• Tokyo Cheapo (繁體中文)

Top 25 Easy Day Trips From Tokyo

See another side of Japan with these easy day trips from Tokyo.

From walking in the shadow of Mt. Fuji to gazing at extravagant temples and shrines, there are many interesting things to do and places to visit around Tokyo. If you’re looking for suggestions, here are our best 25 easy day trips from Tokyo — by train, bus or private car — including some underrated gems.

Pro tip: Before buying any train tickets, see if the JR Tokyo Wide Pass will save you some money.

The best Tokyo day trip for you may depend on the season. Check out our other articles for highlights across the year:

  • Winter Day Trips From Tokyo
  • Spring Day Trips from Tokyo
  • Summer Day Trips From Tokyo
  • Autumn Day Trips From Tokyo

Note that all prices listed below are estimates.

1. Kamakura

1 hour by train from Shinjuku Station ¥ 950 (one way) Recommended tour: A fun day out discovering Kamakura

flowers buddha in kamakura

One of the more popular spots, Kamakura is well known for its traditional Kyoto style, with temples and shrines galore. There are great light hiking options , as well as plenty of delicious local street foods to try and beaches to lie on. You can easily cover the area in a day, with hikes taking you to see the famed giant Buddha, as well as beautiful shrines with bamboo forests , teahouses, and more.

Pro tip: Go deeper into Kita Kamakura, with brunch and a guided temple tour .

For a full run-down of what’s on offer, see our Kamakura mega guide .

2. Enoshima

1 hour 10 minutes by train from Shinjuku Station ¥ 650 (one way) Recommended tour: Kamakura and Enoshima day tour

places to visit in and around tokyo

As one of the most popular Tokyo beach resorts (also see neighbor Kamakura), Enoshima offers sands to lie on and a stunning island to explore. You can walk to the island easily from the station and visit shrines, an observatory, and gardens, before cooling off in the caves on the other side. Be warned, there are quite a few steps, but you can also explore the island by boat.

Read up on the various Enoshima sightseeing options , as well as how to get there from Tokyo.

Pro tip: Combine Kamakura and Enoshima in an economical one-day bus tour from Tokyo .

1 hour 50 minutes by train from Asakusa Station 2-day Nikkō pass available : ¥ 2,120 (round trip, does not incl. limited express fare) Recommended tour: Guided Nikkō day tour from Tokyo

Nikko shrine UNESCO

Easily extended into a weekend trip but great for a busy day too, Nikkō is famed for its stunning scenery and numerous temples and shrines. You can explore the cultural spots or escape into nature, such as the nearby waterfall or lake. Make sure to visit the elegant Tōshōgū Shrine , dedicated to the founding ruler of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu.

See our Nikkō sightseeing guide for more info on what to do there, and our Nikkō transport guide for the best ways to get there from Tokyo.

1 hour 30 minutes by train from Shinjuku Station ¥ 2,470 (one way) Recommended tour: Mt Fuji and Hakone 1-Day Bus Tour Return by Bullet Train

View of Fuji from Hakone

Home to hot springs galore, onsen eggs, mountains, and teahouses, Hakone is one of the most popular day trips from Tokyo. Perfect for a nature-based escape, it has  three great hiking trails , as well as gondolas to volcanic valleys and pirate ships that traverse a beautiful lake. There are over a dozen museums in the area so you can take your pick, from wandering around the Hakone Open Air Museum to Impressionist collections at the Pola Museum . It’s also a great place for Evangelion fans to see their favorite spots from the anime. You may need more than a day in Hakone to experience everything.

Read more about the things you can get up to in Hakone and other options to get there in our full Hakone guide and Hakone day trip itinerary .

5. Kawaguchiko

2 hours by train or bus from Shinjuku Station From ¥ 2,200 (one way) Recommended tour: Mt Fuji Day Trip with Private English Speaking Driver

mt fuji at Arakurayama Sengen Park

Mount Fuji is probably pretty high on your Japan list, and unless you’re climbing it , a view of the world-famous volcano is hard to beat. Enter Kawaguchiko. Here you can choose from views across fields of moss phlox , clear lakes, or lavender — in fact, there aren’t many places that won’t have Mt. Fuji somewhere in the background. The most iconic of these can be found featuring the Chūreitō Pagoda at Arakurayama Sengen Park, or on top of a rollercoaster at Fuji Q Highland .

With annual flower festivals, plenty of museums and nature spots, onsen, and more, Kawaguchiko is an easy day trip from Tokyo with lots to choose from.

Take a look at our full Kawaguchiko day trip guide for all the info, especially on how to get there: highway buses may be a better option than trains for some visitors.

Pro tip: This Mt. Fuji day trip tour , which includes a visit to the fifth station of Mount Fuji, plus a ride on the Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway and a stop-off at Lake Kawaguchi, for ¥ 11,900 , is a good-value way to see the sights.

30 minutes by train from Ikebukuro Station ¥ 490 (one way)

Kawagoe, edo era town in Saitama

Nicknamed Little Edo, Kawagoe is a charming town that has preserved the Edo feel with traditional buildings and plenty of great food. A 15- to 30-minute walk from Kawagoe Station, Kurazukuri Street is lined with preserved warehouse buildings characterized by clay walls and tiles. There are over 200 in the surrounding area and many have been turned into cafes and restaurants. There are plenty of traditional (and reasonable) lunch sets, with the local specialty being eel.

Editor’s note: Eel (unagi) is endangered , so you may want to think twice before ordering it.

There is also a whole street dedicated to sweets, in Kawagoe. If you go on the 18th of the month, you’ll see plenty of kimono-wearers (and can wear one yourself if you like), as discounts are given to those sporting the traditional outfits.

See if this is the day trip for you with our mega Kawagoe guide .

7. Mount Takao

55 minutes by train from Shinjuku Station ¥ 430 (one way) Recommended tour: Full Day Hiking Tour at Mt.Takao including Hot Spring

View of Fuji from Mt.Takao

Easy to get to, fun to hike, and home to a monkey park, Takao is a brilliant day trip for hikers and is only an hour from Tokyo. There is the lovely Yakuoin Temple around halfway up the mountain, with a creepy bird-faced Tengu standing guard. Once you reach the top, there are amazing panoramic views of Tokyo and Mt. Fuji to enjoy, as well as a wild plant garden and the aforementioned monkey park. Check out our guide to hiking routes near Tokyo, including Takao .

For more details on Takao, how to get there, and what to do once you’ve arrived, check out our full Mount Takao guide .

8. Odawara City

1 hour 30 minutes by train from Shinjuku Station ¥ 910 (one way)

Japan castle

See one of the closest castle keeps to Tokyo. Odawara is a great day trip with a beautiful castle carefully restored from Edo-period drawings. You can also enjoy the fishing port for a slap-up lunch of freshly caught fish in a donburi (rice-bowl dish) at the Odawara Fish Market Den . Stroll in the relaxing Tsujimura Botanical Gardens to round off your afternoon before heading back to the big city.

Read about more castles near Tokyo .

Pro tip: Let a knowledgeable guide show you the sights, and then sit down to dinner with a geisha as part of a special Odawara tour .

9. Ibaraki’s Ushiku Daibutsu

1 hour 30 minutes by train and bus from Tokyo Station ¥ 1,690 (one way)

buddha statue in Ibaraki

An unusual day trip takes you to see the second largest Buddha in the world — and to explore its rather surreal insides. Situated in Ibaraki , the statue stands as a perfect excuse for a day in the country, plus a picnic. You can venture inside the Buddha to practice calligraphy , see 3,000 golden Buddhas, have your shrine book signed, and enjoy views from the observation deck. The surrounding gardens have a petting zoo, koi pond, and flower displays, which change with the season.

Have a look at the full Ushiku Daibutsu article if you fancy scaling the beast.

10. Chichibu

1 hour 20 minutes by train from Ikebukuro Station ¥ 1,700 (one way)

shibazakura festival

Known mainly for its shiba-zakura festival in spring, Chichibu is a small-ish city in the west of Saitama that’s very underrated. Originally an industrial town, Chichibu is moving more toward tourism, and with its incredible mountains, that shouldn’t be a difficult transition.

There are plenty of shrines and temples to visit, as well as a pilgrimage route featuring 34 Buddhist temples. Chichibu has long had a reputation for meisen , a special silk produced only in the town and highly lauded in Edo times. You can still visit the Meisenkan to see original looms and purchase some locally made silk.

11. Kawasaki

15 minutes by train from Tokyo Station ¥ 320 (one way)

kanamara penis festival

Smaller and not as well known as Kanagawa Prefecture largest city ( Yokohama ), Kawasaki is still a lovely location with plenty to explore. While it might be best known for a certain festival , Kawasaki has other attractions, including the rather massive Daishi Temple , the Doraemon Museum , and the Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum to stroll around (known as the Nihon Minkaen). Unfortunately, Kawasaki’s once-famous dystopian warehouse amusement arcade  has long since closed.

12. Takasaki

1 hour 45 minutes by train from Shinjuku Station ¥ 1,980 (one way)

View from Takasaki City Hall Observatory

Takasaki is a laid-back city in Gunma . It is the home of Daruma — the angry-faced figures you will no doubt have seen on your travels, who bring good luck in accomplishing goals. A large majority of them are made here and you can find plenty for sale as souvenirs. There’s also the Takasaki Daruma Ichi, a market full of Daruma held on January 6 and 7.

You can visit the Jigenin Temple complex to see Daruma of every shape and size, which also happens to be near one of the biggest Kannon statues in Japan. The White-Robed Kannon stands at 40 m tall and you can enjoy views from the top for ¥ 300 . Combine that with a walk along the traditional Ishiharamachi Shopping Street and you’ll have a grand day out!

1 hour 40 minutes by train from Tokyo Station ¥ 1,980 (one way)

places to visit in and around tokyo

Atami is a hot-spring resort and a brilliant day trip from Tokyo — it has plenty of unusual attractions to keep you entertained. As well as soaking in salt-water hot springs, lazing on the beach, and enjoying the views, you can also visit a fake castle, which houses displays about real castles, enjoy the trick-art museum, and even get the gondola up to the sex museum , aka Treasure House (that actually makes it weirder?).

Plus, there is the excellent MOA Museum of Art with a mixture of Eastern and Western pieces, including work by Monet, Rembrandt, and Ogata Korin. Atami is also a good destination for divers and plum blossom lovers .

Check out our full day-trip guide to Atami and explore other nearby Izu spots , too.

Pro tip: For the non-Cheapo in a hurry, you can take the Shinkansen to Atami and slim the journey time down to 40 minutes.

14. Mt. Nokogiri

2 hours 5 minutes by train from Tokyo Station ¥ 1,980 (one way) Idea: Hike Mt. Nokogiri with a guide

Nokogiriyama View

For a real escape into nature, Nokogiriyama (aka Sawtooth Mountain) is an amazing hike filled with quarry drops, stunning views and plenty of Buddhas. The Nihonji Temple complex is stretched out across the mountaintop and has lots to explore. From the largest cliff-carved Buddha to a 30-meter Goddess of Mercy with 1500 (mostly decapitated) arhat in between, you’ll be happily distracted as you clamber up the stairs carved into the mountain. The famous View to Hell is really incredible, both to look at and enjoy yourself, and is right by the Goddess of Mercy, which might allay some vertigo fears.

Check out our guide to getting to hell and back .

15. Okutama

2 hours by train from Shinjuku Station ¥ 1,110 (one way)

places to visit in and around tokyo

A beautiful haven filled with mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and plenty more — Okutama is perfect for a long weekend or a quick escape. There are full-day hiking trails like this one , which takes you across three mountains, or you can try some of the more relaxed wanderings in the valleys. The upper reaches of the Tama River are a brilliant place to relax away from the sweltering city heat in summer and also offer a wide range of water sports, like rafting . You can also visit Nippara Cave —the longest in the Kanto region.

16. Misaki Port Town and Jogashima Island

1 hour 40 minutes by train and bus from Shinagawa Station ¥ 1,090 (one way)

Jogashima day trip from tokyo

If you really want to escape, there’s nowhere better than an island to really feel like you’ve put some distance between you and Tokyo. On the Miura coast of Kanagawa, the small fishing town of Misaki (known as Japan’s “tuna town”) has its own fish market early in the morning and plenty of fresh fish to fill up on too. The official market finishes at 9 a.m., but most stalls remain open till late afternoon.

Feeling fancy? You can snag yourself a luxury overnight stay in Miura , complete with your own private sushi chef (it’s not as pricey as it sounds).

Jogashima Island is connected to Misaki Town and is rocky with some swimming spots, plus a hiking trail that takes you all the way around — a distance of about 3–4 km. If that seems like too much work, get off early at Miura-kaigan Station and head to Miura Beach or visit the early-blooming cherry blossom festival in March.

Our Miura day trip guide  has more details on the peninsula.

17. Yokohama

25 minutes by train from Tokyo Station ¥ 490 (one way)

Minato Mirai

The second biggest city in Japan with over 3 million people, Yokohama has plenty to keep you entertained if you’re after a city break from your city break. With stunning night views across the Minato Mirai waterfront area, not one but two ramen museums (the  Cup Noodle Museum  and the  Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum ), an amazing  art scene , the beautiful  Sankei-en Gardens  and a massive  Chinatown , you can have a brilliantly busy day out in a more relaxed city.

Check out our sample itinerary for ideas on how to spend a day in Yokohama .

1 hour 5 minutes by train from Ueno Station ¥ 3,890 (one way)

Kairaku-en Gardens

The capital city of nearby Ibaraki Prefecture, Mito was once the stronghold of the Mito clan in the Edo period. It is now most famous for the stunning Kairaku-en Gardens , which are one of the top three gardens in the country.

The gardens were designed by Tokugawa Nariaki, the ninth feudal lord of the clan, as one of the first public gardens (even though it was only for samurai level and above). Regular buses run from the station to the gardens and you can also enjoy the incredibly modern Art Tower and the Mito City Museum .

For a more nature-based day out, you could visit Lake Senba and cycle around as there are bike rental places nearby. If you’re there in spring, there’s a delightful plum festival .

19. Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea

15 minutes by train from Tokyo Station ¥ 230 (one way)

Tokyo Disneyland

Among the more unique Disney resorts, Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea are markedly different from the others dotted across the world.

Aside from just enjoying all the usual rides and Disney stuff, you can visit the only DisneySea , try the variety of popcorn flavors, and enjoy all the matching costumes (and this time we mean the guests, not the characters). These two parks are (we’re told) the only ones in the world not wholly owned by Disney (although they do have creative control), so it is a great chance to see a Japanese twist on classics — although don’t worry, nothing key has been altered!

If you’re keen to head to the fun straight from the airport, check out our Narita to Disney guide . If you want pointers to good hotels in the area, check out our Disney accommodation guide , and here are some tips for saving money at Disney .

Pro tip: Pre-book your Tokyo Disney Resort tickets online , for ease of entry.

20. Nagatoro and the Arakawa River

2 hours 15 minutes by train from Shinjuku Station ¥ 1,950 (one way)

people by the arakawa river in nagatoro

Nagatoro arguably offers some of the most stunning, unspoiled nature in all of Japan, as well as the chance to get involved. You can enjoy a riverboat tour through some surprisingly rapid waters, with over 200,000 visitors trying it every year. If you like a little danger, you can try white water rafting or paragliding, and if you don’t, there’s a riverside hiking trail too.

The small town is home to Hodosan Mountain Shrine and Iwadatami shopping street, which is filled with local produce. There’s an occasional steam train, the “ Paleo Express ” running on the Chichibu Railway, which stops for a while and lets off steam at Nagatoro. Remember to try the local specialty of walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes, as well as locally made soba and udon.

21. Chiba City

40 minutes by train from Tokyo Station ¥ 660 (one way)

Day trip from tokyo to chiba

One of the closest day trips from Tokyo, Chiba City is packed with all things traditional as well as some amazing modern creations too. The castle is a folk museum with plenty to learn, and Chiba Shrine is not to be missed. You can enjoy some great art at the Hoki Museum , which focuses on realism and has a variety of works. There is also the Chiba Museum of Art and the Science Museum , so no one is left wanting on the museum front.

To get around the city, you can ride the world’s longest-suspended monorail which feels wrong, but is definitely safe. One of the most visited spots is the Chiba Port Tower, which was built to commemorate the population reaching 5 million in the 1980s, and offers a 360-degree view of the city and its surroundings. There are numerous parks and even a zoo complete with pandas — so you can balance your day perfectly.

22. Katsunuma

2 hours 10 minutes by train from Shinjuku Station ¥ 1,980 (one way)

winery day trip from tokyo

Fans of wine, look no further. Katsunuma is one of the top three wine producers in the country and is only a stone’s throw away in nearby Yamanashi Prefecture . Despite the humidity, wine has been successfully produced in Japan since the Meiji Period (with Emperor Meiji being a great fan himself). It does require a slightly different procedure compared to grapes grown in less humid countries, but is no less delicious!

With plenty of wineries nearby, you can enjoy unlimited tastings like the coin-operated wine machines from ¥ 100 at Budo no Oka , or just enjoy the hospitality of the different wineries on your route — although purchasing is recommended eventually. Along with the grapes, the area produces plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and you can easily pick up some delicious treats for dinner before heading home.

23. Shuzenji Onsen

2 hours by train from Tokyo Station ¥ 4,640 (one way)

places to visit in and around tokyo

Grab a rickshaw, rent a kimono, and bask in the tranquility of this sleepy onsen town. Shuzenji Onsen is known for its crimson foliage in autumn , when many of the already beautiful local sights get a dust of gold. Here you’ll find one of the oldest hot spring baths in Izu, Tokko no Yu (look, don’t touch); a bamboo grove down a narrow path; a vermillion “lovers” bridge; and Shuzenji Temple, which often holds events throughout the year.

You can take the Odoriko train directly to Shuzenji Station from Tokyo, but the journey is even quicker — around 1 hour 30 minutes — if you grab the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station and change to the Izuhakone Tetsudo-Sunzu Line at Mishima Station. A special bus liner for ¥ 2,000 operates during the autumn season.

24. Jōgasaki Coast

1 hour 50 minutes by train and bus from Tokyo Station ¥ 4,480 (one way)

Jogasaki coast with suspension bridge

This jagged coastal walk in Izu is for those who like getting out into nature. Its scenic ocean views, lighthouse, and suspension bridges show the rugged side of Japan.

Get off at Jōgasaki-Kaigan Station and walk around 20 to 30 minutes to the start of the Jogasaki Picnical Course. You can then follow the coast to Izu Oceanic Park and end by getting a bus to Izu-Kōgen Station, where you can head back to Tokyo. If you are feeling adventurous, you could extend your hike along the coast or grab a 30-minute bus (Bus No. 108) from Izu Oceanic Park to extinct volcano Mt. Omuro .

Consider spending more than a day in the Izu Peninsula and see what else it has to offer.

25. Ashikaga City

1 hour 30 minutes by train from Asakusa Station ¥ 2,050 (one way)

wisteria in bloom at Ashikaga Flower festival

Ashikaga City in Tochigi Prefecture is one of those cities that exists out of most visitors’ realm of knowledge, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. The best time to visit is in spring, when the flower festivals at Ashikaga Flower Park are in full swing (see e.g. the Ashikaga Great Wisteria Festival ), but the park also puts on a great illumination show in winter. The city also has Ashikaga Gakkō, Japan’s first organized school that includes an idyllic Japanese garden.

For a full look at what to do and how to get there, see our day trip to Ashikaga City guide .

Watch our video for 5 of the top Tokyo day trips -->

First published in July 2017. Last updated in March 2024, by Alex Ziminski. All information is subject to change, including prices.

閱讀中文版本: 25個精選東京近郊一日遊

  • Kamakura Station
  • Great Buddha of Kamakura
  • Enoshima Shrine
  • Kawagoe Station
  • Kawaguchiko Station
  • Chiba Castle (Chiba City Folk Museum)
  • Odawara Castle
  • Kawasaki Daishi
  • Tsujimura Botanical Gardens
  • Fujiko F. Fujio Museum (Doraemon Museum)
  • Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum (Nihon Minkaen)
  • Chiba Shrine
  • Hoki Museum
  • Chiba City Museum of Art
  • Chiba City Museum of Science
  • Restaurants
  • Odawara Fish Market Den
  • Bullet train
  • Hot springs
  • Sightseeing

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Cherry Blossom And River In Tokyo Japan

Deciding the best things to do in Tokyo depends on how much time you have—and for your sake, we hope you have a month. The city’s streets can feel like a game of soccer played at hyper speed, while calmer attractions range from temples, museums , gardens, origami classes, and bohemian sojourns. This city has more than enough going on to put you in a tizzy, so a words of advice: Arrive with a game plan and prepare to get lost along the way, in a good way. Here, the very best things to do in Tokyo.

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Sensoji Tokyo

Senso-ji Arrow

Tokyo may not have as many temples as Kyoto, but Senso-ji isn’t the capital city’s most popular just by default. The atmosphere alone here is one for the bucket list. Senso-ji, the temple itself, is at the end of the shopping street, while a recently renovated five-story pagoda stands to the left (ranking in as the second tallest pagoda in Japan). Japanese visitors flutter around a large cauldron in front of the temple where incense burned inside is said to benefit good health. Travelers keen to avoid crowds should arrive early, but even tourists that are remotely interested in Japanese culture will find something to appreciate here.

An alley.

Harmonica Yokocho Arrow

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Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree Arrow

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Koganeyu Arrow

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Sakurai Tea Experience Arrow

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Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing Arrow

Anyone remotely impressed that Tokyo is the most populated city in the world should visit the world’s busiest intersection at Shibuya Crossing. Massive video screens flashing advertisements tower above every corner as black-suited salarymen, wide-eyed tourists, and bag-toting shoppers wait and cross in concert. The feeling is oddly soothing, a reminder that whatever our disparate paths in life, they all have a tendency to cross at one time or another. The best time to go is at dusk, one of the scramble’s peak times and in its most flattering light. The Shibuya Scramble Square tower above Shibuya station offers a birds’ eye view of the famous crossing, along with panoramic vistas of the city from the Shibuya Sky rooftop observatory, perched 230 meters above street level.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden Tokyo

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden Arrow

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Kappabashi Street Tokyo Shopping

Kappabashi Street Arrow

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Shaved ice Azuki to Kouri Tokyo

Azuki to Kouri Arrow

The clean-lined, slate-grey interior of this kakigori ice specialist sets off the ebullient shaved ice creations of pâtissier Miho Horio. Formerly of two-Michelin-starred restaurant Florilege, Horio is one of the young chefs elevating the sweet treat to new heights of refinement. She carefully adjusts the blade of her ice machine to shave blocks of ice—made with spring water from Nikko, north of Tokyo—into fluffy, feathery flakes. Shaping the shavings into a delicate mound, she adds fresh fruit and toppings such as homemade syrups, compotes, and foams. Her signature parfait showcases sweet azuki red beans—the classic kakigori topping for which the café is named—paired with cream and flecks of meringue. Seasonal offerings include salted cherry blossoms with fresh strawberries in spring, and blood orange dusted with grated Amazonian cacao in early summer.

Yoyogi Park Tokyo

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Yoyogi Park is one of the most amusing parks in Tokyo. Its 134 acres sprawl right in Shibuya, a short skip from Harajuku , and bustle with picnics and performers. The northern side is lush, with clean walkways along expansive, grassy lawns where locals and tourists spread under the shade of Japanese Zelkova trees, and gather around a large pond. Spot impromptu badminton team swinging racquets, a drum circle tapping away at the bongo, or amateur dancers following along to the beat.

Yayoi Kusama Museum Tokyo

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In a suburban part of Shinjuku, a smooth white building rises five stories high—a museum completely devoted to the works of Yayoi Kusama . The building looks slim, but it houses a bulk of the larger-than-life and avant-garde artist’s pieces, including an installation of her “infinity room” series (an Instagram sensation which, in the past, drew hundreds of thousands of visitors in stateside exhibitions) to polka-dotted paintings and sculptures. The museum changes its exhibition two times a year, and as it’s still relatively new, it’s only cracked the surface of the prolific artist’s work.

Japanese tea ceremony scenes at traditional Japanese room

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The traditional technique of mending pottery with lacquer sprinkled with gold dust, kintsugi is an art form unto itself. The practice, which dates back to the 15th century, is alive and well at Kuge Crafts, a ceramics studio in the quiet Shin-Koenji neighborhood of western Tokyo. Run by a family of artisans—Yoshiichiro and Yoshiko Kuge, together with their son, Shu—the atelier transforms broken cups and dishes into singular works of art and offers two-hour kintsugi lessons (¥8,000, or about $59) for learners of all levels. The workshop will provide all the materials; you can bring your own damaged vessel for repair or ask them to prepare a piece for you to work on.

Sumo Stadium Tokyo

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Only three of six official grand sumo tournaments happen in Tokyo, all at Ryogoku Kokugikan. The stadium houses over 11,000 eager fans under its green, pavilion-style roof. Official tournaments last just over two weeks each, which means Ryogoku Kokugikan sometimes hosts other events (boxing, for example). But sumo is the arena’s feature attraction, and if you’re hoping to see sumo in Tokyo, this is where to find it. Tamari seats, which are those immediately surrounding the ring, are the most coveted—and virtually impossible to score. But the next series of rows, box seats, are as close as you can get. Box seats are top-dollar, but little more than rows of tatami mats lined with red square cushions (with no backs) sold in groups of four—so cozy up, and pay up (¥380,00, or about $279, for a box). There are proper stadium seats along the second-floor mezzanine, but the thrill of witnessing this traditional Japanese sport up close is all about getting comfortable with the floor.

The Bellwood Tokyo

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Modeled after an early 20th-century Japanese coffee house, this swanky watering hole is fitted with modern-retro touches like a stained glass panel bearing the bar’s name, bookended by images of Mount Fuji and a martini under the moon. The main space is great for after-work drinks or late-night tipples, but the bar recently opened a glass-encased private room to host a series of food-and-cocktail pairing experiments. Witty twists on classic cocktails are prepared with flair. Start light with the Kome Tonic, made with rice-based shochu, then explore the seasonal menu: Tango Mule made with gin and Fernet Branca laced with roasted mate, or the Okushibu Fashioned with bourbon, kinako soy powder and a hint of bitter mugmort.

Nihon Minkaen Japan Openair Folk House Museum

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Though only 20 minutes by train from central Tokyo, the Nihon Minka-En Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum, located in a suburb of neighboring Kawasaki City, feels a world—and several centuries—away. The sprawling grounds are home to 25 marvelously preserved Edo-era homes relocated from all over the Japanese countryside, spanning an array of styles from farmhouses to samurai houses and includes a shrine, water mill and kabuki stage. Don’t miss the traditional indigo dyeing workshop in the middle of the park houses a small shop where you can find indigo-dyed everything, from socks and sweaters to handkerchiefs and masks.

A interior of a restaurant.

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Don't expect your average cup of joe at Koffee Mameya Kakeru, housed in a renovated warehouse in the Shirakawa coffee district in eastern Tokyo. Beyond the sleek glass facade, the interior designed by art director Tomohiro Kato and architect Yosuke Hayashi features a massive oak structure built around the artfully arranged coffee shelves. A rectangular wooden frame encases a three-sided stone counter built around three black tables where the baristas display their skills. Coffee maestro and founder Eiichi Kumimoto launched Koffee Mameya Kakeru to go deep into the world of the brew and push the boundaries of the drink's potential. The menu showcases seasonal varieties, but the omakase-style coffee tasting courses (including a range of cold and milk brews, mocktails, and lattes) take center stage, offering a fascinating journey through the diverse flavors and artistry of coffee. Coffee cocktail champion Akira Zushi dazzles with flair bartending skills and innovative cocktails like the milk brew blended with hop-accented jasmine tea and lemon, finished with a spritz of prickly ash water.

Oedo Antique Market Tokyo

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Oedo Antique Market is a marvelous outdoor fair held near Tokyo Station twice a month, with stalls selling wonderful antique and vintage wares. Hundreds of independent stallholders set up shop to sell their one-of-a-kind objects. There isn’t a huge number of antique or vintage homeware shops in Tokyo—so if you’re looking for old, interesting, and unique Japanese items for your home, this is the place to come. The items on sale at Oedo are completely one-off and unique. You’d be hard pressed to find a permanent shop in Tokyo that has the choice and style that you’ll find here. For first dibs, come earlier in the day.

Former Asakura Residence Tokyo

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Built in 1919, the former residence of government official Torajiro Asakura is a marvelously preserved example of traditional Japanese architecture tucked into Tokyo’s bustling Daikanyama district. For ¥100 (about 73 cents), you can wander through the building’s stately wooden corridors, tatami-floored rooms, and beautifully manicured grounds. The suginoma (cedar rooms) on the west side of the structure offer postcard-perfect views of the Japanese garden—particularly in the autumn, when the maple trees blaze with color. One of the city’s best-kept secrets, the property is an oasis of calm. It’s the perfect place to escape the crowds for an hour or two and contemplate the passing of time.

Nakameguro Tokyo Neighborhood

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It’s okay to visit the artsy neighborhood, Nakameguro, just to see its seasonal appeal as one of the most picture-perfect spots for cherry blossoms in spring. However, stick around these charming streets and you’ll find a hip collection of independent cafes and boutiques that offer a laid-back alternative to the city’s buzzing hubs. Sakura trees hug the Meguro River in Nakameguro’s center, blossoming as they lean over the sloped, canal-like walls surrounding the water. Once you’ve taken a moment to smell the blossoms (and fill your phone with pictures), you’ll find an array of independent boutiques and cafes branching off along narrow streets in either direction. Head to the corner-side Onibus Coffee, which serves single-origin espresso, and stop at SML, a boutique stocking delightful crafts (especially ceramics) made by Japanese artists. 

A shopping complex.

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A Tokyo mecca for anime- and manga-loving otaku subculture fans, the Nakano Broadway is a multi-story shopping arcade that has become a hub for niche collectors of all stripes. When it first opened in 1966, the complex epitomized the spirit of future-perfect economic optimism sparked by the Tokyo Olympics. Competition from newer shopping malls emptied its corridors of fancy boutiques in the 80s, before the Broadway reinvented itself as a center for used manga and anime models in the 90s. More than 300 tiny outlets are crammed into the aging edifice’s bottom five floors, offering everything from vintage Godzilla and Astroboy figurines to designer watches and creepy dolls galore.

Isetan Tokyo

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Isetan is Tokyo’s best—and most famous—department store; its history dates back to 1886, when it started as a kimono shop. The sprawling flagship in Shinjuku is spread out over nine floors, each offering something special. There’s a big fashion focus, with local Japanese brands sitting beside international names. Don’t miss a visit to the wonderful food hall on B1, which sells a variety of Japanese snacks and goodies, including beautifully prepared bento boxes for lunch.

Tsukiji Market Tokyo TTD

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In October 2018, the world’s largest fish market, Tsukiji, shut down after 83 years and re-opened in two distinct parts. At the original location, it’s pretty much business as usual, with street-food stalls serving up everything from seared tuna to uni sandwiches in squid-ink sticky buns. Just down the road at Toyosu Market , meanwhile, you can taste fresh raw fish in a series of sushi bars and peek in on the auctions (formerly held at Tsukiji) and live fish sales from a second-story viewing station. You can also tour a large green space on the rooftop, which affords views of the Tokyo skyline.

An interior of a store.

Heiwa Doburoku Brewery Kabutocho Arrow

This simple but stylish Wakayama-based sake brewpub in Tokyo makes clever use of a corner space in Kabutocho, the recently hip neighborhood near the Tokyo Stock Exchange building. As the name suggests, the bar specializes in doburoku, a rustic style of unfiltered and lightly fermented sake characterized by its thick texture. Previously outlawed for taxation reasons, the traditional brew is making a comeback, appearing on menus at Tokyo's trendiest restaurants and bars. Large windows, pale wood fixtures, and a curved counter surrounding a small open kitchen give the bar an open and airy feel. The menu lists dry-hopped and aged doburoku, varieties made with ground adzuki red beans or black beans, and a few seasonal styles flavored with fruits or herbs. But the best place to start is with the original, plain doburoku, a thick and yogurty brew with a touch of fruity fizz. Brewer Heiwa Shuzo's excellent craft beers are served on tap (we love the golden ale infused with fragrant sansho prickly ash peppercorns), and the bar offers a nice selection of the brewery's clear, award-winning sake.

Japan Tokyo Museum Nezu

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This serene museum in the Aoyama district, redesigned by celebrated architect Kengo Kuma, is a contemporary temple for traditional art. A long, covered outdoor path alongside bamboo-clad walls serves as a minimalist entrance, but once inside, double-height interiors and glass walls stretch over 40,000 square feet while keeping the experience intimate. And while the museum mixes contemporary design and traditional art on the inside—over 7,400 pieces—the outside counts, too: The property is home to a stunning private garden that’s worth the visit all on its own. The bulk of the museum’s art was once the private collection of Nezu Kaichirō, the president of Japan’s Tobu Railway. Since the midcentury, the collection grew and now comprises over 7,400 pieces.

Bohemian Tokyo in Shimokitazawa Shopping Store

Bohemian Tokyo in Shimokitazawa Arrow

Only one express stop away from the brighter-than-bright energy of Shibuya, Shimokita (what locals call Shimokitazawa) is like turning down the volume and switching to an acoustic track. It might embrace its bohemian style—with vintage stores on seemingly every block—but it doesn’t lose that unmistakable, sophisticated Japanese style in the process. Sift through secondhand shops, sip coffee, and repeat.

