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Where to Stay in Tokyo: Best Areas & Hotels for a Great First-Time Experience

Where to Stay in Tokyo: Best Areas & Hotels for a Great First-Time Experience

Date published: 27 December 2019
Last updated: 13 June 2023

Choosing where to stay in Tokyo can be overwhelming, but our guide breaks down the best areas and hotels for a great first-time experience.

(Main image: PIXTA)

Table of Contents
  1. 5 Important tips for choosing where to stay in Tokyo
  2. The 9 best areas to stay in Tokyo
  3. Editor recommended: Ningyocho - Tokyo's hidden secret, with great access and a laid-back vibe

The Tokyo Metropolis is divided into 23 special wards, 26 cities, eight villages, and even some beautiful tropical islands - each with its own unique appeal. From the youthful energy of Shibuya to the glitz of Ginza and the anime paradise of Akihabara, your choice of neighborhood in Tokyo can significantly enhance your travel experience.

This guide will provide an overview of Tokyo's main areas for sightseeing and accommodation, discussing their attractions, nearby spots, convenience, potential drawbacks, and more. Our aim is to assist you in making the best choice for your travels in Japan.

5 Important tips for choosing where to stay in Tokyo

Selecting your ideal base in Tokyo involves balancing four key elements: transportation accessibility, proximity to tourist attractions, personal interests, and budget. It's no secret that accommodations in prime locations near major transit hubs or top sights tend to cost more.

1. Airport accessibility

Stations with convenient access to Tokyo's airports
Stations with convenient access to Tokyo's airports

If your visit is brief or involves domestic flights, airport accessibility should be factored into your decision.

Tokyo is served by two airports: Narita Airport, which is roughly 60 km east of the city, and Haneda Airport, which is located within city limits.

Narita Airport to Tokyo: Direct rail access to Narita Airport is available via the JR Narita Express and the Keisei Skyliner, and the Airport Limousine Bus provides access as well, stopping at major train stations and hotels.
· When using JR Narita Express: Tokyo Station, Shinagawa Station, Shibuya Station, Shinjuku Station, and Ikebukuro Station are the most convenient.
· When using Keisei Skyliner: Ueno Station and Nippori Station are the most convenient.

Haneda Airport to Tokyo: Direct rail access to Haneda Airport is available via the Keikyu Line and the Tokyo Monorail. The Airport Limousine Bus provides access as well, stopping at major train stations and hotels.
· When using the Keikyu Line: Shinagawa Station and Keikyu Kamata Station are the most convenient.
· When using Tokyo Monorail: Hamamatsucho Station and Tennozu Isle Station are the most convenient.

Helpful Links

2. Types of accommodations

2. Types of accommodations

Tokyo offers a range of accommodations to suit different needs and budgets.

  • Hotels: Relatively expensive but offer numerous facilities, amenities, and high-class service.
  • Business Hotels: Reasonably priced and suitable for tourists who need a place to sleep. They provide basic amenities and services, with some becoming more similar to standard hotels.
  • Apartment Hotels: Offering the comfort of home with the amenities of a hotel, these accommodations are great for long-term stays, featuring kitchenettes, laundry facilities, and separate living areas.
  • Ryokan & Minshuku: Traditional Japanese inns and B&Bs provide a unique and authentic experience, often with meals included.
  • Hostels and Guesthouses: The most budget-friendly option with shared rooms and facilities, typically no extra services are provided to keep costs low.
  • Vacation Rentals: Rooms in private houses with varying services, amenities, and meals.
  • Love Hotels: Primarily designed for short stays, these hotels provide guests with privacy and novelty themes, popular amongst couples seeking a unique experience.

3. The day trip factor: Mapping out your adventures

The Lake Kawaguchiko area is a popular Tokyo day trip destination
The Lake Kawaguchiko area is a popular Tokyo day trip destination

Your choice of where to stay in Tokyo can also depend on your planned day trips. If your itinerary includes destinations like the famed Hakone hot spring resort or Fuji Five Lakes, then western Tokyo, particularly Shinjuku, is an excellent choice.

