One popular destination to visit in Asia is Japan, a country known for beautiful cherry blossoms and delectable foods. If you ever find yourself in Japan, make sure you stop in Tokyo, Japan’s capital, for a mix of modern skyscrapers and traditional temples. Tokyo has something for everyone, whether you’re interested in food, art, technology, or history. Check out our list for 10 places to visit in Tokyo.
1. Tsukiji Market
Stop by one of the oldest and largest fish markets in the world. Tsukiji market is always bustling with activity and people and handles over 1,500 tons of seafood per day. Almost 500 different types of seafood from tuna to sea urchin are sold at the market, which starts auctioning its fish at 5 a.m. But due to the large number of tourists visiting each day, the auctions are now closed to the public except from 5 to 6:15 in the morning for early risers to get a sneak peek to this exciting event. If you can’t wake up in time for the auctions, visiting the market during normal hours is just as exciting to eat at a sushi stall or restaurant in the market or barter for some fresh seafood.
2. Meiji Shrine
If you’re looking to see more of Japan’s culture and history, head to Meiji Shrine, dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. The shrine was built to commemorate the Emperor after his death to celebrate what he did for Japan. Be sure to respect and participate in the shrine’s rituals and take a walk in the peaceful surrounding forests comprised of 100,00 trees donated by Japanese people to honor the emperor. If you’d like to leave your mark on the shrine, write down a personal prayer and tie it to the prayer wall.
3. Sensoji Temple
The Sensoji Temple is one of the oldest and most visited religious sites in Tokyo. The temple dates all the way back to the year 628 and has over 30 million visitors per year. It was built to honor the Buddhist god of mercy and happiness, Asakusa Kannon. Tourists come to this temple to receive Kannon’s healing powers and admire the brilliant colors and stunning architecture. The temple does get quite busy, so if you want to avoid the crowds, try to get in the early morning or late night.
4. Imperial Palace
The Palace houses the Emperor of Japan and the royal family and tourists have an opportunity to visit, if they fill out an application several weeks in advance. Though some people may opt out of applying for a visit to the palace, you can still admire the palace from afar and visit the East Gardens inside the Imperial Palace Complex. These relaxing gardens are home to many cherry blossoms and a perfect place to see the flowers when in season.
If you’re looking for a neighborhood filled with architecture, restaurants, and entertainment, visit the mini island off of downtown Tokyo, Odaiba. The island has museums, shopping, a Seaside Park, beach, and Tokyo’s own Statue of LIberty. There is so much to do on this island, you might need more than one day to see it all. If you are tight on time, try planning out the main attractions you want to hit to make sure you see everything you want to.
Ginza is Tokyo’s main shopping neighborhood, comparable to New York’s Fifth Avenue or Paris’ Champs-Elysees. Visit popular retailers like H&M and Zara as well as upscale fashion houses like Dior and Armani. You can also find other items and souvenirs here like kimonos, incense, and beauty products. If you are not interested in shopping, there are many other activities to do in the neighborhood as well. Ginza has over 200 art galleries, many theaters, and is a haven for foodies. You can see a traditional kabuki performance or eat at one of the many Michelin rated restaurants or tasty food stalls in the area.
7. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
In the middle of the urban city, take time to relax in the national gardens. This 144 acre garden consists of three distinct architectural styles, traditional Japanese, English, and French. If visiting in the spring, you’ll also be able to see the famous cherry blossoms. Inside the gardens, there are also restaurants, a greenhouse, and a teahouse, and it is the perfect place to relax for a couple hours and have a picnic.
If you’re a techie, make sure you visit Akihabara, Tokyo’s electronics district. The streets are lined with neon signs and department stores and booths with all different kinds of gadgets and products. This neighborhood is also home to Yodobashi, often called the largest electronics store in the world, and many arcades and comic stores celebrating video games and anime.
9. Tokyo Tower
An orange and white remake of France’s Eiffel Tower, the Tokyo Tower stands at 1,092 feet and serves as a television and radio broadcasting tower. Although it does have a practical use, the tower does accommodate all the tourists that visit. There are on-site shops for souvenir shopping, a cafe, and a music venue for daily performances. Located at 490 and 819 feet, two observation decks offer visitors a 360 degree views of Tokyo’s landscape. If you go on a clear day, you may even be able to see Mount Fuji in the distance. However visiting at night also provides a great view of the city’s lights.
10. Shibuya Crossing
The last place on our list is Shibuya Crossing, often said to be one of the busiest and most famous crosswalks in the world as well as a very popular attraction of Tokyo. At peak times, almost 1,000 people may be crossing at one time from all directions. If you don’t want to be in the crowds of people crossing the streets, the Starbucks on the second floor of the Q building and the Shibuya Train Station offer overhead views of the crossing.
With so much to see and do in Tokyo, you’ll find something everybody loves. If all this traveling around Tokyo is not enough and you want to experience more of Japan, check out this trip to Kyoto. Happy traveling!
Written by Stephanie Ding