You’ll never lack places to visit in Tokyo as it’s the world’s largest urban area with over 35 million people. Just let that sink in for a moment, it’s a city with the population larger than many countries. As a result, there are endless tourist attractions in Tokyo, restaurants to eat at and stores to shop in. However, the sheer volume of sights and activities means it can be hard to decide where to begin! The purpose of this post on places to visit in Tokyo is to steer you in the right direction.
To help get you out of your serviced apartment or hotel and out exploring this dynamic city, I’ve assembled ten famous places to visit while you are in Tokyo, Japan. I believe these are some of the best Tokyo tourist attractions but it’s a huge city so there are literally endless things. If you’re more of a visual type person, take a look at this Tokyo vlog.
10 Fun Places to Visit in Tokyo, Japan
You’ll want to start off your stay in Tokyo by getting a panoramic view of one of the most densely populated cities on the planet. Standing more than 634 metres above the ground, the Tokyo Skytree is presently the world’s tallest tower and the second largest structure on Earth (only the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is higher). From the observation deck, you’ll have access to sight lines that will reveal a carpet of skyscrapers and other buildings spreading out in each direction. Make a point to visit the tower base after dark as well, as LED lights blanket its exterior with a different colour scheme every evening. If you’ve got lots of time, considering visiting Skytree near sunset so you can see it during the day, sunset and at night.
2) Shinjuku Station
Fascinated by urban infrastructure? If so, don’t miss your chance to admire the controlled chaos that reigns on a daily basis at Shinjuku Station. It is here where subway, commuter rail, and inter-city trains meet, combining for 36 platforms that service well over three million people per day. This makes Shinjuku Station the busiest transport hub in the world, according to the Guinness World Book of Records. Let that sink in, the world’s busiest transport hub… If you’re going with friends stay close and prepare for quite an adrenaline rush. Do some research before you arrive as lots of places to visit in Shinjuku Tokyo, my favourite being the free observation deck at the government building. If arriving at night, stop by Omoide Yokocho for some Yakitori. (below)
3) Shibuya Crossing
Seeking another place that underlines how busy Tokyo really is? Brave the masses at Shibuya Crossing, a scramble crossing that closes all traffic lanes for a minute of pedestrian-fueled madness. Located in the midst of one of Tokyo’s most popular shopping districts and close by to other tourist attractions like the Meiji Shrine. Do make time to fit in a traverse of the Shibuya Crossing during your visit to Tokyo – it’s a virtual must-do! If you’re at the Shibuya Scramble and want a great view of Tokyo, consider visit the Bello Visto Bar. The bar isn’t far and you’ll get some incredible views of Tokyo. Flip side, Fujiya Honten is a great bar as well located in a basement not far from the crossing. Photo below was taken at Fujiya Honten.
4) Tsukiji Fish Market
Sushi is one of Japan’s greatest culinary gifts to the world! When combined with other seafood dishes favoured here, it is not hard to see why this Tokyo’s fish markets are lively places. Tsukiji Fish Market is one of the most popular places to visit in Tokyo. Set your alarm super early – locals suggest arriving at 5 am to capture the best buying/selling action. Indeed, by 7 am, most of the quality seafood has been auctioned off, leaving late arrivals with few great options. There are restaurants that will take seafood you purchase here and craft it into one of the best breakfasts you have had in recent memory, so if you love seafood, come to Tsukiji in a buying mood.
5) Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa
The Tokyo area has plenty of options when it comes to temples. However, as someone visiting for only a short time, it makes sense to pare the list down to the most significant ones. Make sure the Sens?-ji Temple in Asakusa makes your list, as this Tendai Buddhist temple is the oldest in Tokyo; with 30 million visits per year, it is the world’s most popular spiritual site. It is also home to Sanja Matsuri, Tokyo’s most popular festival. Taking place in mid-May every year, it honours the founders of this temple with 3-4 days of taiko drumming and parades. One of the places to visit in Tokyo which isn’t to be missed! If you’re visiting the Tokyo Skytree during at sunset, consider visiting at night.
6) Yoyogi Park
With concrete skyscrapers and buildings carpeting this city’s landscape, Tokyo isn’t exactly known for its green space. However, there are spots where you can escape the urban jungle and immerse yourself in nature. Yoyogi Park is one of those places – located in Shibuya, it is a 134 acre splotch of greenery that is to local Tokyoites what Central Park is to New Yorkers.
In spring, it becomes a popular place for cherry blossom viewing, and with plenty of gingko trees, it is a wonderful place to go strolling in autumn, as the leaves here take a stunning golden hue. Throughout the year on Sundays, the park is known as a gathering place for cosplayers, so if you are interested in seeing a bunch of locals dressed up as their favorite anime characters, be sure to drop by during your visit to Tokyo. This is one of my favourite places to visit in Tokyo and a true zen experience in a busy chaotic city. Photo below is of the Meiji Shrine which is one of the tourist attractions in the park.
7) Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
If you are big on urban parks, also make time in your schedule for the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Before becoming a public greenspace, it originally served as the grounds for a residence of the Naito family during the Edo dynasty. Eventually, the property was turned over to the Ministry of the Environment, who turned it into a national park. A former Emperor of Japan (Showa) is buried here which attracts many visitors. The main attraction of this garden is its diversity of flora and gardening styles. With thousands of plants spread across English, French Formal, and Traditional Japanese gardens, those with a green thumb will love this place.
8) Edo-Tokyo Museum
With regards to Japan’s recent history, the Edo period is one of the more fascinating. Learn about this time by strolling the halls of the Edo-Tokyo Museum. Inside, you’ll learn about what Tokyo looked like before the modern era. It features cultural practices and the political climate that defined this fascinating period in Japan’s development. Note that the museum will be closed for renovations from October 2017 through to the end of March 2018 – if you have your heart set on seeing this museum, plan your trip accordingly.
9) Imperial Palace
Contrary to what many people might think, Japan is still ruled by an emperor – symbolically, of course. The country is officially a constitutional monarchy and the Imperial Palace is a famous place to visit in Tokyo. The current Emperor of Japan lives in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, and while it is only possible to step into the inner sanctum twice per year – on December 23 (the Emperor’s Birthday) and January 2 (the New Year’s Greeting), the surrounding gardens and structures are worth visiting at any other time.
Want to cap off your trip Tokyo in style? Spend an evening enjoying the restaurants, shopping, and nightlife of Ginza! You’ll quickly realize why Ginza is considered one of the famous places to visit in Tokyo. While a night out here won’t be cheap (coffee here sells for around $10 a cup), the sheer variety of fine cuisine, boutiques, and flashy bars will make it money well spent. Looking to do something unique during your time in Ginza? Attend a show at the Kabukiza Theater, home to kabuki, a dramatic form of theatre. This form makes use of dance and elaborate makeup in the execution of this art.
Many More Places to Visit in Tokyo…
As you can see by this short list, there are many interesting places to see in Tokyo, Japan. That said, the city is huge so if you’re only there for a limited time, try and pick Tokyo tourist attractions near each other if not you’ll spend your whole time on the subway. Also, since it’s so big and so many places to visit, don’t try and do it all at once. Recommended you pick some and really enjoy your time visiting the world’s largest city. Remember, you can alway come back to Tokyo or any other city and most tourist attractions aren’t going anywhere.