Tokyo Mint MuseumWe basically stumbled upon this place while we were randomly wandering around in Ikebukuro. Why did we go here? Well mostly because it sounded cool interesting on the sign. We were the only non-Japanese folks in the museums and while they staff could not speak English they were very happy to show us the things in the museums even if neither of us could understand each other. Its just a random out of the way place, with some interesting money exhibits and exhibits on other items the mint makes (like national awards, etc). Located in the Ikebukuro section of Tokyo.
Meguru Parasitological MuseumIt doesn’t truly get stranger than the Meguru Parasitological Museum. We found the place by accident while we were wandering around (we do this a lot, the best way to see a city). Its a small place, 2 floors and a few exhibits. Everything is in Japanese but you can still enjoy yourself even if you cant read or speak the language. You can just make up your own descriptions for the exhibit like we did. There is even a little gift shop where you have to call someone to actually get service. But if you are looking for an awesome parasite t-shirt or parasite key-chain for your loved ones, this is the place to shop!
Ghibli MuseumAre you a fan of Miyazaki? Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, and many more? You may perhaps have loved the movies and never knew where they came from. The Ghibli Museum is a walk through the Ghibli studios and through the imagination and wonder of creativity. I love the fact that no cameras are allowed inside the museum,, it prevents people simply from trying to photograph everything instead of experience them. Also there are many short films that are only available to view while in the theater. It is located a bit outside of the the main city in Mitaka and buying tickets are a bit tricky (you need to reserve them from machines in Lawson’s). But even so it is definitely worth the visit and the time if you are as big of a fan as I am!
Maid CaféThere is a lot of weird information surrounding “Maid Cafes” in Tokyo. I know I didn’t know what they were prior to going and still I’m a bit confused by them. Just note, they are not sexual and not about that at all. Well maybe a little bit, as it is a bit of a fantasy type thing. I don’t really know how to explain the experience, as it was a bit surreal and a bit strange, especially for a foreigner. Note that if you don’t have some Japanese language ability you are really going to have a bit of a hard time understanding the people working there, and they are going to have trouble understanding you too. If you do want to go, head over to Akihabra, you can’t miss the people handing out flyers on the sidewalk. You might have to work a bit to get their attention if you look foreign as you are not their normal customer.
Golden GaiLocated behind many of the big buildings in the Kabukicho section of Shinjuku, Golden Gai is like a walk into the past in Tokyo. These small establishments have somehow bucked the trend and managed to survive throughout all the development that is surrounding them. Really some of these places are no more than the size of a closet, only able to house about 4-6 patrons on a given night. Many of them have regulars, so visiting might be difficult, but there are a few that actually do cater and welcome foreigners as well. But honestly, I try to avoid those as establishments simply filled with foreigners misses much of the uniqueness of the location. However to get on the inside you’ll need a local friend to help smooth the transition and the translation for you to get into many of the more unique establishments. I found it is not that they necessarily don’t like foreigners but that they don’t speak English and find it difficult dealing with people in that regard. Definitely worth the visit and one that most foreigners will not be able to experience themselves.
Tobacco and Salt MuseumI found this to be the strangest combo of two things to put together. But yes, there is actually a museum dedicated to these two specific things. Why? Both of these items were once protected and controlled by the Japanese Tobacco and Salt Corporation (a government created monopoly). The museum is rather interesting and informative about some of the post war economic developments in Japan. They also have some really well done and interesting exhibits. While it wouldn’t be my first stop in Tokyo, certainly worth a thought if it is a topic you are interested in. Hours: 10am – 6pm Closest Metro: Honjo-Azumabashi Station
* * * * * *Have you been to Tokyo? Any suggestions on interesting or out of the ordinary places to stay in Tokyo? Is it your first time in the city, be sure to check out our guide for first time visitors! Also check out how to save some money with free things to do in Tokyo. And our hotel guide for where to stay in the city. On a budget? Check out our friends at Budget your Trip on hostels in Tokyo.