For those aiming for historical journeys to Nikko or Kamakura, Asakusa and Tokyo stations, respectively, offer convenient access. Plotting your adventures beforehand can help you choose the most suitable neighborhood.

If you want to sightsee beyond Tokyo and visit places such as Nikko or Kamakura, looking for a place near a major train station or express bus terminal is key when considering where to stay in Tokyo.

Shinjuku is a great example. The Odakyu line takes you from Shinjuku to the Hakone area; the Keio Line takes you to Mount Takao; and the Seibu Ikebukuro Line heads for Kawagoe.

Next to train lines, Shinjuku Station’s Shin-Minamiguchi Exit is also connected to the “Busta” Highway Bus Terminal, so Shinjuku is a prime area to stay for people planning day trips from Tokyo.

Other good options are Asakusa, where the Tobu lines connect Tokyo to Nikko and Kinugawa Onsen, as well as Ikebukuro Station and its access to Chichibu via the Seibu Ikebukuro Line and Limited Express Red Arrow.

Finally, consider staying at a hotel near a Shinkansen station like Ueno or Tokyo if you plan to take a bullet train for a day trip.

Access to popular tourist spots
Convenient access from: Shinjuku (1 hr 40 min via Odakyu Line (Romancecar)
Mt. Takao
Convenient access from: Shinjuku (53 min via Keio Line Limited Express to Takaosanguchi)
Lake Kawaguchiko/Mt. Fuji area
Convenient access from: Shinjuku (1 hr 46 min via bus from Busta Shinjuku or via JR Chuo Line limited express train and Fujikyuko Line, around 2 hr 5 min)
Convenient access from: Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shinjuku (1 hr via JR Yokosuka Line or JR Sobu Line). From Asakusa, also around 1 hr (via Toei Asakusa Line/Keikyu Line, changing to the JR Yokosuka Sobu line at Yokohama Station)
Convenient access from: Ikebukuro (1 hr via Tobu Tojo Line)
Convenient access from: Asakusa (1hr 52 min via Tobu Railway)

4. Busy seasons to avoid: Golden Week, Obon, and Others

4. Busy seasons to avoid: Golden Week, Obon, and Others

The Japanese calendar has several long periods of holidays throughout the year, times when companies and schools are closed and both sightseeing spots and hotels are crowded.

1. Golden Week (End of April - Beginning of May): This is a series of national holidays spanning 5 to 8 days, creating a peak travel period as many Japanese residents go on vacation, leading to busier airports and train stations.

2. Obon (Mid-August): A traditional summer custom varying by region but typically in mid-August. The season coincides with school holidays and Western summer holidays, resulting in a surge in travel and limited accommodation availability.

3. Silver Week (End of September): A combination of Respect for the Aged Day and Autumnal Equinox Day often creates a long weekend, prompting many to travel, particularly to northern Japan to view autumn leaves, causing crowding in areas like Hokkaido and Tohoku.

4. New Year Holiday (End of December/Beginning of January): A consecutive holiday period when many travel to their hometowns or major cities, resulting in a slowdown as many businesses close for the holidays.

5. February (College Entrance Exam Season): Expect a surge in guests at business hotels and guest houses as students travel for entrance exams. This time also aligns with Lunar New Year, attracting additional tourists from around Asia.

  • No matter where it is, picking a hotel on or close to the JR Yamanote Line will make traveling around Tokyo much smoother. The Yamanote Line is also covered by the JR Pass and several other regional rail passes, which means free travel for pass holders!

5. Choose based on neighborhood characteristics

Every area boasts its own unique atmosphere, so choose where to stay in Tokyo based on these characteristics.

  • Asakusa / Ueno: A shitamachi area, meaning the historic downtown quarters. A lot of reasonable ryokan and guesthouses can be found outside the main shitamachi areas.
  • Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, and Shibuya: Tokyo’s most famous shopping areas. All three are known for a large selection of shops and department stores, as well as a vibrant nightlife that can be enjoyed until the wee hours.
  • Ginza, Akasaka, and Shinagawa: A large variety of luxury hotels and modern standard hotels.
  • Akihabara: The hub of Japanese pop culture, uniting idols, anime, and games.
  • Tokyo Station: Between Tokyo Station and the Imperial Palace spans Marunouchi, a modern business district with a large number of high-rise buildings.

