Tokyo is the capital and largest city in Japan with over 13 million people and it is the center of Japanese culture, finance, and government. Tokyo is a vast city with a marvelous mix of modern living and old-fashioned manners, slick high-tech gadgets and cutesy cartoon mascots. Experience one of the world’s largest cities, home to cutting-edge electronics shops and towering skyscrapers, ancient art and pretty cherry blossoms. Enjoy fully stocked shops that never close, neon lights, startling fashions, a massive network of trains that never come late and the safest streets in the world. For many western travelers, Tokyo is an overwhelming city, It would take more than a lifetime to properly get to know it, but here is a collection with top things to do in Japan’s capital city.
“More than any other city, Tokyo demonstrates that ‘city’ is a verb and not a noun” – Mori Toshiko
Ryōgoku Kokugikan – Probably one of the things Japan is most famous for around the world is sumo wrestling. If you want to catch this spectacle be sure to visit at Ryōgoku Kokugikan, Tokyo’s National Sumo Hall.
Golden Gai – “Golden Gai is a small area of tightly packed tiny bars located behind the Best Western in Shinjuku. This area is popular among actors, directors, writers, and artists, but not all bars are open to tourists – look for signs in English as an indication of a foreigner-friendly locale. The narrow lanes and two-story buildings remain a piece of Tokyo’s past. Golden Gai transitioned from the post-WWII black market to brothels and finally to bars when prostitution became illegal in the late 1950s. The area has remained largely unchanged and is a reminder of what the streets of Tokyo were once like.” – Erin Bogar.
Yurikamome Line – There is an old saying that life is not about the destination, but the journey. When it comes to a transportation system as unique and scenic as the Yurikamome, that saying has never been truer. The Yurikamome Line is a high-speed rail in Tokyo and it is the first Tokyo transit line that is completely automated, running solely using computers. The technical name of the Yurikamome line is the “New Transit Yurikamome.” It is also owned and operated by Yurikamome Line, Inc., and it is the primary form of income for the company.
Edo-Tokyo Museum – Edo was the original name of the City of Tokyo, and the Edo Period was when the national capital moved to Tokyo. This period was characterized by internal peace and stability, economic growth, and isolationist foreign policies, for these 265 years, Japan was entirely focused on developing themselves as a country and a culture. The Edo-Tokyo Museum shares the history of Japan and Tokyo since the Edo Period. You can learn about life in feudal Japan, urban history and architecture, and the origin of traditional Japanese arts like woodblock printing, weaving, poetry, music, and kabuki theater.
Tsukiji Fish Market – Tsukiji Fish Market is actually an active wholesale trade market 5 minutes walk away from Ginza, one of the world’s most expensive plot of land. It is the world’s largest fish market and interesting experience that emphasizes how important the seafood industry is to Japan. The surrounding sushi vendors in stalls near the market offer up the freshest sushi you’ll ever have.
Mount Fuji – Mount Fuji is such a real beauty, fascinating and marvelous. with 3776 meters it is Japan’s highest mountain. It has been worshiped as a sacred mountain and experienced big popularity among artists and common people throughout the centuries. You really have to see it, and the day trip to Mount Fuji should be among one of the things you should not miss.
Shibuya – The birthplace of million-and-one consumer crazes, and best visited at night when the neon signs of restaurants, bars and cinemas battle it out with five-story TV screens for the attention of passers-by. “Shibuya is a center of Japanese fashion, culture, color, noise, and light. Harajuku girls? They’re in Shibuya. Manga? Find it in Shibuya. Biggest scramble crossing in the world? Sit at the Starbucks in Shibuya and marvel at the madness below. You want contact lenses that turn your eyes purple and the best ramen soup of your life and to find out what the kids are wearing these days? Head down to Shibuya, the cultural crossroads of Tokyo.” — Kaitlyn Barrett.
Meiji Shrine – Meiji Shrine is a shrine (completed in 1920) dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. Located just beside the JR Yamanote Line’s busy Harajuku Station, Meiji Shrine and the adjacent Yoyogi Park make up a large forested area within the densely built-up city. The spacious shrine grounds offer walking paths that are great for a relaxing stroll. The shrine was destroyed during the Second World War but was rebuilt shortly thereafter.
Akihabara District – This area of the city has always been famous for its vast array of electronic shops, but more recently has become better known for its many anime and Manga retailers. This makes it the ideal place to visit if you wish to unleash your inner nerd. Stock up on duty-free tech goods, then unwind in one of the multi-story gaming arcades.
Tokyo Sky Tree – Tokyo Sky Tree is the tallest structure in Japan and offers breathtaking views that extend as far as the eye can see. On a clear day, Mount Fuji seems so close that you could almost reach out and touch it.
Sensoji Temple – Sensoji Temple (Sensō-ji) is an ancient Buddhist temple, founded in 628, it is the oldest temple in Tokyo and one of its most significant.
Just So You Know…
- Tokyo has more neon signs than any other city in the world.
- Tokyo is one of the safest cities to travel to. Crimes against tourists are very rare.
- Tokyo has the most Michelin starred restaurants worldwide.
- The greater Tokyo area is the most densely populated metropolitan area in the world.
- Railways in Tokyo have the most extensive urban railway network in the whole world.
- Don’t Tip – Tipping isn’t expected in taxis, at hair salons, for doormen or bartenders.
- Favorite Ramen – The Ramen noodle is found in various forms and It’s at the core of Japanese cuisine. There are over 20,000 ramen restaurants in Tokyo. Check out: Saikoro by Koitani-san, one of the ramen legends. Fuuunji with the best Tsukemen. Konjiki Hototogisu with special ‘Gokunibo’ ramen made with dried sardine stock.
- Go Shopping – The Ginza precinct has a well-deserved reputation as the power play for serious shoppers in Tokyo, but locals generally prefer the Omotesando neighborhood.
- Favorite Onsen: An onsen is a traditional Japanese public bathing facility, and they are a major part of Japanese culture. Go to one of those: Yukemuri no Sato Susukino with massages where the masseuse uses his/her feet and 6 types of rock sauna. Matsugashita Miyabi-yu located right next to the port. Saya no Yu Dokoro is one of the most famous in the city. Yunohama Rotenburo known for its white-sand beaches and great surf breaks.
- Favorite Museums – Museum of Contemporary Art unexpected, Neat and Cool museum. Mori Art Museum with top contemporary art in a futuristic location. Metropolitan Museum of Photography great place to see photo exhibitions. Tokyo Sea Life Park with huge population of marine creatures representing more than 600 species. Shinagawa Aquarium. with a real “walk under water” experience. D47 with Japanese culture exhibitions on the eighth floor of the towering Hikarie building in Shibuya. National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation for high-tech and technology lovers. Joypolis a crazy complex of arcade games and interactive technology. Japan Folk Crafts Museum dedicated to the hand-crafted art of ordinary people. Shitamachi Museum lets you walk through the homes and businesses of old downtown Tokyo. Ghibli Museum with animation and art by Miyazaki Hayao’s Studio Ghibli. Toshiba Science Museum explains how their technology is changing and shaping the way we live through entertaining workshops and interactive exhibits. Sony Museum hosts a variety of fun and interactive exhibits.