Hailed as one of the most advanced yet culturally rich cities in the Asia, it is little wonder why Tokyo is one of the most visited places. From high fashion to mind blowing gastronomic adventures, you are bound to find something unique about Tokyo. With so many places to see in Tokyo, how would you know where to start? We’ve compiled the top 10 must see tourist attractions that you simply can’t afford to miss.
1. Tokyo Imperial Palace
Nestles among a wide and lustrous green park and surrounded by moats and massive stone walls, Tokyo Imperial Palace in the centre of Tokyo is open to the tourists who want to wander onto royal grounds. Currently the residence of Japan’s Imperial Family,the inner grounds of the palace are generally not open to the public. You can however enter the inner grounds and see members of the royal family on on 2 January and December 23 (Emperor’s Birthday).
Address: 100-8111 Tokyo, Chiyoda l Opening hours: 9am – 5pm Daily Except Monday & Friday l Getting there: 10 minutes walk from Tokyo Station.
2. Shinjuku Gyoen
One of Tokyo’s largest and most popular parks, Shinjuku Gyoen is located just a short walk from Shinjuku Station. The park’s immaculate garden with its beautifully manicured lawn, meandering paths and serene scenery provide a relaxing escape from the busy urban center around it. In spring, Shinjuku Gyoen becomes one of the best spots to appreciate cherry blossoms in the city.
Address: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0014 l Opening hours: 9:00am – 4:30pm. Closed on Mondays & 29 December – 3 January Yearly. Getting there: 10 minutes walk from New South Exit of JR Shinjuku Station or 5 minutes walk from Shinjukugyonemae Station l Entrance Fee: 200 yen
3. Tokyo National Museum
Japan is a land of rich history and culture and there is no better place to learn about this country’s heritage then at the Tokyo National Museum.
Address: 13-9, Tokyo 110-8712 l Opening hours: 9:30am – 5:00pm (last admission is at 4:30pm). Different closing time apply for special exhibitions and national holidays. l Getting there: 10 minutes from Ueno or Uguisudani Station (JR Line), 15 minutes from Ueno Station (Hibiya Tokyo Metro Line) & 15 minutes from Nezu Station (Chiyoda Tokyo Metro Line) l Fees: Adults 620 Yen, University students: 410 Yen, School students & persons under 18 years old and over 70 years old: Free l Website: Tokyo National Museum
4. Meiji Shrine
Dedicated to the first Emperor of modern Japan – Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken, the shrine was completed in 1920 after their passing. Located beside the busy Harajuku Station, Meiji Shrine and the adjacent Yoyogi Park make up a large forested area within the densely built-up city. As one of Japan’s most popular shrines, it welcomes more than three million visitors for the year’s first prayers (hatsumode) and host traditional Shinto weddings regularly.
Address: 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho Shibuya, Tokyo 151-8557 l Opening hours: Sunrise to Sunset, No Closed Days, 9am – 4:00pm for Treasure House & 9am – 4pm for Inner Garden l Getting there: Few minutes walk from Harajuku Station on JR Yamanote Line, few minutes walk from Meiji-jingu-mae Station on Chiyoda & Fukutoshin Subway Line l Fees: 500 yen for Treasure House & 500 yen for Inner Garden l Website: Meiji Jingu
5. Tokyo Tower
Standing at 333 meters, Tokyo Tower was completed in the year 1958 as a symbol of Japan’s rebirth as a major economic power and serves as a television and radio broadcast antenna as well as tourist attraction. You can go up to the main observatory at 150 meters and the special observatory at 250 meters to get a bird’s eye view of the sprawling city beneath you from this impressive tower. Under good weather conditions, Mount Fuji can be seen in the distance. Wax museum and other attractions found on the ground floors of the tower requires separate entrance fees. While you are there, you should also visit Zojoji Temple as it is just next to the Tower.