Bottom line

Top Recommendations: Ueno and Shinjuku
Two neighborhoods that offer an impressive balance of these considerations are Ueno and Shinjuku. They are transport behemoths, providing seamless connectivity to all corners of Tokyo and beyond via their expansive train stations. Furthermore, they boast a plethora of local attractions within walking distance. Both are stops on the essential Yamanote Line loop that encompasses most of central Tokyo.

Additional Areas of Interest: From Trendy to Traditional
For an alternative Tokyo experience, consider neighborhoods such as the lively Shibuya, sophisticated Ginza, anime hub Akihabara, or historic Asakusa. Each has a unique vibe, almost like a city within a city, appealing to different types of travelers. Aligning your stay with your personal interests can enrich your Tokyo experience.

The 9 best areas to stay in Tokyo

While there are dozens of areas to stay in Tokyo, the city’s main sightseeing spots can be roughly divided into nine neighborhoods: Ueno, Shinjuku, Ginza, Asakusa, Shibuya, Akihabara, Roppongi and Akasaka, Ikebukuro, and around Tokyo Disney Resort.

While scratching the surface, they provide a sure-fire jumping-off point to unravel the city’s appeal.

Below we’ll explore each area’s characteristics and what it can offer in terms of shopping, dining, access, sightseeing, and more.

1. Ueno Area (Eastern Tokyo): The best overall place to stay in Tokyo

1. Ueno Area (Eastern Tokyo): The best overall place to stay in Tokyo

Ueno is a bustling and urbanized neighborhood that offers a unique blend of cultural wealth and vigorous city life. Its dual identity is marked by the lush, heritage-laden Ueno Park on one hand, and the animated, effervescent shopping street, Ameya Yokocho, on the other. The neighborhood has a vibrant yet unpretentious atmosphere that appeals to those interested in the confluence of modern and traditional Japanese culture.

Transportation Accessibility:
Ueno Station is a significant transport hub that provides quick access to Tokyo Station and numerous regional destinations via bullet trains. It's a stop on the central Yamanote Line and several other convenient JR lines, in addition to the Tokyo Metro and Keisei lines, making it an excellent base for travelers.

Airport Access:
For international visitors, Ueno offers direct access to Narita Airport via Keisei Ueno Station.

Sightseeing Destinations Nearby:
Ueno Park houses important institutions such as the Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, along with historical sites like Hanazono Inari Shrine and Ueno Toshogu Shrine. The serene Shinobazu Pond within the park provides a peaceful escape from the city's hustle. From Ueno, you're also within walking distance of Tokyo's iconic Senso-ji Temple, and a short train ride away from the majestic public gardens of the Imperial Palace at Tokyo Station.

Ameya Yokocho is Ueno's vibrant retail heart, lined with stores offering an array of merchandise, often at discounted prices, alongside a multitude of restaurants and eateries that serve delectable Japanese street food.

Despite its attractions, Ueno's densely populated nature might not appeal to everyone. The neighborhood can get quite crowded, and Ueno Station, in particular, can become challenging during rush hour. The atmosphere, while always safe, can get lively, particularly during post-work hours, making some parts of the area less suitable for families with young children.

Why stay in Ueno?
  • Easily accessed through Ueno Station on the JR Yamanote Line, Shinkansen, Keisei, and Tokyo Metro lines.
  • Mainly medium-sized business hotels and ryokan are available.
  • Renowned for its cultural attractions, lush park, and diverse shopping options.
  • Main attractions include Ueno Park, Ueno Zoo, multiple museums, Ameya-Yokocho Market, and Yanaka neighborhood.

Select hotels close to Ueno Station

2. Shinjuku Area (Western Tokyo): Stay around neon nights and a city that never sleeps

2. Shinjuku Area (Western Tokyo): Stay around neon nights and a city that never sleeps

Shinjuku is a district in Tokyo that is famous for its skyline full of neon-lit skyscrapers. This western district offers a diverse range of entertainment, dining, and shopping opportunities, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists.

