Tokyo, the capital of Japan. This city is rooted in a rich history and culture unique to Japan. Tokyo was once known as Edo before The Emperor Meiji moved from the former capital Kyoto. This city is so full of history and culture it simply has to be a place you visit at least once in your life. This bustling city is where innovation meets tradition making for an absolutely great time. The historic shrines, temples and performing arts are just some of the traditional parts you can enjoy in Tokyo Japan. Not only are there the historic and cultural themes and activities for you to learn and enjoy.
There are also massive shopping districts any gamer or anime fan would be over the moon to experience. The famous Akihabara and Harajuku are two renowned places you should go if you love the traditional cartoons known as anime, video games or fashion. There is so much to see and enjoy in Tokyo Japan, I could spend hundreds of pages detailing it all to you. But there is only so much time and paper at my disposal. So I have done the research and found a few of the best places for you to enjoy on your vacation in Tokyo. Of course I have not listed everything there is to do here so if you would like more options you could find a few of them there are plenty of Trip Advisors for you to check out.
A Few Temples & Shrines
If you are going to Japan you have to visit some of the local temples. Shinto and Buddhism are two of Japan’s major religions. Shinto is almost as old as Japanese culture itself while Buddhism was imported from the mainland back in the 6th century. The temples built in honour of the deities and prophets are truly remarkable and definitely something you need to see on your trip to Japan. This section of my travel guide is dedicated to showing you some of the most impressive temples or shrines you might like to see during your Tokyo Japan visit. There are a myriad of shrines and temples to visit in Tokyo. So if you particularly love this side of your cultural adventures in Japan there is certainly more for you if you like.
The first place I have to suggest is the Sensō-ji Temple. The Sensō-ji temple is an ancient Buddhist temple in Asakusa and is Tokyo’s oldest temple. Also known as the Asakusa temple, it was dedicated to the Buddhist goddess of mercy. The wind god Fujin and the thunder god Raijin guard the entrance to the temple. It was built more than 1300 years ago and is one of the oldest buildings in Japan. It is so important to the country that it is known as a historic treasure. Not only is this temple stunning and free to visit you can also go inside the building and experience its majesty first hand.
It is free to visit and is one of the most important religious sites in Japan. Just outside of Hozomon Gate there is a shopping street known as Nakamise which is filled with all kinds of vendors. So if you are interested in experiencing both the history and culture Japan has to offer. The Sensō-ji temple is definitely a place you have to go.
One of Japan’s oldest shrines and one of its most beautiful. The Nezu shrine is a place which reflects the culture and beauty of Japan. It is near Ueno park and is surrounded by lush greenery and has plenty of ponds of carp. The famous shrine arch tunnels lead up to this shrine and show off the beauty of Japanese culture. Styled after another shrine in Niiko the Nezu shrine uses a style known as Gongen or ishinoma-zukuri style.
This is a free location to visit and is certainly worth your time. It is also an important religious landmark and has a lot of foot traffic and weddings which happen here. Surrounding this splendid shrine are a bunch of art museums you can check out in the area. Which I think will really help you make the most of your day.
The Meiji Shrine
This shrine is dedicated to the defied spirits of the Emperor Meiji and his consort the Empress Shokon. The Meiji shrine was completed in 1920 which was eight years after the emperor passed away. It was destroyed in the second world war but luckily it was rebuilt and is still a beautiful place to go and see. The main complex of shrine buildings is about a ten mile walk from the Southern Entrance near Harajuku.
The entrance of the Meiji shrine is marked by a large torii gate and after a short walk through a tranquil forest you will be near the shrine. Visits to this shrine are free and it is absolutely worth your time. It is one of the most popular shrines in Tokyo. It can get a little busy at times because it is so popular and of course is the sight of many weddings. So when you visit, as always, please be respectful of those around and the religious importance this place holds. This is truly a spectacular place to visit on your Tokyo Japan trip. Not only beautiful but also a great way to learn about the culture of Japan and history of Tokyo.
