With Japan’s borders opening back up to individual foreign travelers for the first time since 2020, visitors to Tokyo will find plenty of new spots around town worth visiting. From the well-known city centers of Shinjuku and Shibuya to locations farther afield in Odaiba and Tokyo Disney Resort, the capital continues to evolve with time.
Here are five places to have on your radar for your next trip to Tokyo.
At the Japan Olympic Museum, you can experience pieces of Olympic history through seasonal exhibitions of photos, art, and competition equipment. Online reservations are currently required. The building is across the road from the new National Stadium, where the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2020 Summer Games were held.
Stadium tours are available through the official website (Japanese only), with the basic one (¥1,400 for adults) offering a peek at areas that are usually off-limits such as the racetrack and locker rooms. A VIP Area & Observation Deck Tour is also available (¥3,000 for adults).
Even if you’re just passing by, the Olympics rings display outside the museum building is a good photo opportunity. The rest of the outdoor monument area holds replicas of the Olympic cauldrons from Tokyo in 1964, Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998, plus statues of judo founder Jigoro Kano and International Olympic Committee founder Pierre de Coubertin.
In March 2020, Harajuku station became the latest landmark in Tokyo’s ever-changing cityscape to undergo a dramatic transformation. Once the capital’s oldest, the historic wooden station building has been replaced with a glass structure that holds a more spacious concourse to help alleviate the bottleneck of train passengers.
Right across the street from the station is the With Harajuku shopping center, which opened in June 2020. It’s located about halfway between the two busy shopping streets, Takeshita-dori and Omotesando, and is designed to be an open urban space with a network of roads connecting to the surrounding area like blood vessels. There’s an Ikea (yes, Swedish meatballs are on the menu) along with other shops and restaurants and a terrace overlooking the new station and the Meiji Shrine.
The Shibuya station area isn’t necessarily the first place you would associate with fresh open-air greenery, but Miyashita Park provides an oasis of that. This new rooftop park and shopping complex opened in July 2020 on the site of the old Miyashita Park, which closed in 2017. It’s near the famous Shibuya Scramble crossing, right behind Nonbei Yokocho (Drunkards Alley), where Anthony Bourdain once went drinking at Bar Piano.
The rooftop park stretches along the Yamanote Line tracks and the backside of Tower Records. It has a Starbucks, a statue of “Doraemon’s Door to the Future,” sports facilities like a bouldering wall and beach volleyball cage, and plenty of benches and lawn space.
Inside, there’s a food court with Shibuya’s second Taco Bell (it opened Japan’s first back in 2015), while on the street level, you can enjoy dining and entertainment at Shibuya Yokocho, a retro alley with nineteen different restaurants specializing in regional soul foods from across Japan.
Smalls Worlds Tokyo opened in June 2020 as the world’s largest indoor miniature theme park, spanning 8,000 square meters and figures and models built to a 1:80 scale. Its location in Ariake, just two stops from Tokyo Big Sight on the Yurikamome waterfront transit line, makes for an ideal pairing with a visit to nearby Odaiba.
The park is sure to appeal to Neon Genesis Evangelion fans, as it has a working hangar with launching mechs and a room with a full mock-up of the Tokyo-3 cityscape, complete with retracting buildings like in the popular anime.
There’s also a reproduction of the Azabu Juban district from Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon and a recreation of Kansai International Airport, with planes taking off and landing. You can watch rocket launches in the Space Center area, while the Global Village area carries an Asian and European steampunk aesthetic.
When it comes to Tokyo “small worlds,” the miniature theme park isn’t the only game in town. There’s also Tokyo Disneyland, which has the It’s a Small World attraction and a whole lot else going on in its newly expanded Fantasyland.
Cinderella Castle, the park’s centerpiece, is now joined by a second castle housing Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast, the first ride in the world based on the Oscar-nominated animated film. This attraction opened in September 2020 with The Happy Ride with Baymax, the first-ever ride based on the movie Big Hero 6, which originally took inspiration from the bells of Hanozono Shrine in Shinjuku for the design of the robot Baymax’s face.
In April 2022, a new Toy Story hotel opened on the monorail loop at Tokyo Disney Resort. Meanwhile, the resort’s second park, Tokyo DisneySea, has a major expansion coming in 2023, with the new Fantasy Springs area bringing attractions themed to Frozen, Tangled, and Peter Pan.