MonzenNakacho Tokyo

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The old-school neighborhood of Monzen-Nakacho—known as “Mon-Naka” among locals—has retained its colorful, salt-of-the-earth shitamachi (downtown) atmosphere since the Edo era (1603-1868). Two main draws are the stately Tomioka Hachiman Shrine and the Fukagawa Fududo temple, where you can hear the sounds of drumming and chanting from the temple’s fire ceremony, held five times a day. These days, hipster coffee shops and natural wine boîtes nestle against traditional shops selling pickles, Japanese confections, and old-timey delicacies like tsukudani—bits of seafood long-simmered in soy sauce and sugar. It’s a terrific place to spend a lazy afternoon wandering the cobbled streets and alleyways en route to the Museum of Contemporary Art in neighboring Kiba. But at night, the neighborhood comes alive with an array of reasonably priced eating and drinking spots.

teamLab borderless Tokyo

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With the first iteration of Borderless in Odaiba, the art collective Teamlab created an endlessly Instagrammable, sumptuous and surreal museum dedicated to multi-sensory digital art. Opened in 2018, the facility, which set the world record for the most visited museum dedicated to a single artist, closed its doors in 2022. However, Borderless 2.0 is set to relocate to a permanent location in the soon-to-open Azabudai Hills mixed-use complex in central Tokyo in early 2024. Boderless consists of installations that feature constantly morphing patterns and designs that seem to flow seamlessly from room to room in a maze-like space. Updated versions of some of the museum’s previous works will be on display, as well as several new installations: a room filled with hundreds of multicolored lights that run along tracks continuously and a series of interactive “light sculptures,” to name a few.

places to visit in and around tokyo

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30 Things To Do Near Tokyo: Best Day-Trips & Overnight Getaways

As one of the world’s great and most influential cities, Tokyo offers visitors an endless choice of things to do – from the cultured and refined to the weird and obscure. Spoiled for choice, you could spend your entire visit exploring everything it has to offer – and intend, some people do just that – but sooner or later, everyone needs a break from the sprawl, congestion and neon of the capital. On this page you will find the following information:

— 15 Recommended Day-Trips from Tokyo

— 15 Overnight & Multi-Day Getaways from Tokyo

— Where to Stay in Tokyo?

— Book With Us! Nagano’s No.1 Tour & Charter Operator

Lying within easy reach of Tokyo – but in every other sense, a world away – Nagano and Central Japan offer the space, freedom and open landscapes that you won’t find in the city. Serviced by three shinkansen lines running to and from Tokyo – the Hokuriku Shinkansen running to Kanazawa via Nagano, the Joetsu Shinkansen running to Niigata via Echigo-Yuzawa, and the Tokaido Shinkansen running to Nagoya (and onto Kyoto and Osaka), many of the region’s most enjoyable destinations can be enjoyed as day-trips from Tokyo with others best-experienced as overnight or multi-day visits.

The following suggestions of 30 things to do near Tokyo are split into fifteen day-trips and fifteen overnight trips. We will touch on some destinations more than once, as they can be enjoyed as both day-trips and overnight stays, or combined into multi-day itineraries outside of Tokyo.

Based in Nagano, we are are a registered travel agent, tour and charter operator . Operating all year round and covering all (but not limited to) the destinations listed on this page, we can book and package your trip to Nagano and Central Japan including tours, accommodation, private transports, tickets, restaurants and more – scroll to the bottom of the page for details.

15 RECOMMENDED DAY-TRIPS FROM TOKYO

OK… Let’s start with our suggestion of fifteen day-trips into Central Japan from Tokyo. The following destinations can be easily reached using trains running to and from the capital (some destinations require transfer between lines or to buses), and returning on the same day:

1 / MOUNT FUJI / all year round

Rising almost 4km above sea level, Mount Fuji is an unmissable sight. Equally imposing as it is beautiful, the mountain can be seen for great distances and from endless angles.  Some of the most beautiful views of Fuji can occur from the most unexpected and mundane places – a convenience store car park or while driving or walking along a nameless suburban street.

Many visitors to the area want that classic photo of Fuji, set against a reflective lake or behind a tranquil temple. In that regard, these are three of the best locations from where to view and photograph Mount Fuji:

1 / Kawaguchiko : as one of the ‘Fuji Five Lakes’, the huge expanse and shoreline of Kawaguchiko offers outstanding views of Fuji – pictured above – see below for details.

2 / Chureito Pagoda : located nearby Shiomyoshida Station, Chureito Padoga is part of Arakura Sengen Shrine . To reach the pagoda, visitors must ascend a long and somewhat trying stone staircase of almost 400 stairs but in doing so, move above the town below and to a fantastic view of Fuji.

3 / Oshino Hakkai : is a reconstructed traditional village centred around eight naturally occurring ponds, fed by the snowmelt each spring, and on clear days, offering outstanding views of the mountain in the background.

All three destinations above can be enjoyed as easy day-trips from Tokyo. Visitors wanting to climb the mountain will need to do so as an overnight trip – see below for details. For more tips of things to do nearby Fuji, see our ’30 Things To Do Around Mount Fuji & Where To Stay’ page .

2 / KAWAGKUCHI-KO & ITCHIKU KUBOTA MUSEUM / all year round

Kawaguchiko or ‘Kawaguchi Lake’ is one of five large bodies of water making-up Fujigoko or the ‘Fuji Five Lakes’. Of the five, Kawaguchiko is the easiest to access using public transport and offers the most attractions around its shores. On a fine day, the views of Fuji from Kawaguchiko are truly fantastic and based on that reputation, the area surrounding Kawaguchiko has been developed with hotels and guesthouses, restaurants and cafés, museums, shops, markets and more. Kawaguchiko is worth visiting regardless of season with each of year framing the imposing mountain in different colours and light.

Kawaguchi-ko can be enjoyed as a day-trip or overnight getaway, with many hotels and guesthouses offering outstanding views of the mountain, For accommodation listings around Kawaguchiko, please refer to our ‘Kawaguchiko (Kawaguchi Lake) Onsen Area’, hotel page .

While there, make sure to visit the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum . The museum profiles the work and life of celebrated textile artist Itchiku Kubota and consists of the main exhibition building, the Gaudi-esque ‘New Wing’ building, two cafes and a landscaped garden. The main building – a pyramid-shaped timber structure – displays Kubota’s ‘Symphony of Light’, an exquisite series of kimono with further information and video presentations of this life and work. The museum also includes Kubota’s private collection of artworks including his collection of glassware and beads, from around the world. For more tips of things to do nearby Fuji, see our ’30 Things To Do Around Mount Fuji & Where To Stay’ page .

3 / FUJI Q HIGHLAND / all year round

Want to get the adrenaline pumping? Then you need to head to Fuji-Q Highland. Located in the shadow of Mount Fuji, Fuji-Q Highland is one of Japan’s most popular amusement parks and home to its best rollercoasters. The park boasts four main rollercoasters: 1. Fujiyama – once the world’s fastest and tallest and still one of the best; 2. Dodonpa – said to have the fastest acceleration of any rollercoaster in the world; 3. Takabisha – the steepest rollercoaster in the world; and 4. Eejanaika – the park’s ‘4 th dimension’ rollercoaster, with rotating seats within the car.

The park includes other rides including those suited to children along with mazes and other attractions. For the younger kids, ‘Thomas Land’ is based on the popular Thomas the Tank series.  Restaurants, gift shops and the Highland Resort Hotel and Spa are also available. An easy day-trip from Tokyo. For more tips of things to do nearby Fuji, see our ’30 Things To Do Around Mount Fuji & Where To Stay’ page .

4 / HAKONE: HOT SPRINGS & GREAT VIEWS OF FUJI / all year round

Easily accessible from Toyo, Hakone is one of Japan’s most famous hot spring areas . Set amongst the beautiful landscape of the national park and often enjoying outstanding views of Mount Fuji, the numerous onsen of the region have long been visited by those seeking beauty and relaxation. Hakone boasts many attractions including the Hakone Open-Air Museum, Ashinoko (Ashi Lake), the Hakone Tozan Railway, a couple of ropeways along with many fantastic hot spring guesthouses. A visit to Hakone can be enjoyed as a day-trip from Tokyo or – our recommendation – as an overnight visit, allowing you to enjoy one of its many outstanding hotels and guesthouses. For tips and suggestions of what to do while there, see our ’15 Things To Do Around Hakone & Where to Stay’ page .

5 / SUNTORY HAKUSHU WHISKEY DISTILLERY / all year round

Sitting in the shadow of the South Japan Alps, the Suntory Hakushu Distillery produces some of Japan’s finest whisky and some of the most sought-after in the world. Established in 1973, the pristine water flowing from the mountains are ideal for producing whiskey and since its opening, Hakushu has won numerous international awards. The distillery is set within extensive and attractive grounds with multiple buildings including the distillery itself, a museum, large tasting and event hall and restaurant. Multiple daily tours of the distillery are available – including a tasting at the end – with a range of other options and personalised tours also available. To reach Suntory Hakushu takes just over two hours by using the Limited Express Azusa from Shinjuku Station to Kobuchizawa Station, from where Suntory operate a shuttle bus to the distillery.

6 / KARUIZAWA: MOUNTAIN RESORT TOWN / all year round

A stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line running from Tokyo to Kanazawa, Karuizawa is a popular mountain resort town offering reasons to visit throughout the year. The expansive Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza is popular throughout the year, while the old town of Karuizawa boasts quaint charm and some fantastic restaurants. In winter, Karuizawa Prince Hotel Snow Resort attracts many visitors from Tokyo who flock to the small resort for its convenience and great hotels and eateries. In fact Karuizawa can lay claim to being the only town in the world to have hosted events in both summer (Tokyo 1964) and winter (Nagano 1998) Olympic Games. For tips, suggestions and reasons you should visit Karuizawa , please see our ‘25 Things to Do Around Karuizawa & Where To Stay’ page .

7 / NAGANO CITY: GATEWAY TO CENTRAL JAPAN / all year round

Another stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line, Nagano City is most famous as host of the 1998 Winter Olympics .  As such, it is the ideal launching point from where to access many of Japan’s best ski resorts – see below for details.

For day-trippers to Nagano, you can enjoy the city’s near-1400 year old Zenkoji Temple – one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in Japan, along with nearby Togakushi, home to some of Japan’s most important Shinto Shrines and Togakure ninjas, or for the samurai-fans, the historic hamlet of Matsushiro is only 30-minutes from the station by local bus.

A destination in its own right, Nagano is our home and gateway to the Central Japan including the nearby Jigokudani Monkey Park – see below for details – and many other great destinations. We recommend staying at least one night to enjoy everything on offer, but if time is tight, a tour with us while here is a great way to enjoy some of the highlights that define the region before heading back to Tokyo on the same day – see below for details. For more information, see our ’40 Things To Do Around Nagano & Where To Stay’ page .

8 / JIGOKUDANI MONKEY PARK / all year round

Under 1-hour from central Nagano City (or around 3 hours from central Tokyo), the Jigokudani Monkey Park is one of Central Japan’s most unique experiences. Most famous for their hot spring-loving antics of winter, the monkeys in fact come to the park throughout the year and are just as comfortable there through spring, summer and autumn.

With no barriers between you and the monkeys, it’s a rare opportunity to walk through and around a wild troop of macaques, best known as the only troop in the world to have taught themselves to bathe in hot springs – something they learnt by watching humans! You are most likely to see this behaviour during the deep cold and snow of winter, however no matter the time of year, some monkeys love a dip with the cherry blossoms and  baby monkeys of spring, lush green and cool escape of summer, and beautiful leaves and late warmth of winter attracting visitors to the park all year round. For visitors wanting to visit the park as a day-trip from Tokyo, we offer a range of group tours starting and finishing at Nagano Station – see below for details.  For accommodation listings near the park, see our ‘Yamanouchi Area – Home of the Snow Monkeys’ hotel page .

9 / TOURS WITH SNOW MONKEY RESORTS / all year round

Operating throughout the year, our group tours start and finish at Nagano Station, with times coordinated with the shinkansen timetable to and from Tokyo, allowing visitors to join us for the day and the head back to the capital. Some of our most popular tours include:

Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour : enjoy a morning exploration of Nagano’s near-1400 year old temple, followed by sake tasting and lunch, and early afternoon visit to the monkey park – all led by a local-based guide.

Snow Monkeys & Snow Fun in Shiga Kogen : from December to March, enjoy a morning of snow fun activities in Japan’s largest resort – Shiga Kogen – including lunch, before heading to the monkey park for an early afternoon visit – all led by a local-based guide.

Snow Monkeys & Cherry Blossoms in Nagano : in spring, enjoy a morning visit to the monkey park followed by lunch and afternoon of cherry blossom-viewing at some of Nagano’s most beautiful blossom spots – all led by a local-based guide. These are just three of our most popular groups! For a complete listing of what’s on offer, see our ‘Tours’ page and remember, accommodation can be added to all tours along with the option of a private tour or charter – scroll to the bottom of the page for details.

10 / YUDANAKA & SHIBU ONSEN / all year round

Visitors heading to the park by themselves will be moving to and from the Yamanouchi region of Nagano – home of the snow monkeys! While there, make sure to check-out the historic hot spring towns of Shibu Onsen and Yudanaka Onsen. Walking the quiet streets of Shibu transports you back in time with the town retaining lots of its historic character including nine public ‘onsen’. Though called public, only one – Bath No.9 – can be used by day-visitors, meaning the town is best experienced by staying at one of its many guesthouses.

Upon check-in at any guesthouse, you will be given a key that unlocks all nine bathhouses and of course, most accommodation have their own in-house hot springs. If you’re looking to experience a traditional onsen town while in Japan, and all within easy access of the monkey park, we recommend staying at Shibu Onsen or Yudanaka Onsen. For accommodation listings, see our ‘ Yamanouchi Area – Home of the Snow Monkeys’ hotel page .

11 / HISTORIC OBUSE & THE HOKUSAI MUSEUM / all year round

Located mid-way between the monkey park and Nagano City, Obuse is a small but historically important town with a variety of attractions including temples, museums, sake breweries and chestnut confectionaries. Popular with Japanese visitors, the town is busy on weekends and holidays, most famous for its tasty chestnut treats and as home to the Hokusai Museum .

Showcasing the life and work of Japan’s most famous artist, Katsushika Hokusai, the museum is small by highly engaging with regularly rotating exhibitions intended to allow visitors to see a large amount of his work overtime. Hokusai spent some of his final years residing and painting in Obuse, which boasts what is considered his last great masterpiece – ‘The Phoenix Staring in Eight Directions’ – on the ceiling of a local temple.

Obuse is best enjoyed in combination with a visit to the monkeys and/or other destinations in Nagano City – and can be enjoyed as a day-visit from Tokyo. For more information about what’s on offer in Obuse, see our ‘15 Things To Do Around Obuse & Where To Stay’ page .

12 / TATEYAMA-KUROBE ALPINE ROUTE / April to November

Heralded as one of Japan’s best experiences, traversing the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route takes approximately 6 hours without allowing for time to stop and enjoy all of its stunning sights. In reality, undertaking a visit to the Alpine Route is therefore a full-day activity and is best enjoyed as an overnight trip, however if your itinerary is tight, it can be done as day-trip from Tokyo. Open from mid-April to mid-November, the Alpine Route is most famous for its immense snow walls which, at their peak, ascend 20 meters above the road below. The walls are at their best from the opening day in April until late-June, after which outstanding hiking is available through summer and autumn, climaxing with stunning autumn colours in October until the route closes again in November.

To do so, take the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Nagano Station – 80 to 110 minutes depending on which service you choose – and once in Nagano, head to Ogizawa Station by bus, taxi or tour – around 60 minutes. A series of mountain transports including trolley buses, cable cars, and a ropeway will then transport you to Murodo Station – which at 2540 meters is the highest station in Japan – before you descend back down for the return journey to Tokyo. You need around 6 hours to enjoy the Alpine Route making a long but rewarding day from Tokyo – see below for suggestions re: an overnight/multi-day trip to the Alpine Route and Toyama.

13 / MATSUMOTO CASTLE & CITY ART MUSEUM / all year round

Located in the shadow the North Japan Alps, Matsumoto is a small historic city best-known for its castle . As a registered National Treasure, Matsumoto Castle is without doubt the beacon that draws visitors to the city but once here, you’ll discover a lovely little town with plenty to keep you entertained for a day. One of the last remaining original castles, Matsumoto is one of Central Japan’s most striking and important cultural assets. Once a wealthy merchant town, areas of Matsumoto retain its historic charm interspersed with modern development which caters to a burgeoning arts, music and food scene including Matsumoto City Art Museum and Kusama Yayoi collection .

Matsumoto is easily accessible using the Limited Express Azusa service from Shinjuku Station – taking around 2.5 hours each way – putting it within reach as a day-trip or excellent option for an overnight or multi-day getaway, from where you can launch yourself into the North Japan Alps – the highest mountain range in Japan – see below for details. For tips and suggestions of what to do in Matsumoto, see our ’25 Things To Do Matsumoto & Where to Stay’ page .

14 / NAGANO SKI RESORTS: DAY-TRIPS FROM TOKYO / December to April

Another experience best enjoyed as a multi-day visit, visitors with limited time can still head to Nagano to enjoy one of the region’s many outstanding ski resorts and return on the same day. The nearest and easiest to reach of the Nagano resorts is Karuizawa Prince Hotel Snow Resort – which is within 5 to 10-minutes drive of Karuizawa Station, and as such, within 90-minutes of Tokyo Station.

While pleasant, the resort is however small and best-suited to beginners. Intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders won’t find a lot of entertain them in Karuizawa therefore we suggest heading onto Nagano Station from where Shiga Kogen – Japan’s largest resort – is accessible using the express bus service – a total of around 3-hours from Tokyo – or alternatively, use the express bus from Nagano Station to the resorts of Hakuba Valley – between 2.5 to 3-hours from Tokyo. Another option is to stay on the shinkansen past Nagano, to the next stop – Iiyama Station. From Iiyama, an express bus runs to nearby Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort or local bus services run to Madarao Mountain Resort – also putting both resorts within 2.5 to 3-hours of Tokyo.

Of course, if you have the time we encourage you to stay and enjoy the resorts to their fullest on a multi-day visit. For more information, see our ‘Japan Ski Resorts’ main page .

15 / YUZAWA: SNOW, SAKE & HOT SPRINGS / all year round

Finally, our last recommended day-trip from Tokyo is to the hot spring and ski resort town of Yuzawa in Niigata. A convenient stop on the Joetsu Shinkansen Line running from Tokyo to Niigata City, Echigo-Yuzawa Station can be beached in around 85-minutes from the capital. In winter, shinkansen services run directly to Gala-Yuzawa Station, which sits directly beneath the ski resort of Gala Yuzawa . For this reason, Gala is hugely popular with Tokyo residents and while the ease of access will appeal to many visitors, just be aware that the resort becomes very crowded and weather conditions can make the conditions icy and poor. For that reason, we recommend heading to the resorts of Nagano – a little bit further but worth the effort. Please note, if you want to ski/snowboard in Yuzawa, resorts in the area are typically open from mid-December until the end of March (depending on snow conditions). Outside of winter, Yuzawa offers a nice escape from Tokyo with its ropeway, alpine garden, hot springs, restaurants and ‘sake’ bars offering respite from the congestion of the capital. For suggestions of what to do while in Yuzawa, see our ’15 Things To Do Around Yuzawa & Where To Stay’ page .

15 OVERNIGHT & MULTI-DAY GETAWAYS FROM TOKYO

Having considered what’s on offer in Central Japan as day-trips, let’s turn our attention to f ifteen overnight and multi-day getaways from Tokyo in Central Japan. Noting that some of the following will expand on destinations already discussed, let’s start with the obvious one:

16 / NAGANO SKI RESORTS: MULTI-DAY GETAWAYS / December to April

If you’re visiting Tokyo in winter and looking to enjoy some of the world’s best powder and welcoming ski resorts, then it’s time to head to Nagano! As discussed above, several of the region’s resorts can be enjoyed as day-trips but if you have the time, are best enjoyed over several days. As Japan’s largest ski resort, we recommend heading to Shiga Kogen .

Shiga offers visitors and unmatched expanse of interconnected ski fields, Japan’s highest ski runs, Nagano’s longest season and most reliable powder – and all within easy reach of Nagano Station and Jigokudani Monkey Park. Based in Nagano, we partner with hotels in Shiga Kogen in offering ski packages including transport, accommodation, lift passes and a range of optional add-ons including tours to the monkeys. By extending your stay in Nagano, you can access more ski fields with the option of combining multiple resorts including the resorts of Hakuba Valley including Happo-One, Hakuba Goryu & 47, Iwatake, Tsugaike, and Hakuba Cortina & Norikura, the nearby resorts of Nozawa Onsen and Madarao , or the more distant but easily accessible resorts of Myoko Kogen .

17 / ENJOY AN OVERNIGHT ‘ONSEN’ GETAWAY / all year round

Nagano and the wider region of Central Japan is blessed with countless natural hot springs and some of Japan’s most famous ‘onsen’ towns. Whether you are visiting Japan for the first time or are a seasoned veteran of these shores, enjoying an overnight getaway at one of the region’s many fantastic hot spring guesthouses is one of the most quintessential Japanese experiences and the best way to escape the commotion of Tokyo.

Our ‘Onsen In & Around Nagano’ page has everything you need to know about choosing where to go, what’s involved in enjoying a hot spring, and what to expect when staying at a ‘ryokan’ (traditional guesthouse). With so many to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start however we always recommend spending a night in Yamanouchi – Home of the Snow Monkeys and the onsen towns of Kanbayashi, Shibu and Yudanaka.

Within easy reach of Tokyo via Nagano City, the hot springs of Yamanouchi can be enjoyed all year round. Our ‘Visit the Best Onsen Towns in Central Japan’ page includes lots of information about these and other towns in the region, including on of Japan’s most famous hot spring towns…

18 / KUSATSU ONSEN (VIA KARUIZAWA) / all year round

Accessible by bus from Karuizawa Station, Kusatsu Onsen is one of Japan’s most famous hot spring towns. Fed by the volcanic waters of Mount Shirane , the town is instantly recognisable to most Japanese due to its iconic ‘yubatake’ or ‘Hot Water Field’, that cools the thermal water before feeding it into the town’s many onsen guesthouses.

While Karuizawa can be enjoyed as a day-trip from Tokyo, to get the most out your time in nearby Kusatsu requires at least an overnight stay at one of its many hot spring guesthouses. Doing so over a one or two nights allows visitors to enjoy the best the area has to offer including what’s on offer in Kusatsu and Karuizawa including nearby Mount Asama – one of Japan’s most active volcanoes and home to the unique Onioshidashi Volcanic Park . For further suggestions and reasons to visit Kusatsu, please refer to our ‘25 Things To Do Around Kusatsu Onsen & Where To Stay’ page .

19 / KISO ONTAKE MOUNTAIN RANGE & KISO VALLEY (VIA NAGOYA OR NAGANO ) / all year round

The Kiso Ontake Mountain Range runs through the very centre of Japan and dominated by Mount Ontake, Ontake is the second tallest volcano in Japan – behind Fuji – with an elevation of 3,067m. The region is blessed with rare beauty, typified by its lush forests, stunningly coloured rivers, rushing waterfalls, and picturesque towns and villages spread through the area.

The attractions Kiso Ontake Mountain Range include the fabled Nakasendo Trail – see below, the Ontake Ropeway , the Shirakawa Ice Pillars and numerous forest trails leading to stunning rivers and gorges – one of Central Japan’s less-visited but most remarkable enclaves. Most famously, the Nakasendo Trail runs through this region including the best-preserved post towns of Narai, Magome and Tsumago. An area known as ‘Kiso-ji’, it has long been famous for its timber industry including traditional crafts and lacquerware. Readily accessible from Tokyo using the Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya and then the Limited Express Shinano onto a local station, the Kiso Ontake Mountain Range offers many reasons to visit in each season. The region is best enjoyed on a multi-day visit from Tokyo.

For tips and suggestions of what’s on offer in the area, see our ’25 Things To Do Around The Kiso Valley / Nakasendo & Where To Stay’ page .

20 / WALK THE HISTORIC NAKASENDO (VIA NAGOYA OR NAGANO) / all year round

During Japan’s Edo Period (1603 to 1868) the Nakasendo was one of five major routes linking Kyoto to the new capital of Tokyo, then called ‘Edo’. Stretching over 500 kilometres between the two cities, the name Nakasendo translates as ‘中/naka = middle; 山 / sen = mountain; 道 / do = road’, or the ‘Road Through the Mountains’. Today, the hiking route known as the ‘Nakasendo Trail’ or ‘Nakasendo Way’ follows the historic road, transporting those who walk it through both pace and time and deep into the heart of Japan.

Sections of the trail can be walked to this day, with the most beautiful section passing through the Kiso Valley . Blessed with the beautifully preserved ‘postal towns’ of Narai, Magome and Tsumago.  The trail can be walked any time of year however we recommend spring and autumn to coincide with the cherry blossoms and autumn leaves . These are the most popular seasons for walking the trail so make sure to book your accommodation well in advance.

Walking the Nakasendo is best enjoyed as a multi-day itinerary, which can be easily combined with other great destinations in Kiso Ontake or nearby Matsumoto, Nagoya or Nagano City. For tips and suggestions of what’s on offer in the area, see our ’25 Things To Do Around The Kiso Valley / Nakasendo & Where To Stay’ page .

21 / ENJOY A RURAL GETAWAY IN AZUMINO (VIA MATSUMOTO) / all year round

No matter how much you love Tokyo, before long – usually sooner rather than later – most people need to get out and have a break. Located just down the line from Matsumoto City , Azumino is a beautiful rural enclave in the shadow of the North Alps – the perfect place for a country getaway. Home to scenic farmlands producing some of Nagano’s best fruit and vegetables, exploring Azumino through summer and autumn is a great way to enjoy the harvest including fruit-picking at one of the many local farms.

In recent years, a number of galleries and museums have opened in the area with restaurants and cafes complementing them perfectly. Cycling around the area from Hotaka Station is a great way to take in the atmosphere of the Azumino – just one of the many outdoor activities in the area. With great hot spring guesthouses and within easy reach of Matsumoto City, the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route and Kamikochi – see below for details – Azumino is an ideal destination for a multi-day escape to Central Japan. For more tips and suggestions, see our ’20 Things To Do Around Azumino & Where To Stay’ page .

22 / KAMIKOCHI (VIA MATSUMOTO OR NAGANO) / April to November

Private Tour

Accessible via Matsumoto or Nagano City, Kamikochi is one of Central Japan’s most rewarding experiences. Situated in the Chubu Sangaku National Park, Kamikochi is a pristine and beautiful alpine valley open to the public from mid-April until mid-November each year. The valley follows the Azusa River while some of Japan’s tallest mountain peaks rise to over 3000 meters above. From the Kamikochi Bus Terminal, walking trails span-out along the valley – suitable to anyone of reasonable fitness – before more advanced hiking and mountaineering trails lead into the mountains. Considered the jewel of the Chubu Sangaku National Park, visiting Kamikochi is one of Nagano’s most memorable experiences – a truly special place of natural and spiritual importance. For accommodation listings in and around Kamikochi, please see our ‘Kamikochi Area’ hotel page .

23 / TAKAYAMA & SHIRAKAWA-GO (VIA KAMIKOCHI) / all year round

Visitors heading to Kamikochi should consider tying the visit into two more of Central Japan’s most rewarding destinations – this historic old town of Takayama and World Heritage-listed villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama. Descending from Kamikochi on the western-side of the mountain range, Takayama is around 60-minutes drive and a hugely popular destination famous for the preservation of its Edo Period (1603-1868) historic centre . Considered one of the best preserved Edo Period townscapes in Japan, Takayama can be busy during the day but is still worth exploring – especially if you do so in the morning or late afternoon and wander down some of the less busy streets.

Takayama is equally well-known for its food culture including Hida beef – considered some of the best in Japan – and its famous beef sushi, Takayama ramen and more! For foodies, Takayama is a real treat. If you have your eye on a particular restaurant, make sure to book in advance! For more information, see our ’25 Things To Do Around Takayama & Where To Stay’ page .

An hour on from Takayama, the picturesque villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama were inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1995. Actually consisting of three villages, they are known for their distinctive ‘gassho-style’ thatch-roofed houses set in a beautiful alpine setting of rice fields and high mountains above. World Heritage-listing has ensured that the villages are hugely popular with both domestic and international tourists but don’t let that put you off. The villages are well-worth visiting and walking away for the central area of the main village of Ogimachi, will quickly have you unencumbered by other visitors.

If you really want to avoid the crowds, consider heading to the other villages of Suganuma and Ainokura. Much smaller than Ogimachi they are also far less visited and offer a peaceful experience of these important rural hamlets. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Shirakawa-go & Gokayama Area’ hotel page .

24 / TOYAMA (VIA THE TATEYAMA-KUROBE ALPINE ROUTE) / April to November

As discussed above, the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route can be undertaken as a day-trip from Tokyo by ascending and descending on the Nagano-side of the mountain range*. Perfectly enjoyable as a day-trip, it is however a long day when coming from Tokyo therefore we recommend enjoying the Alpine Route on a multi-day visit , allowing you to traverse the entire route and descend on the Toyama-side of the North Alps.

Starting from Ogizawa Station on the Nagano-side, mountain transports carry you up to Murodo Station from where you can walk under the immense Snow Walls (at their most grand from mid-April to June) or walk the leisurely trails that span-out from the station (June to November), including a more serious hike to the summit of Tateyama – one of Japan’s three sacred mountains. Staying atop Tateyama at one of several hotels around Murodo Station is a great way to experience one of Japan’s most beautiful alpine landscapes and renowned starscape at night before heading down the Toyama-side of the mountain to Tateyama Station, from where it’s quick onward journey to Toyama.

Located near the coast and fertile fishing grounds of Toyama Bay, t he city and region is best known for its seafood – considered some of the best in Japan – which is best enjoyed at coastal markets or one of the city’s many fine restaurants. Visitor’s to Toyama will discover a pleasant and modern city, often overlooked by international visitors but rewarding for anyone who stays and a convenient launching point from where to explore the region.

A stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line, it’s a quick journey from Toyama onto Kanazawa or should you wish to head back to Tokyo, a direct return journey to the capital. For tips and suggestions of things to do in Toyama, see our ’25 Things To Do Around Toyama & Where To Stay’ page . Please note, Toyama Station is a stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line running from Tokyo to Kanazawa, meaning that visitors from Tokyo can head directly to the city and should they wish to, traverse the Alpine Route from the Toyama-side to the Nagano-side and back to Tokyo from Nagano Station.

25 / KANAZAWA, FUKUI & THE NORTH COAST / all year round

From Tokyo, the engaging city of Kanazawa can be approached multiple ways. The most direct route is using the Hokuriku Shinkansen, for which Tokyo Station and Kanazawa Station act as the terminals – 150 to 190-miuntes depending on which service you choose. Alternatively, visitors heading from Tokyo to Kamikochi and onto Takayama and Shirakawa-go, can easily then head onto Kanazawa by bus, and for visitors heading to the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route and onto Toyama – another stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line – it’s only a 20-minute train ride onto Kanazawa.

However you get there, Kanazawa is one of Japan’s most pleasant and historic cities boasting an attractive mix of historic areas, modern museums and great food. Part of the ancient Kaga Province, the name Kanazawa literally translates as ‘marsh of gold’. Today, Kanazawa remains a city of historic districts and modern entertainments. From the centrally-located Kanazawa City, it is a pleasant city to explore on-foot.

Attractions include one of Japan’s most famous gardens, Kenrokuen , along with Kanazawa Castle Park and the historic districts of Nagamachi and Higashi Chaya. Kanazawa boasts many excellent museums and galleries and a terrific food scene including one of Japan’s best seafood markets, Omicho . For tips and suggestions of everything on offer, see our ’25 Things To Do Around Kanazawa & Where To Stay’ page .

From Kanazawa, it’s an easy onward journey to the neighbouring prefecture of Fukui. Often overlooked by international visitors, the region boasts some fantastic and rewarding destinations including the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum , the sprawling temple complex of Daihonzan Eihei-ji , castles, ancient ruins and access to the north coast.

Exploring the north coast by car is easy and recommended. Now far away from the maddening crowds of Tokyo, roads are simple to navigate and reward visitors with fantastic views and of course, great seafood at local markets and restaurants. If you have the time to do so, we recommend also heading to the remote Noto Peninsula from Kanazawa – one of Japan’s least visited but most beautiful regions. For further tips and suggestions, see our ’10 Things To Do In Fukui & Where To Stay’ page .

26 / THE KII PENINSULA (VIA NAGOYA) / all year round

Easily accessible from Tokyo using the Tokaido Shinkansen, Nagoya is another of Japan’s great modern metropolises offering lots to do. Enjoyable as a destination in its own right, it’s a convenient from where to head north deeper into Central Japan – including the onsen towns of Gifu Prefecture and onto Takayama and Shirakawa-go, Kiso Ontake and the Nakasendo, or head west to the Kii Peninsula.

While you may not of heard of it, the Kii Peninsula is one of Japan’s most important spiritual destinations, boasting three hugely important destinations – the Ise Grand Shrine , the World Heritage-listed trails and shrines of the Kumano Kodo , and the temple mountain of Koyasan . To explore the area fully takes multiple days but is well-worth doing so as visitors who allocate the time to enjoy the Kii Peninsula will be treated to one of Japan’s most meaningful and engaging destinations. For further information about what’s on offer including accommodation listings, see our ’25 Things To Do In Around Nagoya & Where To Stay’ page .

27 / HAKUBA: HIKING & GREEN SEASON FUN (VIA NAGANO) / May to November

Best known for its ski resorts, the mountains of Hakuba are just as big outside of winter and the area is quickly becoming known as much for what it has to offer in spring through to autumn. As an access point to the North Alps – more properly referred to as the ‘Hida’ Mountains – Hakuba offers some of Central Japan’s best hiking and mountaineering from mid-June until early-October. Easily accessible from Hakuba village, Mount Shirouma is a great option looking to enjoy some fantastic hiking as an easy overnight trip from Tokyo.

In the midst of summer, the alpine areas of Nagano and Central Japan offer some welcome relief from the heat and humidity of Tokyo, therefore we recommend going slow and spending a couple of nights in Hakuba to enjoy everything it has to offer including its multiple ropeways, more leisurely walking trails, mountain-biking and cycling, rafting, hot-air ballooning and guided outdoor experiences . For tips and suggestions of what’s on offer, see our ’25 Things To Do Around Hakuba & Where To Stay’ page .

