1. teamLab Borderless
    Photo: Reversible Rotation, Flying Beyond Borders - One Stroke, Cold Light teamLab, 2019, Digital Installation, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi
  2. Ginza Six
    Photo: Ginza Six

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

Kaila Imada
Written by
Kaila Imada

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 or when a typhoon rolls into town.

Good news is that Tokyo has plenty of things to do even when it's raining outside. From exploring the city's best free museums and teamLab exhibitions 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. 

Note: these venues might close early depending on the current Covid-19 measures imposed by the authorities. Please check with the individual outlets for the latest business hours. 

RECOMMENDED: How to go out safely in Tokyo

Rain, rain go away

  • 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 Human Made 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.

  • 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.

  • Shopping
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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.

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.

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