A Few of the Famous Shopping Areas & Districts
For the nerdy fashionistas out there. The shopping districts in Tokyo Japan are just the thing for you. There are many areas you can check out. Akihabara for the gamers out there. Harajuku for the fashionistas and anime fans. And much more. Of course you do not want to spend all your time shopping while you are in Japan but it is a big part of what makes Tokyo so impressive. If you are interested in modern buildings and amazing technology.
The shopping districts will suit you. There is definitely plenty for you to see and do for your whole vacation. Or if you just want to do some shopping at certain junctures, these places and more will be fun. There are plenty of other smaller shopping districts in Tokyo. As always if you want more activities the research is easily available.
Also known as ‘Electric Town’ the Akihabara area is a place for the gamers and tech fans to go. This neighbourhood is home to many of the famous technologies Japan is responsible for. Things like Nintendo are synonymous with the Japanese. The amazing technology is not the only thing the Akihabara Neighborhood offers. The video games and otaku culture shops are rife in this area. So if you want to check out some of the famous maid cafes, arcades, video games, anime or local temples. There is plenty for you to see and do in this district.
The Harajuku area is one of the most famous areas in Tokyo. It is a hot spot for teens and young people. It is famous for its fashion and anime themed shops. You will not be bored if you take a day to explore this area. There are many awesome restaurants, cafes and shops for you to explore. The Harajuku area is famous not only for the shopping and fashion but also the Shibuya crossing. This crossing is amazing to witness. Hundreds of people crossing the road at a time in the town centre. It really is something you have to see to appreciate.
If you are going to Tokyo you simply have to check out the Harajuku shopping area and the Shibuya crossing. The shopping will have you occupied for days. Not to mention you may get a taste of the famous ‘Harajuku Crepes’. If you get tired of the hustle and bustle of this busy district you can cross the street and take a nice relaxing walk in Yoyogi park.
This district is known as the entertainment district. Locals and tourists mix in the many late night bars and clubs. By day there are the local complexes and museums to check out. The Mori Art Museum is a famous modern art building. You can take a look at the various works of art or take at the breath-taking view from the top. The entrance fee is 1500 Yen but you get an amazing view from the ‘Sky View’ and a first hand look at the artefacts and art work there.
One of Tokyo’s most prestigious and upscale districts, Ginza has plenty to offer. There are a multitude of food courts and shops for you to browse. But if you want to take a little adventure in Ginza you can take a trip to the Yurakucho Train Station. Tucked under the railroad tracks there are dozens of quaint izakaya bars and restaurants. For those that do not know. An izakaya is a casual drinking establishment similar to tapas bars. You can order a variety of small dishes but it is primarily a place for you to drink. Each of the izakayas in this little hidden area have unique characteristics.
So there is plenty for you to explore in the Ginza district and even if you are on a budget. It costs nothing to look and take pictures of the surrounding area. There are many reasonably priced food courts or restaurants for you to take a break in. This area is definitely somewhere you want to at least take a walk around in Tokyo Japan.
Get Immersed in the Culture
If you are visiting Japan I imagine you would want to take in the cultural differences. Experience the way things are done in a completely different country and to learn their history. This section of my travel guide details some of the things you could do that will help you do just that. There are of course many other things you could do to learn about the Japanese history and culture. Things like visiting an onsen or public bath and checking out the museums it has to offer.
I could spend hours telling you all the things you could possibly do but I do not have the time. Finding some of your own activities will make the experience all the more fun. Bearing that in mind I have a few suggestions for what you can do on your Tokyo Japan adventure.
Team Lab Borderless Digital Art Gallery
Japan is famous for its wonderful technological advancements. At the Digital Art Galleries MORI you will get to experience just that. Also known as the lantern room this art gallery is entirely digital. This museum was created by using lights and projections to move art works around the room. They even interact with each other and intermingle. This will certainly be a great way to spend a part of your day. Beautiful art works to explore and experience. The price of admission is just over 3000 Yen. The price is reasonable and definitely worth paying. I know I would certainly be interested in taking a walk through the fantastical digital art gallery.