28 / SHIGA KOGEN: ESCAPE BACK TO NATURE (VIA NAGANO) / May to November

Sitting within broader enclave of Yamanouchi, Shiga Kogen is best known as Japan’s largest ski resort. Less than 30-minutes drive from the Jigokudani Monkey Park, both Shiga and the monkey park also sit within the beautiful Joshinetsu Kogen National Park – an expansive alpine area blessed with pristine beauty, unique flora and fauna, and multiple mountain peaks. As the snow recedes in May, the landscape opens-up, inviting visitors back to enjoy leisurely hiking and walking trails, fantastic nature and wildlife photography, ropeways, hot springs, and leisurely days away from the heat of the cities while in autumn, Shiga and nearby Kita-Shiga are blessed with some of the region’s best autumn leaves. For tips and suggestions of what to do in Shiga, see our ‘Explore Yamanouchi – Home of the Snow Monkeys’ page .

An overnight or multi-day visit to Shiga Kogen allows visitors to enjoy multiple destinations including the monkey park and attractions of nearby Nagano City. Indeed, visitors wanting to combine a visit to Shiga with the other attractions of Yamanouchi and Nagano City can do so easily by choosing accommodation in those areas. For accommodation listings, see the relevant hotel page: Shiga Kogen Area / Yamanouchi Area / Nagano City Area .

29 / ECHIGO-TSUMARI ART FIELD (VIA YUZAWA) / best: July to September

Serviced by Echigo-Yuzawa Station on the Joetsu Shinkansen Line, Yuzawa is a small hot spring town with a big reputation for snow. Outside of winter however there’s just as much on offer including great hiking and mountaineering in the surrounding mountains, music festivals including Japan’s largest – Fuji Rock, and the increasingly popular Echigo-Tsumari Art Field.

First held in 2000, Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial (ETAT) or Echigo-Tsumari Art Field is the creation of Niigata-born, Kitagawa Fram. As the director of Tokyo’s Art Front Gallery, Kitagawa Fram envisioned and initiated the arts festival as a means of rejuvenation of his home region.

The official triennial occurs every three years, with the next scheduled for summer 2021. Intervening years see a smaller summer festival however with many installations being placed outdoors in settings including forests, rivers and rice fields, the festival in effect never really stops and can be enjoyed all year round. Installations and projects range for the grand in scale to small, with notable artworks by high-profile international and Japanese artists sitting alongside those by local people. Most easily accessed via Yuzawa, the festival is best enjoyed by hiring a car or arranging private transport between the sites and staying at least one night. For more information, see our ’15 Things To Do In Yuzawa & Where To Stay’ page .

30 / CLIMB MOUNT FUJI / July to September

Rounding things out back where we started, visitors wanting to head to Fuji and climb it will need to do so – or at least are best to do so – as an overnight trip. Fuji’s official climbing season runs from early-July until mid-September , during which time, all trails and mountain facilities are open. Weather is typically mild and this time and snow will be gone from the mountain. Visitors have the option of summitting Fuji via different trails including the Yoshida Trail – open from early-July until mid-September – along with the Subashiri, Gotemba and Fujinomiya Trails – open from mid-July until mid-September.

Stations are positioned along each trail with most climbers choosing to walk from the 5 th station of their chosen trail. The Yoshida Trail is the most popular and as such, the Fuji Subaru Line 5 th Station on that trail is a very popular starting point for many visitors. From the 5 th station, it takes between 5 to 7 hours to ascend and 3 to 5 hours to descend. Climbing Fuji is an extremely popular undertaking for both Japanese and international visitors. The more popular trails are likely to be congested as you join a column of many hundreds of people moving up the mountain. Mountain huts are available around the 7 th and 8 th stations however these book-out, so should wish to use one, make sure to reserve your spot well in advance.

It is also worth noting that Fuji stands at just under 4000 metres in height. As you ascend, the air is notably thinner. It will affect most people and can have serious health implications for some visitors. Even in summer, temperatures can be cold – potentially below 0°C – near the summit, so make sure you are well-prepared and suitably dressed. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Kawaguchi Lake (Kawaguchi-ko) Onsen Area’ page .

Finally, Mount Fuji is an active volcano and your personal safety should be your first priority . The Japan Meteorological Agency provides real-time advice and warnings for the entire country. Prior to visiting Fuji, we recommend checking the following website .

WHERE TO STAY IN TOKYO?

Not just the largest city in Japan but also the largest city in the world, Tokyo is a sprawling giant that must be experienced at least once. Knowing where to stay when visiting Tokyo can make a huge difference when it comes to getting around the city and ultimately, getting the most out of your time there. Our ‘Where To Stay In Tokyo?’ page breakdowns the best areas to stay including accommodation listings.

BOOK WITH US! NAGANO’S NO.1 TOUR & CHARTER OPERATOR

Operating all year round, we are Nagano’s No.1-rated tour and charter operator , offering a range of services including group tours, private tours and charters. We can arrange transport including a private vehicle and driver, to transport you to, from and between any destination in Central Japan.

Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified , allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations in combination with any activity that suits your schedule. All vehicles are fitted with a protective screen – separating the driver from passenger and luggage area – and our drivers wear protective masks , allowing you to move between your destinations in comfort and safety.

We can arrange both private tours with an English-speaking guide or a private charter, including a private vehicle and driver but without a guide. We’d love to be part of your adventure in Central Japan and help you discover even more!

Why choose us?

Awarded a 2022 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for our  1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour  – recognised as one of the Top 10 Experiences in Japan – we have the local knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of your time in Nagano and Central Japan.

Got a question about visiting Central Japan? Contact us and let’s get planning together!

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PlanetWare.com

16 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Tokyo

Written by Meagan Drillinger and Bryan Dearsley Updated Mar 19, 2024 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

When it comes to the greatest cities in the world, you cannot do better than Tokyo. A juxtaposition of deep tradition and fast-paced, modern energy, Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, is one of the best places to visit in Asia . It is home to the Imperial Palace and the seat of Government and Parliament, as well as luxury hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants, and fantastic shopping. Located in East-Central Honshu, the largest of Japan's main islands, this heavily populated city serves as a great base from which to explore other parts of the country.

Sensō-ji Temple in the Asakusa district of Tokyo

One of the world's most modern cities in terms of its infrastructure and design — due largely to the 1923 earthquake and the devastation of WWII — Tokyo also holds the title of the world's most expensive city in which to live. Fortunately, it's also one of the easiest to get around thanks to its superb rail and subway networks.

The cultural side of Tokyo is famous for its numerous things to do and top attractions, including museums; festivals; internationally noted cuisine; and professional sports clubs, including baseball, football, and traditional Japanese pursuits like sumo wrestling. It's also a city rich in music and theater, with numerous venues featuring everything from Japanese modern dramas to symphony orchestras and pop and rock concerts.

Explore the city with our list of the top things to do in Tokyo.

1. Enjoy Nature and Art at the Meiji Shrine

2. explore the shinjuku gyoen national garden, 3. enjoy nature at ueno park and ueno zoo, 4. visit the sensō-ji temple, 5. shop 'til you drop in the ginza district, 6. see the view from the tokyo skytree, 7. wander through the tokyo national museum, 8. tour the imperial palace, 9. visit the miraikan and edo-tokyo museums, 10. stop in at the national museum of nature and science, 11. spend time at the national museum of western art, 12. enjoy the collections at the national art center, 13. see a show at the kabuki-za theatre, ginza, 14. get lost at yomiuriland, 15. scope the fashion in harajuku, 16. take a walk at shibuya crossing, where to stay in tokyo for sightseeing, tips and tours: how to make the most of your visit to tokyo, map of tourist attractions & things to do in tokyo, best time to visit tokyo, japan.

The Meiji Shrine

Highlights : An important religious site surrounded by 175 acres of forest

Dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken, the construction of the splendid Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingū) began in 1915 and was completed in 1926. Although the original structure was destroyed during WWII, it was rebuilt in 1958 and remains one of Tokyo's most important religious sites.

Surrounded by a 175-acre evergreen forest that is home to some 120,000 trees representing species found across Japan — as well as the interesting "wishing tree," on which visitors can write and hang their deepest wishes — the shrine's highlights include its Inner Precinct (Naien) with its museum containing royal treasures, and the Outer Precinct (Gaien).

It's in the Outer Precinct that you'll find the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery with its superb collection of murals relating to the lives of the emperor and empress. Be sure to also visit the adjacent Meiji Shrine Inner Garden (Yoyogi Gyoen), an attractive public garden complete with a teahouse, iris garden, and a pleasant arbor.

Address: 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya City, Tokyo

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Highlights : Three types of traditional gardens in one, including 1,500 cherry trees

Walk through one of Tokyo's most historic pieces of land when you visit the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Formerly the residence of the Naito family during the Edo period (17th-19th centuries), it was transferred to the Imperial Family. It is now a national garden, which opened in 1949, and is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Japan.

The garden is considered one of the best because it fuses together three types of traditional garden: French Formal, English Landscape, and Japanese traditional. It also happens to be one of the best spots in Tokyo to view the cherry blossoms , as the garden has roughly 1,500 cherry trees. You'll also find Himalayan cedars, cypresses, and tulip trees. The garden is very popular in the autumn, when the leaves start to change to crimson and gold.

Other features of the garden include a greenhouse, beautiful ponds, and several pavilions.

Address: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo

Ueno Park and Ueno Zoo

Highlights : A 212-acre park home to ponds, historic shrines, and the Ueno Zoo

A paradise-like oasis of green in the heart of busy Tokyo, Ueno Park (Ueno Kōen) is the city's largest green space and one of its most popular tourist attractions. In addition to its lovely grounds, the park also boasts numerous temples and museums to explore.

Criss-crossed by pleasant gravel paths, this 212-acre park includes highlights such as a trip on a small boat on the reed-fringed Shinobazu pond , around a little island with its Bentendo Temple. Be sure to also visit the 17th-century Toshogu Shrine (Nikkō Tōshō-gū), with its 256 bronze and stone lanterns.

Another highlight here is Ueno Zoo (Onshi Ueno Dōbutsuen). Opened in 1882, it is Japan's oldest zoo, and is famous for the pandas presented by the People's Republic of China.

While it's a large attraction and houses more than 3,00 animals representing some 400 species, having a fun monorail connecting its various components can help speed up a visit (and make it even more enjoyable).

The Aqua-Zoo , one of the largest aquariums in Asia, is also worth a visit, especially if you're traveling with kids.

Address: 9-83 Uenokoen, Taito City, Tokyo

Ueno-Park - Floor plan map

Highlights : A centuries-old temple with a 3.3-meter-high red paper lantern and incense that is said to heal ailments

In the Asakusa district of Tokyo, the exquisite Sensō-ji Temple (Kinryū-zan Sensō-ji)) – the city's most famous shrine – stands at the end of a long street market hosting vendors selling masks, carvings, combs made of ebony and wood, toys, kimonos, fabrics, and precious paper goods.

Dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of compassion, the temple was established in AD 645 and retains its original appearance despite having been rebuilt numerous times.

Highlights of a visit include seeing the Kaminari-mon Gate with its 3.3-meter-high red paper lantern bearing the inscription "Thunder Gate," as well as the famous and much-loved Incense Vat, reputed to drive away ailments (you'll see people cupping their hands around the smoke and applying it to the part of their body needing healing).

Also of note are the fascinating temple doves, said to be Kannon's sacred messengers. Be sure to drop a coin in the Omikuji boxes near the entrance, from which you can retrieve a piece of paper that will tell your fortune.

Afterward, be sure to explore the rest of the 50-acre temple precinct with its warren of lanes. If you can, revisit the temple again at night for a completely different (and far less crowded) illuminated experience.

Address: 2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo 111-0032

Asakusa - Floor plan map

Highlights : A paradise for shoppers with hundreds of shops and restaurants in one of the world's largest pedestrian zones

Ginza is Tokyo's busiest shopping area and it's as iconic as Times Square in New York, and much older. It has in fact been the commercial center of the country for centuries and is where five ancient roads connecting Japan's major cities all met. Lined by exclusive shops and imposing palatial stores, the Ginza district is also fun to simply wander around or. Better still, sit in one of its many tea and coffee shops or restaurants while watching the world rush past.

At weekends, when everything is open, it's a shopper's paradise as traffic is barred, making it one of the world's largest pedestrian zones. Come nightfall, gigantic advertising panels on its many buildings bathe Ginza in bright neon light.

It's also where you'll find the famous Kabuki-za Theatre (see #12 below), home to traditional Kabuki performances, as well as the Shinbashi Enbujō Theatre in which Azuma-odori dances and Bunraku performances are staged.

Tokyo Skytree

Highlights : The tallest structure in the country, featuring a restaurant and multiple observation decks

It's hard to miss the Tokyo Skytree (Tōkyō Sukaitsurī). This 634-meter-tall communications and observation tower rises out of the city's Sumida district of Minato like a huge rocket ship.

The country's tallest structure (and the world's tallest freestanding tower), the Tokyo Skytree opened in 2012 and has quickly become one of the city's most visited tourist attractions thanks to the incredible panoramic views from its restaurant and observation decks.

With a base designed in the form of a massive tripod, the tower includes a number of cylindrical observation levels, including one at the 350-meter mark, and another at the 450-meter point - the latter includes a unique glass spiral walkway to an even higher viewpoint with glass floors for those with strong stomachs.

Be sure to also check out the smaller and much older Tokyo Tower , built in 1958 and once the city's tallest structure.

Address: 1 Chome-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida City, Tokyo

Tokyo National Museum

Highlights : One of the largest collections of historic Japanese clothing and pottery from across Asia

Tokyo National Museum (ōkyō Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan) houses more than 100,000 important works of Japanese, Chinese, and Indian art, including more than 100 national treasures.

Opened in 1938, the TNM, as it's usually known, includes highlights such as numerous Buddhist sculptures from Japan and China dating from the 6th century to the present, as well as fine collections of old textiles, historical weapons, and military equipment.

Also noteworthy are its large collections of historical Japanese clothing and Asian ceramics and pottery. Important artwork includes Japanese paintings from the 7th to the 14th centuries, and another must-see is the museum's exquisite collections of Japanese and Chinese masterpieces of lacquer work of various centuries, including examples of lacquer-carving, gold lacquer, and lacquer with mother of pearl. There are also many fine examples of calligraphy.

English-language guided tours are available. Also worth a visit is the museum's traditional Japanese landscape garden with its three pavilions, including the 17th-century Tein Teahouse (Rokuso-an), and the nearby Museum for East Asiatic Art with its 15 exhibition galleries.

Address: 13-9 Uenokoen, Taito City, Tokyo

The Imperial Palace

Highlights : A 17th-century palace known for its historic walls, bridge, gate, and garden

The chief attraction of Tokyo's Marunouchi district is the Imperial Palace (Kōkyo) with its beautiful 17th-century parks surrounded by walls and moats. Still in use by the Imperial family, the Imperial Palace stands on the site where, in 1457, the Feudal Lord Ota Dokan built the first fortress, the focal point from which the city of Tokyo (or Edo, as it was then) gradually spread.

As famous as the palace is the Nijubashi Bridge leading to its interior, a structure that takes its name ("double bridge") from its reflection in the water. Other notable features include the two-meter-thick wall surrounding the palace and its gates, one of which leads to the East Higashi-Gyoen Garden.

Tours of the Imperial Palace are available (pre-registration required) and include the Kikyo-mon Gate, Someikan (Visitors' House), Fujimi-yagura ("Mt. Fuji View" Keep), the East Gardens and Inner Gate, the Seimon-tetsubashi bridge, and the Imperial Household Agency Building (be sure to plan ahead).

Another fortress that can be visited is Edo Castle (Chiyoda Castle). Built in 1457, it's located in Tokyo's Chiyoda district.

Address: 1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-8111

National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan)

Highlights : Hands-on exhibits that teach visitors about everything from earthquakes to weather, energy, robotics, and much more

One of Tokyo's newest museums, the impressive National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Nippon Kagaku Mirai-kan) – usually simply referred to as the Miraikan – offers a fascinating insight into Japan's leading role in the field of technology.

Created by Japan's Science and Technology Agency, this ultra-modern, purpose-built facility includes many hands-on interactive exhibits dealing with everything from earthquakes to weather, as well as renewable energy and robotics. Highlights include a number of displays relating to modern transportation such as a superb model of a Maglev train, as well as a robotics exhibition.

Also worth visiting is the Edo-Tokyo Museum. Completed in 1993, the museum's exhibits deal with the region's rich past, present, and future. Of particular interest is a replica bridge leading into a mock-up of dwellings in the original old city of Edo.

Address: 2-3-6 Aomi, Koto City, Tokyo

Dinosaur skeleton at the National Museum of Nature and Science

Highlights : A newly renovated museum housing 250,000 items related to natural history and science

Located in Tokyo's Ueno Park , the superb National Museum of Nature and Science (Kokuritsu Kagaku Hakubutsukan) opened in 1871 and is one of the country's oldest museums.

Now completely renovated and modernized, the museum also boasts a reputation as one of the country's busiest and largest museums, housing a vast collection of some 250,000 materials related to natural history and science.

These include many fascinating interactive displays on space development, nuclear energy, and transportation, each allowing visitors a unique insight into the latest scientific and technological advances. Highlights of the Japan Gallery (Nihonkan) include numerous exhibits of prehistoric creatures and the history of the Japanese people, including traditional customs and outfits. In the Global Gallery (Chikyūkan) you'll see many excellent scientific and technology displays, including robotics and vintage vehicles.

Address: 7-20 Uenokoen, Taito, Tokyo 110-871

Sculptures at the National Museum of Western Art

Highlights : A collection of international artists, including Rodin, Monet, Manet, Degas, and many more

Located in Ueno Park and just three minutes' walk from Ueno Station stands the National Museum of Western Art (Kokuritsu Seiyō Bijutsukan). It was built in 1959 to plans by famous Swiss architect Le Corbusier.

The exhibits, largely made up of works by important French artists, come mainly from the collections of Japanese businessman and art collector Kojiro Matsukata, bought during visits to Europe early in the 20th century.

In the courtyard are works by French sculptor Auguste Rodin, while highlights inside are canvases by Impressionists Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, and Edgar Degas. The museum also boasts an excellent restaurant with great views over the courtyard.

Address: 7-7 Uenokoen, Taito City, Tokyo

The National Art Center

Highlights : A permanent collection of more than 600 paintings from the 20th century

Another of Tokyo's world-class museums, the excellent National Art Center (Kokuritsu Shin-Bijutsukan) is housed in a remarkable curved glass building in the city's Roppongi district. This superb facility only opened in 2007 and has since earned a well-deserved reputation for its fine permanent collection of more than 600 paintings, most from the 20th century. These include many important pieces of modern art and regular visiting exhibitions.

Also worth checking out is the Mori Art Museum (Mori Bijutsukan) on the top floors of the neighboring Roppongi Hills Mori Tower . This fine art museum is notable for its regular exhibits of contemporary artwork from around the globe.

Address: 7-22-2 Roppongi Minato City, Tokyo

The Kabuki-za Theatre, Ginza

Highlights : A stunning theater showcasing a centuries-old style of performance

Tokyo is home to a number of excellent theaters, none as well known as the historic Kabuki-za Theatre in the city's busy Ginza district , home to famous traditional Kabuki performances.

Based upon a medieval, highly skilled, and often burlesque theatrical form including song and dance, the theater's performances are as popular among tourists as they are with Japanese-speaking people.

The drama and comedy are relatively easy to follow thanks to rich visuals and theatricality. The theater's interior, usually full to capacity with some 2,000 guests, is always intimate and seems more akin to an enormous family get-together than a stage show due to the fact that spectators bring their own food or purchase treats from the various restaurants spread around the auditorium (go for one of the tasty bento box meals).

Performances can last for hours, and spectators stay as long as they wish (or as long as they can bear). And no one seems to take offense at people's comings and goings, nor their loud cheering or jeering.

Address: 4 Chome-12-15 Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0061

Yomiuriland

Highlights : An amusement park with hundreds of cherry trees, water attractions, and rides

Sometimes you just want a day to be a kid again, and that's exactly what Yomiuriland has given to the residents of Tokyo since 1964. This amusement park sits 30 minutes from Tokyo and is home to more than 40 attractions and seasonal activities – think roller coasters, rides, light shows, and even a bungee jump.

The park is open year-round and provides something exciting to do at each time of year. In the spring, the park's more than 1,000 cherry trees blush with a blanket of powder-soft pinks. The summer means the opening of the park's many pools and water attractions. Come winter, the landscape is transformed into a twinkling snowscape wonderland.

Most travelers come to Yomiuriland to ride the Bandit, a rollercoaster that snakes its way through the tops of the cherry trees. Of course, the summer pools and waterslides are also a major selling point for this thrill park. Visitors will also find shopping and restaurants and a stage for entertainment.

Address: 4015-1 Yanokuchi, Inagi, Tokyo 206-8566, Japan

Harajuku, Tokyo

Highlights : Outrageous fashion and futuristic boutiques sit alongside historic attractions and museums.

Nothing is too outrageous when it comes to Tokyo's frenetic Harajuku District. The neighborhood refers to the area near the Harajuku Station, sandwiched between Shinjuku and Shibuya. If you're looking to bend the rules when it comes to everything cultural and fashionable, this is the spot to go.

The main artery of Harajuku (and the best place to spot the crazy teen fashions) is Takeshita Dori, which is flanked on either end by wild and wacky shops. Pink hair, tattoos, and knee-high boots are just the tip of the iceberg here. Even if your style is on the tamer side, fret not – Harajuku has plenty of more mainstream boutiques, as well.

But Harajuku is also home to several historical attractions. Meiji Jingu is located here, as is the small Ota Memorial Museum of Art. Overall, it's the perfect neighborhood to encapsulate Japan's deep-rooted traditions with its surges of futuristic styles.

Aerial view of Shibuya Crossing

Highlight : More than 3,000 human beings cross the streets at once at this five-way intersection.

If you've never seen an image of Shibuya Crossing, you may want to take a look before you go. Think Times Square, and multiply it several times over. This intersection is one of the most famous in the world, and most definitely the busiest in Japan, flooded with hundreds of thousands of flashing lights from electronic billboards overhead.

At peak times, it is thought that somewhere around 3,000 people cross this five-way intersection at once. It is undoubtedly the mass-transit nucleus of Tokyo. But if the thought of crossing the street with 3,000 of your newest friends is overwhelming, you can always head to the rooftop of the Shibuya 109-2 department store, which has the best bird's-eye view over the organized chaos below.

And even if you aren't in Shibuya to cross the street, you will still find that this neighborhood is absolutely teeming with fabulous restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. It is certainly a neighborhood not to miss when you visit Tokyo.

The best area to stay in Tokyo is the city center within walking distance of top attractions, such as the Imperial Palace, and close to Tokyo Station with its public transit and high-speed rail connections. The following hotels are highly recommended:

Luxury Hotels:

  • Perched atop an office tower on the edge of Tokyo's financial district, the high-rise Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo offers excellent views over the city. Rooms and suites are posh, with chic decor and comfy beds. There are 10 restaurants on-site. You'll also find a spa, an indoor swimming pool, and a fitness center.
  • Also boasting great views, this time over Tokyo Bay, is the Conrad Tokyo . This luxury hotel is also popular for its proximity to the Ginza district, which is home to great shopping and dining. On-site amenities here include an excellent Cantonese restaurant, a Japanese restaurant with views across the bay, and a third restaurant serving upmarket European fare. You'll also find a swanky spa with an indoor pool and gym in the building.
  • Some of the best views in the city are discovered at the refurbished Palace Hotel Tokyo . If you are on a romantic getaway, book one of the posh rooms with a balcony overlooking the gardens of the Imperial Palace. If you're traveling with the kids, many of the suites have kitchens along with separate living rooms. There are multiple restaurants on-site, as well as an indoor swimming pool and a workout room. Finally, treat yourself to a massage at the luxe spa.

Mid-Range Hotels:

  • Close to the Imperial Palace and overlooking the magnificent red brick Renaissance-style Tokyo Station, Hotel Ryumeikan Tokyo is also near the city's best dining and shopping. This good-value option offers contemporary rooms with Nespresso machines and mini-fridges. Some have tatami mats and futons. On-site amenities include a few dining options and a traditional tearoom.
  • Another good mid-range option near public transport and shopping is Hotel Niwa Tokyo . The hotel is located north of the Imperial Palace and adjacent to the Tokyo Dome baseball stadium. It offers clean and comfortable rooms – some even feature whirlpool baths. There are two restaurants on-site, as well as a gym.
  • A great family hotel is the Courtyard by Marriott Tokyo Ginza , just a five-minute walk from the Ginza shopping district. The rooms here feature Japanese-inspired art and comfy beds. The suites also have separate living spaces, which is a bonus for parents. When it comes time to eat, you have three on-site restaurant options, including a Japanese restaurant with hostesses in kimonos and its own tempura counter.

Budget Hotels:

  • Just minutes from the iconic Tokyo Tower and Shiba Park, Richmond Hotel Tokyo Shiba offers reasonably priced accommodations. It is especially popular for its proximity to the Haneda Express Monorail, the direct link to Tokyo's international airport. There is free Wi-Fi and a Starbucks café on-site.
  • Another economy choice located just across the road from the Kanda River and a quick stroll to the nearest metro station is Hotel Mystays Asakusabashi . The property features tidy but basic rooms with free Wi-Fi. If you want to cook for yourself to save cash, book one with a kitchenette. Amenities include a convenience store on-site, as well as bike rentals.
  • If you are really traveling on a tight budget then check out Hotel Yanagibashi , which offers some inexpensive hostel-style shared rooms. There are also cheaper private rooms with shared baths and slightly more expensive private rooms with en-suite baths. There is a communal kitchen so you can cook for yourself, free Wi-Fi, and laundry facilities on-site.
  • Sightseeing & History in Tokyo : Tokyo is a big city, and taking a tour is a time-efficient way to see the top sites and one of the best ways to learn about what you are seeing. For a little bit of everything, the 1-Day Tokyo Bus Tour is a great option. This is a 10-hour tour taking in some of the city's top sites, like the Skytree, a cruise on Tokyo Bay, a visit to the Meiji Shrine, the Imperial Palace, and more.
  • Day Trip to Nikko National Park: Get outside the steel and concrete of Tokyo and into the lush greenery of Nikko National Park with this full-day excursion. The tour takes you into the rolling countryside, past sacred shrines, and into temples. The Nikko 1-Day Bus Tour features Toshogu Shrine, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can also visit Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls.
  • Visit Mt. Fuji : Get up close and personal with one of Japan's biggest attractions: Mount Fuji. On the Mt. Fuji, Hakone, Lake Ashi Cruise, and Bullet Train Day Trip, you'll be whisked out of the city into the countryside for a visit to Mt. Fuji and some of Japan's other top sites. This tour is approximately 12 hours and also includes Mt. Hakone.

Tokyo is a city that enjoys a temperate climate year-round. But the best time to visit Tokyo is March, April, September, October, and November , thanks to its perfect weather and beautiful blossoms and foliage.

September, October, and November are some of the best times to visit Tokyo because they have the best weather. The weather in Tokyo in the fall ranges from 27 degrees to 16 degrees Celsius. The fall is also when the leaves in Tokyo start to change, particularly in October and November. Keep in mind that this is peak time for travelers, so hotel rates may be higher, and expect crowds.

Tokyo is also fabulous during March, April, and May. Temperatures range from 13 to 22 degrees Celsius. April is when Tokyo is awash in pale pink cherry blossoms, as well.

Summers in Tokyo are also top times for tourists, particularly June, July, and August. Expect throngs of crowds during the summer months, as well as heat and humidity. Still, this is one of the top times for tourists to visit Tokyo because schools are out on summer break.

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com

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While in Tokyo : Be sure to spend time exploring the many great attractions within an easy day trip of Tokyo . Highlights include family favorites Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea, as well as a great trip to majestic Mount Fuji .

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Take the Train : Thanks to Japan's superb rail system, it's possible to use Tokyo as a base to explore numerous other great cities in a day or less. Options include taking a Bullet train to experience the attractions of historic Kyoto (passing Mount Fuji along the way), or heading to Nagoya and exploring the city's many fine shrines and temples, along with its famous castle.

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Japan Vacation Ideas : Another city that would serve equally well as a jumping-off point from which to explore Japan is Hiroshima . Here, you can enjoy the amazing Island Shrine of Itsukushima (you can spend the best part of a day here), as well as the many reminders of the city's part in WWII, including Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and the Peace Memorial Museum. The city of Sapporo on the northernmost island of Hokkaido is also a good place to enjoy the country's rich culture, history, and traditions.

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Top 50 Absolutely Must-Do Things in Tokyo: Don't Miss Out the Ultimate Experience

Tokyo - a vibrant city where the past meets present in an eclectic mix of traditional history and modern trends. Renowned as the birthplace of various cultures, the city also is known to the world for its famous sightseeing spots, delicious gourmet food, and accessibility to an abundance of interesting experiences, from the olden to the modern! With so many things to do and so little time, it's no wonder first-time visitors to Japan often find it hard to plan their itineraries. We understand that you want to make the most of your trip to Tokyo, which is why we've put together a list of the top 50 must-do things in Tokyo that will ensure you get the complete "Tokyo" experience. We're confident everyone can find something that tickles their fancy and allows them to have the trip of their life! Not all of these are locations - many are just amazing experiences that everyone needs to try at least once on their Japan travels!

Don't have time to read through the list in-depth? Click here for a simple list and quick page navigation!

1. Shibuya Scramble Crossing: The busiest crossing in the world

Image credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Shibuya is a popular haunt of youngsters in their teens and 20s, and for good reason. Packed to the brim with trendy shops, restaurants, clubs , and livehouses, the energetic vibe in this area is the result of its young and dynamic crowd, which in turn attracts even more like-minded youths. Beyond the demographics of its regulars, however, you'll notice that Shibuya is also home to the largest scramble crossing in the world. Once the lights turn red, all vehicles on the road come to a complete stop in order to allow pedestrians from all sides of the intersection to cross over in whatever direction they wish to go. At its peak, this can be up to 3,000 pedestrians at once! You would be hard-pressed to find a crossing anywhere else in the world that has pedestrian traffic anywhere near what this crosswalk sees on a daily basis. In recent years, this crosswalk has served as the base for seasonal events popular among the younger generation, like New Year countdowns and Halloween, whipping the usually packed streets into an even more frenzied fervor. This intersection has also been featured in plenty of films and videos - from local Japanese productions to major Hollywood blockbusters.

2. Shinjuku Kabukichō: Witness a real-life Godzilla invasion!

Image credit: ome pianuch / Shutterstock.com

Shinjuku Toho Building officially opened in April 2015 with the largest cinema theater in Tokyo, and Shinjuku Kabukichō's Toho Cinemas is integrated within its premises as well. Perched 40 meters (about 131 feet) aboveground on the building's eighth floor rooftop terrace is a giant Godzilla head that is 12 meters (about 40 feet) tall - exactly the same dimensions it had in the first movie it appeared in! With Godzilla's head thus looming over the building, it almost seems like the monster has leapt out of the films into Shinjuku for a real-life invasion. Since photographs with this life-size Godzilla are often well-received on social networks, it goes without saying that this is an extremely popular photo spot among visitors. What's more, the head is programmed to roar at certain times of the day, so if you happen to be around the area at the right time, you'll be one of the lucky few to have the rare experience of hearing Godzilla's angry bellows echo throughout the streets of Shinjuku in person!

3. Tokyo Skyline: Taking in Tokyo's landscape from above

3. Tokyo Skyline: Taking in Tokyo's landscape from above

The common image many have of Tokyo - along with most other major cities - is a never ending array of skyscrapers stretching out for as far as the eye can see. While this is certainly true from the ground, viewing Tokyo from the top of one of these tall buildings is an activity that comes highly recommended by us. It can offer a great change in perspective and allow you to experience a seldom seen side to this modern metropolis. ◾Tokyo Tower You can't talk about Tokyo without also mentioning Tokyo Tower, one of the most internationally well-known landmarks of the city. Many have fallen in love with this remarkable building since it began operations in the year 1958. The tower itself contains two observatories offering panoramic views of Tokyo from a height of 150 meters (about 492 feet) for one and 250 meters (about 820 feet) for the other. At night, the tower is illuminated with spectacular colors, lighting up the Tokyo night sky and serving as its enduring symbol. ◾ Tokyo Skytree A new city icon that opened in May 2012 as a broadcasting tower and sightseeing facility, the Tokyo Skytree stands at 634 meters (about 2080 feet) tall and is the most well-known free-standing broadcasting tower in the world. The Skytree also has two observatories, one at 350 meters (about 1148 feet) aboveground and the other, 450 meters (about 1476 feet). Both offer a spectacular view of Tokyo's landscape at a glance. Once you've had your fill of the scenery, head down to the sprawling Tokyo Solamachi shopping mall at the foot of the Skytree for some good food and entertainment . ◾ Roppongi Hills Towering above Roppongi , one of Tokyo's downtown districts, is Roppongi Hills, a commercial complex that has everything you need to entertain yourself with - from museums to cinema theaters, observatories, more than 200 restaurants, and countless other establishments. On the 52nd floor is an indoor observatory called Tokyo City View that's 250 meters (about 820 feet) above sea level. There's also another indoor observatory in this building, this one called the Sky Deck, which is situated 270 meters (about 885 feet) above sea level. Both observatories offer encompassing views of the Tokyo skyline.

4. Tokyo Station: Featuring Japan's representative modern architecture

4. Tokyo Station: Featuring Japan's representative modern architecture

Tokyo Station , sometimes called the doorway to Tokyo, definitely qualifies as one of Tokyo's must-see tourist hot spots. Every day, about 3,700 trains pass through the busy station, which is used by a daily average of more than 760,000 passengers. Basically, you'll be finding people here all hours of the day! What we'd especially like to draw your attention to is the beautiful Red Brick Building, covered all over with about 850,000 bricks. This gorgeous station building was constructed about 100 years ago using the best technology architects had to offer during that era and is a designated national property of cultural importance. See for yourself how this tastefully designed building discharges its heavy responsibility as a transport center of Japan's capital with stalwart yet graceful endurance.

