How do you decide what to visit when you’re planning a trip to Japan? Some people purchase guidebooks ages in advance and pour through the pages looking for landmarks and important historic sites. Others might ask a friend or colleague for advice or simply show up at the train station and check out the postcard rack for a quick visual guide
to must-see spots.
A useful term for anyone looking to experience the real Japan is ANABA (穴場) or “hidden gem.” An ANABA can be a place only locals know about, a site far off the beaten tourist path or an unexpected experience hidden just around the corner from you.
Luckily for travelers, Japan is full of them. Guidebooks can take their best shot at summing up the must-see sites but there are always new ANABA popping up. Because there’s no one more knowledgeable when it comes to ANABA than locals and expats who have made Japan their home, I’m bringing you a top 9 list of the best ANABA in Tokyo as recognized by members of the social network for Japanophiles — Levart.
I hope this jump-starts your travel agenda for the months to come!
9. Robot Restaurant
You can’t experience anything like this anywhere else in the world. The place is filled with screens, lights, and neon, and will make you feel as if you’ve walked into a video game. If you’re visiting or living in Tokyo, this is definitely one of the coolest experiences the city has to offer!
8. Hanayashi Ninja Experience
If you’ve ever wondered what being a ninja is all about, here’s your chance to discover everything you need to know! Try different activities and learn from a master. It’s a fun place to go with family and friends.
7. Ooedo Onsen Monogatari
The perfect spot for anyone who might not have time to travel out of Tokyo but wants to experience onsen (Japanese hot springs). This onsen is conveniently located in Odaiba, which is about half an hour from central Tokyo.
6. Nezu Shrine
Get a winning Instagram photo at Nezu Shrine! One of the most beautiful spots in Tokyo, this shrine doesn’t get as crowded as some of the larger ones like Meiji Shrine, so you’ll be able to enjoy the serenity and calmness of the gardens.
5. Super Potato Akihabara
The nostalgic gamer will be right at home here with rooms full of games from the 80s and 90s. If you’re on the hunt for a particular program, chances are you’ll find it here. The shelves are stacked with goodies that will turn browsing into a trip down memory lane for enthusiasts.
4. Rikugien Gardens
There are many gardens in Tokyo, but Rikugien has to be one of the nicest. It’s beautiful all year round, especially in the fall when the leaves are changing color. The undulating reflection of nature in the pond is a sight you won’t soon forget.
What makes Aoya so special is that ingredients are brought over from Kyoto to provide you with authentic Obanzai, just in Tokyo. The food here is delicious and comforting; if you close your eyes you might even think you’re being served a family meal in a Japanese home.
2. The Lockup
This place doesn’t disappoint when it comes to craziness! The adventure starts at the door where you have to go through a maze loaded with surprises to get into the main room. The drinks are one of the big attractions as they are served in what looks like equipment from your local science lab, and meals do not disappoint.
1. T’s TanTan (Tokyo Station)
Ramen is a staple in Japanese cuisine, but is difficult to try if you’re vegetarian or vegan — unless you visit this place! That’s because they makes theirs without meat, fish, eggs, or milk products.
How to find more ANABA
Japan is a big place and keeping tabs on new ANABA — not to mention the old ones you still need to visit — can be exhausting. Your best bet is to ask a local resident for tips on where to go, what to see and what to eat. Don’t know any locals? Try our new online community that will put you in touch with residents from around the country, as well as Japanophiles all over the world.
Have you been to any of these top ranked ANABA? What’s your favorite ANABA in Tokyo or Japan?