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Here are six underrated neighbourhoods to visit in Tokyo

We’re here to shine the light on other charming parts of the city

Mingli Seet
Written by
Mingli Seet

While exploring Tokyo, iconic spots like Kabukicho, Shibuya Scramble Crossing, and Takeshita Street immediately come to mind. And there's certainly no mystery as to why these places are perpetually brimming with energy, thanks to their undeniable charm and appeal.

But this time, we’re here to spotlight the existence of other enchanting neighbourhoods that offer a different side of Japan. Read on to uncover these lesser-known gems that deserve a spot on your must-visit list for your next Japanese adventure.

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Just a stone’s throw from Shibuya, one of Tokyo's most iconic district, lies an equally interesting neighbourhood populated with charming shops and eateries. Yes, we’re talking about Hatagaya. 

Here, you'll find three shopping streets to discover: Rokugo Dori (north), Hatagaya Shotengai, and the more frequently visited one, Nishihara Dori (south, linking to Yoyogi). Head straight to Nishihara Dori – at first glance, all it seems to be is a quaint residential area. But look closer and you'll discover numerous zakka (miscellaneous goods) shops, cafes, and restaurants adorning this delightful street.

Record lovers, don’t miss out on Ella Records, located just around the corner from the charming gallery-café, Paddlers Coffee. And if you’re one for New York-style burgers and craft beers, fill your tummies at Freeman Shokudo. We recommend dining during their lunch hour (noon to 3pm) for the lunch set meal that offers excellent bang for your buck, and is guaranteed to not disappoint your tastebuds with its delicious American-style dishes. As you make your way down the street, keep your eyes peeled for unassuming zakka stores hidden in the nooks and crannies of this avenue.

Don’t miss: Paddlers Coffee



Kichijōji has earned its reputation as one of the most 'livable' neighbourhoods in Tokyo, and it's no wonder. With its charming parks and a multitude of dining options, we can totally see why. Plus, it's conveniently situated not too far from tourist hotspots like Shibuya and Shinjuku.

Make sure to explore the tranquil Inokashira Park, a go-to destination for picnics and sightseeing conveniently located just a short stroll from Kichijoji Station. While you're there, enjoy a swan boat ride, pay a visit to the Inokashira Benzaiten Shrine, and indulge in some snacks at the charming shops that line the path between the station and the park. At an affordable fee of 400 JPY, you can also venture into the Inokashira Park Zoo to check out adorable monkeys, guinea pigs, birds, and more.

For Studio Ghibli enthusiasts, Kichijoji holds an extra special treat – it's the location of the renowned Ghibli Museum, the world's sole official Ghibli-themed museum. Immerse yourself in the world of Ghibli with film sketches, a behind-the-scenes look at the filmmaking process, life-sized statues of beloved characters, and official merchandise. Keep in mind that tickets must be booked in advance due to its popularity. Fret not if you happen to miss out, as you can visit Kichijoji Petit Village instead, a charming enclave that also feels like it's straight out of a fairy tale.

Wrap up your day with a delightful dinner at one of the cosy izakayas in Harmonica Yokocho Alley, a renowned food street, before heading over to Sunroad Shopping Arcade to continue your shopping adventure.

Don’t miss: Inokashira Park Zoo



While this charming residential neighbourhood may appear unassuming at first glance, it conceals numerous hidden gems, including 100 yen stores, stylish cafes, inviting bars, budget-friendly restaurants, and much more. With its origins dating back to the Edo period, Azabu-jūban was initially a humble fishing village. Today, it has transformed into a cosy enclave where you can explore an eclectic mix of stores and culinary delights.

Head over to Azabu-jūban Shopping Street, where you'll discover a diverse range of shops and restaurants spanning from the traditional to contemporary, which truly adds to its charm. Make sure to savour some sweet treats here – from traditional Japanese confectionery like taiyaki, mochi and dorayaki, to European croissants and macaroons.

Azabu Juban is also known for Take No Yu, an onsen (hot spring) known for its unique "black beauty water". This onsen has been serving patrons since 1913 with its exceptional water sourced from deep beneath the earth's surface, with its dark hue due to the volcanic ash in the ground. This unique water is said to have therapeutic qualities, offering relief from fatigue, soothing stiff shoulders, alleviating lower back pain, and more.

Don’t miss: Naniwaya Sōhonten Azabu Juban (Original makers of taiyaki, since 1909!)


Jiyūgaoka, which translates to 'Liberty Hill' in English, lives up to its name by evoking a sense of freedom when you roam its streets. Often referred to as Tokyo's ‘Little Europe’, this delightful maze of narrow lanes is adorned with chic cafes, fashionable boutiques, bakeries, and department stores.


Fancy yourself a taste of Venice? Then make your way to La Vita, a cosy mini-park with a man-made river and a picturesque bridge perfect for photos. Continue your tranquil journey by visiting the Jiyūgaoka Kumano-jinja Shrine, which boasts a history of over 800 years.

You'll also find ample opportunities to indulge your inner shopaholic – shop for a diverse array of homeware, furniture, fashion, and other items you never knew you needed at the district’s extensive selection of shops. Be sure to visit some zakka (miscellaneous items) shops like Dulton, Today's Special, and Koe House for unique finds.

Don’t miss: Kosoan, a century-old teahouse serving up delicious traditional Japanese sweets


This one’s especially exciting for Doraemon fans. As soon as you arrive at the station, you can't help but notice that the entire station's design is a homage to the robot cat. Why, you ask? Well, that's because this station happens to be the closest one to the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum, a museum devoted to the creator of Doraemon himself.

Immerse yourself in more artistic exploration at the Japan Open-air Folk House Museum, nestled in the outskirts of Kawasaki City. There's a wealth of attractions waiting for you here, ranging from 25 meticulously preserved structures dating back to the Edo Period to Sunday workshops where you can learn crafts such as indigo dyeing, straw and bamboo craft making. The collection of preserved buildings offers a fascinating glimpse into history, featuring traditional farmhouses, samurai residences, merchant houses, post town dwellings, fishing village homes, a shrine, and even a kabuki stage.

Don’t miss: Fujiko F. Fujio Museum



Jimbōchō is a paradise for book enthusiasts, boasting a rich collection of secondhand bookstores and historic publishing establishments. The broad streets are adorned with bookshops that offer captivating old prints, vintage books with a storied past, and woodblock-printed posters. What sets this district apart is its diversity – you can explore not only Japanese books but also English volumes, vintage calendars, and even rare DC and Marvel comic books.

Paper shops are also sprinkled throughout the area, and keep an eye out for occasional book fairs that feature vintage one-of-a-kind books. Also, don’t forget to manoeuvre through the little alleys around the area. There, it’s highly likely you’ll chance upon little pockets of quaint shops selling oddities and knick-knacks, perfect for treasure hunting. 

And if you’re hungry, fret not as the district is also known for its lovely book cafes for you to grab a coffee and a book to pass your time, as well as traditional restaurants serving up delicious eats. For coffee lovers, make sure to visit Glitch Coffee & Roaster and Kanda Brazil. If you're in the mood for affordable tempura dishes, dine at Kanda Tempura Hachimaki, or for a unique dining experience, head over to Sabouru

Don’t miss: Books Tokyodo Kanda Jinbocho

Where to stay

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Located in Ginza, this upbeat hotel is just a stone’s throw away from Ginza Six, Tsukiji Market, and the historic Kabuki-za theatre. It is also an 8-minute walk from Ginza train station. Upon entering Aloft Tokyo Ginza, you’ll notice neon art, graffiti and its distinctive urban spatial design – all of which are elements of Tokyo’s street identity. 


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