Address: 4 Chome-2-8 Shibakoen Minato, Tokyo 105-0011 l Tel: +813 3433 5111 l Opening hours: Main observatory (150m): 9am – 11pm (last admission is at 10:30pm) l Special observatory (250m): 9am – 11pm (last admission is at 10:30pm) l Getting there: 7 minutes walk from Kamiyacho Station Exit No 1 (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line) l 15 minutes walk from Hamamatsucho Station North Exit (JR Line) l Fees: Adults Main observatory: 900 Yen, Special observatory: 700 Yen, Main + Special observatory: 1,600 Yen Adult, Children: Main obsrvatory: 500 Yen, Special observatory: 500 Yen, Main + Special observatory: 1000 Yen l Website: Tokyo Tower l Facebook: Tokyo Tower
Harajuku is the spot to see and be seen when you are in the Japanese Capital. From out of the world street styles to runway fashion, Harajuku reigns as Japan’s forefront in style. You can spend hours just window shopping at international flagship stores along Omotesandō Avenue’s international flagship stores or whisk through alleyways filled with polka-dots, plaid skirts and neon high tops of local designers. Your trip to Tokyo won’t be complete if you don’t stop by this epicenter of extreme pop fashion.
Address: Jingumae, Shibuya Tokyo l Getting there: Exit at Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line) and do a short walk from the Meijijingu-mae Subway Station
7. Tokyo Disneyland & DisneySea
Whether if you’re a kid or a kid at heart, there is no place like the happiest place on Earth. Tokyo Disneyland was opened in 1983 as the first Disney theme park outside of the United States and comprises of seven themed lands. On the other hand, Tokyo DisneySea is unique to Japan. Inspired by the fantasy stories of the sea, Tokyo DisneySea has seven themed ports of call and was specially designed to also appeal to more grown up visitors.
Address: 1-1 Maihama Uruyasu, Chiba Perfecture 279-0031l Tel: +835 7000 8632 | +814 5330 5211 l Opening hours: 8:00am – 10:00pm (Do check Park Operation Calendar for seasonal changes) l Website: Tokyo Disney Resort l Facebook: Tokyo Disney Resort
8. Tsukiji Fish Market
Known as the world’s largest, busiest fish market, you should try to get there by 5am is to catch the live tuna auctions. The session is opened to public on a first-come-first-serve basis limited to 120 people in batches of 60 so please check in advance if sessions are open on the day you visit. Registration starts 4.30am at the Fish Information Center inside Kachidoki Gate off Harumi Street. If you prefer to explore slightly later, do note that by 9am, business will have already started to wind down. No visit to Tsukiji is complete without a sushi breakfast so dine from the best near the wholesale fruit and vegetable market just inside the main gate off Shin-ohashi Street.
Address: 5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0045, Japan l Opening hours: 4am – 9am l Getting there: Take the Oedo line to Tsukiji-Shijo station, exit A1. You can also take the Hibiya line of the Tokyo Metro to Tsukiji station l Website: Tsukiji Fish Market l Facebook: Tsukiji Fish Market
9. National Art Center
Opened in January 2007, the National Art Center boasting the largest exhibition space of any museum in Japan. However, it does not have its own permanent collection so usually special exhibitions are held instead. Besides, holding more than 10 exhibitions at one time, the Center also promotes educational activities, collects and disseminates information and data about art.
Address: 7 Chome, 22-2 Roppongi Minato, Tokyo 106-8558 l Tel: +813 5777 8600 l Opening hours: 10:00am – 6:00pm, Fridays until 8:00pm l Getting there: Nogizaka Station, Exit 6 is directly connected to the Center (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line), 5 minute walk from the Roppongi Station (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line) Fees: Admission fees, pre-sale tickets and discounts vary for different exhibitions l Website: National Art Center
This is one place where most conventional tour guide agencies tend to skip. Kabukichō is an entertainment and red-light district in Shinjuku. Here you will find many host and hostess clubs, love hotels, shops, restaurants, nightclubs. Often called the “Sleepless Town”, the district’s name comes from late-1940s plans to build a kabuki theatre. The theatre was never built but the name stuck. If you’re curious about how nightlife looks like in Tokyo, be sure to head there.
Address: Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0021 l Getting there: 5 minutes walk from Shinjuku Station
Whether you want to immerse yourself in the rich culture or be dazzled by the city lights, there’s always something for you to do in Tokyo!