Tokyo Travel: The 11 Most Epic Spots to Visit
Visiting Japan's foremost city? Here are 11 places you should visit to have the full Tokyo experience.
Tokyo is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world, and it's easy to see why. This bustling city features a mix of ancient Japan and cutting-edge modernity.
Planning a visit? Make sure you include these places in your itinerary in order to experience the most out of Tokyo.
Sensoji Temple, also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple, is the largest ancient Buddhist temple in Tokyo located in Asakusa, Sensoji. The temple is one of the major attraction spots in Tokyo.
Built in 645 A.D., Sensoji Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo, and one of the most colorful ones, if I may add. Huge gates called the Kaminarimon—which translates as “Thunder Gate”—welcome visitors. Sensoji also has a shopping street that stretches over 200 meters and is called Nakamise. It leads from the Kaminarimon Gate to the Hozomon Gate, which is the second gate of the Sensoji temple.
In Nakamise, you can find traditional snacks and souvenirs. After your shopping excursion, walk towards Hozomon Gate. Once you reach the temple's main hall, admire the traditional and ancient artwork that has been there for centuries, and immerse yourself in the artworks and the architecture, for it truly is a magnificent sight to see.
Sensoji Temple is located at 2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo 111-0032. Hours: 6:00 – 17:00. Open daily. Admission is free.
Tokyo Imperial Palace
Tokyo Imperial Palace, which is also known as Kokyo, is where the Emperor of Japan currently resides. Kokyo is the former site of the Edo Castle. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, moats, stone walls, and gates, this is also where the Imperial Family of Japan resides.
Built in 1888 and destroyed in World War II, it was rebuilt in the same manner as it was built before the World War. The inner ground of the palace is off limits to visitors except on January 2 for the New Years’ Greeting, and on December 23 for the Emperor’s birthday. Come on those days as you might get a glimpse of the Imperial Family.
The Tokyo Imperial Palace is located at 1-1 Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-8111. Hours: 9:00 – 17:00. Closed on Mondays and Fridays. Admission is free.
Akihabara is famous for its electronic shops, Otaku culture and goods, maid cafes, manga cafes and many, many more. If you love electronics, or just want to see what’s new in the electronic world, Akihabara has a lot of stores and stalls catering to any sort of gadget that you can possibly imagine.
On the other hand, if you are an Otaku (or a die-hard fan, in English), you will surely feel that you are in Otaku heaven with lots of anime stores—some even devoted to only one particular manga or anime. You will surely enjoy yourself and lose track of time while going around Akihabara.
Of course, Otakus and gadget lovers alike would get hungry after frolicking in Wonderland for quite some time, so where can they go? Akihabara has maid cafes. Maid cafes are establishments where young beautiful girls dress up as maids, and will serve you like you’re the master or whatever you want to be called. With these beautiful women serving you dishes and drinks and making you feel like a god, you will surely feel re-energized and ready to go around Akihabara again.
Alternatively, Akihabara also has manga cafes where visitors or customers can enjoy reading their manga magazines or comics with food and drinks.
Whatever your reasons for visiting, Akihabara promises an unforgettable experience.
Hachiko Statue in Shibuya Station
Get a tissue ready, for this story will surely melt even those with the iciest hearts.
A story of love and loyalty, the famous Hachiko story tells how a dog has shown loyalty and love to his human. Hachiko would go to the station and sit and wait for the owner Hidesaburo Ueno—a professor in University of Tokyo—everyday in Shibuya Station. Even after the professor passed away due to illness, Hachiko continued his trips to station, faithfully waiting for its master for nine years, until the day the faithful dog passed away.
Hachiko’s story became famous after the Japanese government erected a statue of Hachiko, in memory of the dog’s loyalty to his master, and it has since then become a national symbol for faithfulness.
Opened in 2012, Japan's tallest structure and the world's tallest freestanding tower, the Tokyo Skytree, stands proud and tall at 634 meters.
Both an observation and communications tower, the Tokyo Skytree offers the best panoramic view of the city of Tokyo. You can go as high as 450 meters to the Tembo Galleria and enjoy the magnificent cityscape of Tokyo. Why not have a meal in the restaurant, where you can enjoy a delicious meal amidst the backdrop of a panoramic view of the city?
Tokyo Skytree is located at 1 Chome-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida, Tokyo 131-0045. Hours: 8:00 – 22:00. Open daily. Admission begins at ¥1030.