5. Rainbow Bridge: The elegant bridge that watches over Tokyo Bay

5. Rainbow Bridge: The elegant bridge that watches over Tokyo Bay

Completed in August 1993, the Rainbow Bridge is a massive suspension bridge measuring 789 meters (about 2,588 feet) in length and holds itself up 126 meters (about 413 feet) above sea level. You can hop onto the Yurikamome, a driverless transit service connecting Shuto Expressway Route 11 and Tokyo's metropolitan areas to the Odaiba area for a trip across the Rainbow Bridge. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, you can enjoy a walk across as well! This gargantuan structure hovering over Tokyo Bay is worth seeing from a distance for sure, and while it is already a sight to behold during the day, the scene around the area becomes even more impressive when sunset slips into the background. Around this time, the 444 illuminations installed on the bridge light up all at once, flooding Tokyo Bay with vivid hues and creating a breathtaking picture you won't soon forget. The lights continue to change color over time, so don't miss this fantastic scene if it's the last thing you do in Tokyo!

6. Ramen: Embark on an expedition to better understand the depths of this delectable dish

6. Ramen: Embark on an expedition to better understand the depths of this delectable dish

Ramen first came to Japan from China, going through further development throughout the ages to become the national dish we are familiar with now, well-loved by both local Japanese and international visitors. Many tourists make it a goal to try this dish at least once during their Tokyo trip, and we have to say it's a decision we absolutely support! Now, it's good to remember that not all ramen stores are created equal. Each store will have their own special broth that goes beyond the standard ramen flavors of shoyu (soy sauce), miso (fermented soybeans), shio (savory), or tonkotsu (pork bone). That's not all - noodle thickness, noodle toughness, soup richness, toppings, and other ingredients may influence the dish's overall taste as well. There are about 4,500 ramen shops in Tokyo alone. It certainly wouldn't be a stretch to call this city an intense battlefield between ramen titans! Right in the heart of Shinjuku , conveniently accessible from Tokyo is the Tokyo Tonkotsu Ramen Bankara - Shinjuku Kabukichō Store, a ramen restaurant renowned for the full flavor of its ramen broth. You may also have heard of Sugoi Niboshi Ramen Nagi - Shinjuku Golden Gai Main Store. This store's specialty is their unique niboshi, or dried sardines broth. If you happen to be in electronics and anime paradise Akihabara , don't pass up the chance to drop by Tanaka Soba Shop and enjoy some ramen with an exquisite soup base that was boiled with stringently selected pork bones for 60 hours! And the queue snaking out of Motenashi Kuroki, a restaurant that was featured in the Michelin Guide is the best proof of how delicious their ramen must be. These are just a small selection of ramen restaurants using their own recipe to serve up special flavored ramen for their customers. Don't be afraid to go forth and discover your own favorites!

7. Ameyoko: Treasure-hunting at Ueno's budget-priced shopping street

7. Ameyoko: Treasure-hunting at Ueno's budget-priced shopping street

Ameyoko, or Ameya-Yokochō refers to a 500 meters (about 1,640 feet) long shopping street stretching from JR Ueno Station to Okamachi Station. It has its origins in a "black market" of illegal trading during the period after World War II when goods and necessities were in short supply. Now, the area is packed with shops selling all types of products like fresh fish, provisions, candies, food and drinks, street food, clothing, shoes, cosmetics, toys, games , and many more. You really can't understand how amusing it is to see shops of vastly different categories stacked tightly against each other until you actually behold the scene yourself. Of course, the single most attractive feature of this shopping street that draws flocks of deal-seekers to it is the low, low prices being offered for goods on sale. Some products can even be going at an incredible half-off! If you fancy yourself a competent treasure hunter, this is the THE shopping street you simply cannot miss. When you're too tired from all the walking to carry on, take a breather at Ueno Onshi Park just next-door and let nature refresh your harried senses for the next leg of your journey.

8. Harajuku Takeshita Street: Dive headfirst into Japan's kawaii (cute) subculture for an immersive local experience

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Harajuku is the favorite gathering place of many youngsters and the birthplace of many of Japan's interesting subcultures. One of it is the kawaii, or cute subculture that can be clearly seen in Takeshita Street, about 350 meters (about 1,148 feet) away from JR Harajuku Station on the main street. Lined up along the roads are clothing stores , accessories, provisions and other kawaii items designed to appeal to the hearts of young women. This is also where you can find crowds of cosplayers - fans who dress up as characters from their favorite media series - having the time of their life playing their chosen characters in public. As you meander around admiring the sights, you'll eventually pass by one or two colorful crepe or pancake stalls that look like they've walked straight out of an amusement park . Don't worry, though, because all of them taste as heavenly as they are flamboyant. Some might even venture to call these colorful treats authentic Harajuku specialty food! For the full Harajuku pop culture experience , however, step into Kawaii Monster Cafe , a cafe that embraces the fashion and culture most distinctly represented internationally by Harajuku Pop Princess Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, and bask in its unabashedly florid decor.

9. Hachiko Statue: The symbol of Shibuya

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The statue of the ever-loyal Hachiko is as much a symbol of Shibuya to local Japanese as the scramble crossing is. Ever since his heartrending story was adapted into the Hollywood film, "Hachi: A Dog's Tale", even foreign visitors to Japan are now familiar with his name and history. The Shibuya Station exit nearest to the plaza where the statue is located even has the nickname of "Hachiko Exit". The plaza with the statue is a high-traffic area connected to the Shibuya scramble crossing and is often used as a landmark for meetups. So if someone tells you, "See you in front of Hachiko!", you know where to find them! Till this day, Hachiko continues to face the station's exit, loyally waiting for his master to return.

10. World Heritage Site Mount Fuji: Did you know you can see it from Tokyo too?

10. World Heritage Site Mount Fuji: Did you know you can see it from Tokyo too?

As the highest mountain in Japan with an altitude 3,776 meters (about 12,388 feet) and a registered World Heritage site , Mount Fuji 's ethereal form has captivated the hearts of many from since times of old. Did you know you can actually catch a glimpse of it from within Tokyo as well? When the sky is clear during winter , there's a very high chance that it will make an impressive appearance in the backdrop of Tokyo's skyline. Where to enjoy stunning views of Mount Fuji from within Tokyo: ●Tokyo Tower Tokyo Tower is a better choice than Tokyo Skytree if all you want to do is try to catch Mount Fuji , as it is physically closer to the mountain . ● Haneda Airport International Passenger Terminal The observation deck on the fifth floor of Haneda Airport has a "Fujimidai" viewing platform well-known for offering a fantastic view of Mount Fuji from afar. There are no tall buildings around this area, so you'll be able to gaze at the beautiful mountain peeking out from above Tama River or the tracks of the Tokyo Monorail!

11. Ginza: Luxury shopping at Japan's premium downtown district

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Looking to indulge in some classy architecture , high-end luxury brands, and fine dining? Ginza is the place to set your sights on. It's a good mix of old-time, traditional establishments with newer shops featuring the latest trends makes for interesting window shopping. When people think of Ginza , they usually think of major and established names like Ginza Mitsukoshi, Wako, or Matsuya Ginza , and for good reason, since these department stores have long served as symbols of Ginza to the world. Many of Ginza 's shop staff can speak foreign languages, so don't be afraid to do your shopping here even if you don't know a lick of Japanese. On Sundays, Chuō-dōri, Ginza 's main street transforms into a pedestrian's paradise, adding to the usual hustle and bustle. Wandering aimlessly down the streets of this posh downtown district will certainly be a memorable experience for first-time visitors to Japan.

12. Backstreet Bars: Travel back in time to a Tokyo of a different era

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Lately, the city's backstreet bars reminiscent of Tokyo from the good old days have been seeing a resurgence in popularity among the younger crowd. The melancholic air that these alleyways exude belie the good food and even better alcohol being offered by the many holes-in-the-wall there. This is where you can find a streetscape that is uniquely Tokyo and intoxicate yourself in some good ol' human touch. ■Golden Gai In the nooks and crannies of Shinjuku Golden Gai, away from its clamor and bright neon signboards, are where you'll find alleyways of wood and timber housing more than 200 bars tightly pressed against each other. From slightly dubious joints to businesses with more mainstream appeal, this is the best way to really dive deeply into Tokyo's night life culture. The alleyways have been seeing more foreign tourist traffic in recent years and captivating more and more people with its unique charms. But don't just take our word for it - hop between a few bars and judge for yourself whether the food and drinks here live up to their hype. ■Yūrakuchō Under-Girder Yūrakuchō is mainly known to be an office district with frequent pockets of commercial spaces. Beneath the girders of the elevated train tracks stretching from Shinbashi Station (JR Line) to Yurakucho Station (JR Line) is one of these commercial spaces. The area is packed with all manners of Japanese bars , from the budget bars with Showa era-ish (1912 to 1926) decor to Yakitori Alley, a little street with bars that also have yakitori , or skewered chicken meat on their menu. Plenty of tourists visit this area as well, so this will be an easy spot for first-time international visitors to blend right in. Enjoying your food and drinks along with the slight vibrations of the girder as trains noisily pass through the tracks above is a one-of-a-kind experience you won't find anywhere else. ■Kichijōji Harmonica Alley Walk out of Kichijoji Station, which is about 15 minutes away from Shinjuku Station (JR Line), and you'll find yourself in a trendy district with a distinct flair. Right away, you'll be able to slip into narrow alleys crammed with charming bars , collectively known as Harmonica Alley. Fancy an authentic old-time Japanese bar experience? Check! Feeling like lounging in a stylish western-style pub ? They've got your back! With about 100 different little shops to choose from, it won't be difficult to find something that catches your eye - and tongue! Bar -hopping in the retro atmosphere at Harmonica Alley will be a great way to experience Tokyo as well.

13. Japanese Gardens: Beauty that is subtle yet splendid

13. Japanese Gardens: Beauty that is subtle yet splendid

Nature isn't what most people come to Tokyo for, but you might be surprised to learn that plenty of natural sights still remain in this modern metropolis. Our recommendation for first-time visitors to Tokyo is the Japanese-style gardens . Often carefully planned and created with large spaces, bodies of water, and elevated hills in mind, you have our word that strolling through these parks that can only be found in Japan will absolutely be intriguing enough to occupy some space in your itinerary! ●Hamarikyu Gardens Created by the Tokugawa Shogun family during the Edo era (1603 to 1868), one of the more curious facts about Hamarikyu Gardens is how it used to be a duck hunting grounds for the Shogun family. The pools here are filled with water from Tokyo Bay and many people gather here to admire blooming sakura in spring or fall colors in autumn . ●Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden A cozy little spot that contains all four major elements of a Japanese garden - water, stone, cultivated plants, and natural sights. Its historic status makes it an appealing destination for fans of the Japanese garden aesthetics. ●Rikugi-en Its large lake is this garden 's preeminent feature, and in the middle of that body of water is a raised embankment simulating a mountain and waterfall. There's also an arbor there for those desirous of a handful of rest. Viewing the garden from different angles reveals different scenes that are equally mesmerizing - really the best way to fully experience this beautiful garden !

14. Jinbōchō: The district of books and curry...wait, what?

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Jinbōchō has been home to many publishing houses and universities since olden times, and that sparked a bookstore boom here around the year 1877, with shops offering both new and secondhand books for sale mushrooming to cater to the growing student population. Now, the area is known as a book district. The many bookshops here deal with all sorts of subject matters - specialist books, cult classics, magazines, and some even sell movies! Just glancing around the area is enough to tickle anyone's intellectual curiosity. What about the curry , though? Well, it just so happens that curry can be easily eaten with just one hand while your other hand is holding a book that's hard to put down, right? That's why curry is highly valued in this book district and the reason the curry here is popular among locals as well. Curry Bondy is one of the restaurants in Jinbōchō that prides itself on having served up original western-style curry for years to rave reviews. Books and curry - an unorthodox pairing, to say the least. But that's also exactly why it's an activity you need to try for yourself if you manage to drop by book town Jinbōchō during your Tokyo travels!

15. Edomaezushi: Unbeatable top-grade sushi at its place of origin

15. Edomaezushi: Unbeatable top-grade sushi at its place of origin

The little Japanese meal of sushi has taken the world by storm, so much so that the word " sushi " is an official entry in most English dictionaries nowadays. Since you're visiting Tokyo, why not seek out some authentic edomaezushi, or to be specific, sushi made with fresh ingredients from Tokyo Bay, for the full local experience? This is an excellent opportunity because there are plenty of sushi restaurants in Tokyo - from the high-end to the low-cost - both equally enjoyable according to your budget and preferences! Sushi Ryusuke at Ginza , for example, only procures the best quality ingredients and offers you a calm and quiet space for relishing the best Tokyo has to offer in terms of sushi . For the more budget-conscious, Edomae Sushi Hattori in Roppongi also serves up edomaezushi at incredibly reasonable prices for the crowds of tourists that flock to it.

16. Hitomakumi: Watching just one act of a Kabuki performance

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Kabuki is a traditional Japanese performing art that has gained global prestige over the years, and Ginza 's Kabuki -za Theater is where you want to go to appreciate this art in its finest form. Each performance consists of a number of acts, and to view them all you'll need to set aside at least half a day! To better fit this cultural experience into your busy itinerary, however, we highly recommend you try a hitomakumi, or single-act viewing. This will take only one to two hours depending on the act you choose to watch. Some performances have English commentary, so if that would enhance your experience, look up the show times before buying seats! Even if you eventually decide not to watch the performance, the souvenir shop and gallery are always free to enter. Be sure to make plans to visit Kabuki -za Theater - the only specialized kabuki theater in the world - for an immersive Japanese cultural experience.

17. Kappabashi-dōri: Professional kitchenware and plastic food samples galore

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Here's something that's not quite the standard tourist fare. Kappabashi-dōri is the best utensils town in Japan, with about 190 specialized shops dealing with professional-use items that are indispensable to a complete restaurant kitchen, like cookware and eating utensils - all proudly displayed in huge stacks outside the shops alongside signboards often used by restaurants. This street shows yet another side to Tokyo that stands out from most of the rest. Local Japanese master chefs are regular patrons of the area as there are plenty of shops here selling a wide variety of Japanese kitchen knives and utensils. The town is also known for producing plastic sample foods that look just like their real counterparts. For a fun exercise, mix-and-match these sample foods and see if you can create a meal that you've never seen before! Besides what we've already mentioned, you can also find a battalion of amusing souvenirs that are uniquely Japanese, like sushi earrings and Japanese confectionery magnets!

18. Cruise Ships: Gaze at a slightly different Tokyo from atop its waters

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There are plenty of cruise ships and water-buses operating on the waters of Tokyo. Although trains and buses are the more convenient forms of transport on land, try out one of these water vehicles to look at familiar sights of Tokyo from a completely different point of view! ●Tokyo Bay Cruise Courses for this route will take you through Tokyo Bay under the symbolic Rainbow Bridge, where you'll catch a glimpse of Odaiba from the sea. Enjoy a snazzy lunch or dinner on board the restaurant ship Symphony while taking in the sights of a slightly different Tokyo! ●Sumidagawa Cruise This cruise takes you from Asakusa to Tokyo Bay on a water-bus, passing by landmark sites like Tokyo's new symbolic SkyTree and the Edo era legacy Hamarikyu Gardens in quick succession for a full sightseeing experience that's easy on your time. ●Yakatabune Yakatabune means "house-shaped boat", and this is an apt name for a ship that was built with a house-like roof and traditional tatami mat rooms, where the passengers on board go to relish their meals and the occasional banquet. The ship served as a sightseeing ship during the Edo era, and the distinct olden air it still gives off is something worth experiencing at least once. ●Nouryousen Cruise Similar to the Tokyo Bay Cruise, this booze cruise happens in the evenings from early summer , departing from Takeshiba Terminal. Guests are treated to an all-you-can-drink event while the large liner slowly makes its way in a large circle around Tokyo Bay. (Insider tip: wear a yukata and get a discount!)

19. Hanami: Intoxicating yourself with breathtaking views of beautiful sakura flowers

19. Hanami: Intoxicating yourself with breathtaking views of beautiful sakura flowers

Sakura, or cherry blossoms add a beautiful shade of pink to Japan every spring , so if you're visiting during this season , be sure to include a session or two of hanami, or sakura viewing into your plans! Well-known sakura spots will be painted pink and teeming with appreciative sakura admirers. Whether you prefer to look at the pretty petals under a clear, blue sky during the day or framed by electrifying illuminations at night, there's something for every preference here as well. Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardenb@> This national park is easily accessible from Tokyo's metropolitan areas, and its large premises contain about 65 different species of sakura and an estimated 1,100 sakura trees. This is an easy spot for some casual sakura viewing for sure! ● Ueno Park A well-known sakura spot since the 16th century, the park also houses cultural buildings like a museum and zoo on its grounds, making it a suitable venue for family outings. ●Chidorigafuchi Located northwest of the imperial palace, Chidorigafuchi is where you can stroll down a street lined with about 1,000 sakura trees on both sides. The reflection of these sakura trees on the river 's waters is a sight worth checking out as well.

20. Life-size Gundam: The new icon of Odaiba!

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"Mobile Suit Gundam" is a sci-fi Japanese media series that has loyal fans of all ages from around the world, and many of them aspire to make a trip to the Gundam Base Tokyo, an integrated facility found inside Odaiba 's Diver City Tokyo with Gundam plastic models as their main draw. The life-size Unicorn Gundam just outside the building that was recently built also attracts plenty of eyeballs from fans and regular tourists alike. Depending on the time of the day you're there, the mobile suit may also change forms or be lighted up, so whether you're a fan of the series or not, it's an amazing sight worth seeing with your own eyes if you're around the area for sure.

21. Peak Hour Rush: Hop on a fully-packed commuter train during morning rush hour - yes, really!

21. Peak Hour Rush: Hop on a fully-packed commuter train during morning rush hour - yes, really!

Tokyo's peak hour commuter trains hold the infamous national record for the highest human congestion rates - rates that are considered the highest in the world as well. Passenger capacity can go up to 200% during peak hours and this intense scrambling doesn't ease up for a sustained period of time. However, one of the identifying features of Japanese trains is that no matter how crowded they may be, the carriages are always peaceful and quiet. The bemusing sight of large groups of men in suits quietly and expressionlessly holding on to the handrails as they ride to their destinations must be quite an unusual sight for visitors both from other parts of Japan and the rest of the world. Since you're in Tokyo, it would behoove you to get an up close and personal look at this unique facet of Japanese culture by stepping into a peak hour train and experiencing the crunch for yourself. That is, if it's something you would want to do, of course!

22. Meiji Shrine: A solemn spiritual experience that makes you forget the commotion of city life

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Meiji Shrine was established in the year 1920 by Emperor Meiji enshrining his wife, Empress Shōken. Its spacious premises teem with lush greenery, making it an oasis in the city. In Japan, there is a custom called hatsumōde where people journey to a temple for the first time during a new year to pray for good luck for the year ahead. Meiji Shrine holds the record for the most number of hatsumōde visitors at 10 million, marking it as the most popular temple for hatsumō in Japan. Passing through the giant wooden torii, or temple gateway, settles your mood and envelopes your temple pilgrimage in an air of mystique. After paying your respects, feel free to obtain a wishing wooden tablet and protective charm, or try to divine your luck by drawing lots. If you're there at the right time on the weekends, you may even get to see a traditional wedding being held near Meiji Shrine 's main building. This may be your only chance during the trip to see how Japanese weddings and carried out, and hopefully catch a glimpse of the beautiful bride in traditional garb as well!

23. Omotenashi: Japanese-style service that's full of warm hospitality

23. Omotenashi: Japanese-style service that's full of warm hospitality

During the bidding for Tokyo Olympics, omotenashi, or Japanese hospitality that prides itself on going above and beyond for guests, was a subject oft brought up. It is the Japanese way to always consider the feelings of the other party before deciding on a course of action. Being meticulously mindful of others is a custom that is basically ingrained in every Japanese person's cultural DNA. As such, some of the service local Japanese have come to view as normal may pleasantly surprise foreign visitors. Now, that's the kind of omotenashi we're hoping you'll get to experience! It's nothing grand or dramatic - perhaps as simple as a warm greeting by a convenience store staff who goes on to separate your purchases into two bags for hot and cold items. Careful consideration of even minor details that will contribute to a more pleasant daily life can be said to be the bedrock of Japanese culture. So don't forget to get out there and enjoy this unique brand of Japanese hospitality as you work through your Tokyo travel plans!

24. Ueno Zoo: Have a date with the adorable pandas here!

24. Ueno Zoo: Have a date with the adorable pandas here!

Ueno Zoo is known throughout Japan as the " zoo with pandas" ever since the first one arrived from China in 1972. Did you know that it was also the first zoo to open in Japan? The large grounds are split into east and west sections and about 450 species are being kept here, with a total head count of about 3,000 animals in all! Exotic animals like the Aye-aye are popular among visitors since they can't be seen anywhere else. Can't get your fill of the giant panda's adorable antics? Look around for shops in the zoo or around the Ueno Station area for panda souvenirs, sweets , and other related merchandise that you can buy home for daily appreciation!

25. 100 Yen Shops: High quality daily necessities at rock bottom prices

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You'll find a lot of 100 yen shops everywhere around Tokyo, selling all sorts of essential goods. Wildly popular among local Japanese for being a one-stop shop for daily necessities, these shops have recently garnered a large following among foreign tourists as well. And it helps that their Japanese-style products, from writing paper to stickers, mugs, folding fans, plush toys, and others are perfect to bring home as made-in-Japan souvenirs as well. This is where you'll also find plenty of surprisingly high quality convenience goods like makeup items and stationery products for sale at incredibly low prices!

26. Sumo Wrestling: The national sport of Japan!

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Sumo is both a Shinto event and Japan's national sport, and the sacred sanctuary of this activity - Ryōgoku Kokugikan, or Ryōgoku Sumo Hall - is located in Ryōgoku, Tokyo. The imposing building is impossible to miss after exiting from the train station. This is the stadium where honbasho, or official sumo tournaments are held in the months of January, May, and September after the wrestlers have done their annual tours around the country. Fans flock to the arena on those months, adding an air of festive cheer to the area with their fervent support of the sport. Watching rikishi, or sumo wrestlers clash against each other atop the sumo ring for dominance is the highlight of each tournament, and this is the only place where you can get to feel that infectious excitement in person!

27. Tsukishima: Best place for monjayaki (pan-fried batter) from historical restaurants

27. Tsukishima: Best place for monjayaki (pan-fried batter) from historical restaurants

Each region in Japan has a local specialty food that it is most well-known for, and Tokyo's soul food is none other than the versatile monjayaki, or pan-fried batter! Made of wheat flour and finely chopped cabbages, the dough is dissolved in water and poured out on a griddle, then shaped with a spatula and seasoned with sauce until cooked. Toppings can include seafood , cheese, mochi (sticky rice cake ) - basically anything you want. The ability to customize the batter to suit your palate is what has endeared this dish to many locals from past to present, and the ability to personally cook the batter on the griddle has added to its fun and appeal! Tsukishima's central ward in particular has the name "Tsukishima Monjayaki Street" with over 70 shops offering this tasty treat. Each shop has a distinct style and flavor that sets it apart from the rest, so we're certain you'll discover your favorite while strolling down this street for sure!

28. Geisha Makeover: Spruce up your holiday photo album!

28. Geisha Makeover: Spruce up your holiday photo album!

The term geisha was coined during the Edo era, and it refers to female entertainers who are skilled in singing, dancing, the shamisen musical instrument, or other traditional arts . Japan's geisha population has declined significantly compared to its peak during early Showa (1920s), but there are still quite a number of practicing geisha around. The entertainment district where they operate is called the hanamachi (flower street) and hanamachi can be found in a number of places in Tokyo, namely Mukaishima, Shinbashi , Asakusa , Akasaka, Kagurazaka , and others. You may catch a glimpse of a geisha or two in one of these hanamachi if luck is on your side! Japan Culture Experience Tours Yumenoya or Studio Nanairo in Asakusa offer makeover packages where they dress you up as a full-fledged geisha for the perfect photo of your Tokyo trip that's sure to bring back fond memories.

29. Unagi Kabayaki: Savor traditional broiled eel loved by locals since the Edo era

29. Unagi Kabayaki: Savor traditional broiled eel loved by locals since the Edo era

Eel has been used as a food ingredient in Japan since times immemorial. Residents of Tokyo during the Edo era especially loved unagi kabayaki, a preparation of eel that's been deboned and broiled over a grill with a special soy-based sweet sauce. Marine life - including eels - caught fresh from the waters around Edo (former name of Tokyo) came to be called edomae - this is a historical phrase that many Japanese are familiar with. These pieces of broiled eel go well with plain rice in the form of "Unadon (eel rice bowl)" or "Unajū (eel rice box)", and even modern Japanese consider such dishes to be energizing delicacies, so much so that it's considered tradition to eat eel during the Day of the Ox, which is the start of the summer season . We would love for you to be able to try this tasty eel dish with its sweet-and-salty sauce specially made with a shoyu (soy sauce) and mirin (sweet rice wine) base.

30. Yanesen (Yanaka / Nezu / Sendagi): Appreciating Japan elegance from an older time

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Yanesen refers to the lower town area between the eastern edge of Bunkyō Ward to the western edge of Taitō Ward in Tokyo. It encompasses through areas with historic flavor - Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi, taking its moniker from the first syllable of each name. Because of the abundance of slopes, alleys, and shrines in this area, it's a popular site for visitors yearning to experience a little bit of Japan from an older time. In fact, there are more than 100 shrines scattered about everywhere here! Despite usually being grouped together, each of these areas have their own distinct vibe. For example, Yanaka is also known as a cat town; Nezu is where the Shogun's house used to be; and Yasunori Kawabata, Ogai Mori, Natsume Sōseki, and many other novelists called Sendagi home. One of our top recommendations for activities in the area is the Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street where there are about 70 shops packed together in very close quarters. Experience the effusive cries of lower town merchants trying to drum up business as you walk around the street doing your shopping!

31. Zen Meditation: Cultivating a Zen-like spirit is easier than you think!

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"Zen" is a mentality that has been passed down in Japan from olden times. This refers to a state where someone has eliminated all distractions and is fully focused on a single matter. It is trained by throwing one's entire being into a single activity, whether it be food, cleaning, or something else. So when one drinks tea in a state of zen, the activity is called sadō, or way of tea. When writing in a state of zen, the activity is called shodō, or way of writing. The most famous activity connected to cultivating the zen spirit, however, is the zazen, which literally means "seated zen". As its name suggests, this is an activity where someone trains themself to meditate singlemindedly while sitting down cross-legged. Many temples in Tokyo offer zazen sessions for everyone to experience what it's like. For first-timers to Tokyo wanting to take part in something like this, we recommend going to Shibuya Hiroo's Kōrin-in Temple or Shinjuku Kabukichō's Chōkō-ji Temple , due to their ease of access. Straighten your posture, remove unnecessary thoughts from your mind, and sit down meditatively. As you take the chance to look within, you'll find that facing the person you are inside is always going to be time well spent. You'll be taught how to cross your legs and some breathing techniques, so don't hesitate to go for a session if you're interested! Maybe there's a new side of you waiting to be discovered!

32. Robot Restaurant: Kabukichō's brand new uncommon visitor spot

32. Robot Restaurant: Kabukichō's brand new uncommon visitor spot

Robot Restaurant 's popularity as a night spot providing entertainment has steadily increased since it opened in Shinjuku 's Kabukichō in the year 2012. A large robot sits right next to the shop's entrance, and once you enter the shop proper, it's like you've been transported to a different world altogether. The shop is said to have cost a whopping 10 billion yen to build. On the third floor is a lounge surrounded by scintillating neon lights, where you can order drinks or purchase souvenirs. The main attraction here, however, is the stage on the basement level. Robots (of course), dancers, and other performers take the stage here day after day, where storytelling, shows , and even parades are held from time to time. The entrance fee is 8,000 yen, and if you make a reservation ahead of time, you can also get to enjoy some sushi along with the show . This ultimate entertainment venue has been visited by world-famous film directors and actors. If you're in the mood for something completely different, you can't go wrong with the Robot Restaurant!

33. Fireworks: A Japanese summer tradition

33. Fireworks: A Japanese summer tradition

Japan's fireworks technology is lauded as one of the best in the world. The beautiful and delicate round arches that light up the night sky are mesmerizingly memorable. Fireworks displays are held mainly during the months of July and August each year in Tokyo, and this is a major summer event many plan for. If you happen to be in Japan during the summer season , we would highly recommend you seek out and take part in a fireworks display show to see for yourself why these pyrotechnics have captured the hearts of so many despite their fleeting nature . ▪️Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival About 20,000 fireworks will be blasted into the sky by the time the night is over, above the appreciative eyes of about 750,000 visitors. This is a large-scale fireworks event where foremost pyrotechnicians of the Kanto region compete with each other on skill and technique. ▪️Adachi no Hanabi This event is the earliest for Tokyo's fireworks festivals. About 13,600 fireworks will be fired in an hour. The main highlight of this event is the world's first "double Niagara" style of fireworks, amongst others. ▪️Exciting Fireworks - Edogawa Fireworks Festival A fireworks festival that will be held simultaneously at Tokyo's Edogawa Ward and Chiba Prefecture 's Ichikawa City. Made up of eight different themes, each with its own background music, fireworks are blasted off in tune with the music, painting the night sky with vivid hues.

34. Asakusa: Feel like an old Japanese soul as you stroll down its traditional streets

34. Asakusa: Feel like an old Japanese soul as you stroll down its traditional streets

Asakusa prospered during the Edo era which started in 1603 when Ieyasu Tokugawa ruled over Japan, and Sensō-ji Temple was the center of activities back then. It's therefore no surprise to find that many buildings here are still oozing with traditional charm. Asakusa 's symbol has always been the large lantern hanging outside one of Sensō-ji's entrance gates, Kaminarimon. The shopping street that leads from this gate to Sensō-ji proper sells traditional souvenirs of all sorts. Enjoy some good old Japanese gourmet food as you immerse yourself in the Japanese vibe during your stroll here. Besides new year's hatsumōde temple visit, the temple is often abuzz with festivities passed down since the Edo era, like Sanja Matsuri in spring , Hōzuki Market in summer , Tori-no-Ichi in autumn , and Hagoita Market in winter . With so many relics from the past still being held in high regard, it's no wonder Asakusa is one of Japan's top tourist destinations for those seeking to come into contact with a more traditional side of Tokyo. Also consider dropping by Hanayashiki Amusement Park , an establishment with a history of more than 160 years where popular entertainment like rakugo (Japanese sit-down comedy) and stage plays are being held. It's your best bet for a dramatic tale about human nature in the area for sure!

35. Moe: Understanding this unique subculture by visiting the top three anime meccas of Japan

35. Moe: Understanding this unique subculture by visiting the top three anime meccas of Japan

Anime has come a long way and is now fully developed as a uniquely Japanese subculture, and there are plenty of so-called anime mecca to be found within the Tokyo region for fans eager to make a pilgrimage. If you're a fan of Japanese anime , manga (comics), or video games , you won't want to miss making a trip down to Akihabara , Ikebukuro , or Nakano. The abundance of shops catering to fans of all inclinations is bound to further ignite your passion for the hobby! ● Akihabara This area has developed as an electronics haven since times past, and has earned the reputation for being a street of "otaku (diehard fan) culture" with its focus on anime , manga , video games , idol culture, maid cafes , and other curious subcultures. There are rows and rows of specialized stores retailing goods related to anime , manga , and video games here, and confident cosplayers strutting through the streets all day and night is a common sight as well. ● Ikebukuro Ikebukuro is home to one of the few large-scale terminal stations in Tokyo that sees the third highest daily ridership in the world. East of that station is what is commonly called eastern Ikebukuro , and the street cutting through this area is known as "Maiden Road". It is believed the main reason behind this name is because the area features more goods and items that especially appeal to the female crowd as opposed to the more male-oriented product lineups in Akihabara . Whether you're a lady who's a huge fan of anime or someone who proclaims to be fujōshi (referring to female fans of manga or anime who are support male homosexual relationships between characters - especially for characters considered bishōnen, or pretty boys), there are plenty of shops here offering anime goods and dōjinshi (fanzines) of all sorts that will surely tickle your fancies. Once you're tired, hop into one of the specialty restaurants nearby, like a butler cafe to rest and recharge. Animate Sunshine - chock full of cosplay shops and cafes - is the landmark building of the area. ●Nakano The northern area of Nakano is especially characteristic with its subculture specialty stores. At its central is the Nakano Broadway, where you can shop for out-of-print collectibles and the latest and greatest trends taking the world by storm all in the same location. What this means is that you'll have a great deal of fun doing your shopping here whether you consider yourself a subculture fan or not! If you do consider yourself an otaku, then all the more you should consider making a trip down to lose yourself in the dazzling array of shops catering to fans such as yourself. You may even find that one item you've nearly given up on because of how long ago it was put on the market. More than anything else, this is a great place to have fun deepening your knowledge on otaku culture in.

36. Toyosu Market: The new kitchen of Tokyo

36. Toyosu Market: The new kitchen of Tokyo

Toyosu Market opened for business in October 2018. The market is equipped to facilitate negotiations between suppliers and restaurants or retail stores, wholesalers, intermediate wholesalers and other industry professionals. It also offers an observation tour for visitors that allows them to enjoy the sights and sounds (and smells!) of the market from different perspectives. If you're an early waker, you may even be able to observe the intense tuna auctions held in the early mornings. In Uogashiyokochō, a large shopping street with about 70 shops hawking their wares, you can enjoy fresh seafood while checking out incredibly unusual ingredients and cooking utensils that aren't available for sale at Toyosu Market.

37. Mount Takao: Get in touch with Japan's lush nature as you hike up to the mountaintop

37. Mount Takao: Get in touch with Japan's lush nature as you hike up to the mountaintop

Mount Takao is a relatively small mountain standing at 600 meters (about 1,968 feet) above sea level and is just an hour's train ride from Tokyo. Don't let its small stature fool you, though. Mount Takao is a popular mountain where about 2.5 million visitors enjoy mountain hiking every year. In the travel guidebook published by Michelin, it debut with three stars in 2007 with a "must-see!" caption. There are a few routes that can take you up to the mountaintop in about two hours. If you take the cable car or chair lift to the middle of the mountain before starting on your trek, that means you'll reach the top in just an hour! On clear days, Mount Fuji is visible from the peak of Mount Takao . This is an excellent place to get away from the busy city and get in touch with Japan's lush and beautiful nature .

