Tokyo is a sprawling city, with hundreds of sights to see within the city and lots of day trip opportunities to its outskirts. It could take you weeks to explore Tokyo fully to your satisfaction. But if you don’t have weeks to spend on your Tokyo holiday, where should you go to make the most of your trip to Tokyo? Here is our list of twelve must-visit destinations in Tokyo.
Akihabara is Japan’s mecca for gadget geeks and otaku. This is the place to find high-tech mobile phones, computers, home appliances, and other gadgets on the cheap. Also, as otaku central, Akihabara is also dotted with manga shops and themed cafes dedicated to anime and manga culture.
If Akihabara is the gadget geek and otaku mecca, Ginza is the Shopaholic’s paradise. Ginza is where you will find Tokyo’s high-end department stores, as well as Asian flagship stores for global luxury brands like Chanel, Bulgari and Cartier.
The Meiji Shrine in Shibuya is Tokyo’s most important religious shrine. A Shinto temple dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and his wife the Empress Shoken, the shrine has sprawling grounds that contain around 120,000 trees endemic to Japan. It’s also a popular site for weddings.
Odaiba is a large artificial island inside the Greater Tokyo area, it became a famous attraction when the Port of Tokyo opened during pre- World War. Spearheaded by its then Mayor, Shunichi Suzuki, It’s development started in the early 90s. This was to showcase a futuristic lifestlye packed with state of the art residential and commercial developments. Thus, it is a common area for travelers to visit because of its larger than reality vibe. The 2020 Summer Olympics will happen in Odaiba.
Nakamise-dori, located in Asakusa, just past the Kaminarimon Gate, is one of the oldest shopping streets in Japan. There are around 89 shops lining both sides of this street, selling traditional Japanese goods and souvenirs.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Shinjuku Gyoen is by far the most beautiful collection of landscaped gardens in the whole of Tokyo. Divided into theme, the gardens include Japanese traditional, English landscape, and French formal. The garden becomes even more stunning during cherry blossom season.
At the very end of Nakamise-dori stands Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple and one of its most important religious buildings. Dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, Senso-ji is also the main focus of the Sanja Mitsuri, Tokyo’s largest and most popular festival.
Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea
Tokyo Disneyland is the first Disneyland built outside the US, containing seven theme parks based on Disney movies. This particular Disneyland is unique in that although it contains the same plot and characters present in the Disney stories, it is told from the Japanese perspective, thus enabling a cultural exchange between Japan and the US.
Tokyo Imperial Palace and East Garden
The Tokyo Imperial Palace is the official residence of the Japanese imperial family. As thus, the palace and inner gardens are open only on January 2 during the New Year greetings, and on December 23 for the Emperor’s Birthday. You can take a guided tour through the palace grounds, but you need to post an application first with the Imperial Household Agency. The East Garden, however, is open to the public all year-round.
Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower
Tokyo Skytree is the tallest structure in Japan. It functions as a broadcasting tower as well as a dining venue and an observation deck. Tokyo Skytree replaced Tokyo tower as the city’s main broadcasting tower, but Tokyo Tower, with its resemblance to the Eiffel Tower, is still a popular tourist attraction.
Ueno Park is Tokyo’s largest and oldest public park. A popular site for cherry blossom viewing, the park boasts of almost 9,000 trees – not just the famous cherry trees, but also ginkgo trees, camphor laurels, and Japanese elms. The park is also home to a number of museums, including the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Nature and Science, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.
South of the Meiji Shrine is Yoyogi Park, a popular destination for picnicking, biking and sports in Tokyo. If you want to be entertained for free, just stroll in the park and watch hobby groups practicing martial arts or yoga, playing sports, cosplaying, juggling, dancing or jamming to the latest pop tunes.
Zojo-ji Temple in Shiba was once the family temple of the Tokugawa clan. Six of the 15 Tokugawa shoguns are buried in Zojo-ji. Though the original mausoleum was destroyed during World War II, the buildings in Zojo-ji have been restored since. Perhaps one of the most poignant scenes in Zojo-ji is the Garden of Unborn Children, a garden dedicated to miscarried, stillborn or aborted children. Parents who have lost a baby before it was born come to the garden to decorate a Jizo statue with clothes and toys as well as offer a gift to ensure their little one’s safe journey to the afterlife.
Don’t miss these sights when you visit Tokyo. If you’re wondering what else Japan has to offer, you can read up on them in articles we’ve listed here!