Tsukiji Fish Market
This activity sounds strange on paper. But if you are a lover of food then this is something you will enjoy. The Tsukiji fish market is a district adjacent to the former Tsukiji Wholesale Market. At this market you can find the freshest fish around. If you want an early morning sushi or fish based breakfast this is something you will enjoy. The restaurants near the market serve the best quality and freshest fish making the meal you will have extra delicious.
The price of admission is free and the market is open from 5:00AM to 14:00PM. So you have a small window to check out this market if you are interested. This might not be for everyone but for those that find this kind of thing interesting or love the food. Then this is something you have to try if you are visiting Tokyo Ja
If you want to take a look at one of the more traditional neighbourhoods in Tokyo. You should take a trip to Nezu or Yanaka. These neighbourhoods were some of the new areas that were spared from the bombing in World War 2. As such it has retained its quaint and traditional buildings. It has some great restaurants and areas to explore if that is something you would enjoy. The aged buildings really give the area a unique and quaint feel. Simply taking a stroll down some of its streets and exploring what they hold is amazing.
The trip will cost you nothing but the transportation it will take to get there. There are few areas in Tokyo that offer a glimpse into the bygone eras like Nezu and Yanaka.
Ryogoku Kokugikan or Sumo Town
Sumo wrestlers are a traditional part of Japanese culture and the Ryogoku Kokugikan area is just the place to go. If you are in luck you might get to see a fight or see one of these athletes around the area. When you arrive at the Ryogoku Station there will be two large buildings in the area. One looks modern and the other more traditional. In the more modern looking building you will find the sumo arena. In the older building you will find the Edo-Tokyo Museum which is something you have to see if you are in the area.
Exploring the museums and surrounding area will be something for those wanting to delve into Japanese history and culture. Not only are the buildings and history to explore but also the cuisine. In the surrounding area there will be many ‘Chanko-Nabe restaurants. This is a stew-like meal prepared by sumo wrestlers at certain restaurants. So if you are going to the Ryogoku Kokugikan area there will certainly be lots to keep you occupied.
The Imperial Palace
Of course you have to go and take a look at the Imperial Palace. Home to Japan’s current emperor. The palace is on the formerly known site of Edo Castle. A large park surrounded by moats and stone walls. The palace is a short walk from Tokyo Station. Edo Castle used to be the seat of the Tokugawa Shogun. The ruler of Japan between 1603 and 1867.
Visitors are welcome to view the palace from the outside. The nijubashi or two bridges which form the entrance to the inner palace are viewable for you for free. The inner grounds are sadly not typically open to the public. But on a few days like the second of January and February the twenty third you can see the imperial family. They make a few appearances on the balcony during those times. So if you are going to Tokyo, Seeing the Imperial Palace is a must. The historical and current significance would be amazing to see for yourself.
Take the Scenic Route in & Around Tokyo
Maybe you are the kind of person who enjoys exploring the great outdoors. Japan is full of amazing scenery and landscapes. There are many places you can go to to enjoy nature on your trip to Tokyo Japan. I have found four things I would recommend to you in the travel guide. But as always there are many things you can do to scratch this itch.
This mountain is one of the closest natural recreational areas near the centre of Tokyo. There are several hiking trails for you to choose from as well as a temple for you to visit. The serenity of nature will surely bring peace to you. If not, you can simply enjoy the countryside and the Biwa Waterfalls along some of the hiking trails. Most people use trail number one as it is broad and paved. Passing the major sites along its winding path.
Taking a hike up this mountain is free and may take ninety minutes or more to make it to the top. Mount Takao is just outside of the city centre and takes about fifty minutes from Shinjuku to reach. This activity will be tons of fun for all activity levels. If you simply want to take in the view from the top you can take the cable car. At least part of the way. If you would like to take less busy routes there are dirt paths you can take instead of the more well travelled routes. But as always make sure to pack everything you need and wear appropriate clothes and shoes.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
If you want to take a break from the bustling of the city, The Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens is the thing for you. This is one of Tokyo’s most popular parks which is just a short walk from Shinjuku Station. In the spring the park is full of cherry blossoms and one of the best places to view them. This garden originated during the Edo period and was a feudal Lord’s residence. It was later converted into a botanical garden for the enjoyment of the public. This park was once destroyed during the Second World War but was rebuilt in 1949 as a public park.