Transportation Accessibility
Shinjuku Station is Japan's busiest transit hub and is connected to several train lines such as Japan Rail, Keio, Odakyu, and Tokyo Metro. The Limited Express Romancecar provides direct travel to the hot spring resort town of Hakone.

Airport Access
Although Shinjuku doesn't have a direct bullet train connection, it is well-integrated into Tokyo's transportation network, providing easy access to both Narita and Haneda airports.

Sightseeing Destinations Nearby
Shinjuku is home to famous department stores like Isetan and Takashimaya, which offer a vast selection of local and international brands. Those who love nightlife will find Shinjuku a paradise, especially in the infamous Kabukicho entertainment district. Golden Gai and Omoide Yokocho are hidden alleyway networks that are full of distinctive bars and food outlets. Other Shinjuku highlights include the life-sized Godzilla statue atop Toho Cinema, the peaceful Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, and the breathtaking views from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.

However, Shinjuku's vast size and crowded streets may not suit everyone's taste. During peak times, Shinjuku Station and its surrounding streets can be flooded with commuters. While nightlife districts are generally safe, they may have adult-oriented businesses and potential scams, so it's advisable to stay alert during late-night outings. Lastly, the absence of a bullet train connection at Shinjuku Station may create inconvenience for those planning to explore outside Tokyo.

Why stay in Shinjuku?
  • Excellent transportation, with Shinjuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line and multiple other lines, as well as the highway bus terminal.
  • Excellent access for a day trip to the Mt. Fuji area.
  • A wide range of accommodations, from luxury hotel chains to reasonable business hotels.
  • Notable sights include the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Kabukicho entertainment district, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, and numerous shops and restaurants.

Select Shinjuku hotels with direct Limousine Bus access

3. Ginza Area (Eastern Tokyo): Accommodations near high-end retail and cultural landmarks

3. Ginza Area (Eastern Tokyo): Accommodations near high-end retail and cultural landmarks

Ginza is one of Tokyo's most prestigious districts and is renowned for its luxury shopping and upscale dining. It is a great destination for those who want to experience elite Tokyo. It features cultural landmarks and high-end shopping, making it a shopper's paradise.

Transportation Accessibility
Ginza Station is conveniently located just a 10-minute walk from Tokyo Station, despite not being directly on the Yamanote Line. This connection provides excellent convenience for travelers to navigate the city and beyond.

Airport Access
Ginza is close to Tokyo Station, making it easy to access both Narita and Haneda airports. Additionally, Airport Bus TYO-NRT offers access to the Ginza area.

Sightseeing Destinations Nearby
Ginza is known for its high-end boutiques and expansive department stores, such as Mitsukoshi Ginza, Tokyu Plaza Ginza, Tokyo Midtown Hibiya, and LUMINE Yurakucho. These establishments not only offer a broad range of fashion and food options but also house renowned restaurants, promising an exceptional dining experience.

In terms of cultural attractions, Ginza is home to the iconic Kabuki-za Theater, a stunning traditional venue that regularly hosts kabuki performances. Other noteworthy landmarks include the grand clock tower of Seiko House Ginza and the nearby Seiko Museum. Furthermore, Ginza's vibrant nightlife, enriched by a plethora of restaurants and bars, and close proximity to popular izakaya in Shinbashi and Yurakucho, offers a lively after-dark experience.

Ginza is known for its high-end reputation and might not be the ideal choice for budget travelers. Accommodation and dining options here typically fall into the high-end category. For more affordable options, neighborhoods like Ueno or Shinjuku might be more suitable.

Why stay in Ginza?
  • Easily reached via several stations nearby, including Ginza Station, though not directly on the JR Yamanote Line.
  • Upscale shopping district home to luxury boutiques and high-end department stores.
  • Key sights include Kabuki-za Theatre, Mitsukoshi Ginza department store, and Seiko House and Museum.

