How to Spend a Rainy Day in Tokyo

The transition from spring to summer includes a lot of rain before it becomes sunny and humid.  This year’s change is very different than it was last year.  For two straight weeks, it was gloomy and rained every day.  The cool temperature made it necessary to wear a light jacket or sweater but kept the noisy cicadas away.  The sun came out for a couple of days before it rained again.  With this weather, it’s easy to want to stay home.  Here are some ideas on how to make the most out of a rainy day in Tokyo.

Go to a Museum or Art Gallery

Forest of Lamps at Team Lab Borderless

Museums are a great rainy day activity and Tokyo is filled with many different types depending on your interests.  Some also have free entry on certain days.

•Team Lab Borderless- This digital Art museum is located in Odaiba, a man-made island in Tokyo Bay.  Artwork is displayed on the walls and floors and moves into multiple rooms.  It constantly changes and no minute is ever the same.  The artwork is interactive and you can become part of it.  There are many exhibitions by the same company around Japan and the world.

•Edo-Tokyo Museum- The exhibition here explains the history of Tokyo during the Edo period.  It also has models of towns during the Edo, Meji, and Shōwa eras for more engaging learning.

•Mori Art Museum- A contemporary art museum located in Roppongi Hills on the 53rd floor of the Mori Tower.  There is an observation deck on the floor below, but the views of the city may not be the best during rainy season.

Escape to a Virtual World

Tokyo Bullet Flight VR at Sky Circus

Of course Japan is big on virtual reality games and there are many VR game centers to explore just in Tokyo alone.  Some places may have a few VR attractions and other interactive experiences to enjoy.

•Sky Circus Sunshine 60 Observatory- Although there won’t be much of it during rainy season, Sky Circus is located in Sunshine City, a large complex in Ikebukuro.  There are five VR games and many activities on the 60th floor.  Sky Circus shares the same space with an observatory and it’s worth it to take a look.

•VR Park Tokyo- Located close to Shibuya station, VR Park has eight attractions including flying on a magic carpet and visiting a haunted mansion.

•Galaxy Store Harajuku- This 7 floor newly opened store has exciting experiences on each level.  It’s possible to stay busy here for the whole day.  You can wander on your own or rent a phone (a copy of your ID is needed) to guide you.  On it, you can make reservations for some of the attractions and earn points to use towards prizes or purchases.  The best part is that everything is FREE!

Get Active

EST Bowling Alley in Shibuya

Keeping your body moving is a great way to stay awake when all you may want to do is take a rainy day nap.

•Round 1- A huge sports entertainment center with a variety of games, like bowling, pool, and karaoke, in one place.  There are multiple locations in Japan and the one in Diver City has a Spocha inside which has even more activities.  You can play 3-on-3 basketball, soccer, go to the batting cages, ride a mechanical bull and roller skate all day if you wanted to because it is open for 24 hours.

•Joypolis- Also in Odaiba, Joypolis is one of the largest indoor amusement parks in Japan.  It has arcade games, roller coasters, and VR.

•B-Pump- If you’re not ready to climb Mt. Fuji just yet, try indoor rock climbing or bouldering instead.  Akihabara’s B-Pump has a cool ‘space wall’ to make the journey more interesting.

Relax, Relate, Read

Mori no Tosyo Shitsu Library + Bar

The bookstores and libraries in Tokyo usually have small selections of English books, but the atmosphere makes up for it.

•Mori no Tosyo Shitsu- This Shibuya spot is a mix between a library and a bar/lounge.  In the early afternoon, you can grab a book to read off the shelf and a coffee or tea.  After 6pm until 1am, make that a drink of your choice from the bar.  Mori no Tosyo Shitsu is really dedicated to what they do because even the food they serve are based on those mentioned in books.  To borrow a book to take with you, you’ll need to leave a deposit of the retail price.  It is returned when you bring the book back in one month.

•Tsutaya T-Site Daikanyama- Tsutaya is a bookstore known for its large book selection.  Daikanyama T-site has three buildings that connect on magazine street, named this because it is filled with magazines  from around the world.  There are also sections for music, movies, stationary, a cafe, restaurant and a lounge.

•Tsutaya Book Apartment- The popular bookstore created a relaxing space in Shinjuku for people to read in a different environment.  You can stay at the apartment as long as you want for a set price.  Each floor, from the 4th to the 6th, has its own vibe and only women are allowed on the top.

Catch a Movie or Show

Godzilla Artwork at Toho Cinemas

You can enjoy a variety of entertainment in Japan, from quiet traditional tea ceremonies to loud and strange robot shows. 

• Toho Cinemas Shinjuku- Find the giant Godzilla (not shown in the picture) before or after going to watch a movie.  See his head up close by visiting the lobby of the Gracery Hotel on the eighth floor.  Although the newest titles take a long time to hit Tokyo theaters, going to the movies is still a great option.  A lot of theaters screen movies in English, but be careful when choosing your tickets.  Make sure that the subtitles are in Japanese and that the voices are not dubbed over in Japanese.  Ticket prices are considered expensive, but there are discounts on particular days.  For example, Wednesday is ladies day and women can get in cheaper.  You can save money on the ticket and put it towards buying theater popcorn to taste flavors like Hokkaido butter soy sauce, steak, and curry.

• Shiki Theatre Company- This company is famous for its musicals and plays throughout Japan.  The current shows in the Tokyo area are Cats, Aladdin, and The Lion King.  All dialogue and songs are performed in Japanese, so if you’re up for the challenge you should consider it.  I’m basically obsessed with The Lion King.  I’ve seen it on Broadway three times and was the choreographer for the Jr. version at my old school.  I just can’t wait to see it here too one day.

Kabuki- Kabuki is a popular traditional Japanese musical performance.   The costumes and makeup create a unique style.  All of the actors are males and also play female roles.  The Kabukiza Theatre in Higashi-Ginza specializes in this art form.  The same show is performed twice a day for one month; matinee and evening.  A full performance is very long.  The total run time for the evening show is 5 hours (4:30 pm – 9:28 pm) with intermissions throughout and is broken into three or four parts.  The current program looks like this: The first part is about an hour long followed by a 15 minute intermission and the second is an hour and a half with a 30 minute intermission.  The theatre does allow people to attend different parts of the show if they aren’t able to stay for all of them.  Single act tickets can only be purchased in cash on the same day and seats are often on the top level.  Depending on which part you want to see, tickets are sold 30 minutes to an hour prior to the show start time.  Since Kabuki is fully in Japanese, an English guide book is available for purchase.

What are your favorite rainy day activities where you live?

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