Cherry blossoms and neon lights. Tea ceremonies and robot cabaret performances. Buddhist temples and high-octane sumo wrestling matches Tokyo, Japan’s capital, is a city of contrasts, where ancient traditions coexist with modern culture.
Sightseeing excursions assist visitors in becoming acquainted with the expansive metropolis and visiting attractions such as Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Meiji Jingu Shrine, and Senso-ji Temple.
A dinner at a robot cabaret and a tour of Kabukicho give you a sense of the city’s eclecticism. Food and market tours highlight the best of Tokyo’s cuisine. Day trips to Lake Ashi, Mt. Fuji, and Kyoto can also be taken from Tokyo.
Best Places to Visit in Tokyo for First-timers
Tokyo has so many notable spots to visit that it may be tough to decide where to go. This list includes the top 10 Tokyo attractions that every visitor should include on their schedule.
1. Sensoji and Asakusa Temple
Sensoji Temple in Asakusa is Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, housing a revered figure of Kannon, the Bodhisattva of Mercy, thought to have been discovered in the Sumida River in the 8th century. Throughout the years, the entire Asakusa district thrived around this shrine.
The temple grounds are full of photo opportunities, including the Kaminarimon Gate with its spectacular lantern and the five-story pagoda.
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Nakamise Dori, the 250-meter-long approach to the temple, is one of Japan’s oldest retail avenues. Souvenir shops line both sides of the street, satisfying any desire for mementos and keepsakes.
2. Crossing Shibuya Scramble
The Shibuya Scramble Crossing is a pedestrian crossing just outside Shibuya Station that sees up to 3,000 people cross each time. This is where you may feel Tokyo’s heavily urbanized side.
On weekends, the neighborhood becomes extremely packed. We recommend taking in the view from above. The Shibuya Sky Observatory provides stunning views of the crossing as well as interactive exhibits that allow you to experience the pulse of the ever-changing Shibuya neighborhood.
3. The Tokyo Skytree
The Tokyo Skytree, which is 634 meters tall, was completed in 2012 as a broadcasting tower. It is a must-see landmark near Asakusa, along with Tokyo Skytree Town, a commercial complex with various entertainment and food options.
The Tokyo Skytree has two observation decks. The Tembo Deck is 350 meters above ground, while the Tembo Galleria is 450 meters above ground. Aside from the panoramic view of Tokyo and its surroundings, on clear days, you can see as far as Mt. Fuji from here.
4. The Ueno Park
In 1873, the Japanese government recognized Ueno Park as the first park. Ueno Park is home to notable institutions such as the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Western Art, and the National Museum of Nature and Science.
This huge park also contains the well-known Ueno Zoo, the Shinobazu Pond, and the Bentendo Temple. Ueno Park is one of the best places in Tokyo to see cherry blossoms around the end of March.
5. Ueno’s Ameyoko Street
Ueno also has Ameya Yokocho, commonly known as Ameyoko Street. This is a retail boulevard with a diverse selection of stores, ranging from grocery stores providing seafood and fresh fruit to apparel and cosmetics stores.
Ameyoko also has a plethora of drugstores selling Japanese cosmetics and various healthcare products.
Ameyoko is home to a plethora of dining and drinking businesses, including eateries serving affordable Japanese cuisine. When you visit this vibrant location, you will immediately sense the overwhelming energy.
6. The Imperial Residence
The Imperial Palace is located in the center of Tokyo, near Tokyo Station. The palace was once known as Edo Castle and served as the Tokugawa shogunate’s headquarters. In 1868, it was designated as the Emperor’s home.
During the castle’s heyday, gates and Japanese gardens were created. The breathtaking view from Nijubashi Bridge is legendary. Guided tours of the facilities are offered on a regular basis; reservations are usually required. Except on Sundays and Mondays, visits are held twice daily as of June 2023.
7. National Garden of Shinjuku Gyoen
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is a green oasis in one of Tokyo’s busiest areas, Shinjuku. The Imperial Family was the first to own this garden, which was established in 1906. It first opened to the public in 1949.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden has a Western, a Japanese, and botanical garden. This position is ideal for seeing cherry blossoms and autumn foliage in the center of Tokyo.
8. The Kabukiza Theater and Ginza
The Kabukiza Theater in Ginza is the best place to see a Kabuki performance, one of Japan’s ancient performing arts. This theater was built in 1889 and has had four restorations since then. It continues to enchant and delight visitors.
On the second basement level is Kobikicho Square, a shopping center offering Kabuki-related souvenirs and gifts. Visitors who are not expecting to witness a show can enter and shop here. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind Japanese souvenir, the Kabuki Kyogen Rice Crackers can be a wonderful alternative. Each rice cracker wrapper features a renowned kabuki performance scenario.
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The Kabukiza Gallery on the fifth floor is free to enter. The gallery features costumes and props from live stage performances. It’s an excellent resource for learning more about Kabuki theater.
9. Tokyo’s Leading Entertainment District, Odaiba
Odaiba is a beachside district with a refreshing ocean breeze that serves as a venue location for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. Many visitors’ first stop in this area is Odaiba Marine Park, which has its own Statue of Liberty and views of the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Bay.
The futuristic Odaiba is home to numerous prominent attractions, including the 19.7-meter-tall Unicorn Gundam Statue in front of the DiverCity Tokyo Plaza retail mall, Tokyo Joypolis, a Sega-operated indoor amusement park, and the Legoland Discovery Center Tokyo. This is a terrific place to spend the entire day with friends and family.
10. Ghibli Museum in Mitaka
Studio Ghibli animation films such as “Princess Mononoke” and “Spirited Away” are well-known in and outside of Japan. At the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, you can immerse yourself in the magical world of Studio Ghibli animation. The exhibits depict numerous movie characters. Visitors can also see original short films.
This carefully designed schedule allows you to see the best of Tokyo in only one day. We’ve curated the ideal mix of must-see destinations for you, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler.
Tokyo is undeniably a popular destination, but when you’ve previously been there and seen the main sights, you might want to branch out.