Muji Ginza1/6
Photo: MujiAtelier Muji, Ginza
Commune at Shibuya Parco2/6
Photo: Lim Chee WahCommune at Shibuya Parco
TeamLab Forest of Resonating Lamps3/6
Photo: teamLabForest of Resonating Lamps
Ginza Six4/6
Photo: Ginza Six
東京国立博物館5/6
東京国立博物館外観
Small Worlds Tokyo6/6
Photo: Small Worlds

Best places to hide from the rain in Tokyo

Don't let the weather rain on your parade. Here's how you can explore the city without getting caught in a downpour

By Kaila Imada
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Tokyo is absolutely stunning during cherry blossom season, and even winter looks spectacular with the colourful city-wide illuminations. However, the capital does have its gloomy moments, too, especially as spring transitions into summer.

Rainy season usually stretches from mid-June to mid-July, but that doesn't mean you have to waste the whole month – Tokyo has plenty of things to do even when it's raining outside. From exploring the city's best free museums and planetariums to shopping at department stores and depachika, these are just some of our favourite places to hang out when you need to stay out of a downpour. 

RECOMMENDED: How to go out safely in Tokyo

Rain, rain go away

If you're in Shibuya...

Shopping Shibuya

Shibuya Parco: This fashion hub opened its doors at the end of 2019 just in time for the brand’s 50th anniversary. Don’t be deterred by the luxury stores on the ground floor – there’s more to this new shopping centre than just designer labels. In fact Shibuya Parco is home to some of Japan's best homegrown fashion like streetwear labels Humanmade and Ambush. 

Aside from the mix of fashion boutiques, there's a floor dedicated to all things manga and gaming where you'll find Japan's first Nintendo store and the Pokémon Centre. Parco is also home to art galleries, a cinema and a yokocho-inspired basement floor featuring some of the neighbourhood's hippest restaurants, including a vegan izakaya as well as a Fear Factor-style restaurant serving edible bugs.

Shoppers seldom venture up to the rooftop and it's their loss – the covered food and drink space Commune is a hip yet relaxing place to wait out the rain.

Ginza Six
Ginza Six
Photo: Ginza Six

If you're in Ginza...

Shopping Ginza

Ginza Six: Touted as the largest commercial complex in the area, Ginza Six is the perfect spot to spend a rainy day checking out the impressive selection of shops and restaurants inside. The concept here is 'world-class', meaning the mall is an upscale version of, well, everything.

Shop your way through international designer labels such as Celine, Dior and Fendi, while the more artistically inclined may want to peruse the reading materials at the gorgeous Tsutaya Books on the sixth floor (there's a Starbucks here, too). You can also look forward to plentiful cosmetics boutiques, a massive food court depachika in the basement.

Foodies will also have a field day: take your pick of local and Western cuisines at the stunning Premium Food Hall in the basement, and sip tea-based cocktails at Mixology Salon on the 13th floor.

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If you're in Odaiba...

Art Odaiba

teamLab Borderless: Transport yourself to the digital world of teamLab at this 10,000sqm permanent museum out in Odaiba. The entire space features a good 60 artworks, all of which are interactive and even move between rooms for a truly 'borderless' art experience. The exhibits are stunning, ranging from light shows to a room of mirrors and even a virtual waterfall. This is art for the Instagram generation.

Forget the map – the museum encourages you to wander and explore at your own pace, meaning you could easily spend an entire day just trying to find all the rooms and attractions.

teamLab's recent reopening after a long hiatus due to coronavirus comes with a new set of safety measures, read them here before you go. 

If you're in Nakameguro...

Restaurants Cafés Nakameguro

Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo: Need a coffee (or two) to get you through the soggy weather? Try the spacious Starbucks Reserve Roastery along the Meguro River. This is one of the few (and one of the most beautiful) Starbucks Reserve roasteries in the world, so you can bet your bottom dollar they have enough caffeine options for a whole day's worth of sipping.