Musashi Kyuryo Shinrin National Government Park
This park expands over 3.5 kilometres. This wild area is hilly and full of gorgeous plant life. It was the government’s first park in all Japan. The park is made up of a large body of trees which have various environments. It is home to various plants and animals native to Japan and is a popular getaway from the business of Tokyo. This is a great place to take a long walk and enjoy the great outdoors Japan has to offer.
Two Day Hike up Mount Fuji
If you are looking for a little two day trip to Mount Fuji this is definitely something for you. Perhaps you have spent enough time in the city and want to take a closer look at Japan’s iconic mountain. The two day hike offers you plenty of time to admire the scenery and reach the summit of this great mountain. There are a few guides to take you on your adventure up the 3700 meter tall volcano.
This particular two day hike offers you an English speaking mountain guide as well as a round trip from Tokyo’s train station. Along the way you will spend time in the Fujisan Hotel and enjoy a hot meal and warm bed. This tour offers you plenty of other great things during your hike If you want to learn more take a look at the Two Day Hike Up Mount Fuji link and learn everything you need to know about this activity.
For the Foodies in Tokyo Japan
If you are a lover of food and enjoy trying things Tokyo Japan is the place for you. Japan is famous for the variety and quality of the food it makes. There is so must for you to explore and taste that the mind boggles. You could try authentic ramen, traditional sushi or the famous wagyu beef. There is so much for you to try in Japan and Tokyo is a great place to start.
As always I have found a few places for you to take a look at if you are a foodie or just want good food. There are hundreds of places for you to get a bite to eat so make sure to take a look around and find a place that suits you.
Nakamise Dori in Asakusa
If you have a sweet tooth Nakamise Dori is the place for you. This shop in Asakusa is one of the longest running and oldest shopping streets in Tokyo. The history here is amazing and there are a myriad of foods to try out. This street is near the ancient temple Sensoji so you can merge your visits into one if you are so inclined. Nakamise Dori in Asakusa specialised in sweets. So you can try out the dango or take a sip of the amazake. There is so much for you to try here. You could spend a whole day exploring and tasting things you didn’t even know existed.
If you are after an authentic food experience you have to visit an izakaya. They are famous for their yakitori which is seen as a cheap yet cheerful meal. A Yakitori is basically meat like chicken which is skewered and grilled over a charcoal fire while it is being lathered in authentic marinades and sauces. An izakaya is an informal Japanese pub which sells food. So if you are itched for some great food and a drink with your friends this is the palace for you.
If you are exploring Harajuku, the showcase for all cute and kawaii things. You might find a gem of a restaurant. It is hidden down a back alley and has been decorated with fun artwork. Inside the restaurant you are seated at tables which have grills on them. Your server will provide you with all manner of ingredients. Next you will have instructions on your table which tell you how to prepare the dish. If you are looking for a fun place to eat with a unique experience this is the palace for you.
The Ameyoko market is a wonderful palace for those on culinary adventures. Not only is there amazing food to be had but also this market has a history. It once served as a black market during the second world war. But has since evolved into a food market with loads of things you can try. There are all kinds of Asian cuisines. Japanese Chinese and Korean foods are available here.
So overall, there is so much to see and do in Tokyo, Japan. My travel guide only covers a few things I thought you might enjoy. But there really is something for everyone here. From shopping to exploring the ancient culture and learning the history that this place has to offer. You could spend weeks here and not cover all the bases. I really hope you consider taking a trip to Tokyo. I do not believe you will regret it. If you would like to check out my other travel guides like my Cape Town South Africa or Nassau Bahamas I have linked them for you.
Check out the related blog by Girls Wanderlust – Why You Should Consider Japan for a Solo Female Trip