Select hotels close to Ginza Station

4. Asakusa Area (Eastern Tokyo): Staying in the cultural district of Tokyo, with great airport access

4. Asakusa Area (Eastern Tokyo): Staying in the cultural district of Tokyo, with great airport access

Asakusa, the historic downtown of Tokyo, is a perfect blend of charming antiquity and modern attractions. It offers an authentic glimpse of Tokyo's past while also catering to the needs of modern-day travelers.

Transportation Accessibility
Asakusa is not directly connected to the Yamanote Line, but it has four stations that are well-connected to other train lines, providing easy access to other parts of Tokyo. The Tsukuba Express offers direct access to Akihabara, a hub for Japanese subculture enthusiasts, and the Tobu SPACIA Limited Express connects Asakusa to the World Heritage Sites of Nikko, a popular day-trip destination.

Airport Access
Although Asakusa's stations are not part of the JR network, Narita Airport is easily accessible via the Narita SKY ACCESS Keisei Line or the Keikyu Line to Haneda Airport. The Airport Limousine Bus also services Asakusa.

Sightseeing Destinations Nearby
Asakusa's allure lies in its numerous local attractions that are within walking distance. Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo's oldest and most visited temple, is a stunning sight when illuminated at night. Other notable attractions include the iconic Kaminarimon Gate, the lively Nakamise-dori shopping street, and the towering Tokyo Skytree, which offers unbeatable views of the city. Asakusa also boasts Sumida Park, Kappabashi Street, famous for its high-quality Japanese kitchenware, and Hoppy Street, a lively hub for experiencing the local nightlife.

It's worth noting that JR passes are not valid in Asakusa because there are no Japan Rail connections. Additionally, the neighborhood is heavily frequented by tourists, and travelers seeking a more authentic local experience may need to venture off the beaten path.

Why stay in Asakusa?
  • Serviced by four different Asakusa Stations (Tokyo Metro, Toei Asakusa, Tobu, and Tsukuba Express), though none on the JR network.
  • A plethora of guesthouses popular with international backpackers.
  • The historic “shitamachi” area evokes an authentic atmosphere of traditional Japan.
  • There are three different Asakusa Stations, served by two subway lines and the Tobu line, respectively.
  • Asakusa Station has access to both Haneda and Narita airports.

Select hotels close to Asakusa Station

5. Shibuya Area (Western Tokyo): Staying in the city's vibrant heart

5. Shibuya Area (Western Tokyo): Staying in the city's vibrant heart

Shibuya is a popular destination for many locals and tourists, known for its lively atmosphere and cool, sleek character. The area offers a variety of accommodations to fit different budgets and boasts easy access to other city gems like Shimokitazawa and Ebisu. Shibuya is famous for its cutting-edge culture in fashion, music, and entertainment, making it a hotspot for youth culture and trendsetters.

Transportation Accessibility:
Shibuya Station is one of Tokyo's busiest and most connected stations. It serves several JR lines, including the convenient Yamanote Line, which ensures optimal accessibility to various parts of the city.

Airport Access:
Shibuya Station provides direct access to Narita Airport via the Narita Express, which offers seamless airport connectivity.

Sightseeing Destinations Nearby:
Shibuya offers an extensive range of attractions within walking distance. Iconic highlights include the bustling Shibuya Crossing, the sentimental Hachiko Memorial Statue, and the panoramic views from Shibuya Sky. Further experiences include serene walks in the lush Yoyogi Park, peaceful visits to the forested Meiji Jingu Shrine, and shopping at the trendy Takeshita Street in neighboring Harajuku. Shibuya's vibrant nightlife is not to be overlooked, with a wealth of hip nightclubs and bars. The area also offers a wide variety of dining options, ranging from upscale food courts to Shibuya Yokocho's diverse Japanese cuisine offerings.

While Shibuya is generally safe as a nightlife district, it can get quite busy and lively at night. Therefore, those seeking a quieter stay might need to consider this factor.

