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
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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.

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

  • 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

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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

  • Restaurants
  • Kyobashi
  • price 2 of 4

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

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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

  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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

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  • 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

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  • 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

  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

  • 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

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Ginza
  • price 2 of 4

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

  • 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

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  • 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

  • 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

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  • Restaurants
  • Tsukiji
  • price 2 of 4

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

  • 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

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  • 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

  • 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

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  • 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

  • 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

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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

  • 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

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  • 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

  • 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

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  • 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

  • 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

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  • Restaurants
  • Ningyocho
  • price 1 of 4

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

  • 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

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  • 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

  • Restaurants
  • Tea rooms
  • Ningyocho
  • price 1 of 4

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

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  • 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

  • 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

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  • 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

  • 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

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  • 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

  • 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

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  • 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

  • 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

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