Chuo guide map
Time Out Tokyo

50 things to do in Chuo

Tokyo’s central ward isn’t all business. These are the best cafés, restaurants, shops, attractions and more in Chuo

Written by Time Out. Paid for by Chuo City Tourism Association

Chuo literally means ‘central’ in Japanese, and Chuo ward is one of Tokyo’s main hubs, known for its bustling business district. Despite the abundance of high rise office buildings, there are still plenty of attractions, including historical landmarks, bayside views, hidden bars and old-school restaurants. 

Encompassing neighbourhoods like Ginza, Nihonbashi and Tsukiji, Chuo is full of must-visit spots for both first-time visitors to the city and seasoned Tokyo explorers. We've picked out the best 50 things to do in this underrated part of Tokyo, whether you’re keen to go shopping at major department stores, visit long-standing temples, or try Tokyo’s local speciality, monjayaki – it’s said to have been first served in Chuo.

These are unusual times, so we recommend checking opening hours with venues in advance.

1. Tour a retail icon

Shopping Department stores Nihonbashi

Mitsukoshi is Japan's first department store, tracing its history back to 1673, and this vast two-building complex is its flagship location. Snap a photo of the iconic lion statues at the entrance before making your way up to the calm rooftop garden. Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store

Nihombashi Takashimaya S.C. Annex
Photo: Nihombashi Takashimaya S.C.

2. Start the day with a sarnie

Shopping Nihonbashi

For breakfast in Nihonbashi, there's no going wrong at Takashimaya S.C., opened in 2018 as an annex to the venerable Takashimaya department store. We love the line of artisanal sandwiches at Rituel, a bakery that opens from 7.30am and takes pride in its top-quality eggs, milk and other ingredients. Nihombashi Takashimaya


3. Sip single-origin matcha

Restaurants Cafés Nihonbashi

The world's first teahouse dedicated to single-origin matcha from the famed fields of Uji in Kyoto, Ippuku & Matcha invites you to sip verdant brews at the in-store counter or grab a cup to go. Serious aficionados will want to order the tasting set.  Ippuku & Matcha

Isehiro Kyobashi
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

4. Wolf down bowls of chicken

Restaurants Kyobashi

Isehiro will never let a yakitori lover down – especially at lunchtime. The Kyobashi shop recently moved into a new and better-ventilated space in celebration of its 100th anniversary but still serves up the same ultra-moreish skewer bowls as before. Kyobashi Isehiro


5. Shop your heart out

Shopping Nihonbashi

This shrine to shopping is home to stylish stores and restaurants, pubs, a bakery, and the only Japan outpost of ultra-trendy Taiwanese department store Eslite Spectrum, while the ground-floor plaza offers a relaxing break from all the money-spending. Coredo Muromachi Terrace

Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

6. Munch on a retro brekkie

Restaurants Cafés Nihonbashi

This wonderfully old-school coffee shop, vine-covered entrance and all, looks like it hasn't changed a bit since first opening in 1978. The breakfast set, offered from 7am to 11am, comes with your choice of sandwich or toast plus ham, eggs, salad, fruit and coffee or tea – all for ¥550. Lafrese

Nihonbashi Dashi Bar
Nihonbashi Dashi Bar

7. Appreciate some soup stock

Restaurants Nihonbashi

Begin by slurping up simple but flavourful dashi concoctions at the quirky in-store eatery before raiding the shelves for all the soup ingredients you could ever need. Everything on the menu, including the lunchtime rice bowls, is available for takeaway. Nihonbashi Dashi Bar

ポケモンセンタートウキョー ディーエックス&ポケモンカフェ
Photo: ©2019 Pokemon ©1995-2019 Nintento/Creatures., Game Freak Inc. Pokemon is a trademark by Nintendo/Creatures Inc./Game Freak