38. Shimokitazawa: Expose yourself to the latest trends in Japanese subculture

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With easy access from popular Tokyo areas like Shibuya , Shinjuku , and Kichijōji, many youngsters are fond of gathering at Shimokitazawa . The town is, in a nutshell, a town of subculture. To be more specific, this is a town of music, stage plays, and traditional garb where lively commercial areas and serene residential buildings co-exist on the same street and it is known to be the source of many new trends and cultures. From tightly packed provision shops to charming little cafes , Shimokitazawa is known as one of Tokyo's finest streets for traditional clothes. The area is also lined with plenty of livehouses, large stage theaters, and smaller theaters where events are held on a regular basis. As a town with a high percentage of subculture focus, it may actually understand the current trends of Tokyo a lot better than the more general districts like Shibuya or Shinjuku !

39. Sunshine Aquarium: Is that penguin flying?!

39. Sunshine Aquarium: Is that penguin flying?!

Sunshine City is a landmark shopping complex of Ikebukuro consisting of many different commercial facilities, a planetarium, an observatory deck, and an amazing urban high-rise aquarium on its rooftop (about 40 meters, or 131 feet above ground) called Sunshine Aquarium that's the first of its kind in Japan. Divided into three major areas - Sky Journey, Waterfront Journey, and Ocean Journey - the aquarium is home to about 750 species, and you'll be able to meet more than 37,000 individual animals like fish, dolphins, and otters. One of its most popular attractions is a large outdoors water tank area called "Sky Penguins". As they swim about in their tanks above you, it almost seems like they're flying through the air from building to building, making it a great spot for a memorable photograph.

40. Tokyo Dome City: From sports to entertainment, the Dome has got you covered

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If you happen to be a sports fan, then we highly recommend you make a trip down to Suidōbashi / Kōrakuen Station. Ever heard of the Tokyo Dome? This is the home ground of Japan's representative baseball team, Yomiuri Giants, and you baseball matches are held at the Dome from spring to autumn . When the stadium is taking a breather from exciting sporting activities, it's also used for other more cultural events like concerts of well-known artistes. Kōrakuen Hall nearby is a gathering place for martial arts enthusiasts where thrilling boxing or professional wrestling matches are being held virtually every day. The area is surrounded by shopping centers, hotels , amusement parks , and other commercial facilities, so Tokyo Dome City is known as an urban entertainment center by the locals and people from all walks of life visit the area regularly.

41. Sanrio Puroland: A magical place for you to meet that mascot character who originated in Japan!

41. Sanrio Puroland: A magical place for you to meet that mascot character who originated in Japan!

Yes, we're talking about popular mascot characters like Hello Kitty and My Melody! Sanrio Puroland is a theme park that offers visitors a chance to meet their favorite Sanrio mascot characters in real-life. Easily accessible from the Tokyo metropolitan areas, the place is always filled to the brim with families and tourists on weekends and holidays. The four-storey high indoor theme park offers and endless stream of interesting attractions, character shows , parades, and many other exciting activities. The most important part is that there's a good chance you can meet your favorite mascot characters like Hello Kitty, My Melody, Pompompurin, and others in real life! With countless restaurants and original merchandise stores everywhere in the theme park , you'll likely have little problem finding something to do for a one-day trip here.

42. Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea: The theme park of dreams beloved by the world

42. Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea: The theme park of dreams beloved by the world

Tokyo Disneyland needs no introduction. The kingdom of dreams and magic opened its doors in 1983 and followed up with an adjoining Tokyo DisneySea in 2001, taking inspiration from folklore and legends of the sea around the world. More than 30 million people visit the two theme parks every year. In the vicinity is the Tokyo Disney Resort which includes Disney-themed hotels as well as major shopping malls like Ikspiari, turning the large area they cover into a magical Disney world. It takes only about an hour by train from the Tokyo metropolitan area to reach and is an excellent choice to consider for a day trip. Anyone, from young to old, can let the magic of Walt Disney's world of dreams enrich their Tokyo travels!

43. Ghibli Museum: Leap into the world of Studio Ghibli, producer of classic Japanese animation films

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My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away - these are just a few titles of the long list of classic Japanese animation feature films made by Studio Ghibli that have seen global success, and Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo is where you can throw yourself completely into the mystical world of Ghibli. Permanent exhibits include a showcase of the animation production process, a video room playing an original short film that can only be seen in the museum , the Cat Bus, Robot Soldier, and many other fixtures that showcase Ghibli originals that have captivated the hearts of many around the world.

44. Ōedo Onsen Monogatari: Most popular day-trip bathing facility with an olden Edo era decor

44. Ōedo Onsen Monogatari: Most popular day-trip bathing facility with an olden Edo era decor

The largest onsen , or hot spring , complex in Japan located in Tokyo's Odaiba goes by the name of Ōedo Onsen Monogatari . The facility boasts 13 different types of onsen , including a natural onsen using water that wells up from 1,400 meters (about 4,593 feet) deep underground, an open-air onsen , feet onsen , and other special baths. The soaking isn't the only thing that attracts visitors to the place, though. It's especially popular among tourists for offering the opportunity to don a Japanese yukata, or summer kimono for a taste of Japan's traditional culture . The facility is about 2,314 square meters or 24,908 square feet wide and contains a Japanese garden with feet soaking areas for you to enjoy the onsen experience without taking off your yukata. In the building is an area that reproduces an Edo era street - an era that started in 1603. This is also where you'll find Japanese food , Korean cuisine, and a variety of other food shops along with shopping corners and beauty salons. You can entertain yourself for an entire day here and still feel refreshed and recharged by the end of it, ready to embark on yet another chapter of your Tokyo trip!

45. Nippara Limestone Caves: A mystical and intoxicating nature walk

45. Nippara Limestone Caves: A mystical and intoxicating nature walk

These limestone caves are located in Okutama, a two-hour drive away from the metropolitan area, and is surrounded by beautiful natural sights - a complete change from the concrete jungles of Tokyo. The caves are formed when rain and other things wear down limestone ground over a long and sustained period of time, until they grind out an empty cavity big enough for humans to walk through. Nippara's caves are considered one of Japan's seven greatest limestone caves and is a designated natural property of Tokyo. As you walk deeper into the caves, you'll find that it's being lit up by a slew of colorful illuminations, adding to its mystical air. Countless tourists specially make a trip here for photo opportunities because of that. In the deepest part of the cave is a statue of the goddess Kannon, who is said to answer prayers from those seeking a romantic partner.

46. Food, Glorious Food: They taste as good as they look!

46. Food, Glorious Food: They taste as good as they look!

Photogenic food that look good and taste better is all the rage among youngsters in Tokyo right now. And who can blame them? Posting photos of these perfectly pretty gourmet dishes will earn anyone major social network points, after all! Here are three fancy restaurants with the finest food that you can enjoy looking at, taking photos of, and eating, of course! ■ELLE cafe The signature item here is the "Smoothie Bonbon", which is prepared with seasonal fruits and luxurious whipped soy milk. Its charming looks and tasty sweetness has captured the hearts of many a lady. As only a limited amount is sold in all three of their stores in Aoyama, Roppongi Hills, and Ginza Six, we highly recommend that you make a special trip down to any one of them to give this great dessert a go. ■Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory Located a short five minutes walk from the Setagaya-Daita Station on the Odakyu line, Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory is known among Studio Ghibli fans for their Totoro-shaped cream puffs that are stuffed with all sorts of fillings - standard custard, chocolate cream, raspberry and cream cheese - you name it, they've probably got it! The decor is based on a western-style mansion that seems to have walked right out of a Ghibli film, and there are plenty of Ghibli goods available for sale as well. This is a must-visit for fans of the studio for sure! ・Address: 5 Chome-3-1 Daita, Setagaya City, Tokyo 155-0033 / TEL: 03-5787-6221 / Hours: 10:30AM - 7PM ■ Harajuku Electrical Chamber of Commerce The "Lightbulb Soda" from Harajuku Electrical Chamber of Commerce in trendy Harajuku has exploded in popularity lately. Originally from South Korea, it's the unique idea of serving a soda drink in a lightbulb-shaped container. Ladies who enjoy pursuing the latest fashion are especially enamored by this drink. It helps that it's very photogenic as well, and any photos of this interesting drink is bound to stir up plenty of discussion among your friends on social networks. ・Address: Jingumae 3-20-10, Sukigara Building B1, Shibuya , Tokyo 150-0001 / TEL: 03-6434-5074 / Hours: 11AM - 7PM

47. Christmas Illuminations: A new type of tourist hot spot in Tokyo during winter

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There's a recent trend in Japan lately of installing illuminations during the Christmas season . At night, when all these illuminations are lit up, the usual drab scenery transforms into something else altogether and is a sight to behold. Perhaps the most well-known area is the road with zelkova trees between Shibuya 's Jingū Bashi intersection to Omotesandō intersection. This stretch of road is about one kilometer (about 3,280 feet) long and the 150 zelkova trees planted on both sides of the road will be decorated with 900,000 LED lightbulbs, enveloping the area in a warm glow of mystical delight. Needless to say, opportunities for good photographs abound. If you're visiting Japan during Christmas season , definitely pen this down as something to see during the night!

48. Ekiben: Try out station lunchboxes from train stations all over Japan!

Image credit: Suchart Boonyavech / Shutterstock.com

Bento , or lunchboxes, has traveled around the world and gained equal footing with ramen and sushi as one of Japan's representative food in recent years. It offers a balanced and nutritional meal at a bargain and is ever so pleasant to look at with its neat layout and complementary colors. We're not going to recommend just any bento to you here, though. What we'd like you to really try is an "ekiben", or train station lunchbox! These are available at Tokyo Station as well as major stations in other regions. Freshly prepared with local regional specialty foods, it's an excellent way for you to experience the flavors of different regions all over Japan without too much legwork. Unwrapping an ekiben for the first time can be a moving experience, and it's something you have to try at least once during your trip.

49. Tokyo National Museum: Admiring Japan's national treasures and important cultural assets

Image credit: Yasemin Olgunoz Berber / Shutterstock.com

Tokyo National Museum was established in the year 1872 and is the oldest museum in Japan. It consists of a few galleries, most notable of which are the main gallery, Asian gallery, Heisei gallery, and Horyuji Treasures, and collectively they house the most expansive collection of artifacts and curio in Japan. Some 87 of those items are considered national treasures, while 634 others are designated as important cultural assets. Each gallery provides its own guided tour that is also available in English. It will be difficult to finish viewing everything in one visit, so it may be better to zero in on the galleries that interest you the most. In the basement level, you'll find a museum shop that sells interesting trinkets and stationery that are designed to look like collectibles, affording you an opportunity to bring a piece of Japanese history back home with you.

50. Samurai Makeover: The full, no-holds barred Japanese traditional cultural experience

50. Samurai Makeover: The full, no-holds barred Japanese traditional cultural experience

Unfortunately, we have to clear something up first: There are no samurais in modern Japan anymore. Nevertheless, it's entirely possible to get in touch with this feudal culture in its native country, and that's what we recommend for your trip as well! If the idea of viewing Japanese swords, armor, and sword technique performances up close appeals to you, then the Samurai Museum in Shinjuku is where you want to be. This is also where you can dress up as a samurai and take pictures of your temporary new station in life. For Japanese sword affinicados, a visit or two to Seiyudo in Ginza or Ryōgoku's Japanese Sword Museum is probably in order as well. These are all places where you can admire the beauty of genuine Japanese swords and turn your experience of donning Japanese armor into a cherished memory.

1. Shibuya Scramble Crossing 2. Shinjuku Kabukichō 3. Tokyo Skyline 4. Tokyo Station 5. Rainbow Bridge 6. Ramen 7. Ameyoko 8. Harajuku Takeshita Street 9. Hachiko Statue 10. World Heritage Site Mount Fuji ・ Take me to numbers 1-10 11. Ginza 12. Backstreet Bars 13. Japanese Gardens 14. Jinbōchō 15. Edomaezushi 16. Hitomakumi 17. Kappabashi-dōri 18. Cruise Ships 19. Hanami 20. Life-size Gundam ・ Take me to numbers 11-20 21. Peak Hour Rush 22. Meiji Shrine 23. Omotenashi 24. Ueno Zoo 25. 100 Yen Shops 26. Sumo Wrestling 27. Tsukishima 28. Geisha Makeover 29. Unagi Kabayaki 30. Yanesen ・ Take me to numbers 21-30 31. Zen Meditation 32. Robot Restaurant 33. Fireworks 34. Asakusa 35. Moe 36. Toyosu Market 37. Mount Takao 38. Shimokitazawa 39. Sunshine Aquarium 40. Tokyo Dome City ・ Take me to numbers 31-40 41. Sanrio Puroland 42. Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea 43. Ghibli Museum 44. Ōedo Onsen Monogatari 45. Nippara Limestone Caves 46. Food, Glorious Food 47. Christmas Illuminations 48. Ekiben 49. Tokyo National Museum 50. Samurai Makeover ・ Take me to numbers 41-50

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Tradition meets modern in Japan's capital

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About Tokyo

Tokyo (東京, Tōkyō) is the nation’s capital, the site of the 2020 Summer Olympics and the most populous city in the world – there’s no shortage of places to see and things to do in Tokyo. While that means you’ll inevitably have to leave some things off your itinerary, it also means that there’s something for everyone.

Tokyo’s center, the 23 wards, combine some of the world’s busiest areas with remnants of old Japan; not far from Shibuya is the holy Meiji Jingu , while the 634-meter tall Tokyo Skytree and the iconic Senso-ji in Asakusa are within walking distance of each other. Shinjuku and Roppongi are two vibrant nightlife spots, yet they’re a short train ride away from Ueno Zoo and the Tsukiji Fish Market .

Right in the middle of it all is the Imperial Palace , a popular jogging route. Beautiful nature in the Okutama area and the Izu and Ogasawara Islands will make you forget that you’re still in Tokyo.

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Bucket List Journey | Travel + Lifestyle Blog

Tokyo Bucket List: 50+ Top Things To Do in Japan’s Coolest City

Tokyo can never get boring—it has a plethora of bucket list worthy things to do and fun attractions to visit. While I was in Japan’s top city, I ate beef that was creatively shaped like a brain, served to me inside of my private jail cell by women dressed in pink nurses’ outfits. I drank my coffee next to a dozen felines at a quirky cat café, confirming my preference for dogs. And I found out exactly what all the buttons on the Japanese toilet do (enjoying some outcomes much more than others).

There are not many places that would provide such peculiar and cool forms of entertainment, but Tokyo is a city of many colorful facets; a mix of avant-garde and traditional. It is a town where the illuminated skyscrapers cohabitate with historic temples, unusual anime shops and cherry blossom lined streets. It is a cool destination where your itinerary can include attending a lively tuna auction hours before daybreak, nightlife that can include eating skewers of yakitori in the seedy Piss Alley or scrambling across one of the biggest intersections in the world with hundreds of others.

In other words the city is freaking fabulous and here are the best things to do in Tokyo:

Best Tokyo Bucket List: 50+ Top Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Japan's Coolest City

Best Things To Do, Places to Visit and Attractions in Tokyo, Japan

1. buy some vinyl at hmv records.

Tokyo is a paradise for Vinyl Lovers! They have more record shops than any other city in the world with new collections brought in every month. HMV Records is a huge store filled with Vinyl Records. We recommend you bring along plenty of cash because you will surely get lost amidst aisles of wonder records making you nostalgic and rekindling your passion for music. This vast second-hand record shop has plenty of items and genres for music lovers. They also have a handful of cassettes with a special corner for them along with CDs.

2. Experience TeamLab Borderless

It’s hard to explain TeamLab Borderless , you really have to experience it. The digital art museum is an immersive world where the artwork has no boundaries. There is no map or ‘right way to go’, you move freely from room to room of three-dimensional 10,000 square meter building exploring and discovering. You will find things like the Athletic Forest that helps you think of the world three-dimensionally and, the most instagrammed room, the forest of lamps where hundreds hang from the ceilings.

Team Lab in tokyo Japan

3. Watch Wrestling Practice at a Sumo Stable

You can’t fully understand the intensity of the sumo wrestling sport unless you are up close and personal at an intense morning practice session to witness the panting, grunting and dripping sweat. The practices at the sumo wrestling stable are not attractions created for tourists—the athletes are not putting on a show for you—they are in serious training and need to be shown respect while you are there.

Though there are over 40 training stables, most in the Ryogoku district, only a few accept visitors. The most common are Kasugano Beya , Takasago Beya and Musashigawa Beya . Make sure to call ahead to confirm that they will be having practice on the day you arrive! Or for an even easier option just book a Morning Sumo Training tour, or take a peek at this list of sumo related experience that you can quickly book online.

Tokyo Sumo Stable

If you don’t speak Japanese seeing a practice on your own may be a little tricky (I went to Hakkaku Sumo Stable and needed a translator). But, it was worth the effort because seeing this Japanese tradition was definitely one of the Top 10 things I did in Tokyo!

4. See a Professional Sumo Match

Sumo is the world famous Japanese style wrestling match which began in ancient times as a ritual to entertain the Shinto deities. And after you’ve seen them practice at the sumo stable, witness the traditional sport live and in all its glory!  During the tournament months (January, May and September) you can get tickets for each day of the 15-day tournaments, or just one. I highly recommend the ringside seats which is the closest seating available to the wrestling ring with cushions on the floor.

It’s possible to find a few seats available on tournament day, but it’s best to get them in advance. You can see upcoming tournaments and book tickets here.

5. Make a Stop at Meiji Shrine

The historical significance of the Meiji Shrine cannot be overstated. The shrine was made for the first emperor of modern Japan – Emperor Meiji. You enter this austere and mystical place through a 40-foot high tori gate and find yourself surrounded by a 200-acre park with a 100,000 trees. Wow!

The cleansing station has a communal water tank for purification of the hand and mouth before offering prayers. You can also write your wishes and tie them up to the prayer wall. The Meiji Jingu Treasure House is at the northern end of the shrine where you will find several personal belongings of the Emperor, as well as a beautiful Inner Garden with blooming flowers and a rustic well.

For a more thorough experience take the Meiji Shrine Walking Tour with a local guide.

Meiji Jingu Shrine

6. Attend a Baseball Game

The game of baseball isn’t just one of America’s favorite pastime, the Japanese are passionate about it too. Things are just done a bit differently when you attend a baseball game in Japan , like waving umbrellas for home runs, snacking on edamame and having cheerleaders. Though the Yomiuri Giants at the Tokyo Dome draw larger crowds, you can also see the Tokyo Swallows play at the outdoor Jingu Stadium .

Japanese Baseball Game: Top Thing to Do in Tokyo

It may be possible to snag some tickets on the day of the game, but not guaranteed! So, if seeing a Japanese baseball game is high on your things to do list then buy tickets to a game online .

Japanese Baseball Game: Top Thing to Do in Tokyo

7. Go to Dinner at a Ninja Restaurant

At Ninja Shinjuku a small robot in the corner starts to speak to you as a sliding door opens and leads you down a narrow hallway. Shoji doors open and lead you to a small room where dinner is served. This is not the kitschy place where spry ninjas pop down from the ceiling and serve mediocre food, it’s more of a molecular gastronomy experience where smoke billows out of a box to uncover a beautifully executed salad and Kobe beef is served with a trio of unique dipping sauces.

Dessert was served inside a basement room, along with a “ninja show” which really was more like a magic show—impressive none the less. But what was even more impressive was the bonsai tree dessert whose branches needed to be trimmed with scissors in order to eaten and the base was a sweet crumb that looked just like dirt. Genius.

Ninja Restaurant Food in Tokyo

8. Go to the Intermediatheque Museum

The Intermediatheque (IMT) Museum is a psychedelic world of its own. Located in the Kitte Marunouchi building near the Tokyo Station, you’ll find yourself lost amidst the ancient wonders and treasures left behind for us by extinct civilizations. From early steam engines to Egyptian mummies, this kaleidoscopic wonderland has everything preserved and on display. Get inspired by the tribal art or see your kids’ faces light up by the wildlife specimens and the 19 th century raconteurs of flora and fauna.

Allow yourself at least half a day to absorb the richness and literary brilliance of this place!

9. Play a Game of Pachinko

Pachinko is a Japanese arcade game where the object is to fire balls that will then fall through a maze of metal pins. Try to capture as many balls as possible into the center hole. If you walk through the Shinjuku district, you won’t be able to miss the Pachinko Parlors with their flashing neon and clinking of the balls. It can be an addictive, yet fun thing to do in Tokyo!

Annette White playing pachinko in Tokyo

Understanding the game of Pachinko can be tricky without lessons or guidance from someone who knows the in-and-outs. You can book the Original Japanese Entertainment tour and you’ll get a half hour lesson along with playing time.

10. Spend the Night in the Hello Kitty Room

You don’t need to be a diehard Hello Kitty fan to enjoy this must see (and sleep in) room. Slink over to Shinjuku and spend the night in the fun Hello Kitty Room at Keio Plaza Hotel. The room is decked out in the cats signature decor and you can even get yourself breakfast with kitty shaped/stamped food.

11. Walk Across Shibuya Crossing

The iconic Shibuya Crossing is on most visitors “things to do in Tokyo” attraction itinerary because it is dubbed as the busiest intersection in the world, which means it won’t be difficult to find yourself there when it’s insanely packed. While crowds may not be something you wish for your everyday life, trust me, you’ll want participate in the organized chaos that ensues when hundreds of people walk across the intersection at once.

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, Japan

For a different perspective, watch the crossing from the 2nd-story window of the Starbucks on the North side or from the 47th floor of Shibuya Scramble Square building. For an even more unique bucket list experience, walk Shibuya crossing in a kimono . Don’t forget to check out the famous Hachiko Statue right between the intersection and Shibuya Station before you set on your way! And perhaps commit yourself to some window shopping at Shibuya’s massive record stores after?

If you want to experience more in the area the Shibuya & Harajuku Hidden Gems tour would be a good choice!

12. Try Batto, the ‘Art of Swordsmanship’

Batto, the art of swordsmanship, is a discipline that very few have mastered, but at HiSUi Tokyo you will be one step closer as you take their comprehensive course with a real katana (a long, single-edged sword used by samurai). These techniques and swords were vital in order for the samurai to protect the community and reigning lords.

13. Get the View at Shibuya Sky

Make your way to the tall Shibuya Scramble Square building and climb to the 47th floor, to the Shibuya Sky . This rooftop observatory will get you a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of the city. You can even see the chaos of the famous Shibuya Crossing from way up there.

The best View of tokyo from shibuya Scrramble square

14. Unleash Your Inner Anime Fan!

Japan is the birthplace of anime, the Japanese term for animation, so while you’re there make the most of it! If you’re an anime fan then there are so many shops that sell anime products, like Mandarake in Shibuya, as well as themed cafes ( here are 8 good ones! ) for you to explore. Even if you’re not a fan then it is still amazing to go and immerse yourself in the culture.

For the ultimate experience, book the Akihabara Anime & Gaming Adventure Tour , that will take you to a retro video game store, to a maid cafe and shopping at an anime store!

15. Stroll Through Yoyogi Park

Taking a walk through Yoyogi Park is a grand experience all on its own. You’ll be setting foot on the ground which represents the ancient facets of Japan, as it was once a site of military barracks, and even served as an Olympics Gymnasium in 1964. The park is divided in two parts by a wide road, one side of which is a dense forest area where people usually take their strolls and enjoy the natural beauty of the place, have picnics and barbecues. The latter has a stadium and an outdoor stage that hold exclusive events and food festivals.

If you are a garden lover then don’t miss the 6-hour private Japanese Garden Tour that will take you on your choice of gardens!

places to visit in and around tokyo

16. Attend a Kabuki Theater Show

Kabuki is a unique form of Japanese theater where they combine song, mime, dance, costume design and elaborate makeup that is typically performed solely by men. At Kabuki-za you can buy Single Act tickets just to get an introduction to the style of theater, or opt for the whole show. It’s easy to get your tickets online here .

Hint: before going to the Kabuki show learn more about the tradition with a guided tour of Kabuki-za Gallery .

17. Get a Photo of the Giant Godzilla Head

Godzilla is thankfully not wreaking havoc on the streets of Tokyo anymore, but you can still see him peeking through the 8 th floor of Hotel Gracery in the Toho Building. The Godzilla Head is a popular attraction in Shinjuku with its giant 39-foot reptilian head, piercing eyes and sharp pointy teeth! You can see him from the busy street 130-feet below, or take the elevator up to get a closer peek. Keep your eyes open for the new Godzilla Viewing Room coming soon.

Big Godzilla in Tokyo

If you’re interested in exploring more of the area surrounding the Godzilla Head, then consider taking a private tour of Shinjuku’s Top Sites .

18. Learn About the History at Edo-Tokyo Museum

Edo is Tokyo’s old name, and the Edo-Tokyo Museum conserves the historical culture and traditions of the city. It almost felt as if I was approaching a UFO when walking towards the building, but then I learnt that the architecture was inspired by the old Tokyo warehouse raised on stilts—it has an ultramodern feel to it with a lot of character.

During my 2-hour tour, I marveled at the handcrafted figurines with unique clothing and expressions, the massive cavern room, the replica of Nihonbashi Bridge, recreations of houses and transports of the ancient people, market areas and stage settings of theatrical performances. The place will be your guide to understanding how Tokyo evolved to be one of the most influential cities of the world.

Edo Museum in Tokyo

The Sumida Walking Tour will take to on a guided tour of the Edo Museum, as well as the museum of the famous artist Katsushika Hokusa.

19. Sing Karaoke

What to do in Tokyo for nightlife? Karaoke, of course. It is a big part of their culture and a huge attraction tourists as well as locals. Tokyo has plenty of fun (& sometimes weird) Karaoke bars where you can belt out a few tunes. One of the more well-known is Karaoke Kan , which was the location for Bill Murray’s singing session in the movie Lost in Translation. But, there are other clubs as well, and you can find some top ones here: 10 of the Best Bars in Tokyo for Karaoke and Other Weird Stuff .

20. See the Tokyo Tower at Night

The Tokyo Tower is the second tallest architectural wonder of Japan. Standing at a height of 1092 feet, the tower glimmers with lights and serves as one of the symbolic features of the city. It is a true marvel to see at the night time, especially because the  illumination themes change according to seasons and occasions. You can see it from afar ( here are the best place to do it ) or you can also go up to the special observation deck and get a night time view of the city ( book your ticket here ). It is a sight you’ll never forget!

places to visit in and around tokyo

21. Get an Umbrella at Cool Magic SHU’s Umbrella Shop

A store solely dedicated to umbrellas? Yep, that’s exactly what Cool Magic Shu’s is. It may take you hours of perusing the aisles to find your perfectly designed rain protection, but it will be fun doing it!

22. Use all the Buttons on a Japanese Toilet

I’m sure your asking yourself, “can a toilet really be worthy of a spot on your Tokyo Things to Do in Tokyo Bucket List “? Yes, in this case it can. A Japanese commode isn’t any ordinary potty, it’s like a spa for your private parts.

Not only will your butt be warm with their seated heats, but they can also clean your derrière with a hot stream of water. Plus, many public restroom stalls will play the sounds of chirping birds to mask any other noises that may be happening! Luckily, you can experience these toilets at many restaurants, hotels and public attractions.

23. Visit the Red & White Cats at Gotokuji Temple

The Gotokuji Temple is a place that comes with a highly engaging, legendary tale of the maneki neko–the beckoning cats. They are believed to bring good luck and are a symbolic figure of the temple. The visitors make offerings and prayers in front of thousands of red and white cat statues. The kitties are all wearing a red collar with a hanging golden bell and a paw raised in the air to bring you good fortune! You’ll also find cat art in the neighborhood leading up to the temple—a treat for all the cat lovers out there.

24. Do a Kimono Fitting

Wearing a kimono is a large part of the Japanese culture . A kimono is a traditional Japanese garment that is typically worn by women on special occasions. There are few places to be fitted for a kimono while traveling to Tokyo, but you can find a couple. My personal tour guide, Tomomi, offers private fittings in her home (this is my story about it: Do a Kimono Fitting in Tokyo, Japan ), whereas you can book one of these top tours:

  • Kimono Makeover with Photoshoot Tour
  • Wear a Kimono on the Streets of Asakusa
  • Wear a Kimono at a traditional house in the Bonsai Museum

Getting a Kimono Fitting is one of the Best Things to do in Tokyo

25. Visit the Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace is the place of residence of Japan’s Imperial family. It has a beautiful park area surrounded by grand stone walls and moats in the center of Tokyo. The main Palace area is open only on the New Year’s Greeting Event on January 2nd and the Emperor’s Birthday on the 23rd of December, but the palace exterior grounds are open for public throughout the year.

There are two bridges that can be viewed right from the Kokyo Gaien plaza that’s right out from the the palace and the Imperial Palace East Gardens are amongst the best places for a stroll.

Imperial Palace in tokyo Japan

The Imperial Palace Walking Tour will give you a deeper look into palace with a licensed guide.

26. Buy a Japanese Knife

Japanese knives are known to be some of the best in the world due to there keen edges, quality of steel and made-by-hand techniques. Being a restaurateur, I could not leave Tokyo without bringing one home with me!

Though I bought mine at Masahisa , there are plenty of other reputable knife shops around town. You can try walking down Kappabashi Street , the kitchen district. Not only will you find plenty of knife shops, but you will also find every kitchen product imaginable, including plastic food samples used as window displays by many restaurants.

27. Walk Across the Rainbow Bridge

The iconic Rainbow Bridge of Japan got its name because in the month December it’s lit up like a rainbow. The suspension bridge has a pedestrian pathway on both its north and south ends. It is free to take a walk across and takes about 25 minutes on foot, but you can also go on a bicycle.

The north route has breathtaking views of the Tokyo Tower along with stunning skyscrapers around Roppongi and Toranomon, Toyosu and the Shiodome area. The south route offers views of Odaiba as well as the neighboring islands and the Shinagawa area.

28. Relax at an Onsen

Relaxing in a hot springs bath, an onsen, is a top Japanese tradition that you don’t want to miss. There are plenty of them in Tokyo (you can see some of the best ones here ), but Ooedo Onsen Monogatari is a popular one because it’s an onsen theme park where you can soak in one of their baths, get your fortune told and/or have a foot massage. There’s plenty of entertainment on the premises to keep you occupied for at least an afternoon.

29. Go to Tokyo Disneyland

Welcome to the happiest place in the world— Disneyland Tokyo edition! It is highly recommended that you spend at least 2 days here to enjoy all the wonderful attractions and food. There are several fun attractions unique to Tokyo Disneyland, like Dream Lights with a magical nighttime light parade (Minnie oh! Minnie!), the interactive Monster’s Inc. Ride & Go Seek and Western River Railroad to name a few.

You can book admission tickets and transfers here . Also consider splurging a little by staying at the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel which is at a short walk from the theme park and comes with many perks.

30. Visit 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT

If you are a fan of unique design then stopping at the 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT  is a must! This contemporary design exhibition hall is the brain child of fashion designer Issey Miyake and architect Tadao Ando. It’s located in Tokyo’s midtown, an upscale section in the Roppongi area of the city.

The beauty of this places starts with the exterior architecture and moves about through the different gallery spaces. The artwork changes with some of the themes being things like “Secret Source of Inspiration: Designers’ Hidden Sketches and Mockups” and “Chocolate” that focused on the unique social attributes related to chocolate.

During my visit they had a beautiful chair exhibit, each designed by current and former members of the Japan Design Committee. The best part was that you were encouraged to sit in them all!

21_21 DESIGN SIGHT in the Midtown of Tokyo

31. Visit the Meguro Parasitological Museum

The Meguro Parasitological Museum is one of a kind, and the only one in existence that displays the weirdly fascinating collection from the world of parasites! It is a unique experience that you’ll carry with you all your life, although if parasites make you feel squeamish, you may need to cover your eyes because the skin crawling museum has parasites from all facets of life on display in hundreds of jars. Even though it sounds gross, you’re bound to be intrigued by its bizarreness, and it may even end up being top of your favorite thing to do in Tokyo!

32. Go to a Maid Cafe

Maid cafés are all the buzz in Japan! They are fun cosplay restaurants where waitresses are dressed up as working maids to serve the customers as a master in a private home rather than as a café patron. The key word is “iyashi” that translates into “to be soothed”.

Your quintessential Victorian maid fantasy will come to life with spa like services, scrumptious food along with relaxing classical music while you are enveloped by verdurous greenery! There are numerous maid cafés in Tokyo (you can see some of the top ones here ), each offering a unique service with the cutest undertones like chanting “moe moe kyun” to make your drinks taste better or writing over your food with ketchup! It is definitely something to look out for.

If you don’t want to navigate a maid cafe on your own, you can book one of these tours:

  • Akihabara Anime & Gaming Adventure Tour
  • Akihabara Tour with Your Own Personal Maid!

33. Go to a Cat Cafe

Tokyo is filled with weird things to do and going to a cat cafe ranks really high on that list. Calico Cat Cafe in Shinjuku is an attraction that gives you the opportunity to play with unique feline breeds while drinking a cup of coffee. So odd that it’s definitely worth a spot on your things to do in Tokyo bucket list itinerary. If you prefer, you can also play with cute hedgehogs in Roppongi !

Best Quirky Café in Japan?Tokyo's Calico Cat Café in Shinjuku

34. Dine in a Jail Cell

Most people would avoid (at all costs) dining in a jail cell, but Alcatraz ER will give you an offbeat dining experience of a lifetime. This restaurant is designed as a jail and each cell or prison represents a dining area for a group. Staff that are well dressed in nurse uniforms tend to the call of the bang of a metal rod against the cells bars.

Alcatraz ER themed Restaurant in Tokyo Japan

Brave diners (like myself!) will nosh on things like blue curry served in a urine tin or drink cocktails out of dummy’s head. Can you ever imagine eating sausage in the shape of bowel movement; well this place has more quirkiness to offer than you can imagine. A must have nightlife experience for your Tokyo itinerary even you prefer not to visit again.

Alcatraz ER themed Restaurant in Tokyo Japan

35. Go to Yasukuni Shrine

The Yasukuni Shrine is the most interesting and possibly the most controversial place in Japan. Founded in 1869, this place is said to hold 2.5 million shrines! It was made in honor of the men who lost their lives in the Boshin War and has expanded to include war martyrs since then.

