25 must-visit Tokyo attractions for Shin Megami Tensei players and fans.
I started playing the Shin Megami Tensei games in 1993 and three things happened to me.
- I developed a lifelong love and fascination for world mythology. Even today, half of the books on my shelves are, one way or another, related to mythology.
- I fell in love with the music of Shoji Meguro.
- I fell in love with the great metropolis of Tokyo. In fact, as I wrote in an older post, my very first solo trip to Japan was because of SMT.
About Tokyo, I strongly feel no other game series in existence explored the Japanese capital as thoroughly as the SMT games did. Yeah, not even the Persona series and in spite of SMT’s Tokyo always being … less than presentable.
Thus, if you are a Shin Megami Tensei fan, and you happen to be in Tokyo, these are the real-life attractions you must visit. Who knows? While at it, you just might recruit a most useful demonic ally …
This list considers only the main Shin Megami Tensei games, including SMT IV Apocalypse and Liberation Dx2. It does not include the sister series like Devil Survivor, Devil Summoner, etc.
(All screenshots belong to Atlus and Sega)
1. Kichijōji (吉祥寺)
Kichijōji is a pleasant western Tokyo neighbourhood, the heart of which is famous even among foreigners for atmospheric cafes and trendy shops.
It is, of course, also the first accessible district of SMT I. The place where all weirdness, adventure, and alignment aligning formally began, so to speak.
Of equal significance, “Kichijōji” is also the name of a SMT series signature BGM. The track has been given other names in newer episodes but has recently been returned to its root in Persona 5 Royal. Listening to this hypnotic track, while standing beside Kichijōji Station, could instantly put you in a demon summoning mood.
2. Shinjuku Station (新宿駅)
In Shin Megami Tensei I, IV, and Apocalypse, the busiest railway station in the world was an important early-game base.
The real-life Shinjuku Station itself is famous, or should I say notorious, for its numerous underground connections to other structures and stations. The foremost place in Tokyo to experience real-life “dungeon crawling,” the passageways here often feel unending and endless. In other words, not too different from a labyrinth trapping thousands of humans.
And like the case for Kichijōji, the soundtrack for the 3D parts of Shinjuku in SMT I is also now one of the signature tunes of the series. Called Traffic or Arcade Town in SMT IV, this is THE MUSIC to listen to as you navigate Shinjuku Station, should yo. Just try not to act too weird in the many passageways of this sprawling transportation hub.
3. Studio Alta
Studio Alta, or rather its big outdoor screen, has long been a symbol of Shinjuku. In SMT I, various important events were broadcasted using this screen, event that preceded the violent nuking of the capital. A terrifying potential future to reflect on, while standing among the crowds that surround this real-life Tokyo landmark day and night.
4. Golden Gai (ゴールデン街)
In SMT IV and SMT IV Apocalypse, Golden Gai was the backdrop of some challenge quests and boss fights. Thanks to the graphic abilities of the Nintendo 3DS, the area is, overall, quite faithfully reproduced in the games. Do note though that when visiting in real-life, you would at most be able to have a drink or meal in one of the many mini establishments. It is very unlikely you’d be able to scale any building in order to recruit dark demons.
5. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (東京都庁舎)
Like Studio Alta, the immense twin towers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building have long been a Shinjuku landmark. Thus, it is no surprise that the structure is a prominent location in the SMT series.
In SMT I, the upper floors were where powerful beings from Hindu mythology could be fought or allied with. In SMT IV and SMT IV Apocalypse, the ground floor lobby and gardens form the stage for some of the toughest early-game boss fights.
Outside of gaming, the building is also famous for its free-to-enter observatory, from which on a clear day, Mount Fuji could be seen. In other words, this is one Tokyo attraction you wouldn’t want to skip. Especially if you’re visiting Tokyo for the first time.
6. Shinjuku Gyoen (新宿御苑)
Beautiful Shinjuku Gyoen, or Shinjuku National Park, was an important story location in both SMT IV and SMT IV Apocalypse. In the Infernal Tokyo reality, this was also the location of YHWH’s Cocoon.
Note that Nozomi’s beautiful fairy forest in SMT IV Apocalypse is not Shinjuku Gyoen. Given the forest’s in-game location, and the circular paths within, Nozomi’s haven is very likely Yoyogi Park. This green space is a short distance away from Shinjuku Gyoen and can easily be reached using public transportation.
7. Ikebukuro Station (池袋駅)
For me, Ikebukuro Station and its immediate vicinity have always been a kind of “mid-game” place in the Shin Megami Tensei games.
A key story location in SMT III Nocturne, SMT IV, and SMT IV Apocalypse, the station, its layout, and even its two main exits were meticulously reproduced in the two 3DS episodes. When I visited in 2018, I was stunned to discover even the shopfronts in the 3DS titles were based on the banks and shops situated there. The only difference, naturally, was that there were no chests and gear to find. Otherwise, it was truly as if I was within the games.