The vast 1,200sqm space stretches over four floors. We suggest starting on the first floor, where you can grab a hand-drip coffee along with pastries from the Milanese bakery Princi. Then make your way up to the second-floor Teavana tea room for another caffeine boost. If you're up for a stiff drink, stop by the third-floor Arriviamo cocktail bar for a few pick-me-up cocktails, such as the punchy espresso martini. Don't forget to check out roasting factory on the fourth floor.

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If you're in Roppongi...

Shopping Roppongi

Tokyo Midtown: Brighten up a dreary day with a visit to Tokyo Midtown shopping centre in Roppongi. There are shops, restaurants, cafés and even a top-notch art museum here to help you make the most of your time in the city. The best part is, Tokyo Midtown is connected to Roppongi Station via an underground passage, so you won't even need an umbrella to get there.

Start your visit at the FujiFilm Square photo museum before browsing four floors of high-end shopping. Have a custom burger for lunch at The Counter before tucking into a dessert at Toshi Yoroizuka. Shop for Japanese artisanal homeware at Kiya Shop, and explore the many variations of sake at Sake Shop Fukumitsuya. For the evening, you have two options: have a drink while enjoying the (rainy) view from Ritz Carlton Tokyo's bar on the 45th floor, or catch a music gig at Billboard Live (shows are starting up again in July). If the rain persists, just do both.

If you're in Shinjuku...

Shopping Shinjuku

Isetan Shinjuku: What better way to spend a wet day than shopping at one of the trendiest department stores in Japan? The flagship Isetan Shinjuku is renowned for having window displays created by leading artists and offers quality food, clothing and homeware. What's more, men's fashion gets its own annexe building that's connected via a covered bridge. There's even an amazing depachika food hall in the basement, where you can spend time sampling food at the eat-in counters.

Isetan Shinjuku is connected to an extensive network of underground passages, which take you not only to Shinjuku and Shinjuku-Sanchome stations, but also to other retail complexes such as Takashimaya ShinjukuLumine 1, Lumine 2EST and Bicqlo (the Bic Camera and Uniqlo building). So yes, it's possible to go shopping in Shinjuku without having to set foot outside in the rain. 

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Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo National Museum
東京国立博物館外観

If you're in Ueno...

Museums Ueno

Tokyo National Museum: If you're going to dedicate one rainy day to a museum, this is the place do it. Japan’s oldest and largest museum, Tokyo National Museum is home to over 110,000 pieces of historical art and artefacts.

Past the ornate gateway, there’s a lush courtyard surrounded by three main buildings, which are all interconnected. Honkan, the main gallery dating back to 1938, displays the permanent collection of Japanese art and antiquities. The 25 rooms regularly rotate their exhibitions of paintings, ceramics, swords, kimonos, sculptures and the like.

The Toyokan building, on the other hand, features five floors of artworks from other parts of Asia. If you're keen on learning more about Japanese Buddhism, the Gallery of Horyu-ji Treasures houses some of the country's ancient and important Buddhist artefacts. Aside from these permanent exhibits, the museum also holds three to four temporary shows annually.

For refreshment, there are two restaurants and a coffee shop on-site. Of course, don't forget to check out the amazing gift shop before you leave.

Play Museum
Play Museum
Photo: Play_2020/Facebook

If you're in Tachikawa...

Play Museum: Located out in Tachikawa, this family-friendly interactive gallery is more relaxed than your usual art museum. Expect engaging exhibitions that encourage you to touch and play, as well as an indoor park, café and shop.

Currently, the museum’s permanent exhibition features world-renowned author Eric Carle, best known for his children’s book ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’. Fans of Carle can explore the gallery filled with original illustrations, videos and more. On the other hand, the gallery's special exhibition is dedicated to Japanese artist duo Tupera Tupera’s playful ‘Kaoten’ installation, where visitors can become a part of the artwork by using numerous face stickers.