The entrance of the shrine is made from a massive gray metal Daicihi Torii standing at a height of 72 feet and giving it an eerie feel. The arch then gets smaller with a Daini Torii which is the second shrine gate, and the Shinmon gate which leads into the area of shrine. The Chumon Torrii then leads into the main hall. Photography isn’t allowed but there is a lot to take in with rich cultural significance and a war museum.

36. See a Show at the Robot Restaurant

From the moment you enter The Robot Restaurant lounge to the time you depart, you will feel like you are diving into the colors of neon that bounce off the mirrors. There are dramatic fights between bikini clad girls riding atop robots, the sound of the cast playing the charismatic drums and visitors are given a glow-stick to cheer during all the action.

Best Tokyo Bucket List: The Robot Restaurant Show in Tokyo Japan

This place is more dedicated to a flashy show than on food, but you can order a sushi bento box or caramel popcorn to dine on while you are entertained. Plus, flowing beer and a few drinks are available, but the core attraction is the captivating chaos of the show.

Though you can buy tickets at the door, you can get them at a discount by booking in advanced at Voyagin .

37. Indulge in a Massive Matcha Dessert

Offbeat food in Tokyo is not limited to main meals, but extends to sweet desserts too, and some of the most popular is made from matcha, a green tea. Desserts like ice-cream, mousse, cream, jelly and many more variations are available. But, I say if you are going to do it go big! I ordered this this quadruple layered matcha gateaux chocolate parfait that was topped with an entire piece of cake! Yes, I ate the whole thing! No shame.

The most popular hot spots serving these delectable and divine tasting desserts are Kinozen , Marunouchi Café, Nana’s Green Tea (that’s where I ate) and many more.

Annette White eating Match Dessert in Tokyo

38. Attend a Tuna Auction

You will need to wake up really early for a chance to go to the famous tuna auction at Tsukiji Fish Market (folks start lining up before 4am). But, it will be worth getting an insiders view of the buyers checking the fish quality and bidding for their prize one. After, explore Tsukiji’s inner and outer market where you can watch them expertly cut the large tunas they just purchased.

Butchering ahi at Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo

You can go on your own or book a tour:

  • Tsukiji and Toyosu Fish Market and Tuna Auction Tour
  • Tsu kiji Tuna Auction Tour With a Guide During the Night
  • Explore Tsukiji Fish Market and Make Sushi and Sashimi

39. Participate in a Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony

Happo-en Japanese Garden sits in Shirokanedai district of Tokyo and is an exquisite example of natural beauty with its ancient bonsai, koi pond and blanket of cherry blossoms in the Springtime. Not only is it a beautiful representation of a Japanese garden, but you can schedule to participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony where you will be drinking Matcha in their wooden Muan tea house.

Tokyo Attraction: Traditional Tea Ceremony

If you want to combine a tea ceremony with street food with a typical “Teishoku” lunch then the Old Town Tokyo Food Tour would be a perfect fit.

Tokyo Attraction: Traditional Tea Ceremony

40. Bar Hop in Golden Gai

What’s a trip to Tokyo without a little nightlife? Golden Gai is a neighborhood in the Shinjuku ward of Tokyo that squeezes in over 200 miniature bars into a network of six narrow alleys, made only for pedestrians. Enjoy the unique Japanese nightlife by bar hopping in the section of town where most of the drinking holes only seat 8-12 people total. Ready to go? Get the location here or just book one of these top rated tours:

  • Shinjuku: Golden Gai Food Tour
  • Kabukicho and Shinjuku Golden Gai Night Tour

Shinjuku Nightlife: A Guide to Tokyo’s Best Golden Gai Bars

Want to read more about bar hopping in Golden Gai? See this article— Shinjuku Nightlife: A Guide to Tokyo’s Best Golden Gai Bars .

41. Learn to Make Classic Japanese Ramen at Chagohan

You can eat ramen all over the city, but how about learning to make it? At Chagohan you can learn this skill (and dine on it afterwards!). FYI: This isn’t the only ramen cooking class, there are re plenty of others and you can see a list at Cookly .

If just sampling ramen is more your thing, then book the Ramen Tasting Tour with Local Ramen Guru that will have you eating 6 mini bowls at 3 shops in 3 districts!

42. Eat at the Kill Bill Inspiration Restaurant

Gonpachi restaurant, in the Roppongi district of Tokyo, is known as being the inspiration for the fight scene from the Kill Bil l movie and it’s easy to spot the similarities. Not only can you enjoy the interior design, but you can also indulge in a bowl of Soba.

43. Make Your Own Matcha at the Urasando Garden Mini-Mall

The Urasando Garden is a collection of shops within a traditional Japanese–style house giving you the ultimate kick of nostalgia as soon as you enter. It gets its name from its unique location at the back street of Omotesando, hence the name Urasando meaning “ura” – back and “omote” – front.

There are many fun things to do and shops to explore, but what makes the best visit is being able to make your own matcha. You can choose your own cup and blend your own matcha alongside houjicha-flavored chocolate and cream filled breads!

44. Eat Chankonabe (Sumo Wrestlers Stew)

Chankonabe is the nutritious stew that sumo wrestlers eat daily as part of their bulking up diet. It is a hearty dish that is relatively healthy, low in fat, high in protein and filled with tons of veggies. There are many Chankonabe restaurants in Tokyo, conveniently located close to the sumo stables where the wrestlers practice and live. But, Yoshiba is the most unique because it is located in an old sumo stable with a sumo dohyo (ring) right in the center of the dining room (this is where I had my chankonabe experience in Tokyo ).

Best chanokabe restaurant in Tokyo Japan

If you’re interested in booking a tour instead of navigate somewhere to each chankonabe here are a couple highly rate ones:

  • Chanko-nabe with Robot Restaurant
  • Duel with Sumo Wrestlers and Eat Chankonabe in Asakusa

45. Drink a Cat Coffee at Oshiage Nyanko

Are you a cat person who loves coffee? This quaint little café boasts stuff dreams are made of! Tucked away in a tiny pocket-sized treasure cove, this hidden gem is located near the Tokyo Sky Tree. You will be amazed at the wonderful 3D latte art of “ Oshiage Nyanko ”. Although the café isn’t that prominent, it is so famous that you can easily find it.

46. Take a Sushi Making Class

If you are a sushi lover, what better thing to do in Tokyo than learn how to make it? I got a personal sushi lesson with Tokyo Tours with Tomomi , where we first paid a visit to Tsukiji Fish Market to pick up some fresh tuna for our meal and went to her private home to assemble. Get Your Guide also offers a fabulous Sushi Making Class . The best part is when you are rewarded by getting to eat your efforts. Afterwards you can wash it all down with sake by booking a sake tasting .

You can find many more sushi making options at Cookly .

47. Go to a Ping-Pong Restaurant

Tokyo is filled with quirky dining options and The Rally Table is one of them. It’s ‘Game On’   at this restaurant where table tennis is the centerpiece of the room. So pop on in, order yourself a plate of the ping pong curry and play a game or two. FYI: It gets pretty lively at night, but during lunch it’s mostly business men so you’ll have a better chance at playing a game.

The Rally Table in tokyo Japan

48. Eat at a Yakiniku Restaurant

This bucket list activity is for all the carnivores out there. At a Yakiniku (grilled meat) restaurant in Tokyo you will be barbecuing your choice of raw grub on your own table top grill. If you choose to have your dining experience at the highly rated Yakiniku Jumbo Shirogane , you will be indulging in A5 Kuroge Wagyu, the highest rank of Japanese beef. Or you can try some of  Tokyo’s other tasty yakiniku restaurants Or take the Night Foodie Tour in Shinjuku that includes a Yakiniku restaurant.

49. Explore the Ghibli Museum

If you have seen Spirited Away, and loved it, then the Ghibli Museum absolutely needs to be visited by you! The creator of the movies, Hayao Miyazaki, also had a hand in creating the visuals of this museum, helping make it one of the most visually stunning museums in the world. Even if it’s just for a moment, you’ll have landed right in the middle of one of his movies!

50. Eat Grilled Salamander (and other delicious stuff) in Piss Alley

Piss Alley, also known as Omoide Yokocho (or Memory Lane), is best described as the restaurant version of Golden Gai , a section that squeezes in over 200 miniature bars into a network of six narrow alleys. Piss Alley is a small area filled with quaint yakitori restaurants, and a few drinking holes, most with just a handful of seats.

If you are an adventurous eater head over to Asadachi, a name that translates to Morning Wood, where you will get the privilege of tasting Grilled Salamander. Yes! Salamander! Maybe not the best food in the world, but visitors who love to challenge their eating habits visit this restaurant for the most bizarre meal. Here you can also try pig testicles, frog shasimi, raw pig testicles and snake liquor. Yum!

Annette of Bucket List Journey in Tokyo, Japan

51. Stay in a Capsule Hotel

These pint-sized pods have become popular for those that want something trendy, easy and economical. There are several all around Tokyo, but one of the top ones is Capsule Net Omotenashi .

52. Get Your Meal From a Vending Machine

You heard right — eat a meal from a vending machine! One of Japan’s greatest inventions, definitely not only limited to being found in Tokyo, are the vending machines at just about every corner. You can barely walk a block in Tokyo without passing by a half dozen vending machines. Though most are filled with an array of beverages, many will have food products that can easily make a meal. The list includes special items like flying fish soup, eggs, hot dogs, hamburgers, sushi, ramen and so on. My afternoon lunch of warm corn soup was surprisingly tasty!

53. Go to an Owl Café

Oh, what a hoot! Ever thought of having an eye staring contest with an owl? Here in Tokyo, everything is possible! One minute you are strolling through parks the next you have an owl named Peanut perched on your arm! These quirky cafés ( here are 7 to choose from ) are almost always packed with customers, and you need to be very careful around the majestic owls. No flash photography or sudden movements allowed!

 You can meet real owls at an owl café in Akihabara by booking here .

54. Sleep in a Ryokan

For a unique cultural experience stay at a ryokan, an old-school Japanese inn typically with tatami-matted rooms, low tables, and communal baths. Ryokan Sawanoya will give you this traditional feeling or opt for the updated Andon Ryokan .

55. Discover Sensoji Temple

Another historically significant spot in the middle of Tokyo, Sensoji Temple is the oldest religious site in all of Tokyo. Not only that, but is one of the more gorgeous temples to visit, based on its exterior. Right after visiting the temple, check out the shops by Nakamise Dori, on your way back to the station.

Truth be told, there is far more to see and do in Tokyo that could ever be written down in a post, unless you want to read pages and pages worth of bullet point suggestions. But these are some amazing activities to get started from, especially if you’ve only got a few days to yourself to explore the city. And after you’ve gone once, you’ll find yourself wanting to go back, again and again, and there will always be more to see. That’s really half the fun of it! So, what are you still waiting for? Time to book your plane tickets and go!

More Tokyo Articles

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  • 4 of the Best Day Trips from Tokyo
  • Japanese Culture, Traditions and Customs: 15 Lifestyle Facts to Know
  • Tokyo Food: 13 Themed (& Slightly Weird) Cafe & Restaurant Experiences
  • Japan’s Hottest Show: Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku
  • Watch Wrestling Practice at a Sumo Stable in Japan
  • Shinjuku Nightlife: A Guide to Tokyo’s Best Golden Gai Bars
  • Best Quirky Café in Japan? Tokyo’s Calico Cat Café in Shinjuku
  • Eat at a Themed Restaurant in Tokyo
  • About Japanese Mochi Snacks
  • How to See a Japanese Baseball Game in Tokyo

84 thoughts on “Tokyo Bucket List: 50+ Top Things To Do in Japan’s Coolest City”

awesome bucket list! book marking this one

Wow! It’s completely a different world! It’s so different to connect with some of the cultural settings you’ve been through. Some were quite odd to me and some very interesting. It seems that eating is important and collective actions are spectacular scenes there.

Honestly, the Japanese toilets were very unique to me. Piss Alley wasn’t so appealing. Relaxing at an Onsen was something that I would have liked to do too!

Hi. I found your blog through Instagram and I just looove your pictures there. You really have a great blog. And your list of Bucket Things to do in Tokyo is definitely something I will remember when I get the chance to go :-) Keep up your good writing!

Happy to have you as a new reader :) Tokyo is an incredible (& quirky) city, I hope you make it there someday.

Hi like to get more information

What would you like information on?

…and now I want to return to Japan.

There’s so much about the country that we didn’t get to see during our month there at the start of our travels. It would be fantastic to return there in 2015 to see things with a new more experienced traveller perspective, plus through the eyes of a vegan – a challenge that I’d gladly accept.

It would be really interesting to get a vegan Tokyo perspective! I would also love to go back to explore more of the Country, since I loved Tokyo so much.

The sumo wrestler’s stew looks good.

Amazing descriptions of one of the most exciting cities of the world. Thanks for sharing.

This was a very informative post, thank you Anette!

Where is the Hakkaku sumo place? I’m in Tokyo for one more day and would love to check it out! I cant seem to find it online anywhere. Thanks!

It is near Ryogoku Kokugikan at 1-16-1 Kamezawa, Sumida-ku, Tokyo, Japan 130-0014. This map may help: MAP

omg u so cool (^o^)

Going to Tokyo next month, this has been helping with my final itinerary.Thank you and this is a great travel blog overall!

Have a great time!! It still remains one of my favorite cities for the quirky culture and delicious food!

Thanks for these great tips! I am planning to visit Japan in 2016, so really helpful post and a lot of fun to read:-)

I hope you love Japan as much as I did!

Me too:-) Congrats on your book deal btw, awesome!

Wow ok, well… Need to try all of them cause I’m flying to Japan at the end of March. This seems to be lots of fun and apparently there’s SO much to do and see.. Hope that two weeks will be somewhat “enough” to experience at least some traditions. Love , Anna & Vanessa

You’ll be able to do and see A LOT in two weeks. Have a great time!

I’m trying to plan a trip to Tokyo this spring. I’ll definitely keep these in mind! Thanks for sharing. :)

Tokyo is one of my favorite cities in the world! I love it quirkiness and bustling streets. Hope you love it as much as me :)

Hi! Anything special you recommend to do / see with kids? Boys age 1.5 and 3.5. Tia!

Thankyou for the awesome ideas. My wife and I are currently in Japan visiting her family. I am looking forward to trying as much as possible from your list. Also do you know of any shops that sell Higonokami folding knife in Tokyo?

I’m not exactly sure which shops will sell one, but there are several knife shops around the Tsukiji fish market and on Kappabashi street. I’d check these two places first!

Thank you for all the great ideas…I will be visiting my sister in August she lives in Sendai but we are planning on visiting Tokyo one weekend and I hope I get to experience some of your places of interest. This will be my first time in Japan so I want to make all my experiences/excursions count!

How exciting that it will be your first time in Japan! Tokyo is incredible, even if you can only have time for a couple of the experiences listed. There is just a cool and quirky vibe wherever you go in the city, so just aimlessly walking will be entertaining!

It looks like the Tuna auction is closed to outsiders, Tourists are not allowed in until 9:00 AM.

That is a bummer for those visitors who could have woken up early enough to catch the auction!

Tsukiji is open for the tuna auction, but the 120 tickets are sold on a first come first served basis and the first group are admitted between 5:25-5:50 and the second group from 5:50-6:15am. The rest of the fish market though is only open from 9am. Still worth visiting.

pleasant site, the name is very good, keep it up !

I love this website so much! Me and my family are currently going to Japan this website is such a help. Once again thank you so much!!?

I hope you and your family have as much fun as I did in Japan!!

Tokyo is my spirit animal! ;) I didn’t have time to do everything on my bucket list there, although I drank all the vending machine tea I could get my hands on.

I’m not sure there could ever be an end to exploring Tokyo! But, at least you got your fill of vending machines :)

Hello it’s my first time in Tokyo .And we would like to visit most of the interesting show or restaurant and electronics stuff . Please recommend if any Cheers

I recommend the Robot Show, it’s pretty wild! You can read about my experience here: https://bucketlistjourney.net/captivating-chaos-tokyos-robot-restaurant-show/

Love this list! It’s unique and adds several different highlights to a never ending list of amazing things to do and see in Tokyo!

Wow ! Thank you for all these informations! Now I have a great list about things to do in Tokyo! ;)

What an awesome city to be in. I have had Japanese food before, but that’s got to be done in Japan I know. Nice pictures, nice colors, nice city.

It is an incredible city and the food is enhanced by the vibrant ambiance!

I love Japan only some places dont speck english but most do. These people are very kind and very nice. If anyone would want to go on a trip i recimend them to vist the flower park in Japan. Its so pretty and so worth going.

I definitely agree that there can be a bit of a language barrier in Japan, but the people are so kind. I’ve never been to the flower park, but it sounds like a place I need to go!

but dont disrespect them they get really upset i have seen it go down. They all are very nice but dont like when other people talk bad about Japan or the people there abd tbh i dont blame them because i would be the same way. I go to Japan every year and not once have they disrespeded my Countery or my people and the deffently deserve the same respect.

I will be in Tokyo at 18 October for ten days. Glad to hear your advices.

Have a great time! There is so much to see and do that you will go home with many interesting stories to tell!

I am going to Japan (Tokyo and Kyoto) for the first time for a week on October 12. Questions: Do they accept credit cards everywhere? Is public transportation available to get to the hotel from NRT airport? What do you recommend to bring as gifts for a baby? Adults? Thank you

Credit cards are not accepted everywhere, so make sure to bring some cash with you. From NRT you can take the JR Narita Express (N’EX; http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/nex ) into the city center, which takes about an hour and costs roughly $27 USD. Depending on where your hotel is, you may need to take the subway or a taxi from the drop off location. From what I understand, good gifts are high-end foods that they can’t get in their area. Most Japanese homes are small, so it’ll be more difficult to store a trinket. Useable or edible gifts are best (chocolate, candies, socks, etc.)

Great post, I agree on almost everything. I would just add that even better than sumo practice is the sumo tournament which really is a fun experience! As for the tuna auction… it’s becoming crazy lately. It has to do with the increasing number of tourists and the planned moving of Tsukiji at Toyosu: at the moment people start lining before 2 am! I am not sure it’s worth more than 3 hours of wait in an empty room

I agree with you about the sumo tournament, I bet that is a cool experience! As far as the auction goes, I’m sure people will have to determine how much they like their sleep :)

Wonderful list, for budget traveler like me you might want to check list of free things to do in Tokyo here http://blog.halal-navi.com/en/free-things-to-do-in-tokyo/

Thank you for sharing these awesome bucketlist items for Tokyo. We went two years ago and only did a fraction of these. Our favourite being the sumo match. But we definitely want to go to a Kabuki Theatre this time around

The Sumo Stable was one of my favorites too!! I hope you get to go back and experience the rest of Tokyo.

Such awesome ideas for my next trip into Tokyo! Thank you so much for sharing! If anyone wants to learn some Japanese before their trip to Japan, please get in touch with me and I will be more than happy to help you! Shota

Thank you for the post, we are going with our children to spend christmas and new years, any ideas?

I still have a couple of things pending, I will addthem to my ‘to do’ list. Thanks!

I wish I have seen this Bucket list before my trip to Japan 5 years ago. there is so many interesting things to do in this list.

Thank you to tell us so much useful information. I’m glad to read it.

Of course I would love to do all of these things, but the big thing I’ve always wanted to do was check out the arcades in Tokyo. I know that Japan has some of the best in the world (whereas arcades in the US are going extinct), and finally being able to see one myself would be a dream come true.

Yes! The arcades are insanely cool!

Japan is just the right blend of culture and leisure. If you are looking for some good travel possibility then do consider to visit Japan.

Wow! It’s absolutely a special world! Very exciting. It seems that consuming is essential and collective movements are remarkable scenes there.

Going to Japan for the first time next month. Will travel from Tokyo to Hiroshima in 7 days. Would it be worth while to get a JR Pass for the week we’re there? Any reccomendations on family (with toddler) accommodations that is reasonably priced?

I definitely think it’s worth it if you plan on making many stops along the way!

Hi Annette – only reading this now – we are planning about 10 days in Japan in early June. Can you recommend a good tour guide that’s not too expensive to help us get around Tokyo so we can get to most of your ideas! Please reply via email if you can. Thanks, Lila

I’m leaving for Japan on Thursday, April 26! I’m super excited. My son is stationed at Camp Zama. He and his wife had their first baby (a boy) 3 months ago. We will definitely be spending some time in Tokyo.

I bet you are excited! You get to spend time with a new grandson and see Tokyo. Have a wonderful trip.

Hi Annette,

You have some cool pictures of yourself here – did you travel by yourself? If yes, how did you take them? I will be going to Japan in September on my own, and at the moment I am bumped about the idea of only taking selfies or “unnatural” tourist poses

I travel solo A LOT and always carry two camera equipment pieces that allow me to take selfies when there’s no one around. 1. A tripod selfie stick for my Iphone. I use this one: https://amzn.to/2Kyo7Fm 2. A Joby GorillaPod for my DSLR camera: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003II3FD0/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I mostly use the Iphone selfie stick, because it’s quick and easy. Hope that helps and have fun!!

A really well written and presented guide. Good work. I am going to try some of these ideas!

Thanks for the article I would definitely do it when I visit Tokyo.

Only just now saw this article. Really informative and I wish I was able to see more on my recent trip to Japan. I was only in Tokyo for two days but I saw as much as I could! My favorite areas were Asakusa (I was staying in Ueno nearby), Akihabara, and Shibuya. I tried to get into a sumo match but, unfortunately, all of the tickets were sold out so maybe next time. I hope to go when baseball season is in as well so I can see a Giants game. Those of you who see this and are looking for a neat place to stay in Tokyo check out the Edo Sakura in Ueno, a quaint little ryoken (traditional style) hotel!

Waoo I can’t believe you have so many things to do in tokyo. Can you also make a blog about restaurants to visit in Tokyo

I’ll work on that one!

I am so thrilled to find this article, I am visiting Tokyo next week and I will definitely try to tick as many possible in this bucket list.

This blog is a wealth of information! So happy to stumble upon it. Just a quick question-when you stayed in the Hakone Guesthouse with the onsen were you able to book a room with a private onsen? Or do each of the rooms have access to a private onsen? Trying to book a room there, and it is unclear! Thanks!

I also enjoyed these fabulous things in my these tours and always spent lovely time with my buddies.

Japan is weird and awesome period

So many interesting things to do and try. I am now puttting the kimono fitting on my list of to do things in tokyo and hope we will find time for this fun experience when in Japan!

Wow!! Interesting article I found this article from twitter and it was worth coming here to read this blog. It shows the true culture of Japan in a single blog post.

wow!!! you have shown use some detail what can i say!! it is is such a remarkable place to be calm and relaxed and the right place to be, you’v shown us a lot thank you very mush i will need to book a ticket and what type of things could you do in Tokyo!?

I love that you mention Japanese toilets. They are absolutely amazing and I wish all bathrooms were like the ones in Japan.

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Tokyo (����, Tōkyō) is Japan's capital and the world's most populous metropolis. It is also one of Japan's 47 prefectures , consisting of 23 central city wards and multiple cities, towns and villages west of the city center. The Izu and Ogasawara Islands are also part of Tokyo.

Prior to 1868, Tokyo was known as Edo. Previously a small castle town , Edo became Japan's political center in 1603 when Tokugawa Ieyasu established his feudal government there. A few decades later, Edo had grown into one of the world's largest cities. With the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the emperor and capital moved from Kyoto to Edo, which was renamed Tokyo ("Eastern Capital"). Large parts of Tokyo were destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and the air raids of 1945.

Today, Tokyo offers a seemingly unlimited choice of shopping , entertainment, culture and dining to its visitors. The city's history can be appreciated in districts such as Asakusa and in many excellent museums , historic temples and gardens . Contrary to common perception, Tokyo also offers a number of attractive green spaces in the city center and within relatively short train rides at its outskirts.

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  • Tranquil Meiji Shrine
  • Urban exploring in Shibuya
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  • Ancient Sensoji Temple
  • Cruise down the Sumida River
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  • Exploring Shinjuku's busy streets
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  • Taking in the skyscraper district

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  • Serene Imperial East Gardens
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  • Get Set For A Road Trip To These 10 Places Near Tokyo And Enjoy A Fascinating Day Trip!

23 Mar 2023

Tokyo is the capital city and has everything under its shed, but there is so much more to explore on the other side of Japan. Don’t you think so? From the mighty mountains which act as a perfect backdrop, to the pristine gardens and beaches which doesn’t fail to surprise its visitors. There are a lot of places near Tokyo which are worth a visit, especially if you have that wandering bug inside you. Just in case you’re planning an exciting road trip from Tokyo, make sure to tick off these places from your bucket list and enjoy vacation outside the metropolis.

10 Best Places Near Tokyo

Here are some of the best places near Tokyo which one must visit if they want to know about the heritage of Japan and also immerse into some surreal views of mountains and panoramic landscapes.

1. Kamakura

Kamakura

Image Source

One of the best and popular places to visit near Tokyo , Kamakura is adorned with all the Kyoto style. From magnificent temples and shrines which brings galore to this little city, there are also some enthralling hiking options. And for the foodie travelers, there are local street food shops which will savour your hungry appetite. The main highlight of Kamakura is the giant Buddha statue where people have to hike through and take a glimpse. Alongside this their beautiful shrines and bamboo forests which covers the place.

Distance From Tokyo : 50 minutes from Tokyo Station

Must Read: These Top Places For Shopping In Tokyo Will Not Burn A Hole In Your Pocket!

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2. Enoshima

Enoshima

For the beach babies, Enoshima is one of the most popular beach resorts near Tokyo which offers a perfect tropical vibe while in Japan. With the view of the sands lying and the stunning islands, this place is a perfect getaway to spend a day in complete relaxation. There are shrines, an old lighthouse and exotic gardens which can be explored by foot. And then there are also some caves which will lead you to a beautiful view to capture. And adding to all the serenity is the relaxing boat ride to the shore.

Distance From Tokyo : 70 minutes from Tokyo Station

Suggested Read: Japan In May: Explore The 10 Most Exciting Activities Japan Offers In May

3. Odawara City

_Odawara City

To witness the closest castle in Tokyo, Odawara is indeed a fascinating day trip from the capital city. This castle has preserved the Edo-period drawings carefully in its premises. Apart from that you can also enjoy time at the fishing port and have a scrumptious lunch of Donburi (rice bowl dish) at the Odawara Fish Market Den. Alongside this, there is a relaxing Tsujimura Botanical Garden which will just complete your day trip from Tokyo.

Distance From Tokyo : 75 minutes from Tokyo Station

Suggested Read: Tokyo In November: From Adventure To Sightseeing The Capital City Has A Lot To Explore!

Kawagoe

Locally known as little Edo, Kawagoe is a beautiful little which has treasured the traditional buildings and a wide range of good and delicious food. From exploring the Kurazukari street and its warehouse buildings made of clay walls and tiles. Apart from this don’t miss out the warehouses which have been renovated into cafes and restaurants. These food joints serve the traditional lunch sets along with Eel which is their speciality.

Distance From Tokyo : 1 hour from Tokyo station

Suggested Read: 14 Exciting Things To Do In Summer In Japan On Your Holiday

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Nikko

Nikko is a hidden treasure near Tokyo which is a perfect getaway for the weekend getaways and also for running out from the busy day rush. This place is known for its magnificent sceneries along with temples and shrines. Apart from that, there are some cultural spots which combine the beauty of nature along with heritage. The Toshugu shrine is the main highlight of this place which is dedicated to the founder of Tokugawa Shogunate. Ready for a road trip to this treasured little town?

Distance From Tokyo : 2.5 Hours from Tokyo Station

Suggested Read: 10 Alluring Lakes In Japan That Look Like They’re From Another World!

6. Kawaguchiko

_Kawaguchiko

Image Source Kawaguchiko is one of the famous places near Tokyo where you can witness the beautiful view of Mount Fuji which is in every adventure junkies list. This place is adorned by the moss phlox, clear lakes or lavender. Alongside that, this place is known for its annual flower festivals, plenty of museums and nature spots. Kawaguchiko is quite a popular and easy day trip from Tokyo and can be a great escape from the hustle bustle of the city.

Distance From Tokyo : 130 minutes from Shunjuku Station

Suggested Read: Monsoon In Japan: Enjoy The Rains In Japan Alongside Sushi And Ramen!

7. Nokogiriyama

_Nokogiriyama

Image Source Find your escape in the nature’s lap at this beautiful retreat which is also called Sawtooth Mountain. This place is a paradise for the hikers and features quarry drops, stunning views, a numerous Buddhas. The famous Nihonji temple located at the mountain top offers a variety of things to explore. There is the largest cliff-carved Buddha and a 30-meter Goddess of Mercy which also has 1500 Arhat in between. The view from here is just incredible and cannot be missed.

Distance From Tokyo : 120 minutes from Tokyo Station

Suggested Read: Villas In Japan You Should Plan Your Stay In For A Luxurious Experience

8. Mount Takao

_Mount Takao

Image Source Often called a home to a monkey park, Mount Takao is a paradise for the hikers. Mount Takao is one of the best places to visit around Tokyo. Just like the other places in Japan, there is a temple here named Yakuoin temple which is around half way up to the mountain. Standing at this height one can enjoy the panoramic view of Tokyo and Mt Fuji. Apart from that there is a wild plant garden along with the monkey park.

Distance From Tokyo : 1 hour from Shinjuku Station

9. Chiba City

Chiba City

Image Source For a quick getaway from Tokyo, Chiba City is one of the closest places to visit. Adorned by all the traditional and modern architectures, this place gives a feeling of time gone still. The castle in the city is locally famous for being a folk museum where one can go and learn things. Alongside this, the Chiba Shrine is also an impressive spot which cannot be missed. Apart from this there is a Hoki Museum where variety of art works can be witnessed. Also you will get a chance to ride the world’s longest suspended monorail which is exciting and safe.

Distance From Chiba City : 40 minutes from Tokyo Station

10. Matsumoto

_Matsumoto

Matsumoto is a quite far from Tokyo if you’re planning a day trip but this place is considered as one of the best places to visit near Tokyo. This classy town boasts a famous castle, an onsen town, incredible view of mountain ranges and an ideal place to explore on a cycle. This is one of the best places to visit during spring season as alongwith the beautiful views around, there are plenty of museums which offers a chance to explore the past.

Distance From Tokyo : 275 minutes from Tokyo Station

Further Read: 35 Best Places To Visit In Japan That Make It Look Right Out Of A Storybook

Are you ready to take the much awaited road trip with your gang and explore these heritage places located close to Tokyo? From traditional cities to places which boasts the history of Japan, there are a lot of things to do and explore in the vicinity. So, if a trip to Japan is on your mind, then make sure to not miss out these less known but beautiful places near Tokyo.

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The Top 18 Things to Do in Tokyo

I love Photo and Apple./Getty Images 

Tokyo is the most populous city in the world (if you count the entire metro area) at about 38 million people, and it also occupies a huge land area, which can make planning a trip there maddening. It's one of the those rare world cities, with perhaps only New York, London and Paris as peers, where you could spend an entire lifetime but still need another one to truly see everything.

On the other hand, the fundamentals of a Tokyo trip are surprisingly simple. This list spotlights the top 18 things to do in Tokyo, which should suit you no matter what type of traveler you are.

Wake Up Before Dawn to Watch a Tuna Auction

TripSavvy / Maria Ligaya

It's no secret that watching a tuna auction is one of the best things to do in Tokyo, or that you need to wake up around 3 a.m. in order to get there in time to be admitted. What you might not know, particularly if you haven't researched Tokyo recently, is that these world-famous auctions no longer take place at Tsukiji Market.

For a number of reasons, chief among them the age of the Tsukiji Market facility and the stress of increasing tourist numbers on it, Tokyo tuna auctions have been moved to Toyosu Market. Located on Odaiba Island not far from many of the other attractions on this list, Toyosu Market is a bit further from most hotels in Tokyo than Tsukiji was—you might want to wake up at 2:45!

Watch a Sumo Match in Ryogoku

Watching sumo is a favorite past-time of both Tokyo locals and visitors to the city, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind. The first is that if you want to watch a proper sumo match, you should make sure dates of upcoming sumo matches in Tokyo match up with your travel dates, ideally on this official website (where you can also book tickets) , rather than scalper sites across the internet.

Assuming there isn't a tournament going on somewhere else in the country (usually Fukuoka or sometimes Osaka), you might be able to watch a morning sumo practice . Some websites will attempt to sell tickets to these online, but beware: They're actually free!

Go Back in Time in Asakusa

TripSavvy / Ryan Smith

There are as many Tokyo attractions as there are skyscrapers in its skyline, but no matter  how many days in Tokyo you plan to spend, you're going to visit Asakusa. Home, among other sights, to Senso-ji (which dates back at least to the 8th century, making it by far the oldest standing structure in Tokyo), Asakusa is the closest thing in Tokyo to an "old city."

It's not just the architecture here that will take you back in time. Hire a rickshaw, which is actually pulled by a person, to drive you through Asakusa's narrow alleys. During spring time, walk along the adjacent Sumida River and enjoy sakura cherry blossoms.

See Mt. Fuji from the Tokyo Sky Tree

Asakusa might allow you travel back in time, but it's not far from the rest of Tokyo's futuristic cityscape. Perhaps the best example of this is Tokyo Sky Tree, which is one of the tallest freestanding structures in the world. The observation deck, which is more than 2,000 feet high, offers views of the Tokyo skyline and, on clear days, Mt. Fuji.

Of course, this is not the only game in town when it comes to Tokyo view points. For a great view of Tokyo Tower, visit the Tokyo World Trade Center at Hamamatsu-cho Station. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku, meanwhile, has a reputation as Tokyo's best free view point. Yet another option is to ascend to the top of the Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills.

Scream Your Head Off at Tokyo Dome City

Japanese amusement parks don't get as much love as they deserve, and Tokyo Dome City in Bunkyo is no exception. Like thrill ride factories you find elsewhere in the country, Tokyo Dome City is a la carte. If the only ride that interests you is the lightning-fast Thunder Dolphin Rollercoaster, you can buy a ticket for a single ride and nothing else. There's no admission gate to the park itself, and thus no fee.

