After I’ve lived in both cities, I found out that there are many similar places to hang out in each city. If a friend knows Tokyo well, I can describe Seoul to him/her through names of places in Tokyo. The opposite would work as well.
Young people in their late teens and early 20s gather here for shopping, drinking, eating, clubbing, and staying out all night. Hongdae is surrounded by many colleges, and Shibuya is known as the place for fashion in Tokyo.
The most popular meeting place in Hongdae is the subway station’s exit 9. It gets so crowded that the stairs of that exit becomes packed. For Shibuya, it is the Hachikou exit, which has the famous dog statue. It’s common for Japanese people to say, “See you in front of the Hachikou!”
This is also a popular shopping area for teenagers and tourists. Harajuku is known for some unique and colorful styles of clothes.
My favorite street food in Myeongdong is the skewer with mochi/dduk and meatballs. My favorite snack in Harajuku is crepes.
This is the place to go if you want to dress up to go clubbing with young adults. This area is more expensive compared Hongdae, which is more of a casual place to go clubbing. Roppongi is known as a popular place among foreigners and Japanese celebrities as well.
This is a popular place for businessmen to hang out after work for some drinks with coworkers. Maybe they go to some karaoke/noraebang to relieve their stress while having some fun. Some couples like to take walks along the stream near Jongno. Ueno is also famous for Ueno Park and Ueno Zoo. During the cherry blossom season, many locals and tourists will visit to take pictures at the cherry blossom alley.
This is a popular, but slightly more expensive shopping area for adults. There are many stylish cafes and restaurants surrounding the area. Shinsa is also known for having many plastic surgery clinics, so you may run into a shopper with bandages on his/her face.
Not the most popular place, but still has many places to shop for clothing.
Dongdaemun is also known for their traditional market, and Ikebukuro is known for their aquarium and anime goods.
Hyehwa Kichijouji and Shimokitazawa
It was hard to choose one for this, because Hyehwa is like a combination of Kichijouji and Shimokitazawa and I couldn’t choose one or the other.
This is a cute neighborhood that is not as busy as Shibuya and Myeongdong, but it is known for a popular place to hang out because it has many cafes and restaurants(K), stationery stores(K), a big park where you can enjoy nature(K), and has many local theater troupes performing every day(S).
If you miss Korea in Tokyo, or you miss Japan in Seoul, this is the place to go. Ichon is like a Japan Town with many Japanese food restaurants and even a Japanese food market. Many Japanese people live in this quiet residential area. Shin-ookubo is a Korea Town with many Korean food and goods. Japanese K-pop fans can go there to buy something that reminds them of their favorite Korean celebrities.
If you want to see some history and tradition within the metropolitan city, go to this place. On the main street, you’ll find many unique crafts that would be good for souvenirs. They will also have some traditional snacks that would please your tastebuds. In Asakusa, start from the station, and walk towards Sensou-ji (Temple). You can also take a rickshaw to get your personal guide to see the traditional side in Asakusa and modern side near the Sky Tree.
Are you a big fan of anime/manhwa/manga? Or do you like building your own computer? This place would have everything you need. Yongsan also has the famous Dragon Hill Spa, so you could also enjoy a relaxing bath along with some delicious meals and exciting arcade games. If you’re in Akihabara, you’ll have plenty of choices for restaurants. You can also try out the famous Maid Cafe that everyone talks about.
This is a fish market that attracts many locals and tourists who love seafood. Tsukiji is known for their tuna dissection show. Noryangjin is known for its moving octopus legs, which are cut into small pieces and served with sesame oil and salt. In Japan, raw fish is usually enjoyed with soy sauce and wasabi, but in Korea, it is also enjoyed with red pepper sauce and miso.
This alley is full of the same pan-fried delicacy. Hoegi is known for its Pajeon Alley. Pajeon are Korean pancakes. Popular ones are kimchi pancakes and seafood pancakes. Tsukishima is known for their Monja Street. Okonomiyaki is a famous Japanese pancake from Western Japan, but Monja is a pan-fried meal originated from Tokyo. Monja doesn’t look pretty, because it just looks really goo-ey, but the best part is grilling those goo-ey things golden brown. My favorite monja is Mentai-mochi-cheese. Mentai(ko) is spicy cod roe.
Namsan Tower Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Sky Tree
This is the second biggest city of the country. They have their own dialect and take pride in their personality, culture, and history that is different from the capital.
Tourists love their specialty food, that is usually unavailable in other areas. In Busan, that would be Pork Kuk-bab, which is a personal hot pot of sliced pork, noodles, and porridge. In Osaka, that would be Okonomiyaki, which is usually made with cabbage, flour, eggs, and some meat.
They both have a tower that is not as tall as the capital’s tower. 부산타워 (Busan Tower) and 通天閣(Tsuuten-kaku).
This is the southernmost island of the country, and it is considered one of the best places to go on a vacation. Their beautiful nature surrounded by mountains and oceans will soothe your pains and worries away. Both of them have a strong dialect with a unique vocabulary that the city-people wouldn’t be able to understand.
Check out the Japanese version of this blog here.