Indoor activities and nighttime hangouts in Tokyo to cool down this summer
Japanese summers are notoriously hot and humid. With temperatures in certain regions reaching up to 40Cº and a summertime sun that rises at 4:30am, spending an entire day out and about requires some mental preparation, and a lot of sunscreen. Growing up in a tropical country, I could always rely on air-conditioned shopping malls and hopping into a car when I needed to escape the heat, but in a city like Tokyo (東京) where walking under the sweltering sun is inevitable, ending your day somewhat sweaty and sticky is to be expected. That being said, if you’re visiting Tokyo in summer, part of the fun is looking for indoor places to check out when it’s too hot outside, and spending relaxing evenings at the city’s trendiest chill spots.
So if you’re like me and prefer to avoid the sun and the heat, here are the best indoor activities and nighttime hangouts in Tokyo to check out!
1. Roller skate at Tokyo Dome Roller Skate Arena
A guaranteed afternoon of fun for the whole family. (Image credit: Manish Prabhune / CC-BY-SA 2.0)
If TikTok trends are any indication, roller skating is set to make its comeback. Millennials will remember rollerblading on the street and zipping around shopping malls in their Heelys, and if you’re looking for the perfect balance of fun and nostalgia, the Tokyo Dome Roller Skate Arena (東京ドームローラースケートアリーナ) is the place to go.
A 3-minute walk from Suidobashi Station (水道橋 Suidōbashi-eki) will take you to Tokyo Dome Roller Skate Arena, a venue reminiscent of the 80s when roller skating was all the rage—complete with a disco ball. Rollerblades and roller skates, along with protective gear are all available for rental, so you can strap them on and get skating right away.
As the arena is the only indoor skating facility in Tokyo, it is also the practice ground for artistic roller skaters, and even some local roller derby teams too. Come at the right hour, and you might be able to see some cool moves!
Tokyo Dome Roller Skate Arena (東京ドームローラースケートアリーナ)
Address: 1-3-61 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0004
Nearest station: Suidobashi Station (水道橋駅) or Korakuen Station (後楽園駅)
Opening hours: 11am–10pm (weekdays), 10am–10pm (Saturdays), 10am–9pm (Sundays, public holidays)
Admission fees: ¥1,500 (Adults), ¥1,200 (Students with valid ID), ¥1,000 (Children under 12)
Skate rental: ¥600
Tel: +81 3-3817-6196
2. Travel back in time at the Edo Tokyo Museum
The Edo Tokyo Museum. (Image credit: Winnie Tan)
When modern-day Tokyo gets too hot to explore, head over to the Edo Tokyo Museum (江戸東京博物館 Edo Tōkyō Hakubutsukan) in Ryogoku (両国) to catch glimpses of what the city used to look like centuries ago. Life-size replicas of buildings from the period like a Kabuki (歌舞伎) theatre are housed inside the museum, as well as a reconstruction of Nihonbashi Bridge (日本橋) as it used to appear in the Edo period.
A reconstructed Kabuki theatre. (Image credit: Winnie Tan)
The Edo Tokyo Museum houses a wide range of exhibits, showing a timeline from the establishment of the kingdom of Edo into modern-day Tokyo. Scenes of daily life in Edo and Tokyo are shown through reconstructions, providing an immersive experience. By the end of the day, you will have learned a lot about the history and life in this vibrant city. Oh, and admission is cheap too! At just ¥600 for the permanent exhibition, you’re in for an interesting and educational afternoon, comfortably indoors.
Edo Tokyo Museum (江戸東京博物館)
Address: 1-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 130-0015
Nearest station: Ryogoku Station (両国駅)
Opening hours: 9:30am–5:30pm
Admission fees: ¥600 (Adults), ¥480 (College students), ¥300 (Seniors and children)
Tel: +81 3-3626-9974
3. Teatime in a greenhouse at Aoyama Flower Market Tea House
Fresh air inside the tea house. (Image credit: Winnie Tan)
Located just off the main street of Aoyama (青山) is what looks like a flower shop. Walk inside, and you’ll find a cafe surrounded by greenery and colourful, seasonal blooms. Aoyama Flower Market (青山フラワーマーケット) is a popular florist in Japan, with storefronts framed with beautiful flower arrangements, and the cafe gives you the experience of a relaxing afternoon drinking tea in a greenhouse, away from the sun and heat.