If you can't get enough of the views from the top of Thunder Dolphin, which makes you feel like you're snaking through skyscrapers as it speeds along at nearly 100 miles per hour, consider ascending to the viewing deck of nearby Bunkyo Civic Center. The observation deck is free, and like Tokyo Sky Tree also boasts views of Mt. Fuji on clear days.

Bliss Out at Meiji Shrine

One thing that surprises many visitors to Tokyo is the sheer amount of green space in the city, much of it in the heart of busy business districts. This fact has to do, in large part, with lands the Japanese Imperial Family kept as the city developed and have allowed to be open to the public in more recent years.

A particularly serene place to spend a few hours is Meiji Shrine, located in busy Harajuku just across from Takeshita Street (more on this wild place in just a moment). From the moment you pass under its iconic wooden torii gate and begin walking the forested path toward the main shrine building, Meiji Shrine is a calming oasis from the sometimes overwhelming chaos of Tokyo.

See Shocking Street Fashion in Harajuku

Now, back to Takeshita Street. This bustling street, which you can access from the east exit of JR Harajuku Station, is where the legend of the "Harajuku Girl" originated. Yes, this would be an appropriate moment to reflect on Gwen Stefani's bizarre and short-lived solo career in the early 2000s.

Of course, out-of-this-world street fashion existed in Harajuku long before Stefani struck out on her own. And Takeshita Street is worth visiting even if teenage girls dressed as "Gothic Lolita" quasi-vampires doesn't seem particularly strange or interesting to do.

Among other draws, Takeshita Street is a hub of all things kawaii , or cute. For a sweet treat, stop at one of the many cotton candy shops along the street, where you can buy colorful candy floss that's as big as your head!

Have a Picnic in Yoyogi Park

TripSavvy / Ryan Smith 

Like Meiji Shrine, Yoyogi Park is a lovely green space where you can go to decompress from the insanity of Harajuku. If you happen to be visiting Japan during spring, however, this famous park becomes even more appealing.

Although the blue, plastic tarps on which the hordes of Japanese people who flock here in late March and early April sit might look tacky, there are few things to do in Tokyo that are more relaxing than sitting underneath a canopy of sakura . This is particularly the case if you have local friends, who can assemble a proper Tokyo picnic.

Visit a Digital Art Museum in Odaiba

Tokyo's museums are rightly world famous, even for people who have no plans of visiting Japan. The latest one to achieve viral internet fame? The world's first all-digital museum, the MORI TeamLab Borderless Digital Art Museum , which is located on Odaiba Island in Tokyo Bay.

Of course Odaiba, which is itself a manmade island, has long been pushing technological boundaries. For example, it's also where you'll find the National Museum of Emerging Sciences and Innovation , colloquially known as the Tokyo Robotic Museum. You can even access Odaiba via a fully automated train called Yurikamome.

Odaiba is also famous for its views—and its kitsch. At night time, enjoy views of the Rainbow Bridge, with the Tokyo skyline glistening in the background. And marvel, perhaps with a bit of puzzlement, at Japan's very own Statue of Liberty replica. Oh say, can you see why people love coming here?

Spot Sakura at Chidorigafuchi

Tokyo Imperial Palace is known as one of the top things to do in Tokyo, although only one section of it (the East Gardens) is ever open, and only for part of the year at that. The most beautiful (and the only always-open) place to see near the imperial residence is Chidorigafuchi, a picturesque moat.

Chidorigafuchi is worth visiting all year-round, but it's especially beautiful during late March and early April, when cherry blossoms bloom here. In fact, it's one of the top cherry blossom spots in all of Tokyo—it's not uncommon to wait an hour or longer to rent a row-boat here during peak season!

Go Wild at One of Tokyo's Animal Cafes

It seems like only a couple of years ago that the "Cat Cafe" in Tokyo's Ikebukuro district seemed like a novel concept. Since then, similar outlets have sprung up all over Asia and the world to the point where cat cafés seem almost passé.

Tokyo, for its part, has continued upping the ante. Whether you visit the Owl Village in aforementioned Harajuku district, the HARRY hedgehog cafe in Roppongi, or take a day trip north of Tokyo to Zao Fox Village (which has also achieved internet fame), it's surprisingly easy to go wild in the world's most notorious concrete jungle.

Eat Conveyor-Belt Sushi in Kabukicho

Many travelers visit Kabukicho, the so-called "alley" district of the bustling Shinjuku district, to photograph its famous neon signs, or potentially to have a drink at one of the seedy bars here. One somewhat unsung Kabukicho activity involves eating conveyor-belt sushi at one of the restaurants here. This method of eating raw fish is not only fun but much cheaper than ordinary sushi bars.

Whether you visit the playfully named "Sushi Go Round" or happen upon a better concealed spot, your Kabuki-cho adventure only begins here. Have a drink at one of the seedy bars or at one of the lively Izakaya pubs where Japanese business people unwind from a hard day's work.

Appreciate the Splendor of Tokyo Station

Most Tokyo itineraries will pass through Tokyo Station, if only because the Narita Express airport train terminates here. Make sure to stop and appreciate this historical station even if you're in a rush or can't afford a stay at the opulent Tokyo Station Hotel.

The best place to take in a view of Tokyo Station's historical facade, which dates back to the turn of the 20th century, is KITTE Mall, itself a collaboration of the past and present. Housed in the historical Japan Post building, KITTE boasts a viewing deck that offers a priceless panorama of Tokyo Station.

Say "Konnichiwa" to Mickey Mouse at Tokyo Disney

Think the happiest place on Earth is in Florida or California? Tokyo locals might disagree with you—and you might even change your mind after visiting Tokyo Disney.

Located in the southeastern part of the city on the shores of Tokyo Bay, Tokyo Disney (and the Disney Sea Waterpark) take the Disney Park experience to the next level with immaculately themed lands, throngs of your favorite characters, and delicious Japanese food to tie the whole experience together.

Want to visit a theme park that's more wholly Japanese? Consider visiting Sanrio Puroland , a Hello Kitty-themed wonderland situated just to the west of Tokyo in Tama New Town. 

Shop for Electronics in Akihabara

Known unofficially as Tokyo's "Electric Town," Akihabara is one of the top places to visit in Tokyo for a bevy of reasons—affordable electronics shopping is just one of them. Buy merchandise featuring your favorite anime characters in the district's many manga shops, or play vintage Sega games in dozens of arcades.

Akihabara is also the epicenter of one of Japan's most bizarre cultural phenomenons: the maid cafe. It's not particularly sexual but rather kawaii ("cute" in Japanese), and features young women in over-the-top maid outfits serving Japanese comfort food. Try it out!

Take a Selfie in Shibuya Crossing

Few places in Tokyo are more evocative of Japan's capital than Shibuya crossing, which is the busiest pedestrian crosswalk in the world, at least colloquially. Whether you come here during the day, after time relaxing at nearby Yoyogi Park or by night when the entire square is lit up, it's easy to visit—Shibuya Crossing is just steps from Shibuya Station.

Tip: If you want to take a day trip to Mt. Fuji from Tokyo , the Mark City Mall just off the square offers direct bus service to the city of Kawaguchiko, in the Fuji Five Lakes region, several times per day.

Have a Teppanyaki Dinner in Ginza

Ginza is one of Tokyo's (and the world's) most exclusive shopping districts, but you don't have to be on the hunt for a designer handbag to enjoy a nighttime stroll through its neon-lit streets. One free activity you can enjoy here is visiting Ginza's opulent department stores where even the melons are designer-grown and can sell for several hundred dollars each.

Ginza is also a dining hot spot, particularly for teppanyaki (i.e. grilled meat) style dining. The wagyu beef on offer at hot spots likeMisono, which boasts views of the Tokyo Tower, is among the most delicious available in all of Japan!

End Your Trip With a "Lost in Translation" Moment

Although it's one of Tokyo's most expensive hotels, and therefore out of reach to many travelers, Park Hyatt Tokyo in Shinjuku is one of the most popular places in Tokyo to have a drink. Among other reasons, this is due to the fact that its rooftop bar is featured prominently in the classic film "Lost in Translation."

If you do happen to ascend to this sky bar, whose skyline view is one of the best in the city, keep in mind that there is a dress code. If you've been out sightseeing all day, particularly during the sweaty summer months, you might want to shower and change before making the trek to Shinjuku!

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20 Cities Near Tokyo for Unforgettable Day Trips

20 Cities near Tokyo

If you’re feeling tired of Tokyo or simply looking for ideas for a fun day trip, the good news is there are so many cities near Tokyo waiting to be discovered. You could explore the Edo-period buildings in the charming town of Sawara, gaze up at the giant Buddha statue in Kamakura, or explore the shopping boutiques housed inside Yokohama’s Red Brick Warehouse to start.

Each of the 20 cities near Tokyo mentioned in this article will make unforgettable day trips, are great places to visit, and will hopefully inspire you to hop on a train or bus and get out of Tokyo to explore. Happy reading!

  • Tochigi City
  • Shizuoka City

20 Cities Near Tokyo to Explore for Unforgettable Day Trips

1. yokohama.

places to visit in and around tokyo

Japan’s second largest city and very close neighbor just south of the city of Tokyo, Yokohama has many sights and attractions you won’t want to miss. As one of the first Japanese cities to open to trade with the West in the mid-19 th century, Yokohama was a port city that became a major economic and cultural hub for Japan.

Today, you can still see the foreign influence in its architecture and culture. Major attractions include the Minato Mirai 21 shopping outlet, the iconic Yokohama Landmark Tower, the Red Brick Warehouse shopping and restaurant complex, and Japan’s largest Chinatown. If you have time be sure to visit some of the historic homes and mansions that are open to the public or take a night cruise passing the many industrial factories which make for a real Bladerunner-type experience after dark.

Don’t Miss:

  • Cup Noodles Museum: A museum dedicated to instant and cup noodles as well as its creator Momofuku Ando where you can make your own original flavor of cup noodles!
  • Chinatown: Explore the streets of Japan’s largest Chinatown and taste all the delicious food on offer.
  • Kirin Beer Factory: A large brewery offering tours and a tasting room of famous beers.

Travel time from Tokyo: 20 minutes by train

2. Kamakura

places to visit in and around tokyo

The city of Kamakura , also known as ‘mini-Kyoto’ thanks to its volume of shrines and temples was the unofficial Japanese capital from 1185 to 1333 during the reign of the Kamakura shogunate. After the fall of the shogunate, the city continued to dominate the east of the country for several hundred years before gradually ceding influence to surrounding areas.

Today, Kamakura is a small but popular destination for international and domestic tourists due to its proximity to central Tokyo, its high number of seasonal festivals, Buddhist temples, and Shinto shrines, and other historical attractions. Like Kyoto, it also has its own bamboo forest. As a coastal city, it is also a great place to visit during the summer months.

  • The Great Buddha: A large bronze statue of Amitabha on the grounds of the Kotoku-in Buddhist temple.
  • Endoshima: A small tourist island off the coast of Kamakura known for the Enoshima shrine, good beaches, surfing, and hot springs.
  • Komachi-dori: A bustling shopping street lined with shops and restaurants.

Travel time from Tokyo: 1 hour by train

places to visit in and around tokyo

The small city of Nikko located north of Tokyo in Tochigi prefecture is perhaps best known for Toshogu, the grand Shinto shrine, and the mausoleum of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate that ruled Japan for several centuries, and the Futarasan shrine which dates back more than 1,200 years.

Other attractions include the Nikko National Park with its beautiful view of the mountains, natural hot springs, and seasonal colors, particularly in the autumn months. Nikko is the perfect destination for a mini-getaway from Tokyo and is home to many traditional ryokans and hot-spring resorts.

  • Toshogu Shrine: One of Japan’s many UNESCO world heritage sites, a Shinto shrine and burial place of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
  • Shinkyo Bridge: (pictured above) A red and black bridge close to the entrance of the nearby Futarasan shrine.
  • Kegon Falls: One of Japan’s most famous waterfalls.

Travel time from Tokyo: 2 hours 20 minutes by train

places to visit in and around tokyo

Hakone is a mountain town best known for its many hot springs, natural beauty, and impressive views of Mount Fuji, making it a popular destination for tourists. Just 100km west of Tokyo, it is a good option for a day trip.

A popular way of exploring Hakone is by circling the region on five different modes of transport including a train, cable car, ropeway, boat, and bus, this is called the Hakone Round Course . It can be done using the Hakone Freepass , and if you start early enough, it can be completed in a day trip from Tokyo.

  • Hakone Round Course: Perhaps its main attraction and a popular and scenic way of exploring the Hakone region via different modes of transport.
  • Hakone Open Air Museum: Japan’s first open-air museum features collections of works by many famous artists.
  • Lake Ashi: Also known as Lake Ashinoko, a scenic crater lake that forms part of the Hakone region.

places to visit in and around tokyo

Sawara is a charming town known for its many well-preserved Edo-period-style buildings and waterways. During the Edo period, Sawara town was a popular transport hub for businesses, some of which are still in operation and lend to the old-world atmosphere.

Visitors can take a boat tour along the Ono River to enjoy the traditional architecture or watch the seasonal Sawara Matsuri Festival, where floats of giant dolls are wheeled through the streets.

  • ‘Little Edo’ boat tour: A sightseeing cruise along the Ono River past Edo-period buildings.
  • Suigo Sawara Ayame Park: A botanical garden located in the Suigo-Tsukuba National Park.
  • Katori-Jingu Shrine: A 2,700-year-old Shinto shrine, and head of approx. 400 Katori shrines around the country.

Travel time from Tokyo: 1 hour 50 minutes by train

places to visit in and around tokyo

Located on the North-Western border of Tokyo, the historic city of Kawagoe is a popular destination for a day trip from the capital of Japan. ‘Little Edo’ as it is known locally is home to many historic sites constructed in the Edo-period style. During this period, the city prospered under the authority of feudal families loyal to the Tokugawa shogunate and it became a commercial and transport center.

Some of Kawagoe’s main attractions include Kitain Temple, a Buddhist temple known for its main hall which was originally part of the original Edo Castle, and Kawagoe Castle, the closest castle to Tokyo open to visitors.

  • Warehouse District: Retro shopping street with many traditional buildings.
  • Kashiya Yokocho (Candy Alley): A shopping street known for its huge variety of penny candy stores.
  • Kawagoe Matsuri: A hugely popular festival held on the third weekend of October each year, with extravagant musical floats and local food stalls.

Travel time from Tokyo: 1 hour 15 minutes by train

7. Odawara City

places to visit in and around tokyo

This modest-sized port city of Kanagawa prefecture on the southern coast of Japan looking out across Sagami Bay once was host to several key military defeats and successes throughout Japan’s history, notably due to its castle which was once one of the best-defended in the country.

One of Odawara’s most notable attractions, the 550-year-old castle, which once belonged to Togukawa Ieyasu, has been destroyed and rebuilt many times since its construction, and the reconstructed keep seen today is a draw for many tourists.

In addition to the castle, other popular places include the Prefectural Museum of Natural History and the scenic Enoura Observatory.

  • Odawara Castle: A 500-year-old Japanese fortification constructed during the Kamakura period. A landmark of Odawara City.
  • Wanpaku Land: A large children’s amusement park, with a botanical garden and children’s play areas.
  • Sakawa Coast: A large, popular, and scenic beach on the southern edge of Odawara City facing Sagami Bay.

Travel time from Tokyo: 49 minutes by train

places to visit in and around tokyo

Just east of Tokyo, Narita is perhaps best known as the site of one of Tokyo’s two main international airports, however, Narita has plenty more to offer visitors than jetlag and airport security checks!

Close to the train station is Omotesando, an 800m street of shops built in the style of the Edo period, and restaurants offering many local dishes such as freshwater eel.

One of its most popular attractions is Naritasan, a Buddhist temple founded over 1,000 years ago by a disciple of the famous Buddhist monk Kobo Daishi. The large grounds and beautiful historic buildings include the Great Main Hall and a gilded three-storied pagoda.

  • Naritasan Shinsho-ji Temple: A very popular thousand-year-old Buddhist temple located in a large temple complex in Narita City.
  • Naritasan Park: A large and beautiful Japanese garden with plum blossoms, ponds, and seasonal plants.
  • Omotesando Shopping Street: An 800m shopping street home to around 150 restaurants and souvenir shops

Travel time from Tokyo: 1 hour 20 minutes by train

9. Utsunomiya

places to visit in and around tokyo

North of Tokyo, Utsunomiya is the largest city in Tochigi prefecture and perhaps best known for its gyoza, crispy Japanese dumplings filled with ground pork, and other herbs. There are more than 200 gyoza restaurants in Utsunomiya specializing in variations of the popular dish including chicken, pork, seafood, and kimchi.

Other notable sites located around the city include Utsunomiya Castle (pictured), which was the site of a major battle between the Tokugawa shogunate and imperial forces during the shogunate’s decline. Also, The Venus of Gyoza statue, a half dumpling, half goddess statue that can be found near Utsunomiya train station. You can also take an underground lake cruise through the Ohya quarry if you’re brave enough!

  • Oya History Museum: A busy and awe-inspiring museum built inside a massive underground quarry.
  • Local gyoza dishes: Utsunomiya is known for its local variations of the famous Japanese dumpling. Many restaurants offer their own unique styles and flavors.
  • Heiwa Kannon: A 27-meter-high statue of Kannon hand carved into the wall of the former Oya stone quarry.

10. Tochigi City

places to visit in and around tokyo

North of Tokyo, Tochigi city is in the very south of the prefecture and is its third largest city. During World War II it escaped significant damage, so many of its historical buildings such as shops, temples, and traditional storehouses called kura still remain in the city center. This includes the Kuranomachi Museum of Art, a 200-year-old museum housing local art and ceramics.

The Yanaka Reservoir, a confluence of three major rivers that run through Tochigi, can be found south of the city. It is a popular destination for sailboats and windsurfing, and in 2012 it was designated a wetland site of international importance by UNESCO.

  • Hike Mt. Ohira: A short trip from the city, this mountain is known for its cherry blossoms during spring and the hydrangea festival in June.
  • Try an Edo Experience: In keeping with the town’s traditional architecture, try an Edo experience such as traditional sweets making, incense making, or kimono rental.
  • Ashikaga Flower Park: A large park with stunning seasonal flower displays, also known for its beautiful 150-year-old wisteria tree.

Travel time from Tokyo: 1 hour 45 minutes by train

11. Takasaki

places to visit in and around tokyo

Just over an hour northeast of Tokyo, Takasaki is the largest city in Gunma prefecture. During the Edo period, it prospered as a major transportation hub due to its proximity to the Nakasendo highway which connected Edo and Kyoto.

It is famously home to the Daruma doll, a hollow round traditional Japanese doll modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. It is considered a talisman of good luck in Japan and is an extremely popular gift.

Just outside the city, a giant 41-meter statue of the Buddhist goddess of Mercy, Kannon, can be found atop Mt Kannonyama. Visitors can enter the statue and climb the nine floors for a beautiful view of Takasaki.

  • Haruna Jinja Shrine: An old and photogenic 1,400-year-old Shinto shrine set among the rocky frame of Mt. Haruna.
  • Takasaki Byakue Daikannon statue: A statue of the Buddhist Goddess Kannon, located on the summit of Mt. Kannonyama.
  • Mount Haruna Ropeway: A popular cable car that offers aerial views of Lake Haruna from 1,391 meters atop the mountain.

12. Kashima

places to visit in and around tokyo

Kashima city sits on the eastern coast of Japan facing the North Pacific Ocean. Its location kept it mostly out of the conflicts of Japan’s feudal history, however, the city emerged as a significant industrial zone for steel, and a commercial fishing port.

The city is home to Kashima Shrine, a Shinto Shrine that is one of the oldest and most visited shrines in Japan, particularly between the first and third of January when more than half a million people come to celebrate the new year. Kashima is also home to the Kashima Antlers, a major team in the J1 League, the top tier of Japan’s professional soccer league.

  • Kashima Jingu Torii gate: A unique torii gate located in the waters of the Wani River, a short distance from Kashima Jingu Shinto Shrine.
  • Deer Park at Kashima Jingu Shrine: A wooded garden on the grounds of the Kashima Jingu Shrine which includes large numbers of local deer.
  • Hirai Beach: The Gold Coast of Ibaraki, a white sandy beach facing out to the North Pacific Ocean.

Travel time from Tokyo: 2 hours by train

13. Karuizawa

places to visit in and around tokyo

The resort town of Karuizawa in Nagano prefecture is known for its mild weather and unrivaled outdoor scenery. Fans of the Japanese reality show Terrace House may also recognize it as the location for the ‘Opening New Doors’ series.

Karuizawa is one of the oldest and most popular summer resorts in Japan. A few miles west of Takasaki, Karuizawa also benefitted from its proximity to the Nakasendo highway during the Edo period and later developed a reputation as a summer resort for foreign expatriates and Japanese tourists.

Visitors to the area enjoy many outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, skiing, and sightseeing some of the local natural beauty spots such as the active volcano Mount Asama, and the Karuizawa Shiraito Falls (pictured above).

  • Karuizawa Shiraito Falls: A peaceful and beautiful arc-shaped waterfall surrounded by green woodland and mountains.
  • Uchimura Kanzo Memorial Stone Church: An unusual glass and stone church dedicated to the memory of the founder of the Nonchurch Movement of Christianity.
  • The Ginza shopping street: This street runs along the old Nakasendo highway and is home to many local shops.

Travel time from Tokyo: 1 hour 30 minutes by train

14. Chichibu

places to visit in and around tokyo

The rural city of Chichibu located northwest of Tokyo in Saitama prefecture is known for its mountain shrines. Thirty-four temples reach across the mountains that surround the city, forming the Chichibu Kannon Pilgrimage route, one of three circuits that form the larger 100 Kannon Pilgrimage Route, dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy.

The scenic natural environment and proximity to Tokyo make Chichibu a popular destination for such sightseeing attractions as Hitsujiyama Park, the Icicles of Mitosuchi, and Shibanozakura no Oka. Tourists can also take boat journeys through the rock formations of the Arakawa River.

Chichibu is also known for its brewing industry, its four main breweries based throughout the city were constructed during the Edo period between 1603 and 1867.

  • Hitsujiyama Park: A park in Chichibu city known for its beautiful pink moss fields which come into bloom in the spring.
  • Chichibu Shrine: A 1,000-year-old Shinto shrine known for the annual Chichibu Night festival which takes place every December.
  • Icicles of Misotsuchi: A scenic and dramatic display of icicles formed from spring water that can grow as long as 8 meters.

places to visit in and around tokyo

An hour southwest of Tokyo in Shizuoka prefecture, Atami city lies in Sagami Bay facing south towards the Pacific Ocean. Known for its warm weather and relatively mild winters, the city sits on the edge of a volcanic region.

The name ‘Atami’ which means ‘hot ocean’ refers to the city’s famous hot springs which have been popular with visitors since the 8 th century. In the 1980s many hotel resorts and luxurious ryokan were constructed as the tourism boom grew, however, Japan’s economic turmoil in the 90s led the industry into decline. Recently, Atami has seen growth in tourism again due to its proximity to Tokyo.

  • Atami Castle: A tourist attraction from the 1950s that offers Edo-period costumes, popular cherry blossom viewing spots, and an exhibition of Japanese castles.
  • MOA Museum of Art: A private museum built to house the art collection of millionaire and religious leader Mokichi Okada.
  • Atami Plum Garden: A popular and scenic Japanese garden known for its hot springs, 500 plum trees, and festival that is held between January and March each year.

Travel time from Tokyo: 1 hour 10 minutes by train

16. Chiba City

places to visit in and around tokyo

The largest and capital city of Chiba prefecture is less than an hour away by train across Tokyo Bay. Its proximity to the capital of Japan makes it a convenient spot to escape the crowds for a day or two.

One of the best ways to explore Chiba city is via the world’s longest suspended monorail which snakes through the city for more than 15km. Some of the city’s most scenic and popular attractions include Chiba Park, a famous spot for cherry blossom viewing, and Chiba Port Park on the edge of the bay. Another popular draw is its proximity to Tokyo Disneyland, which is less than 40 minutes away by train.

  • Inage Seaside Park Pool: A huge seaside park with a range of different pools and waterslides and other water activities.
  • Chiba Port Tower: A 125-meter-tall tower and Chiba city landmark that includes an observation deck and restaurant.
  • Inohana Castle: The ruins of a nearly thousand-year-old hilltop castle with many reconstructed elements and a popular cherry blossom viewing spot.

Travel time from Tokyo: 50 minutes by train

17. Ashikaga

places to visit in and around tokyo

The small city of Ashikaga in Tochigi prefecture can be reached by taking the Shinkansen north of Tokyo and then a local train west into the southwestern corner of Tochigi prefecture.

Known throughout most of its history as a producer of silks and other textiles and parks, the city’s normally humid climate makes it an ideal environment for wildlife. Its spring wisteria blooms and the illuminated gardens of Ashigaka Flower Park are popular draws for tourists.

There are also several historical sites located throughout the city worth visiting including Ashikaga School, the oldest in Japan, and Bannaji Temple, an 800-year-old Buddhist temple surrounded by a moat and wall.

  • Ashikaga Flower Park: A beautiful park known for its picturesque wisteria displays and multicolored flower tunnels.
  • Coco Farm and Winery: A Japanese vineyard surrounded by mountains offerings tours, tastings, and a souvenir shop.
  • Ashikaga Gakko: The oldest school in Japan constructed roughly 1,200 years ago. Originally used by Zen monks to teach Confucianism.

Travel time from Tokyo: 2 hours 15 minutes by train

18. Okutama

places to visit in and around tokyo

Okutama can be reached in just over two hours by train on the north-westernmost limits of Tokyo Metropolis. The town sits inside the massive Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, and a day trip from Tokyo can feel a little like you are escaping into the wilderness with its scenic lakes, impressive mountains, and lush green forests all around.

Best known for its outdoor activities and relaxing environment, some of Okutama’s attractions include Hatonosu Canyon, a large gorge along the Tama River with walking trails, beautiful shrines, and hotels, and Sawanoi Sake Brewery, a 300-year-old brewery nestled among the trees alongside the Tama River.

  • Nippara Limestone Caves: A colorful and breathtaking 1,200-meter-long cave network and the largest in the Kanto region.
  • Mugiyama Floating Bridge: Nicknamed ‘Drum Can Bridge’, it is one of two floating bridges visitors can take across Lake Okutama when water levels allow.
  • Lake Okutama: A variety of sights, activities, shrines, restaurants, cafes, and seasonal attractions can be found all around the lake.

19. Shizuoka City

places to visit in and around tokyo

The capital city of Shizuoka prefecture, Shizuoka City is located halfway between Tokyo and Nagoya, and is known for its impressive views of Mount Fuji, and green tea. It is considered one of the best places in Japan for tea growing.

Originally within the province of Suruga which was established in the Nara period (710 to 794), the city grew in prominence in the early 17 th century when Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu abdicated and established a second court in Sunpu.

Located along the Tokaido route, one of the historic five routes that connected Tokyo (Edo) to the outer provinces during the Edo period, the city became known for supplying most of Japan’s tea.

  • Sunpu Castle: The ruins of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s former castle, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
  • Miho no Matsubara beach: A 7km-long beach lined with pine trees and a popular viewing spot for Mount Fuji.
  • Kunozan Toshogu Shrine: A 400-year-old Shinto Shrine and the original burial place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the famous Shogun who united Japan.

places to visit in and around tokyo

The fourth most populated city in Japan, and the capital city of Aichi prefecture, Nagoya city became a major industrial hub for Japan after the Meiji Restoration, around the beginning of the 20 th century. Unfortunately, this also made it a target of air raids during World War II, which destroyed a lot of the industry and much of Nagoya Castle.

Today, it is once again a center of economic strength for Japan, and several major manufacturing companies, such as the Toyota Motor Corporation, are based in the city. It’s also home to the famous Legoland theme park in Japan.

Popular sites include the SCMaglev and Railway Park – a museum tracing the history of trains in Japan, and Nagashima Resort, a theme park which is home to some of Japan’s best rollercoasters.

  • Nagoya Castle: A 400-year-old Japanese castle constructed during the Edo period. Destroyed during WWII and has been under reconstruction since.
  • Atsuta Jingu Shrine: A revered Shinto Shrine believed to have been constructed around 900 years ago to house the legendary sword Kusanagi no Tsurugi.
  • Ghibli Park: A theme park that opened in 2022 located just outside Nagoya city, dedicated to movies by the famous Studio Ghibli.

Travel time from Tokyo: 1 hour 40 minutes by train

Hopefully this list of 20 cities near Tokyo has given you some ideas for day trips based on your interests and how far you want to travel! And if you are heading to Tokyo, be sure to check out my popular 5-day Tokyo itinerary!

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The 26 best things to do in Tokyo

By Melinda Joe and Anna Chittenden

Cherry Blossom And River In Tokyo Japan

Deciding what to do and see in Tokyo depends on how much time you have – and for your sake, we hope you have a month. The city’s streets can feel like a game of soccer played at hyper speed, while calmer attractions range from temples, museums, gardens, origami classes, and bohemian sojourns. Tokyo has more than enough going on to put you in a tizzy, so a word of advice: Arrive with a game plan and prepare to get lost along the way, in a good way. Here are the very best things to do in Tokyo right now.

Sensoji Tokyo

Tokyo may not have as many temples as Kyoto , but Senso-ji isn’t the capital city’s most popular just by default. The atmosphere alone here is one for the bucket list. Senso-ji, the temple itself, is at the end of the shopping street, while a recently renovated five-story pagoda stands to the left (ranking as the second tallest pagoda in Japan). Japanese visitors flutter around a large cauldron in front of the temple where incense burned inside is said to benefit good health. Travellers keen to avoid crowds should arrive early, but even tourists who are remotely interested in Japanese culture will find something to appreciate here.

An alley.

Harmonica Yokocho

This clutch of narrow alleys, a short walk from the north exit of JR Kichijoji station, is stuffed to the gills with hole-in-the-wall eateries. A yellow sign marks the entrance to Harmonica Yokocho, which takes its name from the layout of the vendors, slotted cheek-to-jowl along the passageways like the reeds in a harmonica. The atmospheric network of lanes started out as a post-war flea market in the 1940s, but the area underwent a transformation in the 90s when bustling bars and restaurants made their entrance onto the scene. It has a laid-back and hyper-local feel, especially during the daytime when you’ll find fishmongers and traditional sweets makers plying their trades.

Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree

Topping off at 2,080 feet, the Tokyo Skytree is the tallest tower (that's tower, not building) in the world. From the broadcast tower’s 360-degree observation decks, the whole city – its striking skyscrapers and neon intersections – looks like a magical circuit board. It’s a major tourist attraction, and a ticket isn’t cheap (up to ¥3,400, or £18, for combo tickets), but even if you don’t pay to go inside, there’s no denying that the Tokyo Skytree brought the skyline to a whole new level. Depending on where you’re staying, it can be an out-of-the-way trip to eastern Tokyo (luckily, a train station gets you right near the entrance). Families with children will enjoy the experience – especially the speedy elevator rides – as will anyone who loves a jaw-dropping view.

A Japanese teapot sits silhouetted at a table.

Sakurai Tea Experience

Copper and wood greet you inside this minimalist sanctuary dedicated to sado, the Japanese “way of tea.” A small retail space filled with glass jars containing 30 varieties of green tea conceals an intimate eight-seat cafe. Founder Shinya Sakurai studied for 14 years to become a master, and his modern take on the tea ceremony is meditative and illuminating. As Sakurai prepares the infusions behind an L-shaped wooden counter, a continuous stream of water flows from a copper tap – a symbol of purification. Gyokuro, a luxurious variety of green tea grown in the shade, is the speciality here. Sakurai travels the country to select the leaves, which he roasts daily in-house. The tasting flight for ¥4,800 (about £25.50) is the best introduction to the range of teas on offer.

Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing

Anyone remotely impressed that Tokyo is the most populated city in the world should visit the world’s busiest intersection at Shibuya Crossing. Massive video screens flashing advertisements tower above every corner as black-suited salarymen, wide-eyed tourists, and bag-toting shoppers wait and cross in concert. The feeling is oddly soothing, a reminder that whatever our disparate paths in life, they all have a tendency to cross at one time or another. The best time to go is at dusk, one of the scramble’s peak times and in its most flattering light. The Shibuya Scramble Square tower above Shibuya station offers a bird’s eye view of the famous crossing, along with panoramic vistas of the city from the Shibuya Sky rooftop observatory, perched 230 metres above street level.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden Tokyo

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Fancy a stroll in a Japanese garden? Get that and more at Shinjuku Gyoen. In addition to native, traditional gardens, the 144-acre park pockets French Formal and English Landscape gardens, all of which are worth the modest entrance fee. Landmarks are stunning and impossible to forget like a Taiwan Pavilion perched along a serene pond. Formerly an imperial garden, it became a national garden after World War II – so you can trust that this precious plot is always beautifully maintained. Don’t miss cherry blossom season.

Kappabashi Street Tokyo Shopping

Kappabashi Street

Kappabashi Street, a district between Ueno and Asakusa, isn’t so much a food destination as it is a food-adjacent destination: While it’s devoted to the restaurant industry, fresh food isn’t why folks come. Instead, the street is a chef’s dream of restaurant supply stores that are known best for sampuru , replicas of food dishes that are part of a century-old craft – and are up for grabs. And, because it’s more trade-focused than tourist-focused, the prices can be somewhat economical. Have any curious cooks in the family? This district is their souvenir heaven.

Shaved ice Azuki to Kouri Tokyo

Azuki to Kouri

The clean-lined, slate-grey interior of this kakigori ice specialist sets off the ebullient shaved ice creations of pâtissier Miho Horio. Formerly of two- Michelin-starred restaurant Florilege, Horio is one of the young chefs elevating the sweet treat to new heights of refinement. She carefully adjusts the blade of her ice machine to shave blocks of ice – made with spring water from Nikko, north of Tokyo – into fluffy, feathery flakes. Shaping the shavings into a delicate mound, she adds fresh fruit and toppings such as homemade syrups, compotes, and foams. Her signature parfait showcases sweet azuki red beans – the classic kakigori topping for which the café is named – paired with cream and flecks of meringue. Seasonal offerings include salted cherry blossoms with fresh strawberries in spring, and blood orange dusted with grated Amazonian cacao in early summer.

