So you just booked a flight to Tokyo. But then you ask yourself, “where do I start? How can I get hold of this massive city in a single trip?” You have every reason to wonder. It’s the largest city in the world by population, best known for its hyperactive energy that gets people carried away. Imagine gigantic neon billboards and signs flashing everywhere, the frantic crowds and teeming metros, diverse neighborhoods, mixed together with futuristic and traditional sites.
The appeal of Tokyo for travelers is obvious. It’s impossible to get tired of this ever-changing megacity. But if it’s your first or second trip there, read on as we introduce the most popular attractions that you must visit in Tokyo, as well as those emerging destinations (before it gets overly-crowded again!).
1. Sensō-ji Temple
It is the oldest temple in Tokyo with 1374 years of history, and the most visited by worshippers and tourists from around the world. The temple dedicated to the goddess of Mercy. Bombed and destroyed during World War II, it is the symbol of rebirth and peace for the Japanese after the construction.
Gape at the iconic and enormous 700 kg red lantern hung at the middle of the kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), the outer entrance gate of the temple. After walking through, wander down the shopping street Nakamise full of souvenirs and street food that lure the passers-by to linger. The main hall and the 5-story pagoda are adjacent and complement each other with their bright red, white and black colors. Don’t forget to catch some incense smell on your clothes since the smell is believed to be the blessing of God!
- Opening Hours: 6:30am – 5:00pm (6:00am – 5:00pm from April to September)
- Address: 2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taitō-ku, Tokyo
- Transportation: Take Tobu Skytree Line, Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Toei Subway or Tsukuba Express to Asakusa station then take a 5-7 minute walk
- Visit Sensō-ji in Kimono
2. Tokyo Skytree
Go up on the Tokyo Skytree, the highest tower in the world. On a sunny day when the sky is not hazy, you’ll be rewarded with the unbeatable panoramic view of this megacity: all recognizable landmarks, a jungle of buildings extended till the end of the horizon, and Mt. Fuji at the backdrop. The view is even more spectacular if you visit at the sunset or at night.
The tower is conveniently connected with Oshiage station, a well-known spot for good buys! The Solamachi shopping mall gathers famous brands and food specialties such as Disney Store, stationery store LOFT, and Qu’il Fait Bon, specializing in making visually-stunning and tasty fruit tarts.
- Opening Hours: 8:00am – 10:00pm (Last entry at 9:00pm)
- Admission Fees: Please check on the official website
- Address: 1 Chome-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida-ku, Tokyo-to
- Transportation: Take Tobu Skytree Line directly to the destination, or take Tokyo Metro or Toei Asakusa Line to Oshiage station, then walk for 1 minute.
- Book a Tokyo Skytree Admission Ticket
3. Tokyo Tower
How can you miss Tokyo Tower, the most iconic landmark in the city? With its design based on the inspiration of Eiffel Tower, the tower serves as a broadcast antenna. The red and white colored architecture makes itself stand out from the buildings at the surrounding. Reach the main deck at 150 meters high or 250 meters high top deck for incredible city views.
If you’re a die-hard One Piece fan, be sure to pay One Piece Tower a visit! This indoor amusement park is just beneath the Tokyo tower, featuring various shows, games, and attractions where you can meet your favorite characters from this popular anime.
- Opening Hours: 9:00am – 11:00pm
- Admission Fees: Please check on the official website
- Address: 4 Chome-2-8 Shibakoen, Minato, Tokyo
- Transportation: Take Metropolitan Subway Oedo Line to Akabanebashi Gate, or Take Metro Hibiya Line to Kamiyacho Station, or take Metropolitan Subway Mita Line to Onarimon/Shibakoen Station or Asakusa Line to Daimon Station.
- Tokyo Tower Observatory Tickets
- Tokyo One Piece Tower Tickets
Unless you suffer from demophobia, you should surely put Shibuya on your must-visit list. Brave through Shibuya Crossing, the busiest pedestrian intersection on Earth. During peak hours, there could be about 3,000 pedestrians crossing the road at the same time! If you don’t wanna risk being overwhelmed at the crossing, go up to the sky garden of Magnet building (or called 109 Men’s) to take a worthwhile, panoramic shot of Shibuya Crossing.
Greet the statue of the faithful dog Hachiko that spent 9 years waiting for his master outside Shibuya Station, and explore around the most trendy stores, nightclubs, along with a variety of food and drink stalls. This district surely won’t make you bored since there are so many things to see!
- Transportation: Take JR Yamanote Line to Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exit
- Tokyo Cuisine: Shunju Shibuya Restaurant
Ikebukuro is another district brimming with people and exciting activities, all day and night. The renowned Sunshine City complex boasts anime and manga stores, best ramen shops compete with each other, complete with fashionable brands and video games stores galore.
