Tokyo which is Japan’s very busy capital, mixes the ultra modern and the old and traditional. When visiting Tokyo for the first time expect to see neon-lit skyscrapers to historic temples. The opulent Meiji Shinto Shrine is known for its towering gate and surrounding woods. While the Imperial Palace sits amid large public gardens.
The city’s many museums open to visitors offer exhibits ranging from classical art (in the Tokyo National Museum) to a reconstructed kabuki theater (in the Edo-Tokyo Museum).
Visiting Tokyo, Thing to Things to See and Do in Tokyo
With so much to do in a city like Tokyo, planning a trip can be extremely time consuming. This guide is a gist of what can be found in the essential key visitor locations around the Tokyo city area.
Shibuya, home to the most iconic “Shibuya crossing”, where hundreds and even thousands of people cross paths in just 30 seconds. It is a large shopping district with an array of stores ranging from fashion brands like Zara, Forever 21, and H&M, to craft stores like Tokyu Hands and dollar stores like Daiso.
If you plan on taking a trip here, be prepared for a lot of walking because most shops are in separate buildings and are several stories high. Of course, if you’re like me and you love shopping, this wouldn’t be a problem at all.
Bright neon lights and busy streets; Ginza is a beautiful place during the night. Ginza is considered as one of the most luxurious shopping districts in the world; with many high end brands opening their flagship stores there, it is said to be the ultimate goal of any boutique to eventually open a store in Ginza.
There are a number of high class restaurants and cafes here, so be prepared to spend a bit of money, though simply looking around and taking pictures is acceptable too.
The best time to visit Ginza is on weekend afternoons when the roads are closed and people can walk freely on the streets. Evenings are also a good time to view the gorgeous city lights that Ginza has to offer.
Here in Akihabara you’ll find the best maid cafes and anime stores all lined up as far as the eye could see. It is also home to many Japanese arcades, the most popular being Club Sega.
If you’re looking figurines, anime merchandise, and other collectibles, I recommend going to Mandarake. Being 8 stories tall, it features a huge array of collectibles that is bound to release the inner geek in you.
Harajuku—probably one of the most iconic fashion districts in the world known for featuring people wearing the craziest fashion trends; along the ever-crowded Takeshita street you will find small-scale boutiques selling clothing, accessories, and even anime merchandise.
Occasionally, since Harajuku is a place where the younger crowds hang out, there will be people wearing crazy and unique outfits. Most of them are nice and willing to have their picture taken, but remember, these people are civilians too so don’t forget to ask permission.
If you get hungry, there are many food stalls that can be found scattered around. I personally recommend going to the famous Marrion Crepes just along Takeshita Street.
Past Takeshita Street is where higher end stores are located in what is now called Omotesando.
Ikebukuro is often a place overlooked by tourists since some stores here can be found elsewhere, however, there are still many activities that can be done here.
A particular building called Sunshine City Mall is home to the Pokemon Megacentre—the largest pokemon centre in Japan. On another floor, there is Jump World, which is like an activity center with games, restaurants, and a merchandise shop featuring Shueisha’s Shounen Jump characters from famous franchises like Naruto, One Piece, Bleach, Dragon Ball, and many others.
Other character shops are also scattered around the mall like Sanrio, MOE Garden for many Ghibli merchandise, and even a Disney Store.
In the lively streets of Ikebukuro you will also find smaller clothing and anime stores, and even the flagship store of Animate, a large anime and manga store franchise. It is another great place for bargains and discounted items.
Shinjuku Commercial Hub and Nightlife
Shinjuku during the day is the commercial hub of Tokyo. It is home to office buildings and headquarters of the biggest companies throughout Japan, and its subway station is labeled as “The busiest railway station in the world”.
Shinjuku at night is the heart of Tokyo’s nightlife. Along Kabukicho, you will find many bars where the day’s salary men turn into the night’s partygoers. Shinjuku, specifically, Golden Gai is also considered one of the best places to eat. With small restaurants usually only seating between 8-15 people at a time, it is the perfect place to go restaurant hopping.
Asakusa is the perfect place to go for those looking for a more traditional feel. Though still in the city, it lacks the hustle and the bright neon lights found in the previously mentioned places.
The most popular attractions here are the centuries-old Buddhist structure, the Sensoji Temple and adjacent to it, a Shinto structure, the Asakusa shrine. Nakamise-dori, a 250-metre long road leading to the two sites, is filled with souvenir shops meant to cater to the thousands of tourists who visit each year.