8. Ameya-Yokochō Market (アメヤ横丁)
Tokyo’s world famous Ameya-Yokochō takes on a wholly different identity after dark. Produce and food ingredient stalls are closed but around the fringes, all sorts of ethnic restaurants come alive. Thai, Indian, American, it’s a world food fair.
Which makes the market a great place to have a leisurely dinner at, following which you can explore the streets of night-time Ueno as depicted in SMT IV and SMT IV Apocalypse. Here, I highlight how accurate the virtual version is, practically a mirror except for there being no human and vehicle traffic.
After strolling through the streets, don’t forget to check out the underground passageways of the area too, particularly the one connecting Keisei Ueno Station and Tokyo Metro Ginza Line West Gate. Do so, and you are bound to have a Flynn, Mikado Samurai moment.
9. Shinobazu no Ike (不忍池)
In my opinion, Shinobazu no Ike is one of the loveliest locations in SMT IV. A nocturnal wonderland of lights and glittering pagodas. Full of squishy and smelly demons too.
In real-life, the pond and its landmark Bentendo Temple is a picturesque side trip when visiting Ueno Park, as long as the lilies are not wilting. (They look truly awful when they do). Hereby, I strongly suggest … sticking with the game and not visiting at night. The area could be deserted after dark and besides, the temple would be closed. Unless you’re a samurai with a dozen servant demons on hand, it’s prudent to be safe when sightseeing.
10. Asakusa Sensō-ji (浅草寺)
Tokyo’s most famous temple has been described in many ways over the years. With words such as exotic, colourful, touristy, spiritual, etc.
In SMT III Nocturne, though, the temple is the site of one of the most appalling atrocities in the entire Shin Megami Tensei series. When visiting, do spare a moment to remember the twitching, faux humans whose only purpose in the Vortex World seems to be no more than fodder for stronger beings. Better yet, if you’re offering prayers at the temple, make a kind wish for similar unfortunate beings in our cruel world.
11. Tokyo SkyTree (東京スカイツリー)
The tallest free-standing structure in Japan, and the world, visiting Tokyo SkyTree could be a hassle. No thanks to a rather complex ticketing system and queues.
Take the effort though, and you’d see for yourself how closely the version in SMT IV and SMT IV Apocalypse resembles the actual tower. There wouldn’t be scaffolding and steps leading to a heavenly capital, or tentacles everywhere, but outside of those, the game version is practically a mirror. Down to the elevator alcove where a snake-hair maiden lurks.
I add that on cloudy days, when the pinnacle of the SkyTree nicks the clouds, it is also not difficult to imagine the very tip actually being an entrance to YHWH’s preferred world.
12. Kinshichō (錦糸町)
Kinshichō is rarely mentioned in non-Japanese travel literature about Tokyo, which makes it an interesting choice of a starting base for Nanashi, the protagonist of SMT IV Apocalypse.
Easily reached from Akibahara or by using the Tokyo Metro system, there isn’t any major travel or gaming attractions here, although Atlus did do a decent job replicating Kinshi Park i.e. where Nanashi was killed.
With accommodations here also slightly cheaper than many other Tokyo districts, it could be a good idea to do a “Nanashi” and base yourself here when visiting. Why, with a little planning, you could even explore Tokyo using Nanashi’s story route. Does that sound like a great Tokyo travel itinerary?
13. Akihabara (秋葉原)
The world-famous otaku haven of Akihabara is more famously associated with games like Akiba’s Trip. However, the gaudy district is still the main base for the Devil Downloaders of Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Dx2. Search hard enough in Akiba’s many stores, and I’m sure you’d find lots of exciting SMT merchandises too.
14. Tokyo Station (東京駅)
Like Shinjuku Station, the transportation behemoth that is Tokyo Station could give you a taste of real-life dungeon crawling. There are just so many tunnels and passageways and shops and facilities. One wonders whether even lifelong Tokyo residents know where every passageway leads.
And once you have an inkling of how everything connects, you could try to use the underground passageways to walk to the Ginza district, as you do so in SMT IV. Is it possible? Looking at Google Maps, it seems doable. But probably, you’d be wishing for a Terminal to teleport you before you’re halfway through.
15. Ginza 4-Chome (銀座四丁目)
If you’re visiting Tokyo for the first time, chances are, Ginza would be on your itinerary. If not, the expensive area could still be worth a look-see, if only to understand why that shop in SMT IV has to be so darn expensive.
In addition to which, the famous “Wako” 4-Chome junction was a crucial plot location in SMT IV Apocalypse; the access point for the final dungeon as well. Lastly, in SMT III Nocturne, Ginza was the headquarters of the Assembly of Nihilo. You would likely find it rather ironical, even laughable, that an organisation so obsessed with “silence” would choose such a flashy location to be its base.
