Tokyo can be daunting at first with the sheer magnitude of the city stretching from the sea to the mountains. Here, we’ll help you narrow down your itinerary to see what the great city has to offer.
Summit Japan’s Tallest Tower (above image)
As the newest and tallest landmark of Japan, Tokyo Skytree is hard to miss as you walk through the city. Two observation towers at 350 meters and 450 meters offer breathtaking panoramic views across Tokyo. At the ground level is the Tokyo Skytree Town with an aquarium, a planetarium, museums, shopping, and restaurants. If the day is sunny and clear, you will even be able to see Mt. Fuji from the top.
Pilgrimage to Narita-san Temple
When you first land in Tokyo, you will most likely be landing at Narita Airport in the eastern countryside of Tokyo. Before heading into the city, it is worth your while to take the twenty minute trip to the nearby city of Narita, where the great Narita-san Temple sits on top of a hill. Bathe yourself in the smoky incense and pray for good fortune and good health at the thousand-year-old temple.
Asakusa has an atmosphere of Tokyo long past. Enjoy a rickshaw guided tour for ¥8000, or explore the area by foot. The symbol of Asakusa, the Kaminari Gate, was built over 1000 years ago. Once you enter past the giant lantern, head along the famous Nakamise Shopping Street that has over fifty souvenir shops. At the end of the street, you reach your destination, Sensoji Temple. The temple is one of the oldest constructions in Tokyo, and remains the most popular temple in the city.
Romantic Cruise Around Tokyo Bay
The Tokyo Bay Symphony Cruise departs from Hinode Terminal near JR Hamamatsu-cho Station. There are four different cruises available: Lunch, Afternoon, Sunset, and Dinner Cruise. Whichever you choose, you will be able to enjoy the city skyline of Tokyo as you relax on the ship’s deck and enjoy your meal. The Sunset and Dinner Cruises have a romantic atmosphere where the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower light up as you glide through the water under the stars.
Bike Rental and Cycling in Tokyo
At Yurakucho Station’s Muji Store, they have day long bicycle rentals for ¥1000. Yurakucho provides a glimpse of Japan’s early postwar era with the many outdoor yakitori and izakaya shops beneath the train tracks of JR Yurakucho Station. The station is also a central location for many sightseeing destinations. Cycle your way to the nearby Tokyo Station and marvel at the newly renovated exterior. Then pedal your way to the Imperial Palace and cycle along the moat that is lined with willows and cherry trees. At the end of your path, veer towards Hibiya Park, and perhaps you will encounter one of the many festivals that occur on the weekends.
Once you arrive in Tokyo, the Hato Bus Tour is the perfect way to soak in the city while recuperating from your jetlag. The bus tour has many destinations to choose from, ranging from half day to full day tours. The Tokyo Panorama Tour is excellent for a non stop, hour-long tour that hits all the major attractions in the city. Ride along the Rainbow Bridge and see the futuristic Fuji TV Building, see the throngs of shoppers crowding the streets of Ginza, and visit the world-renowned Tokyo Tower. The Tokyo Panorama Tour leaves from Tokyo Station Marunouchi South Exit with seven tours a day.
Morning Auctions at Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji is one of the world’s largest wholesale markets for seafood. Early every morning, Tsukiji holds their famous Tuna Auction. Tickets are extremely limited, and at 5:00 am, visitors must apply to enter at the Kachidoki Gate. Only 120 visitors are admitted each morning between 5:15-6:15 am. If you are not able to make it to the auction, or you are not such an early bird, the wholesale markets are open to visitors at 9am. But be careful not to block traffic, as this is still a place of work.
City Escape at Mount Takao
A little less than an hour train ride outside of Shinjuku is Mount Takao, the closest natural recreation area from Tokyo. The mountain is considered sacred, and it houses Yakuoin Temple for visitors to pay their respects to the mountain gods. There are six different hiking trails varying in difficulties, and even a cable car for those who didn’t pack their hiking boots. In the summer, there is a beer garden near the peak that looks over the countryside for the perfect city getaway.
Museum Hopping at Ueno Park
In rain or shine, Ueno Park is a wonderful place to spend your day, especially in the spring when thousands of cherry blossoms are in bloom. The famous Ueno Zoo with their newly adopted pandas lies to the back of the park. If the day turns to rain, there are many museums on the grounds, including the Tokyo National Museum, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, the National Museum of Science and Nature, and the National Museum for Western Art.
Fashion Fanatics Head to Harajuku
Harajuku is a place of teen fashion, fun, and history. Takeshita Dori Street is lined with shops for teens and their eccentric and extreme fashion. Parallel to Takeshita Dori is Omotesando with designer brands and fashion boutiques. When the bustle of crowded shopping streets becomes too much, relax at the adjacent Yoyogi Park and visit the famous Meiji Shrine.
People Watching in Shibuya
Shibuya is the birthplace of Japanese fashion trends. The area is most famous for their world’s busiest intersection at the JR Station Hachiko Exit. The intersection was featured in the film Lost in Translation. To get a bird’s eye view of the cluster of people weaving in and out of the crowds, head to the second floor of Mark City where windows peer down at the crossing. At night, the streets are teeming with young people headed to bars, clubs, and restaurants.
Exciting Nightlife in Shinjuku
Shinjuku is Tokyo’s skyscraper district, home to some of Tokyo’s tallest buildings. On the east side of the station is Kabukicho, Tokyo’s largest redlight district with nightclubs, bars, pachinko parlors, and hostess clubs. Despite being known for it’s exciting nightlife, Shinjuku can also be serene and quiet. Shinjuku Gyoen is one of Tokyo’s largest and quietest parks, providing a tranquil escape from the city.