Considered the best and oldest Japanese garden, Koishikawa Korakuen was built in 1600-1867 during the Edo period which was ruled by the Tokugawa family. Beautiful ponds and landscaping reproduce a mixture of Japanese and Chinese scenery, plus there are scenic trails and viewpoints where visitors can be one with nature. One must simply take the time to go and appreciate nature, and what better place to do it than the Koishikawa Korakuen.
The garden’s peak season is in February through March, when cherry blossoms are in season.
Koishikawa Korakuen is located at 1-6-6 Koraku, Bunkyo, Tokyo 112-0004. Hours: 9:00 – 17:00, last entry 16:30. Open daily except December 29 to January 1. Admission is ¥300.
Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Fish Market is the biggest wholesaler of fish and seafood in the world. Produce ranging from the cheapest to the most expensive is handled and sold here. With over 400 types of seafood to choose from, buyers and tourists alike will surely enjoy their time here.
Watch the Tuna Auction, which is easily the most exciting part of the day in the Tsukiji Fish Market. Some of the tuna can go for up to $20000, depending on the grade and quality of the tuna. However, you have to go really early because only 120 visitors per day are allowed to witness the auction. Visitors who are able to get tickets would be split into two groups: the first group attends the auction taking place from 5:25 am to 5:50 am, and the second group would attend the one from 5:50 am until 6:15 am.
TIP: Do go early, and I would suggest taking a cab because there are no trains operating at that time.
Admission is free.
5:00 – 14:00 for the Outer Market area, but store hours vary
5:25 – 6:15 for the Tuna Auction, limit: 120 visitors/day.
9:00 onwards, Wholesale Area opens to visitors
If you love shopping and fashion, then this is exactly where you should be. Situated in the center of the city, Ginza is one of the most expensive spots of real estate in the world. This is where “east meets west,” and “fashion is the name of the game.”
Here is where you can find the most luxurious brands in the world. Bring your wallet, but if you can’t afford to, you can always take your time window shopping, or going to the smaller boutiques to shop. Lots of restaurants and café abound.
Ginza Street is closed to traffic so you can enjoy and just go around without any cars or buses disturbing your R and R.
National Museum of Nature and Science
The National Museum of Nature and Science was opened in 1871, and is one of Japan's oldest museums. The National Museum of Nature and Science houses artifacts from the earlier eras of Japan, and the museum also holds science and technology exhibits that display both nuclear and space development. The exhibit allows visitors to have interactive fun, to make it easier to understand.
The museum also holds a section for the prehistoric creatures, and another section of the museum holds the Japanese culture and traditions that showcase the rich history of Japan and its people.
The National Museum of Nature and Science is located at 7-20 Uenokoen, Taito, Tokyo 110-8718. Hours: 9:00 – 17:00, Tuedays to Sundays. Closed on Mondays. Admission is ¥620. To learn more about the museum schedule and changing exhibits, visit their website: http://www.kahaku.go.jp/english/
Tsukishima’s literal translation is "Moon Island." This man-made island was built over 100 years ago, when the shipping channel was being still constructed using the earth from dredging. While full of high-rises, if you want to see and feel the atmosphere of old Tokyo, you should explore the little back alleys.
Tsukishima is also famous for its monjayaki, which is a runny pancake dish made with mixed seafood, meat, and vegetables. Pour in the batter, then you cook and mix it in the hot plate in front of you. The monjayaki restaurants are found in Nakashinaka Street. Be sure to go with an empty stomach because you are in for a treat. Enjoy!
After going around Tokyo to enjoy its museums or a day of shopping in Ginza or Akihabara, head on over to Roppongi consists of restaurants, night clubs, and bars to enjoy and relax after a tiring day. Here at Tokyo’s “Party Central,” there are a number of cool bars and restaurants that will cater to whatever you feel like doing.
If you’re into uniquely-themed restaurants and bars, then you would enjoy your night out at Roppongi. Are you a gamer? Then you might appreciate Luida’s Bar: Dragon Quest, where they serve food and drinks from their bestselling game. Enjoy the Slime-shaped meat buns!
Or you may want to chill at the Planetarium Bar. Sit back and sip your drink while looking at the stars.
Want to do karaoke? Lovenet in Roppongi offers the experience of singing while submerged in a tub. Talk about taking singing in the shower to a whole new level!
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