim Barton’s films.”
Harajuku is the land of neon lights, funky fashion, and delicious crepes. It is one of the most interesting places on Earth because you find people dressed like anime characters! And others dressed as if they had just stepped out of a cyberpunk movie. The Lolita fashion, where girls dress like school girls, is common.
Staring at people is unethical – But here, you will end up doing it. However, if you love that style, dozens of shops sell similar things on Harajuku’s Takeshita street.
Best places to eat in crepes in Harajaku –
Santa Monica and Marion Crepes: Opt for strawberry and apple-based crepes. If you have two of these, you won’t need to plan for dinner- They are filling.
D5.19 – Make a day trip to Kamakura from Tokyo for some sea vibes.
The best thing to do in Tokyo during chilly December is to head to a sunny warmer, quieter small town like Kamakura to take a break from the hustle of the world’s busiest city. The Giant meditating Buddha statue is truly mesmerising. But for me, the highlight of Kamakura and Japan is the Enoshima railway. The train track is next to the pacific ocean on the Enoshima railways. So spending a whole evening here can’t be anything less than magical.
Read here to learn more about “Why Kamakura is the best place in Japan.”
Heads up – The second most popular day trip option from Tokyo in December is Fuji five lake area. However, we don’t recommend it as it deserves at least 2-3 days. Read here to know how we blissfully spent two days in Fujigoko.
Tuna Fish Auction – Breakfast at Masterchef’s restaurants – Toyosu Deck – Yurikamome monorail – Chill at the parks and walk along the bay – Head to teamLab Planets-Ginza.
D6.20 – Witness the most happening Tuna fish auction in Tokyo.
What is wow, seeing people auctioning fish?- It isn’t just an auction, But Japanese devotion towards the king of seas!
Imagine a place fishmongers shout salt water and the sounds of fishmongers shouting out bids at the top of their lungs.
A place where the finest cuts of tuna, the king of the sea, are displayed with pride and sold to the highest bidder in a matter of minutes. This place is not just a market but a cultural icon, a symbol of the passion and dedication that goes into the art of seafood.
Is it worth going to Toyosu Fish Market?
It is a journey through the heart of seafood mania.
At Toyosu Market, the tuna auction takes place every day before dawn, with the first fish being auctioned at 5 AM sharp. As soon as the doors open, the market comes to life, with buyers and sellers hustling to get their hands on the freshest catch of the day. The atmosphere is electric, with bidders shouting, gesturing and making deals at breakneck speed.
Whether you are a seafood lover, a culinary adventurer, or simply curious about Japanese culture, the Tuna Fish Auction Tour will leave you speechless. How they drag the sold fish, clean it later with a see-saw, and chop it ruthlessly may not be for the weak-hearted.
How to Apply for the Tuna Auction Tour in Toyosu Fish Market?
You must apply before getting your slot at least a month before. You can book through their website. But we recommend going through a reliable tourist agency that provides a guide. The guides explain things in detail and give you a better understanding of this kind of experience.
D6.21 – Have Susi for breakfast at the place where Jeff Bezos ate at an affordable price.
Once you have wondered at the market, it is time to eat what you saw in the auction for breakfast. As our guide suggested, we entered a restaurant called “Iso Sushi” at 7.30 AM. They are open as early as 6 in the morning and close at 2.30 PM. The Kauntaseki seating, where you can sit in front of the chef’s cooking counter, allowed us to watch and ask friendly chef dozens of “Food” questions.
Seeing Tuna chopped like a wooden log is a thing. But the chef slicing fish delicately into thin slices is hypnotic. While I had the healthy veg, Sushi Ashrith devoured his Sushi with wasabi like he hadn’t eaten in days.
It was only while exiting that we saw their wall and a series of photos with dozens of celebrities, including Jeff Bezos and Tom Holland, having their Sushi here.
D6.22 – Wonder at Tokyo’s skyline from Toyosu Deck.
There is nothing better than the Toyosu deck, with a garden on the terrace overlooking the bay lined with skyscrapers for a post-lunch break! Some of them even have earthquake dampeners. When you look at this view and think of old Tokyo at Nihonbashi, the difference is massive in a positive way. The cool breeze with a stunning sight here. It can wipe out your tiredness of waking up at 4.30.
D6.23 – Take the Yurikamome monorail for a panoramic view of the city to see the strangest things in Tokyo.
Like us, if you have watched dozens of videos that say “100 Things to do in Tokyo in December.” and wonder where are so many things hiding, take the Yurkamome monorail. This driverless monorail goes along the bay and lets you see the city fairly above the ground.
You cross famous structures like the Tokyo Olympic stadium. But also find strange things like the Statue of Liberty at Odaiba and a Giant Ghibli clock on your way. If you want to see them closer, get off while coming back and wonder why a statue of liberty exists in Tokyo.
D6.24 – Chill at the parks and walk by the bays at Toyosu.
We won’t sugarcoat – The Toyosu Day plan can be tiresome. After getting up at 4.30, witnessing an intense auction, and wandering in the market, you will want to chill for a while. After all, travelling isn’t just ticking off places, but rejoicing them wholeheartedly. So instead of returning to your room, we recommend you head to Urban Dock LaLaport.
There is a Starbucks and baba Gump shrimp restaurant. So you can either stay caffeinated to stretch. Or nap under the tree on street furniture. Trust me, resting here for 30 minutes can freshen you up.
When done, walk around Daiba park offers an excellent sunset point, and you can lay back on the grass mounds watching the Tokyo silhouette by the bay.
D6.25 – Lose yourself at the sci-fi yet artsy magical place of teamLab Planets.
Art comes in various ways – Music to be heard, painting to be looked at, sculpture to be touched and walked around, built spaces to be lived and felt. But, have you thought if coding is art? Not all of us can associate with art theories. Is art meant to be complimented/condemned by only artists?
The teamLab planet is for all – From Instagrammers to the ones who want to experience something unique. You find yourself floating in a place like outer space. Then the barefoot experience on mirrored flooring with orchids floating overhead makes you wonder if you are in an upside world.
You can easily spend two to three hours here because experiencing art while becoming one with it takes a lot of time. So read here to know more about “how and why to visit teamLab planets in Tokyo.”
D6.26 – Wander at Ginza in the glitter and go windowshopping
Curious about where many Japanese women are buying their Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Louis Vuitton bags and Versace outfits from? – Welcome to Ginza. Historically referred to as a shopping district of Tokyo, it continues to baffle tourists with its glittery-lit shops.
Elegant shopping, dining options, and cultural attractions make it a true gem of the city. Whether you are a seasoned traveller, a fashionista, or a culture buff, you won’t get bored here. If you are an architect, be prepared to see some of the buildings designed by famous architects like Renzo Piano.
D6.27 – Sleep at a Capsule hotel on your last night in Tokyo.
Tokyo is all about being compact and efficient. The result of this is a capsule hotel where sleeping pods are stacked one above the other and rented to budget travellers! This is one of the unique experiences beyond just saving money. The whole concept of sharing a sleeping space yet having your privacy is quite a thing.
As a claustrophobic, I thought it was tough to sleep – But I had a sound and satisfying sleep. Like a cherry on top, if you consent, they even give you a sleep report based on how you slept in the pod using the sensor.