On top of that, the 60-story mall Sunshine City offers not only lots of brands, but also Sunshine Aquarium, an indoor theme park Namja Town, a Sunshine 60 Observatory and Konica Minolta planetarium. This is the best place to get your shopping desire fulfilled while discovering playful Japanese culture.
- Transportation: Take JR Yamanote/Saikyo/Shonan Shinjuku Line, or Tobu Tojo Line, Seibu Ikebukuro Line and the Marunouchi, Yurakucho and Fukutoshin Subway Lines to Ikebukuro Station.
For the reason why Akihabara is the most popular tourist destination, its unique character speaks for itself. This is the hub of electronic shops and the unique otaku (geek) culture, the one and only in the world. Walk on the main Chuo Dori street and its side streets to see hundreds of electronic shops, and visit stores selling manga, vetro video games and anime, then visit maid or manga cafes for an extra special experience.
- Transportation: Take the Chuo-Sobu Line/Keihintohoku Line to Akihabara Station, Akihabara Electric Town Exit
- Tokyo Maidreamin Maid Cafe Experience
7. Meiji Jingu
Meiji Jingu is Tokyo’s most famous Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor and Empress Meiji. In contrast to the bright and colorful look of Senso-ji, Meiji Jingu holds a serene beauty with its black and green colors and the forested surroundings. It is also the most popular place for the Japanese to come for the year’s hatsumode (first prayers) in the country.
During your visit, you can write down your wishes on a wooden tablet and hang it around the Camphor tree. Be aware that there is certain etiquette that you have to follow as a respect for the shrine.
Pro-tip: Visit the picturesque Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and Yasukuni Shrine which are not far away from Meiji Jingu.
- Opening Hours: Opens with sunrise and closes with sunset
- Address: 1-1 Yoyogikamizonochō, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo-to
- Transportation: Take JR Yamanote Line to Harajuku Station or Chiyoda and Fukutoshin Subway Lines to Meiji-jingu-mae Station.
8. Ueno Onshi Park
During sakura season, people flock to the park for a picnic under breathtaking cherry blossoms. However, besides being the best spot for hanami, this lovely park is enjoyable any time of the year. It’s not just a park with some trees and ponds like any other. It is home to several reputed art galleries, museums, temples, shrines, and a zoo! You may as well spend a whole day there.
The Ueno zoo is the oldest and most well-known zoo in Japan. Ever since the two pandas were brought to the zoo in 1972, they have become the symbol of the zoo. It is a perfect destination for a family trip!
- Opening Hours: Ueno Zoo 9:30am -5:00pm (tickets sold until 4:00pm), closes every Monday
- Transportation: Take JR Yamanote Line or Metro Ginza Line to Ueno Station.
Wander around old Tokyo which is rejuvenated with youth vibe. Kiyosumi-shirakawa used to be populated by the lower class, untouched by modern development. After 2015, when Blue Bottle coffee, a high-end coffee brand from the US, launched a store here, visitors have discovered more chic cafes and shops hidden in this area. Now it has been crowned the title “Tokyo Coffee Street”!
Explore the old and new of the city by visiting Fukudaso, a shabby-looking building transformed into a venue for a cafe, stores and an exhibition space. For a glimpse of old Tokyo, visit Edomiyageya Takahashi (江戸みやげ屋 たかはし), a store filled with nostalgic snacks and toys loved by the locals. You won’t miss it as an adorable grandpa will always sit at the entrance enthusiastically inviting you to step in!
- Transportation: Take Toei O-edo Line or Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line to Kiyosumi-shirakawa station.
10. Toden Arakawa Line
Hop on this characteristic Arakawa tram line which will take you off the beaten path in Tokyo. It is one of the two remaining tram lines that runs past several destinations worth visiting, as you can glimpse the ordinary life of the people in Tokyo.
Buy a day pass ticket to embark on an excursion along the line. Hop off at Asukayama Park to view cherry blossoms or flowers blooming prettily in other seasons. Visit Kishimojin Temple, which worships a Buddhist deity that protects children and childbirth. Stroll down Sugamo Shopping Street if you prefer to avoid the crowds and look for some local snacks and souvenirs. At the terminal Minowa Station, you’ll find shops, street foods and markets that’ll take you back in the time of the Showa period.
- Transportation: Take Metro Hibiya Line to Minowa station, and transfer from there.
Have you decided which spots to visit for your Tokyo adventure? If you can’t visit all of them in one trip, don’t worry. You can always come back again and find out more this magnificent city.
What you might need for your trip to Tokyo:
- Japan Unlimited 4G Portable Wi-Fi Rental
- Tokyo Metro Unlimited Pass
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