As someone who has lived and worked in Tokyo, I can attest that the city is filled with incredible sights, sounds, and experiences. In this article, I’ll be sharing my top picks for the best tourist attractions in Tokyo.
Tokyo is a bustling metropolis that offers visitors a unique and unforgettable experience. The city has a rich cultural heritage, futuristic technology, and a vibrant nightlife.
From ancient temples to modern skyscrapers, Tokyo has something for everyone. Here are some of the top tourist attractions in Tokyo that you should not miss.
Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s oldest neighborhoods and is home to the famous Sensoji Temple. This temple is a must-visit for anyone interested in Japanese culture and history.
The temple is surrounded by traditional shops and restaurants, making it the perfect place to explore after a visit to the temple.
Pro tip: Try some traditional Japanese street food, like yakitori or taiyaki, while you’re in Asakusa.
If you’re looking for a quintessential Tokyo experience, head to Shibuya Crossing. This famous intersection is one of the busiest in the world, with thousands of pedestrians crossing every minute.
From the center of the crossing, you’ll have a fantastic view of the neon lights, billboards, and giant screens that make Tokyo so unique.
Pro tip: For the best view, head to the second floor of the Starbucks in the Tsutaya building.
No trip to Tokyo would be complete without a visit to the Tokyo Tower. This iconic landmark is a symbol of Tokyo’s skyline and offers incredible views of the city from its observation deck.
At night, the tower is illuminated with different colors, making it a popular spot for couples and photographers.
Pro tip: Avoid the crowds by visiting the tower early in the morning or late at night.
Located in the heart of Tokyo’s historic Asakusa district, the Sensoji Temple is the city’s oldest and most famous temple.
The temple’s impressive gates, towering pagoda, and stunning gardens are a must-see for anyone interested in Japanese culture and history.
Pro tip: Visit the temple early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
The Imperial Palace is the residence of Japan’s emperor and is located in the heart of Tokyo.
While visitors are not allowed inside the palace, the surrounding gardens and moat are open to the public and offer a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Pro tip: Visit the palace in the spring to see the cherry blossoms in bloom.
Tsukiji Fish Market
The Tsukiji Fish Market is one of the largest fish markets in the world and is a must-visit for foodies. Here, you can watch the early morning auctions where vendors bid on some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever taste.
After the auctions, head to one of the market’s many sushi restaurants for a delicious breakfast.
Pro tip: Arrive early to watch the auctions and avoid the crowds.
For a taste of Tokyo’s unique fashion and culture, head to the Harajuku district. This neighborhood is known for its colorful street style and is a popular spot for shopping and people-watching.
Make sure to visit Takeshita Street, a pedestrian-only street filled with quirky shops and cafes.
Pro tip: Visit on a Sunday to see the famous Harajuku fashionistas in their most outrageous outfits.
For a truly unforgettable experience, check out the Robot Restaurant in the Shinjuku district. This restaurant features a wild and wacky show filled with neon lights, robots, and dancers.
It’s not cheap, but it’s definitely worth the price for the sheer entertainment value.
Pro tip: Book your tickets in advance to ensure a spot in the show.
Shinjuku is one of Tokyo’s busiest districts and is known for its vibrant nightlife. The area is home to countless bars, nightclubs, and restaurants.
But Shinjuku is not just for partygoers; it also has several family-friendly attractions, like the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which offers panoramic views of the city.
Pro tip: Visit Golden Gai, a small area in Shinjuku that’s home to over 200 tiny bars and restaurants.
Useful tips for tourists visiting Japan
If you’re planning a trip to Japan, there are a few things to keep in mind to make your visit more enjoyable. Here are some tips to help you navigate your way around the country:
- Learn some basic Japanese phrases: While English is widely spoken in Tokyo and other major cities, it’s always helpful to know some basic Japanese phrases. Learning to say “hello,” “please,” and “thank you” in Japanese can go a long way in communicating with locals and showing respect for the culture.
- Bring cash: While Japan is a highly developed country, many places still only accept cash. Be sure to have enough yen on hand to cover expenses like food, transportation, and souvenirs.
- Respect local customs and etiquette: Japan has a rich culture and a set of customs and etiquette that may be different from what you’re used to. For example, it’s customary to remove your shoes before entering a traditional Japanese home, temple, or even some restaurants. Be sure to research local customs and follow them to show respect for the culture.
- Use public transportation: Japan has an extensive and efficient public transportation system, including trains, buses, and subways. It’s often the most convenient and cost-effective way to get around. Consider purchasing a Japan Rail Pass if you plan to do a lot of traveling within the country.
- Try local cuisine: Japanese cuisine is known for its freshness, variety, and unique flavors. Don’t be afraid to try new things like sushi, ramen, or tempura. Be adventurous and explore local street food vendors or traditional restaurants for a truly authentic experience.
- Be mindful of trash: Japan has a strong culture of cleanliness, and it’s important to dispose of trash properly. Carry a small bag with you to collect your garbage and dispose of it in designated bins. Don’t litter, and be mindful of separating recyclables from non-recyclables.
- Respect personal space: Japan is known for its crowded cities, especially during rush hour. Be respectful of others’ personal space and avoid blocking pathways or standing too close to others. Be patient and polite when waiting in lines or navigating crowded areas.
By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying all that Japan has to offer. Whether you’re exploring Tokyo’s top tourist attractions or venturing off the beaten path, these tips will help you make the most of your trip.