When visiting Tokyo for the first time it is important to see the famous sites but it is also quite nice to slip away from the tourist haunts for a while and experience the city the local way. When it comes to Tokyo, the residents know exactly how to unwind and kick back. From renowned sporting tournaments to a casual trip to the park, this list will show you just how to experience Tokyo like a local.
Sumo wrestling is one of the most popular sports in Japan and is celebrated across the country. Fans of the game always attend the big tournaments in Tokyo which occur during January, May, and September. These tournaments are usually packed with locals and the buzzing atmosphere makes the event even more special.
If you do not have the chance to attend a sumo tournament then the next best option is to watch a sumo training session. The places where sumo wrestlers live and train in are called stables and Tokyo is home to around 45 stables. Visitors can watch the morning training sessions for free at the Arashio-beya stable, located just a short walk from Hamacho station. This stable has large windows located on the street which act as a viewing point for visitors. It is a fantastic way to see these national superstars at work and it doesn’t cost a penny.
Yoyogi Park is a large spacious park that connects visitors to Harajuku Station and the beautiful Meiji Shrine. Local families will often relax at Yoyogi Park on the weekend and it is also the place where Harajuku’s youth subcultures come to hang out. On a Sunny day, Rockability Boys donned in 1950s rock attire take to the park to showcase their best dancing and singing abilities, and Harajuku Girls are often spotted relaxing in the park beneath Edwardian style parasols.
Onsen and Sento
When the locals wish to recover, they visit a public bath. There are two types of public baths in Japan; one is known as onsen and the other is sento. Onsen are more familiar to foreign visitors due their beautiful surroundings and natural hot spring water. Sento are far less elegant but rarely see any tourists.
Public bathing has existed in Japan for hundreds of years and provides the chance to relax and cleanse. Whether you look for a luxury onsen resort, or, a laid-back sento, this is one local experience that you won’t find back home.
Say the words amusement arcade and you will usually think of a moneymaking trap for tourists. In fact, the amusement arcades of Tokyo are full of local gaming enthusiasts. Here you will find residents of all ages competing against their friends and their very own scores on some of the world’s best-loved video games. Along with these arcades, game machines can also be found in cafes across the city.
While most adults in the Western world spend their evenings chatting over a glass of wine at a local bar, Tokyoites like to sing their night away. Karaoke is so popular in Japan that there are karaoke bars throughout Tokyo. These bars usually consist of karaoke booths equipped with everything needed for a night of singing your heart out. To experience this pastime with the locals, the district of Shibuya is brimming with fun karaoke bars.
When visiting a city there is no better way to experience the local culture than by sitting down at a local bar and listening to local music. Love TKO likes to remain a bit of a secret in order to preserve its hip, chilled-out vibes. Love TKO is a bar in Shinjuku that showcases new bands and artists every week.
Upon entering you will soon realise that you are not in any ordinary bar. The interior design is quirky with a bar that resembles a family kitchen. The walls are adorned with handwritten messages from both regulars and foreign visitors alike.