Major Attractions in Tokyo
Start your Tokyo tour with royalty at the Tokyo Imperial Palace. The sprawling grounds are home to expansive East Gardens, Kyoko Gaien National Garden and Kitanomaru Park, alongside museums and the ruins of Edo Castle. Most notably, the Emperor’s residence is hosted within this complex; guided tours are available for sneak peeks into inner quarters. Travelers will find this well-maintained oasis especially beautiful in spring, when visitors flock to the Imperial Palace for spectacular cherry blossom viewing spots.
Previously the merchant hub of Edo Tokyo, Asakusa retains its historical roots in its neatly partitioned roads and specialty shops. The highlight of the district however, lay with the fiery edifice of Sensoji Temple and its exquisitely tiled layers. Framed by the “thunder gate” Kaminarimon is Nakamise shopping street, offering rows of cheap trinkets and souvenir snacks. Nearby streets offer kimono rentals for those hoping for an impromptu photoshoot, lending an air of time-travel amid the authentic backdrop.
One of the largest green spaces in Tokyo, Ueno Park hosts a wealth of history in its numerous attractions. Major historical and cultural sites such as Tokyo National Museum, Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Ueno Zoo and Shinobazu Pond all reside on its grounds. It provides an attractive playground for skateboarders and light-stick dancers, the open squares offering plenty of space for movement.
Tokyo glitters long past sleeping hours and none as much as Shinjuku’s Kabukicho. Gleaming department stores and office buildings dominate during the day, but Shinjuku’s potential shines at night. A solid block of bars, clubs, izakaya and karaoke places draw in the young and overworked salarymen, loudly advertising themed nights and all-you-can-drink deals. Entertainment arcades, manga cafés and a batting center can also be found nestled within the louder distractions, perfect for those who prefer more isolated ventures.
Fashion central for the eccentric and bold, Harajuku bundles up the wildest trends in Japanese fashion and displays them along Takeshitadori Street. Concept brands and quirky accessories can also be found in the surrounding spread of alleys, colorful boutique shops offering up bags and shoes at reasonable prices. Tokyu Plaza and Laforet Mall caters to bolder choices, but those who prefer mature styles simply need to turn towards adjacent Omotesando Hills.
Yoyogi Park & Meiji Shrine
Two-in-one, Yoyogi Park and Meiji Shrine are separated only by a large torii gate. Duck into the generous shade of Yoyogi Park’s lush forest and meander along the wide paths for a break from downtown Tokyo. Tucked away in a corner is one of Tokyo’s grandest Shinto shrines, where New Year blessings invite over three million visitors every year. Meiji Shrine also hosts traditional weddings and performs blessings; get your fortune slip and anticipate what awaits you.
The upscale district that will come to define Tokyo’s image of a posh cosmopolitan, Ginza’s gigantic malls ooze with luxury and high-end brands. Yet alongside the casual elegance of Ginza Wako and Ginza Six shopping malls is a glimpse of traditional art form, the Kabukiza Theatre just a block away from the shopping extravaganza. The pricier dining establishments are also offset by under-the-tracks izakaya and wine bars along Yurakucho Gado-shita.
Sumida Aquarium & Tokyo Skytree Tower
Get the best of sky and sea at this single complex. Tokyo Skytree Tower reaches new heights with two observatory decks, at 350 meters and 450 meters respectively. The 360-degree glass paneled wraparound offers an angled view stretching out over Sumida River to the heart of Tokyo city. Down below is a spell-bounding alternative for those who prefer to be grounded. Spend an afternoon admiring Japan’s largest indoor open tank at Sumida Aquarium, which features diverse sea life and a research laboratory.