Don't forget to stop by the café where visitors can dine on Very Hungry Caterpillar-inspired dishes including sandwiches and rice, as well as Tupera Tupera-themed curry.

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If you're in Marunouchi...

Travel Train stations Marunouchi

Tokyo Station: There's no need to go outside when you can explore a city landmark from the inside. Opened in 1914, Tokyo Station is today a major transport hub serving train, bus and shinkansen lines. It's also home to an overwhelming selection of restaurants and shops. In fact, the station complex is so sprawling that it could very well have its own zip code.

Don't miss Tokyo Ramen Street inside the station, which features outposts from some of the country’s most revered noodle joints. You can try many different variations of ramen all under one roof. Also, make a stop at Tokyo Character Street if you're looking to stock up on all sorts of adorable merchandise and souvenirs from the likes of Sanrio to your friendly Ghibli neighbour Totoro. 

Small Worlds Tokyo
Small Worlds Tokyo
Photo: Small Worlds

If you're in Koto...

Small Worlds Tokyo: This new 8,000sqm indoor theme park stretches over four floors and features a restaurant serving up international specialties.

On the third floor, you'll find six thematic areas to explore: Space Center, Global Village, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Kansai International Airport, and two exhibitions based on the hit anime Neon Genesis Evangelion – Cage and Tokyo-III. There's even a 3D scanner where you can create a 1:80 scale model of yourself to place inside the miniature world. It's the perfect way to transport yourself into another (less rainy) world.

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If you're in Akihabara...

Shopping Okachimachi

2k540 Aki-Oka Artisan: Also known as ‘Artisan Street’, this unique retail space is set under the entire 2.54km stretch of JR railway tracks between Okachimachi and Akihabara stations, hence its unusual moniker. Being under the tracks means the entire shopping area is covered, and you’ll find 50-plus shops and cafés, all featuring made-in-Japan items, along with local craftsmen and artisans also selling their wares.

Head to Blue Trick for premium Japanese denim from Okayama, go to Nakazawa Kaban for leather bags, or choose your new umbrella from 77 colour options at Tokyo Noble. Better still, some of the stores here offer workshops so you can try a little DIY crafting. Tired of walking? Take a coffee break at Yanaka Coffeeten where you can nurse a cuppa and stock up on freshly roasted coffee beans.

Sanrio Puroland
Sanrio Puroland
Photo: 1976, 1996, 1999, 2019 Sanrio Co., LTD

If you're in Tama...

Attractions Theme parks Tama-Center

Sanrio Puroland: Sanrio Puroland theme park is indoors and completely covered, meaning you can spend a whole day here without getting soaked in the rain. Located at the western outskirts of Tokyo in Tama-shi, you can easily get to Sanrio Puroland from Shinjuku Station in about 30 minutes by train.

This theme park is a homage to all things Sanrio, the company that produces the patron saint of hyper-cuteness, Hello Kitty. Catch a Hello Kitty musical, peek into Hello Kitty’s house and see her go about her daily life, and of course, seize the chance to meet the cat-girl herself as well as other beloved characters like My Melody, Pompompurin and Gudetama. As expected, the shopping facilities are extensive and they offer everything imaginable, all stamped with Kitty-chan’s likeness.

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Muji Ginza
Muji Ginza
Photo: Muji

If you're in Ginza...

Shopping Higashi-Ginza

Muji Ginza: Japanese lifestyle chain Muji is best known for their clean, functional designs and drool-worthy stationery, but things became more interesting with the addition of Muji's global flagship store and first hotel in Japan.

This Ginza landmark offers the complete Muji lifestyle; aside from two restaurants, a bakery, a bar and two galleries, the retail space stretches five floors, stocked with swoon-worthy stationery, clothes, furniture, kitchenware and home accessories, plus a fresh food section offering bento boxes, a custom tea-blending station and a juice bar. Want to imagine a life where you can eat, shop and sleep Muji? Just check out the gorgeous hotel rooms, which are the perfect embodiment of Muji’s sleek, minimal aesthetic.

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