8. Dig into a Pikachu pancake

Shopping Nihonbashi

Nihonbashi was where the inaugural Pokémon Center opened back in 1998, and the tradition continues with Tokyo's very first Pokémon Café, attached to a shop stocked with all the plush Pikachus you'll ever need. Note that a reservation is required for the café. Pokémon Center Tokyo DX and Pokémon Café

ozu washi
Photo: Ozu Washi

9. Produce some paper

Shopping Gifts and souvenirs Nihonbashi

Discover the beauty of handmade washi paper and try making it yourself at this over 360-year-old store, which offers one-hour classes from ¥500 and stocks a truly remarkable selection of paper and calligraphy paraphernalia. Ozu Washi

10. Float down a river

Things to do Nihonbashi

See Tokyo from a different angle by hopping on one of the boats that depart from historic Nihonbashi and pass by landmarks such as Tokyo Tower, the ruins of Edo Castle, and Toyosu Market. The cherry blossom cruises in spring offer particularly impressive views. Nihonbashi Boarding Deck

Plus Tokyo
Photo: Plus Tokyo

11. Dance in the shadow of Fuji

Nightlife Ginza

Not your average dance club, two-floor ‘music lounge’ Plustokyo is also a restaurant, art gallery and much more. The main floor features a massive bathhouse-style mural of Mt Fuji, while the alfresco rooftop affords views of both Tokyo Tower and the Skytree. Plustokyo

Spice Lab
Photo: Spice Lab Tokyo

12. Devour Indo-Japanese delights

Restaurants Ginza

Created to showcase India’s modern culinary diversity while incorporating seasonal Japanese ingredients, top chef Tejas Sovani's Spice Lab Tokyo offers a kaleidoscope of spicy flavours. Spice Lab Tokyo

洋菓子舗 ウエスト 銀座本店
洋菓子舗 ウエスト 銀座本店

13. Satisfy a late cake craving

Shopping Gifts and souvenirs Ginza

Originally a popular restaurant opened back in 1947, Ginza West has fared even better since it changed its menu to a more pâtisserie-focused one. The cakes are as classy as they come and are available until 8pm. We love the mille-feuille, a ‘secret’ ice cream version of which is served on hot days. Ginza West

Cafe Stylo
Photo: Cafe Stylo

14. Taste Ginza-grown greens

Restaurants Ginza

Hidden away on the top floor of the G.Itoya store, this casual eatery offers nice views over the streets below, serves up superb, fully organic eggs Benedict, and uses vegetables grown on an urban farm housed in the same building. Cafe Stylo

Ginza Six
Photo: Ginza Six

15. Discover art while you shop

Shopping Ginza

Mega-mall Ginza Six isn’t just about retail therapy: from teamLab’s 12-metre virtual waterfall to immersive installations, there’s plenty of art here. Ginza Six

Uniqlo global flagship Tokyo
Photo: © Herzog & de Meuron

16. Enter an ultra-modern megastore

Shopping Ginza

One of casual fashion behemoth Uniqlo’s largest flagship outlets in the world, Uniqlo Tokyo shines the spotlight on the brand’s LifeWear line for men, women, children and babies in an appropriately fashion-forward space developed by creative director Kashiwa Sato and Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron. Uniqlo Tokyo

Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

17. Step into the spotlight

Things to do Ginza

Karat is one of the few live karaoke establishments with a proper concert-style setting, including seats for an audience of up to 50. The house band promises to at least try to fulfil all requests. Karat

銀座 朔月
Photo: Sakutsuki

18. Savour luxurious teppanyaki

Restaurants Ginza

Special occasion? Book a height-adjustable table in Sakutsuki's beautiful dining room, decorated with light wood and delicate Japanese paper, and celebrate with okonomiyaki and top-grade Yamagata beef, all cooked to perfection on a hotplate right in front of you. Sakutsuki

Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

19. Soak in the midst of history

Health and beauty Ginza

One of the oldest communal bathhouses in Tokyo, Konparu-yu has been going strong since 1863 and got a stylish makeover in 2014. The high ceiling and gorgeous decor, including Mt Fuji murals by master painter Morio Nakajima, make this one worth a visit – even for those who can't quite handle the 42-degree tubs. Konparu-yu