Rose jelly with flower petals. (Image credit: Winnie Tan)
Flowers and herbs are incorporated into the cafe’s menu—the desserts are accented with flowers, and there are a variety of herb and floral tea blends to sample too. The cafe is a short walk from Omotesando Station (表参道駅 Omote-sandō-eki), and is the perfect place to go when you need a break from shopping and exploring.
Aoyama Flower Market TEA HOUSE
Address: 5-1-2 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0062
Nearest station: Omotesando Station (表参道駅)
Opening hours: 11am–7pm
Tel: +81 3-3400-0887
4. Solve puzzles and mysteries at Tokyo Mystery Circus
Mysteries await! (Image credit: Michael Reynolds)
Fans of escape rooms and interactive experiences will find a treasure trove of fun at Tokyo Mystery Circus (東京ミステリーサーカス), located near the Toho Cinemas Godzilla building in Shinjuku (新宿). Housed within are escape rooms, puzzles, and other interactive experiences, but depending on the adventure you choose, some might take you out on the streets of Shinjuku for some exploration too. The puzzles and games are always kept fresh and exciting, with new events being added frequently, some of them even featuring your favourite characters from anime and video games
Getting started is easy—tickets can be purchased online, and depending on the adventure you choose, walk-ins are fine too. There’s also no need to worry about the language barrier as many of the experiences are available in English, and some in Mandarin.
Tokyo Mystery Circus
Address: 1-27-5 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0021
Nearest station: Shinjuku Station (新宿駅)
Opening hours: 11:30am–9pm (Weekdays), 9:30am–9pm (Weekends)
Tel: +81 3-6273-8641
5. Wine and dine with a view: Rooftop restaurants and bars
Summer nights in Tokyo can still be hot, but for the locals, it’s also the best time of year to dine out on a rooftop terrace, looking out over the city. As evening falls, head to one of the city’s many trendy restaurants, order a cold drink, and enjoy the end of a day. Here are three places to go when you want to chill out.
Hacienda del Cielo
View of Shibuya. (Image credit: Winnie Tan)
The rooftop terrace of this modern Mexican restaurant overlooks the upscale, trendy neighbourhood of Daikanyama (代官山) and beyond. With delicious food at reasonable prices, and a prime location, the restaurant is among the area’s most popular so be sure to reserve in advance!
Hacienda del Cielo
Address: 9F 10-1 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0033
Nearest station: Daikanyama Station (代官山駅)
Opening hours: 11:30am–8pm (Weekdays), 8am–8pm (Weekends)
Tel: +81 3-5457-1521
Pasta and wine on a summer night. (Image credit: Winnie Tan)
While not a rooftop bar, Eataly Harajuku has a spacious terrace with comfortable outdoor seating that gives you a direct view of Harajuku Station (原宿駅) and the towering trees of the nearby Meiji Shrine (明治神宮 Meiji-jingu). The restaurant serves quality Italian cuisine, and be sure to try some fine imported wine as you dine too.
Address: 1-14-30 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001
Nearest station: Harajuku Station(原宿駅) or Meiji-jingumae Station(明治神宮前駅)
Opening hours: 11am–6pm
Tel: +81 3-6432-9080
Roof top bar and terrace G
Shinjuku from the rooftops. (Image credit: Winnie Tan)
Watch the sun set across Shinjuku (新宿) from the rooftop of Shinjuku Granbell Hotel, a stylish bar in a quieter area of the city. You’ll be able to spot Shinjuku’s iconic buildings from the bar’s glass balconies while you peruse their wide variety of cocktails. Food is available, but you can drop by anytime for happy hour or post-dinner drinks.
Roof top bar & terrace G
Address: 2-14-5 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0021
Nearest station: Higashi Shinjuku Station (東新宿駅)
Opening hours: 5pm–10pm
Seating charge: ¥500
Tel: +81 3-5155-2412
Whether you’re in the mood for excitement or relaxation, there’s always something to do in Tokyo, even when you want to avoid the sweltering heat. Now that you’re armed with a list of fun indoor activities and hangout spots in Tokyo, you’re ready to make the most out of your summer holiday in Japan, rain or shine!
Header image credit: Winnie Tan