From day to night there’s plenty to explore when in Tokyo. The city centre is a hub of shopping, business, bright neon lights and excitement.
Tokyo city guide to must-see sights for every type of traveller: overview
- Tokyo excursion to experience serenity at Sensoji Temple
- Be enchanted by the beauty of Hamarikyu Gardens
- Watch a sumo match in the Ryogoku District
- Ride the Yamanote Line when in Tokyo
- Shop at a Japanese 100 Yen shop ($1 shop)
- Travel to the top of Tokyo's Skytree
- Trawl for vintage magazines and second-hand books when in Tokyo's Jinbocho District
- Explore Ginza Shopping District
- Try the latest technology
- Give karaoke a go
- Watch a baseball game
- Embrace your inner child at the Ghibli Museum
- Celebrate the wisdom of age at Sugamo shopping district
Photo by Adam Dickson
One of the highlights of any trip to Tokyo is a visit to Sensoji Temple, more popularly known as Asakusa Kannon Temple. Kannon is the Goddess of Mercy and the tall main hall is dedicated to her.
Photo by Kevin Bishop
This public park was remodelled on the site of the 17th-century family villa of the Shogun Tokugawa. Surrounded by a moat filled by Tokyo Bay, its vast 250,000m² of Edo-style landscaped gardens centre around Shioiri Pond.
It is one of Tokyo’s best spots from which to experience hanami (spring cherry blossom viewing) and the changing colour of the maple leaves during autumn.
Sumo matches do not run year-round in Japan. Rather, the matches are held in a series of 6 tournaments (Honbasho). If you are in Tokyo in January, May or September it may be possible to purchase tickets but be prepared to book at least 6 weeks in advance and pay anywhere between 3,500-40,000 yen ($40-$450AUD). At other times of the year explore the Sumo Museum to learn more about this national sport.
Photo by Dennis Bunnik
Ride this railway loop around downtown Tokyo and travel through 29 of the city’s many stations. A complete loop takes just over an hour but hop off if you are keen to explore some of the city’s districts. Maybe just avoid peak hour!
If you are looking for something quirky (and cheap) for your workmates or grandchildren when in Tokyo then you are bound to find it here. One of the largest Japanese 100 yen shops is the chain Daiso. You will find the store spread across 4 levels in the famously colourful Harajuku district.
The SkyTree was completed in 2012 and is currently the world’s second-highest structure at 634 metres high. The views of Tokyo are hard to beat and on a very clear day, you might catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji.
Travel to the Tembo Deck at 350 metres for shopping, restaurants and views or head up further to the Tembo Galleria at 450 metres. Here you can walk along the world’s highest skywalk for some thrilling views of the city below.
Photo by Adam Dickson
In Jinbocho, a.k.a. Book Town, you will find approximately 180 book-related businesses including second-hand shops and publishing houses. Many of the books are printed in Japanese but there are enough in English to make this worth an avid reader’s while. This area is also popular with antique hunters.
Hit the luxury shops of the Ginza district when in Tokyo to indulge in some window shopping. The big fashion houses can all be found here in buildings designed by world-renowned architects including Japan’s own Toyo Ito.
On weekends between 12pm-5pm the main street is closed to traffic to become a ‘pedestrian paradise’.
Credit to © Y.Shimizu/© JNTO
Toyota, Panasonic and Sony all have public showrooms you can explore when in Tokyo to try out the latest gadgets across multiple levels.
Credit to © JNTO
Karaoke in Tokyo may seem like a cliché but it can be a lot of fun. Establishments can be found all over Tokyo but Roppongi and Shibuya districts are particularly well known for their nightlife. For the serious singers, you could head to an open bar. Those not blessed with a golden voice might enjoy hiring a box where you can sing in private to your heart’s content.
Japan is a nation of sporting enthusiasts and whilst sumo is the national sport, baseball is Japan’s most popular. Tokyo is home to two baseball teams – the Tokyo Yakult Swallows and the Yomiuri Giants. Try to get to a game during the season which runs from March to October.
Photo by Dennis Amith, Flickr
For fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s animation, a visit to the Ghibli Museum is a must. Extremely popular with the locals it is essential to book in advance as tickets are not sold on-site and be aware that it is closed on Tuesdays. Even if new to his work and that of Studio Ghibli, the museum offers an insight into the art and technique of animation with special exhibitions featuring throughout the year.
Sugamo is a shopping district with a difference – affectionately known as the ‘Old Ladies’ Harajuku’. This strip is 800 metres long and sells clothing, authentic Japanese food and other items aimed towards the older generation. There are shops here that sell nothing but supplies to help you celebrate your 60th birthday. These shops are easily distinguished by the array of red underwear and clothing – in Japan, it is customary to wear red on your 60th birthday!
Plan where you’ll go when in Tokyo on your next Japan holiday
Bunnik Tours’ small group tours to Japan offer leisure time when in Tokyo for you to explore on your own. It is also possible to add a pre-tour extension to Tokyo to your trip.
What’s the best month to visit Tokyo?
From March to May you’ll experience the delicate spring cherry blossom bloom (hanami). May also includes the Golden Week (Ogon Shukan) with significant holidays providing celebration and excitement.
September to November are the autumn months when you will experience mild cool weather and vibrant foliage.
Is Tokyo open all night?
Known as the 24-hour city, you can find all-night restaurants and tourist attractions, perfect for the traveller awake and ready to explore at all hours. When in Tokyo you can visit aquariums, art galleries and other iconic locations late into the evening to fill your day with a complete experience of the city.
How many days in Tokyo is enough?
A comprehensive tour of Tokyo, Japan will require three to five days. This allows time to see the major attractions and experience the Japanese culture, shopping, gardens and food that the capital city has to offer.
To truly immerse yourself in a Japanese holiday you will need at least two weeks, allowing time for travel on either side.