Bar Ginza ChouChou Popon
Photo: Bar Ginza ChouChou Popon

20. Raise a glass to the railways

Nightlife Late-night bars Ginza

Train-spotting boozehounds will enjoy this ‘diorama bar’, where you get to sip spirits while gazing at miniature trains making their way around a pair of highly detailed dioramas. The cocktails come in mixtures like ‘Yamanote Line E235’ and ‘Ginza Line 1000’, and the selection of domestic whisky is on point too. Bar Ginza ChouChou Popon

Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

21. Drink like a wordsmith

Bars and pubs Ginza

Established in 1928, this venerable bar was much loved by the literati of the Showa period (1926-1989), from Yasunari Kawabata to Osamu Dazai. Decorated with photographs of famous writers, it's the perfect place for highbrow literary discussions. Note the ¥880 cover charge. Lupin

Tsukiji Kagura Honten
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

22. Experience the essence of Tokyo sushi

Restaurants Sushi Tsukiji

The charming old-school wooden interior and flawlessly friendly service are nice, but Kagura Honten's most remarkable feature is its sushi rice, mixed with akazu (red vinegar) in the true traditional Tokyo style. The Kagura sushi set (¥4,400) is the chefs' recommendation and one that's hard to argue with. Tsukiji Kagura Sushi Honten

Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

23. Say cheers with the locals

Restaurants Tsukiji

The quintessential old-school Tokyo cafeteria, Takeno has been keeping locals well-fed on cheap classics such as stewed fish for a good 80 years now. Approximately the same number of dishes, many of them small and izakaya-style, can also be spotted on its ‘menu’, which consists of hastily scribbled slips plastered all over the walls. Takeno

Sake Bar Tsuki
Photo: Sake Bar Tsuki

24. Advance your sake education

Bars and pubs Hotel bars Tsukiji

Hidden away on the ground floor of the Tsuki Tokyo boutique hotel but open to anyone, this nine-seat sake bar serves up six or seven carefully curated varieties at any given time, letting you compare the time-honoured flavours of some of Japan's finest breweries. Sake-Bar Table Tsuki

Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

25. Pair your booze with noodles and seafood

Restaurants Tsukiji

Tsukiji's reputation for world-beating seafood meets artisanal soba at this gem of a noodle joint. We love the tempura soba, topped with crisp conger eel and shrimp sourced fresh every morning. Come evening, Choseian turns into an izakaya, serving a lengthy list of small appetisers in addition to the booze and noodles. Choseian

Tsukiji Masa
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

26. Bite into a next-level burger

Restaurants Tsukiji

Venture down the narrow alleyway that houses Tsukiji Masa and you’ll find the best fish burgers in the market. The classic cod burger contains a tender piece of fish in a crispy panko crumb coating, laid on a bed of salad and topped with a slice of melted cheese. Tsukiji Fish Burger Masa

Toritoh Torisoba Stand
Photo: Toritoh Torisoba Stand

27. Slurp hearty chicken noodles

Restaurants Tsukiji

Poultry wholesalers Toritoh have been dealing in quality bird at Tsukiji since 1907 and weren't flustered by the market's move to Toyosu: the chicken champions' latest venture is this artisanal noodle joint inside the Uogashi Shokudo food court. Their shio ramen, topped with an eye-catching hunk of meat, is a winner. Toritoh Torisoba Stand

Tsukiji Hongwanji Temple
Photo: Tsukiji Hongwanji Temple

28. Pray at an intriguing temple

Attractions Religious buildings and sites Tsukiji

The exotic structure housing Tokyo branch of Kyoto's Nishi-Hongwanji Temple was built in 1934 with an Indian architectural motif dreamed up by architectural historian Chuta Ito. It's worth going inside just for the stained glass and chandeliers, and the evening light-up is pretty too. Tsukiji Hongwanji Temple

Namiyoke Shrine
Photo: Namiyoke Shrine

29. Ask a lion for guidance

Attractions Religious buildings and sites Tsukiji

Namiyoke Shrine is famous for the massive lion's head on the grounds, carved out of a 3,000-year old tree. The intimidating sculpture is said to make wishes come true; write yours on one of the sticks provided and place it into the box on the statue's tongue. Namiyoke Shrine

Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

30. Stroll through urban greenery

Attractions Parks and gardens Shiodome

Once a hunting ground for the Tokugawa shogunate, the seaside Hama-rikyu is now shadowed by the skyscrapers of Shiodome. The garden’s main appeal lies in the abundance of water in and around it and the fact that it feels deceptively spacious, thanks to beautiful landscaping. Hama-rikyu Gardens


31. Seek out a stellar sashimi bowl

Restaurants Tsukiji

Kaisendon (sashimi over rice) is a must-eat dish when in Tsukiji, and Marukita does these bowls of seafood with panache. While it’s famed for serving them from 5am, a lesser-known fact is that the restaurant turns into an izakaya from 3pm, when the menu expands to include sake and seasonal seafood appetisers. Kaisendon Marukita No.2

Amazake Yokocho
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

32. Walk down ‘sweet sake alley’

Things to do Ningyocho

Stretching from Ningyocho Station to the Meijiza theatre, this old-school shopping street is named after amazake, a sweet drink made from fermented rice that's been popular in Japan for centuries. Many shops here still sell the nutritious beverage to go, and you'll also find plenty of restaurants and interesting knick-knackery. Amazake Yokocho


33. Squeeze in for edible art

Shopping Ningyocho

Founded in 1884, this old-time dessert dealer specialises in artisanal Japanese sweets and Koganeimo cakes, which are shaped to look like mini sweet potatoes and can be purchased in impressive bamboo gift boxes. There's only room for a handful of customers but the wafting smell of cinnamon will lure you in. Kotobukido

Photo: Meijiza

34. Marvel at a digital drape

Theatre Performing arts space Hamacho

Now housed in a very modern office building, Tokyo's oldest theatre stages mainly period and contemporary plays and is worth a visit for its front curtain alone. Created by teamLab, it features a piece of digital art highlighting the history of Nihonbashi and the changing of the seasons. Meijiza

Fruits Cafe Pomp
Photo: Fruits Cafe Pomp

35. Tuck into a fruit feast

Restaurants Cafés Ningyocho

Japan is the land of perfectly shaped and impossibly sweet fruit, where desserts like parfaits and kakigori shaved ice are elevated to an art form. Savour the decadent delicacies at this specialist café, which for some reason attracts hordes of pop idol and Yuzuru Hanyu fans. Fruits Cafe Pomp

Number 6
Photo: Number 6

36. Become a beer connoisseur

Bars and pubs Café bars Nihonbashi

Housed in an old coffee shop turned hipster hideout, Number 6 boasts expertly curated selections of both single-origin coffee and domestic craft beer. The six beers on tap are changed up regularly and can be savoured in small quantities as part of a tasting flight. Number 6

Photo: Houmitei

37. Get a taste of the good old days

Restaurants Ningyocho

Houmitei has been in business since 1933, when the streets of Ningyocho were still bustling with geisha, theatre actors and other celebrities. If you only eat here once, make sure to try the beef stew, a flavourful concoction cooked in demi-glace sauce until the meat is perfectly tender. Houmitei

Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

38. Angle for waffle fish

Shopping Ningyocho

Taiyaki is a popular fish-shaped snack that's essentially a crispy waffle filled with sweetened azuki bean paste. Yanagiya, noted as one of Tokyo's top three traditional taiyaki dealers, still cooks its version on a purpose-made iron pan cast in the pre-World War II years. Yanagiya

Ningyocho Shinodazushi Sohonten
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

39. Consider a different kind of sushi

Restaurants Ningyocho

The perfect mid-afternoon snack, inarizushi (tofu skin stuffed with vinegared rice) doesn't get much tastier than at venerable specialist shop Shinodazushi Sohonten. Prepared for up to three days, this treat is sweet, aromatic and highly addictive. Ningyocho Shinodazushi Sohonten

Kanmidokoro Hatsune
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

40. Try time-honoured jelly

Restaurants Tea rooms Ningyocho

Anmitsu, a colourful dessert made from agar jelly and usually served with sweet bean paste and fruit, is the claim to fame of this ever-popular little shop which has had plenty of time to perfect its syrup-topped delicacy: Hatsune was established in 1837 and is now run by the seventh generation of the founding family. Kanmidokoro Hatsune

Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

41. Treat yourself to a lucky bun

Shopping Ningyocho

Invented by Ningyocho shop Itakuraya back in 1907 and a fixture on the Tokyo street snack scene ever since, ningyo-yaki are bean paste-filled buns moulded into humorous shapes such as the Seven Lucky Gods of Japanese mythology. They're additive-free, relatively figure-friendly – as long as you don't go overboard – and best eaten hot off the iron. Itakuraya

Hamacho Takatora
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

42. Pick out a handmade gift

Shopping Gifts and souvenirs Hamacho

The traditional dyeing techniques of old Edo (as Tokyo was known before 1868) live on at Takatora, a chic workshop and showroom where discerning souvenir shoppers can pick up Edo-style gassaibukuro pouches, handkerchief-like tenugui and even unique cloth face masks. Hamacho Takatora

Niku no Takasago
Photo: KIsa Toyoshima

43. Grab a meaty snack

Shopping Delis Tsukishima

Cooked carefully one by one and coated with a sweetish ‘secret sauce’ whose recipe dates back to the late 1940s, Niku no Takasago's award-winning braised pork is a Tokyo classic. Don't forget to get some menchikatsu (fried ground beef and pork cakes) to go, too. Niku no Takasago

Bombay Cafe
Photo: Bombay Cafe

44. Soothe your innards with Indian

Restaurants Indian Tsukishima

Part of the well-regarded Maharaja Group of restaurants that's been an integral part of the Tokyo spice scene since 1968, Bombay Cafe does a healthy and flavourful menu of Indian food inside the Harumi Triton Square complex. Halal and vegetarian options are plentiful. Bombay Cafe

Gallery Art Composition
Gallery Art Composition

45. Stumble upon the next big name

Art Tsukishima

This small art space is worth the visit. The occasional exhibitions featuring up-and-coming talent make it a great place to take an artsy break from the city. Gallery Art Composition

RakuRo Sharing Tsukuda Base by ZMP
Photo: RakuRo Sharing Tsukuda Base by ZMP

46. Roll in a robot buggy

Things to do Tsukishima

Hop on one of the few self-driving vehicles allowed on public roads in Japan and tour the banks of the Sumida River or Tsukishima's iconic Monja Street in futuristic style. RakuRo Sharing Tsukuda Base by ZMP

Photo: KIsa Toyoshima

47. Slip your feet into history

Shopping Tsukishima

A living piece of Tokyo tradition, the 100-year-old Azumaya makes artisanal geta, zori and setta sandals much like those worn by the capital's fashionistas a century ago. The footwear is decorated with cutesy animals and birds, and the shopkeeper will customise it to fit your feet perfectly. Azumaya Footwear

Maguro Oroshi no Magurodon
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

48. Have tuna by the water

Restaurants Kachidoki

This eatery on the edge of Tokyo Bay is operated by a tuna wholesaler, so you can be sure the fish in your magurodon (tuna sashimi over rice) will be as fresh as it gets. Grab a seat on the terrace when it's sunny out, or stop by at night for a seafood-heavy selection of izakaya tipples. Maguro Oroshi no Magurodon

Photo: KIsa Toyoshima

49. Score an on-trend sarnie

Shopping Kachidoki

Bagel sandwiches ideal for Instagram are the wildly popular speciality of this petite back-alley shop that draws a long queue every opening day. Hours are highly irregular and the product tends to sell out quickly, so make sure to check their Insta feed before heading over. Tanuki Appetizing

Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

50. Go mad for monja

Restaurants Tsukishima

A type of pan-fried batter that's not quite a pancake, monjayaki is Tokyo’s answer to Osaka's okonomiyaki. Monja Street, lined with a remarkable 86 specialist eateries, is where to get acquainted with this curious concoction in all its diversity. Don't worry: it tastes better than it looks. Monja Street

More area guides


    You may also like

      Best selling Time Out Offers