Why stay in Shibuya?
  • Great access with Shibuya Station on the JR Yamanote Line and several other lines.
  • Vibrant district popular with young locals and tourists, known for its shopping, dining, and nightlife.
  • Notable sights include the famous Shibuya Crossing, Hachiko Statue, Yoyogi Park, and Takeshita Street in Harajuku.
  • Shibuya has a lot of city and business hotels, such as the Tokyu hotels.

Select hotels close to Shibuya Station

6. Akihabara Area (Eastern Tokyo): Japan's Otaku paradise also has great transit access

6. Akihabara Area (Eastern Tokyo): Japan's Otaku paradise also has great transit access

Akihabara is a perfect destination for enthusiasts of anime, manga, video games, and electronics. Located conveniently between Ueno and Tokyo Station, it is a subculture mecca and a thriving business district offering premium restaurants and shopping opportunities, making it a suitable base for all kinds of Tokyo explorers.

Transportation Accessibility:
Akihabara Station is easily accessible from numerous central Tokyo locations with direct connections. Being a stop on the JR Yamanote Line and the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line makes it convenient for city-wide travel.

Airport Access:
For access to Narita Airport, transfer at Ueno Station (for the Keisei Skyliner) or Tokyo Station (for the JR Narita Express). However, the Narita Express at Tokyo Station may not be the best option for travelers with lots of luggage as it is several floors down.

For Haneda Airport, take around 30 minutes via JR Keihin Tohoku Line and Tokyo Monorail from Hamamatsucho Station. The Haneda Airport Limousine Bus also stops at Akihabara.

Sightseeing Destinations Nearby:
The streets of Akihabara are densely packed with shops offering a wide array of Japanese pop culture merchandise, forming the vibrant "Akihabara Electric Town." Here, you'll find everything from anime collectibles and manga volumes to vintage games and consoles. The district is also known for its unique "maid cafes," offering a distinctive, fun dining experience. For those seeking a cultural touch, the Kanda Shrine, home to the Kanda Matsuri Festival, one of Japan's grandest traditional festivals, is a must-visit. Additionally, the Akihabara UDX building provides a broad range of dining options.

Akihabara can be bustling and busy, much like other popular urban areas like Shibuya and Ueno. For those not interested in anime or pop culture, or those seeking a more traditional Japanese cultural experience, Akihabara may not be the ideal choice.

Why stay in Akihabara?
  • Easy access through Akihabara Station on the JR Yamanote Line and Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line.
  • Known as the hub of anime, manga, video games, and electronics.
  • Key attractions include the electronics stores on Chuo-Dori Street, maid cafes, and Kanda Shrine.
  • A lot of reasonable business and capsule hotels.

Select hotels close to Akihabara Station

7. Roppongi and Akasaka (Central Tokyo): Upscale districts blending art, culture, and nightlife

7. Roppongi and Akasaka (Central Tokyo): Upscale districts blending art, culture, and nightlife

Roppongi and its neighboring district, Akasaka, are well-known as upscale neighborhoods in Japan, where affluent locals and Tokyo's celebrities reside. These areas cater to art and culture enthusiasts, and offer an exciting nightlife scene with top-rated clubs and bars, making them an ideal base for those who enjoy high-end shopping, fine dining, and vibrant nightlife.

Transportation Accessibility
Although not a part of the JR network, Roppongi and Akasaka are well-connected through the Tokyo Metro network. Roppongi Station is served by the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line and Toei Oedo Line, while Akasaka can be accessed via the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line. Therefore, these districts offer easy access to various popular spots like Ginza, Akihabara, Ueno, Yoyogi Park, and Shinjuku.

Airport Access
Direct airport access by train is not available from Roppongi or Akasaka. However, one can easily reach Narita and Haneda airports by taking the Tokyo Metro and then transferring to the appropriate airport line.

Sightseeing Destinations Nearby
Roppongi and Akasaka host several cultural and art attractions, such as the National Art Center, Fujifilm Square, Mori Arts Center Gallery, Sony Music Roppongi Museum, and the Suntory Museum of Art. History enthusiasts will appreciate the Akasaka Hikawa Shrine and Shiba Park, one of Japan's oldest parks. For shopping and dining, the multipurpose commercial facilities like Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi Hills, and Tokyu Plaza Akasaka offer the best of Japanese fashion and cuisine. Moreover, Tokyo Tower, one of the city's key landmarks, is conveniently nearby.

