Constantly changing and confronting normality, Tokyo is the world’s ultimate metropolis and will impress, confuse and amaze even the most seasoned of travellers. We would recommend having at least one full day with a guide to get you started. With no real centre, Tokyo is made up of distinct smaller districts that have real substance and vary hugely from one to the next. Here are our top 6 places to visit in Tokyo…
An overwhelming hive of activity that is not to be missed, Shinjuku is where you’ll find the high-rise skyscrapers and neon lights for which Tokyo has become so famous. As you come out of the buzzing Shinjuku Station, we recommend following signs for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building; the viewing platform on floor 45 is the best place to take in the scale of this area.
2. Shibuya Crossing
With up to 2,500 people crossing at any one time, Shibuya Crossing is argued to be the busiest intersection in the world. Nowhere is the sheer level of energy in Tokyo more prominent than at this famous five-way crossing. We recommend visiting in the evening when the crossing is illuminated by neon lights on the surrounding buildings and the crowds are at their peak as commuters leave work.
Harajuku is a small district in Shibuya that is right at the centre of Japan’s youth culture. It is the home of kawaii culture and you will often see teenagers parading their eccentric fashion in large groups. Here you’ll find weird and wonderful independent shops, pancake restaurants, cat cafes and more. Combine this with a visit to the nearby Meiji Jingu, a beautiful Shinto shrine that sits within an urban forest.
Arguably Tokyo’s historic heart, Asakusa was born during the Edo period and is full of relics from this former time. It’s a very relaxed area and a must visit when in Tokyo. We recommend arriving here by riverboat and exploring the charming boutique-lined streets, along with the picturesque Hamarikyu Gardens and Sensoji Temple, one of the city’s most revered ancient Buddhist temples.
Known as the Kensington of Tokyo, Ginza is Japan’s shopping mecca and home to some of the country’s most deluxe designer shops, along with a whole host of Michelin starred restaurants. From expansive department stores to stationery emporiums and toy stores that truly defy belief, this area is well worth a visit even just to marvel at the quirky commodities on offer.
6. Imperial Gardens
The Imperial Palace is the current residence of the Emperor of Japan, and is surrounded by an impressive moat and gardens. Visitors only have access to the east of the gardens, but it is well worth the visit and is conveniently located not far from Ginza. The gardens are shut altogether on Mondays and Fridays, so you’ll need to plan accordingly.