You’ve arrived in one of our favorite places on the planet; Tokyo, Japan. Now that you are here, it’s time to enjoy the city that entertains around 13 million residents with friendly people, an amazing metro system and magnificent sites to explore. The greatest parts of Tokyo are the food, Japanese history and completely different way of life that it offers. Comparing a trip to Tokyo to a trip to Europe is simply impossible. The two are so different! The culture, religion and architecture are all something you have never experienced before. Join us on our list of places to go in the breathtaking city of Tokyo, Japan.
10. Shibuya Street Crossing
If you want to feel like a local right away and really measure the amount of people in this city, make your way across the super-busy Shibuya Street Crossing. Shibuya Crossing is the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world! It is located right outside of the Shibuya Station and you’ll know when you’re there based on the amount of people. Here you will see people rushing to get to work, rushing to get something to eat, rushing to go shopping in one of the best locations in Tokyo, or just rushing. Go to this crossing anytime and you will see the excitement for yourself; all the traffic lights turn red for cars and people come spilling out onto the crossing from every direction. If the amount of people doesn’t amaze you or you want something more, go to Shibuya 109, a huge mall with 100+ stores located within the crossing.
9. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Located just a short walk from the Shinjuku station, the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is a must visit to get away from the stress of city life. Come here to enjoy walking paths, eye-pleasing scenery and, of course, beautiful and unique plants. The area consists of three different gardens; a Japanese landscape garden, a French Garden and an English landscape garden. The latter is surrounded by the beautiful flowering cherry tress that make Japan famous. To view the full flowering cherry trees, come here during late March to early April. The trees are also beautiful in the fall and to see their leaves changing color, visit during mid-November to mid-December.
Welcome to the fashion mecca for locals and visitors to the city alike. The Ginza area can be accessed by metro at the Ginza, Higashi-ginza and Ginza-itchome stations. To say you will find whatever you want here is an understatement. From traditional goods such as kimonos, chopsticks and clothing, to specialty items like buttons and model trains, you will find it in Ginza. Here you will also find high-end stores such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton, as well as the Sanrio flagship store with lots of Hello Kitty souvenirs! The staple H&M and Zara are also located in the Ginza area. If you don’t feel like shopping or have worked up a hunger, forgo the expensive cafes and restaurants around and seek out the ramen and food trucks that are located throughout the area.
7. Senso-Ji Temple
You have arrived at the oldest religious site in Tokyo that dates all the way back to the year 628. This Buddhist temple is the most popular in Japan and sees around 30 million annual visitors a year. The temple can be easily accessed from the Asakusa Station and admission is free. The temple is dedicated to Asakusa Kannon, the Buddhist god of mercy and happiness. Visitors travel here in the hope that the healing powers of the god will rub off on them and bring good fortune. Be aware that it can get very crowded here, so going as early as possible is recommended.
Roppongi is the neighborhood that becomes hip and un-hip every few days. Regardless, it is a great place to go to for nightlife fun, unique shops and yummy sushi and deserts, whether it’s “in” or “out” at the moment. If you are looking to party or have a few drinks, this is the perfect area to find a bar. You can also find Kakigori, or Japanese shaved ice, while in the Roppongi area. This treat is great to cool you down in the summer, or to enjoy when you’re having a sweet tooth. Be sure to visit the Roppongi Hills mega-complex and see property development at its finest. This city within a city offers everything from apartments to offices to restaurants and shops. Walk around and explore where some people call home, work and the mall, all in one!
5. Tokyo Tower/ Tokyo Skytree
Both of these towering buildings are included because they are where you want to go to get a view from the sky of the thriving city below. Access the Tokyo Tower from the Akabanebashi or Onarimon metro stations. Tokyo Tower is the Japanese homage to the Eiffel Tower and was built in 1957 to honor the great structure in Paris. The structure is actually several feet taller than its French sister. The tower is open every day and gives you a 360 view so you can get to know the city. On a clear day, you will even be able to spot Mt. Fuji in the distance! The Tokyo Skytree is a skyscraper that will take you right into the clouds to see the city. The Skytree is the second tallest free standing tower in the world, after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and it truly towers over the entire city at 2,080 feet tall. At the Skytree, you will also have a 360 view from an observation deck where you are able to see the entire city.
Welcome to the birthplace of many trends and fashion statements in Japan. The Harajuku area is truly another world, with youths dressed in wild outfits with crazy colors and bright hair that are meant to imitate anime characters, popstars, Hello Kitty culture and popular styles. Not only will you see these crazy outfits walking down the street, there are also several shops to buy hip clothing, accessories and food. These shops and many cafes are located mainly on Takeshita Dori and it’s narrow side streets. When you look down this road, you will view a sea of colorful banners, shop signs and lots of people shopping. If you’re hungry, enjoy some crepes, ice cream or pastries because this area specializes in cute, sugary-sweet food! This is also a great place to buy Hello Kitty and other character souvenirs so you can embrace your inner “kawaii”. High end stores and restaurants have also started coming to this area, so if super cute is not your style, seek out these places. If you’re not in the mood for shopping or eating, pick a place to sit and people watch. You will never get more entertaining people watching than in Harajuku.
3.Tsukiji Fish Market
There is truly something for everyone at the Tokyo Tsukiji Market, even if you don’t like fish. The market is most accessible from the Tsukiji or Tsukijisjijo metro stops that surround the market. The market sees nearly 1,800 tons of seafood a day with shipments coming in the early hours of the morning. Auctions take place here, as well as selling of all kinds of seafood from tuna to uni, which is the edible part of a sea urchin. There are also loads of produce sold here, so if you’re not a fan of fish, opt to meander through this part of the market. If you get a craving from being surrounded by all the good looking fish and food, there are sushi stalls, dumpling stalls and an outer cafe to get your grub on.
2. Meiji Shrine
The Meiji Shrine is one of the most popular icons of Japan. This Shinto shrine is surrounded by the forest and is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken. To get to the shrine, either use the Harajuku Station or Kito-Sando Station by metro. The shrine is a beautiful place for mediation, relaxation and enjoying the sights around you. You may even spot a traditional wedding happening here if you are lucky. If you have time, explore the Yoyogi Park forest that surrounds the shrine. The park has 100,000 trees that were donated by people around Japan to give thanks to their beloved Emperor Meiji.
1. Sushi, Tofu and Shabu Shabu
Most peoples favorite thing about Tokyo is the food. There are a plethora of things that are so much different from the things Americans eat, unless of course, you have a really good sushi place nearby. Either way, you must try sushi in Japan! Indulge in the cuisine that has a huge foodie following, where it was all started. While you’re trying Japanese cuisine, have some dishes with tofu as well, especially if you’ve never tried it. Tofu was actually invented in China, but it has become a huge part of Japanese culinary heritage. There are some restaurants dedicated to the soy bean curd and it is served in many traditional dishes. Tofu has a spongy texture and oftentimes takes on the delicious flavor of the sauce or food around it. Tofu is a must try, plus it’s one of the easier things to pick up with chopsticks, which you will be using at most meals. Last is a personal favorite food from Japan; Shabu Shabu. A hot pot is put in the middle of your table as well as raw meat and vegetables. You dip and stir the meat and vegetables in the hot pot until they are cooked, then you eat them with dipping sauces and served with rice. It is such a fun way of eating and the food is always delicious. This is an experience as well as a great meal and you must do it while in Tokyo.
Please Note: While the exact locations are not included in our itineraries, we pride ourselves on offering ideas for leisure time; these suggestions do not constitute a recommendation nor an endorsement of any specific service provider and the decision to participate in any such activities should be made independently.