While there are no giant monsters battling it out on the streets of Tokyo, the reality you will find here is every bit as exhilarating. Tokyo’s fast paced lifestyle paired with an unshakeable obsession for the latest trends and technologies make it one of the most exciting cities to be in. In the midst of all modernity, lies the traditional charm of rustic Japan, with numerous temples, museums and beautiful gardens scattered throughout the city’s landscape –infused with the perfect blend of culture and modern times.
Best of Tokyo
1. Mount Fuji
The icy caps atop the magnificent mountain promise a worthy hike. Well-developed with stations and huts strewn along the way, hikers will usually make the trek at night to catch the sunrise from the peak. Way to make lifelong memories!
2. Ueno Park
This beautifully landscaped park might inspire you to be a poet for the day. It was originally built as a refuge for soldiers who were guarding the Kan’ei-ji Temple and today, it is fringed by major attractions such as National Science Museum, Museum of Western Art, and Ueno Zoo, all within walking distance.
3. Meiji Jingu
Beautifully constructed from cypress and copper, the Meiji Shrine was built to honour the first emperor of modern Japan – Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken. Japan has a strong sense of devotion towards the royal family, and this shrine is a great example of the people’s love for the royal family. If you’re lucky, you may be able to catch a traditional Japanese wedding here.
4. Edo – Tokyo Museum
With an extensive collection of historic artefacts, the Edo-Tokyo Museum will take you through Tokyo’s early years to how it has become one of the world’s most established cities. There are also replicas of key constructions from the Edo, Meiji and Showa periods.
This is one fashion stop for even the non-fashionistas! Feast your eyes on the unique street fashion or even shop for crazy toys, rare collectibles, designer sneakers and quirky tees. Come on Sundays to see the famous Harajuku street fashion and out-of-this-world cosplays.
The legend says that there were two brothers who fished a statue of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy, in 628 AD. This Buddhist temple was then constructed to honour her and construction was finished in 645 AD, making Sensō-ji the oldest temple in all of Tokyo! The temple is a buzz of activity during festivals, and the many lanterns adorning its front make for a pretty sight in holiday photos.
7. Asakusa Jingu
Asakusa Shrine is a proof of peaceful co-existence between Buddhism and Shinto. The shrine is part of a large group of sacred structures in Asakusa area, including the famous Sensō-ji. The shine survived the Tokyo bombing in WWII, it’s now a hub of buzz and activity, with a market place that offers restaurants, souvenirs and clothes for sale.
8. Tokyo Tower
The pinnacle of Tokyo, the iconic tower is one of the famous landmarks in the city. Blazing golden when the sun sets, it’s easy to spot the tower from afar. Head up there for a memorable view of the vibrant city all the way from the top!
9. Imperial Palace
Although there’s a slim chance you will be invited to have an audience with the emperor, you can at least visit the Imperial Palace East Garden (Higashi Gyo-en) which was opened for public since 1968. Climb up the remains of Edo Castle and try to catch a sight of Imperial Palace’s double bridge (Nijū-bashi).
10. Ryōgoku Kokugikan
Sumo is not a mere sport. It is an ancient art of wrestling imbued with Shinto rituals which makes a very interesting spectacle. Ryougoku Sumo Hall is one of the best places to watch the match where you will be offered program in English and delicious meals to go with it.
11. Tsukiji Central Fish Market
The doubt you have about going to a fish market will disappear as you enter Tsukiji. Come to the world’s largest fish market as early as 5am, and you will be able to witness the lively auction of fresh tuna, salmon and other catches too! Head to the nearby sushi joints for the best sushi you’ll ever have.
12. Akihabara Denki-gai
Even if you’re not planning to buy any of the test-market gadgets sold here, you are still going to be amazed by Tokyo’s legendary electronic town. Nowhere else in the world can you see so many techies and French maids in the same place!
13. Ō-Edo Onsen Monogatari
You can’t go to Japan and not visit an onsen (Japanese bathhouse). If a regular onsen just doesn’t cut it for you, try this huge theme-park-meets-onsen attraction instead. They basically created an old Edo town and filled it with various pools and stalls for you to walk around in (in your yukata, of course).
14. Tokyo Disneyland
The happiest place in the world may be faraway in Anaheim, USA, but its Japanese cousin is equally as awesome. See Cinderella’s castle as the fireworks go off at night, catch the wonderful parades or even just take a ride on the many attractions in this vast theme park. You can opt for Starlight tickets with cheaper prices (and less time in the vicinity). The adjoining Disney Sea is a whole different theme park by itself, featuring the best of Disney’s sea characters and attractions!
A part of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, this is one of the most popular hotspring getaways among the city folks of Tokyo. The main thing to do here is to relax in one of the hotsprings and enjoy the view of Mount Fuji.
Kamakura was once the political centre of Japan from the 12th to 13th century. Now, relics of its ancient past can be seen from the numerous historical monuments such as shrines and temples left from that era.