While Roppongi and Akasaka offer an energetic nightlife scene, it might not be suitable for those seeking a quieter, more tranquil Tokyo experience. Also, as these are upscale areas, budget-friendly options for shopping, dining, and accommodation may be less common, although affordable alternatives do exist. Travelers should also be cautious about potential scams targeting foreign tourists in these areas, particularly during the night. Since Roppongi and Akasaka Stations are not on the Yamanote Line or any other JR Line, those who hold JR Passes may find the districts less convenient.

Why stay in Roppongi/Akasaka?
  • Serviced by the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line and Toei Oedo Line, with no JR access.
  • A large choice of accommodations, from luxury to business hotels.
  • Affluent areas known for nightlife, high-end shopping, and art galleries.
  • Main attractions include Roppongi Hills, Tokyo Midtown, and the National Art Center.

Select hotels close to Roppongi Station

8. Ikebukuro Area (Western Tokyo): A bustling hub with a local vibe and anime subculture

8. Ikebukuro Area (Western Tokyo): A bustling hub with a local vibe and anime subculture

Ikebukuro is a lively district in Tokyo that prides itself on its down-to-earth style and crowded streets. Although it may not have a lot of attractions for international tourists, its easily accessible train station and numerous amenities make it an attractive base for travelers. Especially for anime enthusiasts, Ikebukuro offers a unique "otaku" subculture that attracts more women compared to Akihabara. It also provides budget-friendly options for food and shopping, making it a suitable choice for travelers on a budget.

Transportation Accessibility:
Ikebukuro Station is a major transportation hub in Tokyo. It is a stop on the Yamanote Line and two other JR lines, the Seibu Railway, Tobu Railway, and three lines on the Tokyo Metro, making the district easily accessible from various parts of Tokyo.

Airport Access:
Ikebukuro has direct access to both Narita and Haneda airports via the Airport Limousine Bus service. In addition, JR Ikebukuro Station is a stop along the JR Narita Express.

Sightseeing Destinations Nearby:
While Ikebukuro lacks many tourist hotspots, it is home to Sunshine City, a skyscraper shopping mall and entertainment complex featuring an aquarium, planetarium, exhibition hall, observation deck, and many shops, including a Pokémon Center and One Piece Store. It's also known for its "Otome Road," which is popular among female anime fans. Moreover, Ikebukuro houses large department stores like the iconic Seibu Ikebukuro, providing various shopping options.

Although Ikebukuro is generally safe during the daytime, its crime rate is higher in comparison to other districts in Tokyo, and travelers should be more cautious, particularly during the night. In addition, given Ikebukuro's lack of historical attractions, you might find yourself spending a lot of your time commuting to other parts of Tokyo for sightseeing, which could be tiring for some travelers.

Why stay in Ikebukuro?
  • Excellent transportation with Ikebukuro Station on the JR Yamanote Line and multiple other lines.
  • Medium-sized and affordable business hotels are abundantly available.
  • Vibrant neighborhood with an "everyday" vibe, known for shopping and anime culture.
  • Major sights include Sunshine City complex, numerous anime-related shops, and Seibu Ikebukuro department store.

Select Ikebukuro hotels with direct Limousine Bus access

9. Maihama: Closest hotels with access to Tokyo Disney Resort

If your primary reason for visiting Tokyo is to explore the magical world of Tokyo Disney Resort, consider staying in Maihama. Located just to the east of Tokyo, Maihama offers the closest accommodation options to both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. Although you won't find a large number of budget options in this area, the convenience factor is unbeatable for Disney enthusiasts.

Transportation Accessibility
Maihama Station is a mere 15-minute train ride from Tokyo Station. Tokyo Disney Resort is conveniently located right next to Maihama Station, allowing for quick and easy access.