16. Tsukiji Hongan-ji (築地本願寺)
One of the most unusual temple structures in Japan, as in its architectural style is more Indian than Japanese, Tsukiji Hongan-ji is a Japanese Jodo Shinshu Buddhism temple right next to the world-famous Tsukiji Outer Market.
An important and extremely confusing dungeon in both SMT IV and SMT IV Apocalypse, this unusual temple is worth a look for its architecture even if you’re not a Shin Megami Tensei player. The main prayer hall also welcomes all visitors, with no need for giddying teleportation in order to see the main altar.
17. Kasumigaseki (霞が関)
Kasumigaseki is an administration district of Tokyo, the location of many Japanese cabinet ministries. Its importance in the Shin Megami Tensei games near entirely stems from SMT IV and SMT IV Apocalypse, where the area hides various important secrets.
Thanks to the faithful reproduction in both games, the immediate ground-level vicinity of Kasumigaseki Metro Station is also one area in Tokyo where you can immediately feel within the games. To get the best experience, visit the area slightly after dark, when most ministry workers would have gone home. At the deserted junction, you will feel as if you’re a warrior from another world, desperately hunting for the next teleportation terminal.
18. National Diet Building (国会議事堂)
Tokyo’s imposing Italian Renaissance style Diet Building is one of the most instantly recognisable landmarks in the capital. Without surprise, it was also a major location in several Shin Megami Tensei games, as well as in the Persona and Devil Survivor series.
Within the SMT games, the National Diet Building was most prominently featured in SMT III Nocturne, where it was the stage for the final showdown between Reasons. As for visiting the real-life building, it is possible but altogether a solemn and restrictive experience. On the other hand, taking a picture of the unique building from outside is free and available to all. Just try not to venture too near the gates when doing so, and end up alarming the guards. (Keep a distance as the Persona 5 teens did)
19. Shinagawa Station (品川駅)
Jumping ahead, Shinagawa Station looks to be a prominent location in the upcoming Shin Megami Tensei V, with the busy Shinkansen train hub prominently featured in the trailer. Just what is going to happen here when we finally get SMT V?
20. Shibuya Station & Vicinity (渋谷駅)
The famous playground of the Persona 5 teens have long appeared in the Shin Megami Tensei games, typically as a mid-game district. (Nocturne is the noted exception).
A challenging “stage” that usually requires patience and some degree of level grinding in order to beat, the alleys and parks surrounding the station itself were faithfully, almost lovingly reproduced in SMT IV and SMT IV Apocalypse. Virtual mirrors that include the entertainment street of Dogenzaka and controversial Miyashita Park. If you are a Persona 5 player as well, this is the one Tokyo district that you must visit, no matter what.
21. Roppongi Hills (六本木ヒルズ)
A mega development project at the heart of Tokyo’s Roppongi district, Roppongi Hills actually consists of several complexes, and is famous for trendy i.e. pricey shops and fanciful eateries.
In SMT IV, the complex became the headquarters of the dreaded Ashura-kai. More importantly, the tallest tower of Roppongi Hills was also the “original” of Reverse Hills, an all-important mid-game dungeon in the game. I personally consider that dungeon one of the grimmest in the whole series.
22. Tokyo Midtown (東京ミッドタウン)
Glitzy Tokyo Midtown was the stronghold of the powerful Ashura-kai in SMT IV, and one look at this large ultramodern complex will tell you why this was a logical choice.
The second tallest building in real-life Tokyo, Midtown’s abundant floor space makes it perfect for, well, a dungeon, apart from being an obvious beacon of power.
Outside of gaming, Tokyo Midtown is also famous for its surreal winter illumination events, during which its garden is artistically lit under the evening sky. With a little bit of imagination, and some SMT music, a winter visit could be inspirational. Or how about, relaxing within one of the eateries of the complex, while replaying the SMT IV Midtown dungeon?
23. Tokyo Disneyland
Renamed as “Destinyland” for the series and the Persona games, Tokyo’s most famous theme park was an extremely important location in SMT I; a point of no-return, so to speak. Come here to enjoy the rides and crowds, or to imagine yourself hunting for a certain alignment fixing serpent with a woman’s head.
24. Tennōzu Isle (天王洲)
For most foreign visitors, there is little of great interest in the Tennozu area. However, when viewed from far at night, such as from neighbouring Odaiba, the seafront area does project a certain romanticism. Or should I say, mystery?
As in, in the midst of all those twinkling lights, could truly powerful ancient gods and demons be secretly living among us humans?
25. teamLab Borderless
TeamLab Borderless did not appear in any Shin Megami Tensei games, of course. However, with the permanent exhibition essentially a dim labyrinth filled with fantastical light art displays, there are few other attractions in Japan that comes close to reproducing the dungeon crawling feel of the series.
In addition, mythological beings such as phoenixes and fairies and yokai are sometimes incorporated into the display. Walking into any could thus be like a sudden encounter in the SMT games. Just make sure you negotiate properly and recruit all of them.
Read my other Video Game Tourist posts.