Airport Access
From Narita Airport, you can take the JR Narita Line to Tokyo Station and transfer to the Keiyo Line to reach Maihama Station. From Haneda Airport, take the Tokyo Monorail to Hamamatsucho Station, transfer to the JR Yamanote Line or JR Keihin-Tohoku Line to Tokyo Station, then switch to the Keiyo Line to get to Maihama. This area is also served by the Airport Limousine Bus from both Narita and Haneda airports.

Sightseeing Destinations Nearby
Besides the primary attractions of Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, you can also visit the Ikspiari shopping complex, a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex that caters to Disney visitors. Urayasu City, where Maihama is located, also offers attractions such as Urayasu City Folk Museum and Urayasu Local Museum.

While Maihama provides unparalleled access to Tokyo Disney Resort, budget accommodations like hostels are scarce in this area. Thus, budget travelers might want to consider staying near a station with a direct connection to Tokyo Station and commuting to the resort. Additionally, apart from the Disney complex, Maihama doesn't have a wealth of cultural or traditional attractions that other areas of Tokyo offer.

Why stay near Maihama?
  • Best known for being home to Tokyo Disney Resort.
  • Quick 15-minute train ride from Tokyo Station to Maihama Station.
  • Main attractions include Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, and the Ikspiari shopping complex.

Select Tokyo Disneyland hotels with direct Limousine Bus access

Editor recommended: Ningyocho - Tokyo's hidden secret, with great access and a laid-back vibe

Recommended by LIVE JAPAN's English editor, Timothy:
"Many visitors to Tokyo are also looking for a taste of what everyday life in Japan is all about, without going too out of the way. With this in mind, I would highly recommend the Ningyocho neighborhood.

"Conveniently located with access to the Tokyo City Air Terminal (T-CAT), the Toei Asakusa Line, and the JR Sobu Line, Ningyocho has direct access to both of Tokyo's airports by rail and bus.

"Additionally, the Toei Shinjuku Line offers direct access to Shinjuku, while the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line (via Suitengumae Station) offers quick, direct access to both Shibuya and Tokyo Skytree. JR Tokyo Station is also a quick cab ride or train away as well, making trips outside Tokyo a cinch.

"Ningyocho is also home to a sumo stable, a plethora of restaurants, and makes a great base for sightseeing around Tokyo. There are even a few craft beer breweries not far away. The neighborhood is a beautiful place to walk around in each season, and the stations all have elevator access. It has a laid-back residential air to it that you're sure to love, and I would highly recommend it for couples and families."

Recommended places to stay in Ningyocho

Other recommended areas in Tokyo

In this article, we covered the main best areas to stay in Tokyo. However, they are far from the only choices, and those who want to feel more like a local should branch out into one of Tokyo’s lesser-known areas.

  • Nihonbashi: A major commercial hub of Tokyo, famous for its department stores, with walkable access to Tokyo Station.
  • Shimbashi & Shiodome: A glitzy business district with a jovial and rowdy izakaya scene.
  • Ryogoku: Tokyo’s home of sumo wrestling, with the Ryogoku Kokugikan National Sumo Arena right in its center.
  • Shimokitazawa: A youthful, alternative neighborhood known for its vintage fashion and cafes.
  • Daikanyama: Another fashionable, hip neighborhood with an airy, refreshing open vibe.
  • Naka-Meguro: An upmarket, stylish area with a quiet local flair centered around the charming Meguro River, famous for its stunning rows of cherry blossoms in spring.
  • Ebisu: One of the wealthier districts in Tokyo, but with a laid-back flair. Known for the Yebisu Garden Place and Museum of Yebisu Beer.
  • Kichijoji: Right near Inokashira Park, home to the beloved Ghibli Museum. It also has a great shopping and dining scene loved by Tokyoites.

We hope that our tour of the 9 major tourist areas in Tokyo has helped you plan your itinerary. Instead of randomly choosing a location, taking the time to research and select a place that aligns with your interests, personality, budget, and convenience level can make your Tokyo travel experience smoother and stress-free. So, use this article as a starting point and begin crafting your ultimate Tokyo itinerary today!

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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