Yoyogi Park Tokyo

Yoyogi Park

Yoyogi Park is one of the most amusing parks in Tokyo. Its 134 acres sprawl right in Shibuya, a short skip from Harajuku, and bustle with picnics and performers. The northern side is lush, with clean walkways along expansive, grassy lawns where locals and tourists spread under the shade of Japanese Zelkova trees, and gather around a large pond. Spot impromptu badminton team swinging racquets, a drum circle tapping away at the bongo, or amateur dancers following along to the beat.

Yayoi Kusama Museum Tokyo

Yayoi Kusama Museum

In a suburban part of Shinjuku, a smooth white building rises five stories high – a museum completely devoted to the works of Yayoi Kusama. The building looks slim, but it houses a bulk of the larger-than-life and avant-garde artist’s pieces, including an installation of her “infinity room” series (an Instagram sensation which, in the past, drew hundreds of thousands of visitors in stateside exhibitions) to polka-dotted paintings and sculptures. The museum changes its exhibition two times a year, and as it’s still relatively new, it’s only cracked the surface of the prolific artist’s work.

Japanese tea ceremony scenes at traditional Japanese room

Kuge Crafts

The traditional technique of mending pottery with lacquer sprinkled with gold dust, kintsugi is an art form unto itself. The practice, which dates back to the 15th century, is alive and well at Kuge Crafts, a ceramics studio in the quiet Shin-Koenji neighbourhood of western Tokyo. Run by a family of artisans – Yoshiichiro and Yoshiko Kuge, together with their son, Shu – the atelier transforms broken cups and dishes into singular works of art and offers two-hour kintsugi lessons (¥8,000, or about £43) for learners of all levels. The workshop will provide all the materials; you can bring your own damaged vessel for repair or ask them to prepare a piece for you to work on.

Sumo Stadium Tokyo

Sumo at Ryogoku Kokugikan

Only three of six official grand sumo tournaments happen in Tokyo, all at Ryogoku Kokugikan. The stadium houses over 11,000 eager fans under its green, pavilion-style roof. Official tournaments last just over two weeks each, which means Ryogoku Kokugikan sometimes hosts other events (boxing, for example). But sumo is the arena’s feature attraction, and if you’re hoping to see sumo in Tokyo, this is where to find it. Tamari seats, which are those immediately surrounding the ring, are the most coveted – and virtually impossible to score. But the next series of rows, box seats, are as close as you can get. Box seats are top-dollar but little more than rows of tatami mats lined with red square cushions (with no backs) sold in groups of four – so cosy up and pay up (¥38,000, or about £203 for a box). There are proper stadium seats along the second-floor mezzanine, but the thrill of witnessing this traditional Japanese sport up close is all about getting comfortable with the floor.

The Bellwood Tokyo

The Bellwood

Modelled after an early 20th-century Japanese coffee house, this swanky watering hole is fitted with modern-retro touches like a stained glass panel bearing the bar’s name, bookended by images of Mount Fuji and a martini under the moon. The main space is great for after-work drinks or late-night tipples, but the bar recently opened a glass-encased private room to host a series of food-and-cocktail pairing experiments. Witty twists on classic cocktails are prepared with flair. Start light with the Kome Tonic, made with rice-based shochu, then explore the seasonal menu: Tango Mule made with gin, and Fernet Branca laced with a roasted mate, or the Okushibu Fashioned with bourbon, kinako soy powder and a hint of bitter mugwort.

Nihon Minkaen Japan Openair Folk House Museum

Nihon Minka-en Japan Open-air Folk House Museum

Though only 20 minutes by train from central Tokyo, the Nihon Minka-En Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum, located in a suburb of neighbouring Kawasaki City, feels a world – and several centuries – away. The sprawling grounds are home to 25 marvellously preserved Edo-era homes relocated from all over the Japanese countryside, spanning an array of styles from farmhouses to samurai houses and including a shrine, water mill and kabuki stage. Don’t miss the traditional indigo dyeing workshop in the middle of the park houses a small shop where you can find indigo-dyed everything, from socks and sweaters to handkerchiefs and masks.

A interior of a restaurant.

Koffee Mameya Kakeru

Don't expect your average cup of joe at Koffee Mameya Kakeru, housed in a renovated warehouse in the Shirakawa coffee district in eastern Tokyo. Beyond the sleek glass facade, the interior, designed by art director Tomohiro Kato and architect Yosuke Hayashi, features a massive oak structure built around the artfully arranged coffee shelves. A rectangular wooden frame encases a three-sided stone counter built around three black tables where the baristas display their skills. Coffee maestro and founder Eiichi Kumimoto launched Koffee Mameya Kakeru to go deep into the world of the brew and push the boundaries of the drink's potential. The menu showcases seasonal varieties, but the omakase-style coffee-tasting courses (including a range of cold and milk brews, mocktails, and lattes) take centre stage, offering a fascinating journey through the diverse flavours and artistry of coffee. Coffee cocktail champion Akira Zushi dazzles with flair bartending skills and innovative cocktails like the milk brew blended with hop-accented jasmine tea and lemon, finished with a spritz of prickly ash water.

Oedo Antique Market Tokyo

Oedo Antique Market

Oedo Antique Market is a marvellous outdoor fair held near Tokyo Station twice a month, with stalls selling wonderful antique and vintage wares. Hundreds of independent stallholders set up shop to sell their one-of-a-kind objects. There isn’t a huge number of antique or vintage homeware shops in Tokyo – so if you’re looking for old, interesting, and unique Japanese items for your home, this is the place to come. The items on sale at Oedo are completely one-off and unique. You’d be hard-pressed to find a permanent shop in Tokyo that has the choice and style that you’ll find here. For first dibs, come earlier in the day.

Former Asakura Residence Tokyo

Kyu Asakura House

Built-in 1919, the former residence of government official Torajiro Asakura is a marvellously preserved example of traditional Japanese architecture tucked into Tokyo’s bustling Daikanyama district. For ¥100 (about 50 pence), you can wander through the building’s stately wooden corridors, tatami-floored rooms, and beautifully manicured grounds. The suginoma (cedar rooms) on the west side of the structure offer postcard-perfect views of the Japanese garden – particularly in the autumn when the maple trees blaze with colour. One of the city’s best-kept secrets, the property is an oasis of calm. It’s the perfect place to escape the crowds for an hour or two and contemplate the passing of time.

Nakameguro Tokyo Neighborhood

It’s okay to visit the artsy neighbourhood of Nakameguro just to see its seasonal appeal as one of the most picture-perfect spots for cherry blossoms in spring . However, stick around these charming streets, and you’ll find a hip collection of independent cafes and boutiques that offer a laid-back alternative to the city’s buzzing hubs. Sakura trees hug the Meguro River in Nakameguro’s centre, blossoming as they lean over the sloped, canal-like walls surrounding the water. Once you’ve taken a moment to smell the blossoms (and fill your phone with pictures), you’ll find an array of independent boutiques and cafes branching off along narrow streets in either direction. Head to the corner-side Onibus Coffee, which serves single-origin espresso, and stop at SML, a boutique stocking delightful crafts (especially ceramics) made by Japanese artists.

A shopping complex.

Nakano Broadway

A Tokyo mecca for anime- and manga-loving otaku subculture fans, the Nakano Broadway is a multi-story shopping arcade that has become a hub for niche collectors of all stripes. When it first opened in 1966, the complex epitomised the spirit of future-perfect economic optimism sparked by the Tokyo Olympics. Competition from newer shopping malls emptied its corridors of fancy boutiques in the 80s before Broadway reinvented itself as a centre for used manga and anime models in the 90s. More than 300 tiny outlets are crammed into the ageing edifice’s bottom five floors, offering everything from vintage Godzilla and Astroboy figurines to designer watches and creepy dolls galore.

Isetan Tokyo

Isetan is Tokyo’s best – and most famous – department store; its history dates back to 1886, when it started as a kimono shop. The sprawling flagship in Shinjuku is spread out over nine floors, each offering something special. There’s a big fashion focus, with local Japanese brands sitting beside international names. Don’t miss a visit to the wonderful food hall on B1, which sells a variety of Japanese snacks and goodies, including beautifully prepared bento boxes for lunch.

Tsukiji Market Tokyo TTD

Tsukiji Market

In October 2018, the world’s largest fish market, Tsukiji, shut down after 83 years and re-opened in two distinct parts. At the original location, it’s pretty much business as usual, with street-food stalls serving up everything from seared tuna to uni sandwiches in squid-ink sticky buns. Just down the road at Toyosu Market, meanwhile, you can taste fresh raw fish in a series of sushi bars and peek in on the auctions (formerly held at Tsukiji) and live fish sales from a second-story viewing station. You can also tour a large green space on the rooftop, which affords views of the Tokyo skyline.

An interior of a store.

Heiwa Doburoku Brewery Kabutocho

This simple but stylish Wakayama-based sake brewpub in Tokyo makes clever use of a corner space in Kabutocho, the recently hip neighbourhood near the Tokyo Stock Exchange building. As the name suggests, the bar specialises in doburoku, a rustic style of unfiltered and lightly fermented sake characterised by its thick texture. Previously outlawed for taxation reasons, the traditional brew is making a comeback, appearing on menus at Tokyo's trendiest restaurants and bars. Large windows, pale wood fixtures, and a curved counter surrounding a small open kitchen give the bar an open and airy feel. The menu lists dry-hopped and aged doburoku, varieties made with ground adzuki red beans or black beans, and a few seasonal styles flavoured with fruits or herbs. But the best place to start is with the original, plain doburoku, a thick and yogurty brew with a touch of fruity fizz. Brewer Heiwa Shuzo's excellent craft beers are served on tap (we love the golden ale infused with fragrant sansho prickly ash peppercorns), and the bar offers a nice selection of the brewery's clear, award-winning sake.

Japan Tokyo Museum Nezu

Nezu Museum

This serene museum in the Aoyama district, redesigned by celebrated architect Kengo Kuma, is a contemporary temple for traditional art. A long, covered outdoor path alongside bamboo-clad walls serves as a minimalist entrance, but once inside, double-height interiors and glass walls stretch over 40,000 square feet while keeping the experience intimate. And while the museum mixes contemporary design and traditional art on the inside – over 7,400 pieces – the outside counts, too: The property is home to a stunning private garden that’s worth the visit all on its own. The bulk of the museum’s art was once the private collection of Nezu Kaichirō, the president of Japan’s Tobu Railway. Since the midcentury, the collection has grown and now comprises over 7,400 pieces.

Bohemian Tokyo in Shimokitazawa Shopping Store

Bohemian Tokyo in Shimokitazawa

Only one express stop away from the brighter-than-bright energy of Shibuya, Shimokita (what locals call Shimokitazawa) is like turning down the volume and switching to an acoustic track. It might embrace its bohemian style – with vintage stores on seemingly every block – but it doesn’t lose that unmistakable, sophisticated Japanese style in the process. Sift through secondhand shops, sip coffee, and repeat.

MonzenNakacho Tokyo

Monzen-Nakacho

The old-school neighbourhood of Monzen-Nakacho – known as “Mon-Naka” among locals – has retained its colourful, salt-of-the-earth shitamachi (downtown) atmosphere since the Edo era (1603-1868). Two main draws are the stately Tomioka Hachiman Shrine and the Fukagawa Fududo temple, where you can hear the sounds of drumming and chanting from the temple’s fire ceremony, held five times a day. These days, hipster coffee shops and natural wine boîtes nestle against traditional shops selling pickles, Japanese confections, and old-timey delicacies like tsukudani – bits of seafood long-simmered in soy sauce and sugar. It’s a terrific place to spend a lazy afternoon wandering the cobbled streets and alleyways en route to the Museum of Contemporary Art in neighbouring Kiba. But at night, the neighbourhood comes alive with an array of reasonably priced eating and drinking spots.

teamLab borderless Tokyo

teamLab Borderless

With the first iteration of Borderless in Odaiba, the art collective Teamlab created an endlessly Instagrammable, sumptuous and surreal museum dedicated to multi-sensory digital art. Opened in 2018, the facility, which set the world record for the most visited museum dedicated to a single artist, closed its doors in 2022. However, Borderless 2.0 is set to relocate to a permanent location in the soon-to-open Azabudai Hills mixed-use complex in central Tokyo in early 2024. Boderless consists of installations that feature constantly morphing patterns and designs that seem to flow seamlessly from room to room in a maze-like space. Updated versions of some of the museum’s previous works will be on display, as well as several new installations: a room filled with hundreds of multicoloured lights that run along tracks continuously and a series of interactive “light sculptures,” to name a few.

Sleek design, a DJ booth, and craft beer on tap: The newly refurbished Koganeyu functions as a lively standing bar and community events space, but the main reason to visit this 89-year-old establishment is to immerse yourself in Tokyo’s sento (public sauna) culture. A crowdfunded renovation has transformed the space into a contemporary sento with four pools, a sauna, and an outdoor bath. Bathing areas for men and women are separated by a 2.2-metre partial wall, while a mural depicting Mount Fuji stretches across both areas like a scroll. You can purchase tickets from the vending machine at the entrance; a 90-minute bathing session costs about £3 for adults. After emerging from the baths, relax with a glass of craft beer brewed especially for Koganeyu, or try a homemade ginger highball.

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6 best art day trips from Tokyo

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Where to see iconic Japanese scenery without leaving Greater Tokyo

Explore versions of Himeji Castle, Kyoto’s famous torii gate tunnel, a Japanese old town and more in and around Tokyo

places to visit in and around tokyo

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Find some of Japan’s most beautiful temples, hiking trails and nature attractions no more than a few hours from Tokyo

places to visit in and around tokyo

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Best places to visit in japan.

Known as the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan's civilization dates as far back as 30,000 years. Today, the archipelago seamlessly blends its rich history with its ultra-modern present. And while its capital, Tokyo, is a must-visit for first timers, Japan has so much more to offer travelers of all types, from cherry blossoms to white sand beaches to soothing onsen (hot spring spas). U.S. News took into account cultural attractions, culinary options and accessibility (among other factors) to bring you the best places to visit in Japan. Have a favorite? Vote below to help decide next year's ranking.

Izu Peninsula

places to visit in and around tokyo

This metropolis is a feast for the senses. Neighborhoods like Ginza and Akihabara buzz with flashing lights and larger-than-life shopping, while Meiji Shrine and the Tokyo Imperial Palace give you a look into Japan's storied past. There are also a number of green spaces like Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, which acts as a place to escape from the chaotic, concrete jungle. What's more, Tokyo is regularly regarded as a top foodie city thanks in part to its abundant Michelin-starred restaurants (the most you'll find in any city in the world), so come hungry.

places to visit in and around tokyo

Travelers most interested in Japan's history and traditions should head to Kyoto. Centrally located on the archipelago, Kyoto has long been considered the cultural capital of Japan. Here, you'll find more than 1,000 Buddhist temples and 400-plus Shinto shrines (you can't miss the Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Fushimi Inari Taisha), including a whopping 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites. You can also stroll through geisha districts like Gion and Miyagawacho, admire classic wooden architecture and visit traditional teahouses before checking out more modern attractions, such as the Kyoto Aquarium.

places to visit in and around tokyo

Nikko is the place to go to see lavish architecture surrounded by nature. Head to Nikko National Park, one of Japan's oldest national parks, to enjoy an up-close look at traditional structures situated alongside mountains, lakes, waterfalls and hot springs. The park is especially beautiful in fall when its trees display vivid shades of yellow, red and orange. The 103 Edo-era (1603–1868) temples and shrines in Nikko include world-renowned sites like Toshogu Shrine and Rinnoji Temple.

places to visit in and around tokyo

Situated about 35 miles southwest of Kyoto, this port city is worth a visit for its food alone. One of the city's most famous dishes, the tasty pancake-like okonomiyaki (which means "grilled as you like it" in Japanese), is made with batter, cabbage and your choice of meat and other toppings. After you've gotten your fill of the delectable local cuisine, explore the flashy Dotonbori neighborhood, check out the reconstructed 16th-century Osaka Castle or head to contemporary sights like Universal Studios Japan and the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.

places to visit in and around tokyo

As Japan's second most populous city, Yokohama is often touted as a more approachable and more affordable alternative to Tokyo (located 22 miles northeast). As one of the country's first ports to open to international trade, Yokohama features unique culture fusions, including a sizable expat population, Western-style buildings in the Yamate area and the largest Chinatown in Japan (it has more businesses than residents). While here, visitors can explore Minato Mirai 21, the city's modern central district teeming with skyscrapers and shopping malls, and visit museums ranging from the Cup Noodles Museum to the Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum.

places to visit in and around tokyo

More than 160 islands comprise Okinawa, a top destination for snorkeling and diving. The Japanese prefecture boasts proximity to multiple coral reefs teeming with fish, manta rays and hammerhead sharks that you can access from beautiful beaches like those found on Okinawa's Kerama Islands. These 20-plus islands are also ideal places to see migrating whales between January and March. Back on the main island, visitors will find one of the world's largest aquariums, several castle ruins and a museum that focuses on Okinawa's unique history and culture. And on the less developed Iriomote Island, adventurous travelers can hike to awe-inspiring waterfalls.

places to visit in and around tokyo

Spared from World War II air raids and the major natural disasters that have affected other Japanese cities, Kanazawa on the western coast is home to some of the country's best-preserved architecture from the Edo period. Sites like Kanazawa Castle, Seisonkaku Villa and Myoryuji temple are popular among visitors, as are the Higashi Chaya geisha district and Nagamachi Samurai District. Plus, no trip to Kanazawa would be complete without a visit to the resplendent Kenrokuen Garden. With its water features, bridges and a variety of flowering trees that add beauty to any season, Kenrokuen is often described as the perfect garden.

places to visit in and around tokyo

Nestled in the mountains of the Gifu prefecture, Takayama is ideal for visitors looking for a rural retreat with a dose of history. Start your visit with a rickshaw ride through the well-preserved old town, which features sake breweries, traditional residences and shops that date back to the feudal ages. Then, head to the Hida Folk Village, a former farming village with 30 gassho-style houses. When you've worked up an appetite, indulge in must-try local specialties including Hida beef and Takayama ramen. To further immerse yourself in Takayama culture, visit during the Takayama Festival, held for two days every spring and fall.

places to visit in and around tokyo

The country's tallest mountain and one of its most iconic landmarks is a popular destination for outdoor recreation. For centuries, Japanese artists and poets have been inspired by Mount Fuji's almost perfectly round form. The Fuji Five Lakes region at the foot of this UNESCO World Heritage Site makes a great base for the thousands of climbers who visit each year. Enjoy the area's museums and amusement park during the warmer months. Or, arrive in winter to soak in the onsen and ski Mount Fuji's slopes.

places to visit in and around tokyo

Located on Kyushu (Japan's third-largest island), Fukuoka offers travelers a mix of urban sprawl, sandy coastlines and ancient temples and shrines. Can't-miss sights include Tochoji Temple – home of the largest sitting wooden Buddha in Japan – and Nokonoshima Island, which features colorful flower fields and beautiful views of the surrounding bay. Fukuoka is also known for its incredible Hakata ramen, so be sure to try this tasty dish at one of the city's many food stalls. Plan your visit around one of Fukuoka's lively festivals, such as the Hakata Gion Yamakasa, which takes place throughout the first half of July.

places to visit in and around tokyo

Head to the smallest of Japan's four main islands if you're looking to get off the beaten path. Shikoku is best known for its 88 Temple Pilgrimage – a nearly 750-mile loop that covers sacred sites around the island. Whether you're trekking this path or creating your own, you'll encounter Shikoku's natural beauty (think: forest-covered mountains and an unspoiled coastline). Meanwhile, the city of Kochi features cheap eats and a well-preserved castle. If you're visiting in mid-August, add Shikoku's cultural pinnacle, Awa Odori, to your itinerary. One of the most famous festivals in Japan, this dance celebration in the city of Takushima is a must-do.

places to visit in and around tokyo

Mountainous Hakone is one of Japan's most popular hot spring destinations. Nestled within the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, the town features 17 different hot springs, plus a hot spring theme park with unique baths like one with coffee and another with mulled wine. After you've dried off, visit one of Hakone's art museums, such as the Hakone Open-Air Museum, the Okada Museum of Art or the Hakone Museum of Art. No Hakone vacation would be complete without enjoying spectacular views of Mount Fuji from Lake Ashinoko and the Komagatake Ropeway.

places to visit in and around tokyo

After an earthquake caused significant damage to the city in 1995, Kobe rebuilt itself into a thriving cosmopolitan city. You'll want to remember to bring your appetite when you visit. Kobe is famous for its namesake beef, as well as its sake. It's also considered one of Japan's most attractive cities, with sleek architecture and beautiful green spaces like Sorakuen Garden. For some of the city's best views – especially at sunset – go to the top of Mount Rokko or ride the Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway. End your evening exploring Nankinmachi (Kobe's compact Chinatown) or dining at one of Kobe Harborland's waterfront restaurants.

places to visit in and around tokyo

For many, Hiroshima brings up memories of war, as the city is where the world's first atomic bomb attack occurred in 1945. But today, Hiroshima is a city of peace, with the vast Peace Memorial Park as the center for monuments and memorials like the  the Children's Peace Monument and the UNESCO-certified Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Atomic Bomb Dome). It is also a city of great beauty. Travelers can take a scenic stroll through Shukkeien Garden, peruse the exhibits at the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art or visit Sandankyo Gorge to hike or boat past its beautiful waterfalls, caves and coves.

places to visit in and around tokyo

Tourists flock to the island of Miyajima (formally named Itsukushima) for its prime attraction: Itsukushima Shrine and its postcard-worthy torii gate. To see the shrine at its most picturesque, try to visit during high tide, when the gate appears to float on the water. Since the island is just a 30-minute ferry ride from Hiroshima, it makes for a great day trip. However, visitors may want to stay the night at a charming ryokan (Japanese-style inn) to experience Miyajima at its most serene and walk by the illuminated shrine at night.

places to visit in and around tokyo

An outdoor-lover's delight, Matsumoto is just 22 miles east of Kamikochi, an awe-inspiring valley in the Hotaka mountain range. But though it serves as a gateway to the Japanese Alps, this city in central Japan should not be skipped over. As the birthplace of contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama, known for polka dots and pumpkins, Matsumoto pays her tribute at the Matsumoto City Museum of Art. Meanwhile, those who prefer more ancient masterpieces can visit Matsumoto Castle, one of the oldest and grandest castles in the country.  

places to visit in and around tokyo

Japan's first permanent capital is famous for housing the Great Buddha, a nearly 50-foot-tall bronze statue of Buddha. You'll find this jaw-dropping national treasure in Nara's Todaiji temple, which is the one of the largest wooden buildings in the world. While on the temple grounds, explore the deer-filled Nara Park and the ornate Kasuga Taisha shrine. Also save time for visiting Yakushiji Temple, one of Japan's oldest temples that dates back to A.D. 730.

places to visit in and around tokyo

This peninsula situated 62 miles southwest of Tokyo makes a great getaway from the busy city. It is popular among locals and tourists alike thanks to its relaxing hot springs and stunning beaches. These, along with various museums and ryokans, can be found in cities like Atami and Shimoda on the Izu Peninsula's eastern coast. During spring visits, travelers will also want to check out Kawazu's vibrant pink blooms at the Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival. Meanwhile, on the southern and western coasts, vacationers will find more rugged yet equally scenic coastlines, such as Cape Irozaki and Dogashima.

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places to visit in and around tokyo

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VOYAPON

Tokyo Skytree: The City from a Whole New Perspective

Admiring Tokyo’s grand scale from above is a chance to capture stunning panoramic photos and one of the best ways to truly appreciate the vastness of this unmistakably distinctive metropolis. Tokyo has several free observation decks that are easily accessible, but for an unparalleled experience, Tokyo Skytree is a must-visit destination. So, let’s discover Japan’s capital city from a whole new perspective.

What the Tokyo Skytree Observation Decks Are Like

What the views look like throughout the day from tokyo skytree, how to buy tokyo skytree tickets, things to do around tokyo skytree, how to get to tokyo skytree, the tallest tower in japan… or the world.

Tokyo Skytree is the tallest tower in Japan, standing at a record-breaking height of 634 meters . While it is no longer the tallest tower in the world, it still holds the title for the tallest telecommunications tower at its 634-meter stature, and this height wasn’t chosen randomly. In Japanese, the numbers 6-3-4 can be read as ‘mu-sa-shi,’ evoking the ancient Musashi region that included present-day Tokyo, Saitama, and part of Kanagawa Prefecture. This number is both nostalgic and easy to remember , at least for Japanese people.

  Skip the lines and book your Tokyo Skytree tickets in advance!

places to visit in and around tokyo

The choice of color for the Tokyo Skytree also holds special significance. The outer lattices are painted in a shade officially named “Skytree White,” inspired by the traditional Japanese color aijiro . This is the lightest shade of indigo, paying homage to traditional Japanese dyeing techniques.

places to visit in and around tokyo

As darkness falls each evening, the tower comes alive with its LED lights, showcasing three different lighting patterns: iki , inspired by the spirit of Edo; miyabi , representing aesthetic; and nobori , symbolizing liveliness.

places to visit in and around tokyo

Construction of Skytree began in 2008, based on a design by architect Tadao Ando and sculptor Kiichi Sumikawa, and it officially opened to the public in 2012. But what is the purpose of this towering structure? Primarily, it functions as a telecommunications tower, yet it aims to showcase Japanese culture and technology to the world while revitalizing its Tokyo neighborhood. Additionally, Skytree contributes to natural disaster management: designed to withstand the most violent earthquakes , it supports communication and disaster relief efforts.

Mount Fuji and the Chureido Pagoda in Japan

Tokyo Wide Pass

3 days of unlimited train rides in Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures with this discount pass! Perfect for day trips from Tokyo to nearby attractions like Mt. Fuji, Nikko, and Karuizawa.

Tokyo Skytree has three main sections accessible to visitors. The first five floors (housing the ticket offices, two souvenir stores, and the Tokyo Solamachi shopping complex) and the two observatories can be reached by the Tembo Shuttle, Japan’s fastest elevator.

places to visit in and around tokyo

The first observatory, called the Tembo Deck , spans from the 340th to the 350th floor. On the 340th floor, thrill-seekers can walk on a section of clear-glass flooring. The main viewing platform is on the 350th floor, offering a 360-degree view. At the Skytree Cafe, you can enjoy a coffee or drink while overlooking the Kanto Plain. For an unforgettable meal, Sky Restaurant 634 on the 345th floor has tables with equally stunning views through the floor-to-ceiling windows.

places to visit in and around tokyo

Continuing with the Tembo Shuttle, you’ll reach the second observatory: the Tembo Gallery , which starts on the 445th floor. The viewing platform follows the building’s circumference, allowing visitors to walk along a corridor from the 445th to the 450th floor. The highest point, called “Sorakara,” is an impressive 451.2 meters high. From here, the view is breathtaking, as if you’re walking through the clouds , with special sound and soft light effects enhancing the experience.

The large windows of the observatories offer spectacular 360-degree views, extending up to 70 kilometers away. On clear days, you can even see Mount Fuji . The view is remarkable at any time of day, from the early morning when the light makes the Sumida River glow.

places to visit in and around tokyo

Consider scheduling a sunset visit for a more romantic experience when the sky transitions from orange to pink to the enchanting blue hour. Recently, the tower has extended its opening hours until 10pm, allowing you to witness Tokyo light up with thousands of twinkling lights beneath a starry sky.

Japanese woman calling a friend on a land line: もしもし

The Mobal SIM Card is the only SIM card with a Japanese phone number — perfect if you need to stay in touch on short visits or for long-term visitors living, working, or studying in Japan. Mobal pocket wifi is also great if you’re traveling with family or a group!

Tokyo Skytree tickets can be conveniently purchased either in advance online or on the day at the on-site ticket offices. You can choose between a more affordable ticket granting access to the Tembo Deck only or the combination ticket for both the Tembo Deck and the Tembo Gallery (please note that there isn’t a Tembo Gallery-only ticket option). Prices vary depending on age and whether it’s a weekday or holiday. Online tickets can be bought up to 30 days in advance. On the day of your visit, you must pick up your actual tickets at the facility by presenting the QR code.

Special ticket combinations are also available, offering tower admission and entry to nearby attractions like the aquarium or planetarium. For those planning an evening visit, there’s a discounted “Night View Ticket,” which includes admission to the Tembo Deck and a free drink.

  Pro Tip: Save up to 48% on popular attractions in Tokyo like Tokyo DisneySea , teamLab Planets TOKYO , and Tokyo Skytree by using the Klook Pass Greater Tokyo!

When planning your visit to Tokyo Skytree, make sure to allocate enough time to enjoy the view from the top and explore the surrounding area. You’ll find many entertainment options at the foot of the tower in Tokyo Skytree Town. Whether indulging in retail therapy at the Tokyo Solamachi shopping mall (great for buying souvenirs) or immersing yourself in the wonders of marine life at the Sumida Aquarium, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

places to visit in and around tokyo

In the area beneath the elevated railroad tracks, nestled between Skytree and the Asakusa district, you’ll find Tokyo Mizumachi, a complex of shops and restaurants. It’s the perfect spot for a stroll along the Kitajukken River until it merges with the Sumida. And if your visit happens to be during the cherry blossom season, nearby Sumida Park offers a lovely setting for hanami .

places to visit in and around tokyo

Skytree symbolizes technology and modernity, creating an intriguing contrast with its surrounding area. Situated in the Sumida district, next to Asakusa , it resides in what is known as shitamachi , the “lower town,” which preserves the retro charm of Tokyo’s more working class neighborhoods.

places to visit in and around tokyo

While you are at Skytree, consider combining a tour of Asakusa’s sights. Here is a tip: don’t shy away from venturing into lesser-known areas. Nearby Ryogoku Station is known for sumo wrestling , but it’s also where the famous artist Hokusai was born and where the Sumida Hokusai Museum now stands in his honor.

Nearby, the Edo-Tokyo Museum offers a glimpse into the city’s rich history – although it’s currently temporarily closed for renovations and scheduled to reopen sometime in late 2025 or early 2026. For second-timers or visitors searching for an offbeat Tokyo experience, we suggest the Kinshicho area, with the Kameido Tenjin Shrine known for its plum and wisteria blossoms.

Tokyo Skytree’s opening hours vary depending on the day. They typically start at 10am on weekdays and either 8am or 9am on holidays. To be safe, we suggest checking the official Tokyo Skytree website for the latest information . For convenient access by train or subway, you can hop off at Tokyo Skytree Station on the Tobu Skytree Line or Oshiage Station on the Hanzomon Line of Tokyo Metro and the Toei Asakusa Line. Alternatively, a direct bus shuttle service called Tokyo Skytree Shuttle is available from Ueno Station or Haneda Airport.

We all know Tokyo’s reputation as a sprawling metropolis, but only when you see it from above can you truly grasp its grand scale. Don’t miss out on this awe-inspiring perspective. If you’re up for a leisurely day that blends shopping, strolling through the shitamachi, and taking in breathtaking views, make sure to add Tokyo Skytree to your itinerary.

Translated from Italian by Stefania Da Pont

Stefania Da Pont

Stefania Da Pont

Translator and Japanese language tutor. I live in northern Italy but I feel at home in Japan, where I travel as often as I can. I drink a lot of green tea, read tons of books and collect Japanese pottery and kokeshi dolls. Karee raisu is my comfort food.

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  • Tokyo Tourist Information Center - Online Tourist Guide

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Updated: February 1, 2024

Consult us about your trip free-of-charge from wherever you like, such as at home or your destination.

The Tokyo Tourist Information Center provides tourist information online to visitors to Tokyo from Japan or abroad. This service allows you to receive tourist information in a variety of languages from wherever you like such as at home or your destination, and it is provided free-of-charge to all travelers visiting Tokyo from other parts of Japan or abroad. All communications are done online, so you can easily access this service even from overseas.

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Similar to the Tokyo Tourism Information Center, the online tourist guide introduces tourist spots and routes in Tokyo and all across Japan and provides a guide to access and accommodation information. The four languages of Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean are supported and, provided that you have an Internet connection, you can access this service from anywhere in the world. It is extremely useful for getting information about your destination before departure.

<Languages> Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean <Hours> English & Japanese: 24 hours a day (year-round) Chinese & Korean: 7:00-22:00 (year-round) To contact the service outside of hours, use the email address below. Inquiries will be addressed in the order in which they are received. info@tokyo-tourism.jp Note: Service hours are subject to change. <System requirements> The supported browsers are shown below. If you use anything other than the below systems or browsers, video and telephone call connections may not be possible.

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Everything you need to know about getting around Tokyo

David McElhinney

Mar 23, 2024 • 11 min read

places to visit in and around tokyo

People are always on the move in Tokyo and there are many transportation options to get around the city © JohnnyGreig / Getty Images

Given that Tokyo is the most populated city on earth, it needs a transport system that's up to the task of moving millions of people around daily.

Fortunately, the public transportation in Japan's capital is efficient, reliable, clean and generally safe – it makes getting around the region a breeze.

Of most use to travelers is the train and subway system, which is simple to navigate thanks to English signage and color-coded lines – even if some large stations, most notably Shinjuku, can be a maze for the uninitiated. 

But don’t feel obliged to use trains for every journey. Despite unpredictable traffic patterns, buses tend to be equally punctual and can be useful for short journeys in quieter suburbs.

Tokyo’s relatively flat topography also means cycling and walking don’t require too much of a sweat, and allow you to explore neighborhoods you’d otherwise bypass on the underground.

And if you want to combine your commute with sightseeing, take to the river on one of Tokyo’s beetle-like water buses, which travel between mainland Tokyo and the reclaimed islands of Tokyo Bay. This is everything you need to know about getting around Tokyo.

White, high speed bullet train with motion blur

Tokyo's trains and subway system get you around quickly

Tokyo’s extensive rail network includes Japan Railways (JR) lines, a subway system and private commuter lines that depart in every direction for the suburbs like spokes on a wheel. Journeys that require transfers between lines run by different operators cost more than journeys that use a single operator’s lines. 

Major transit hubs include Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Ueno stations — all connected via the JR Yamanote Line that circles the Imperial Palace , Tokyo’s central point.

Trains arrive and depart precisely on time and are generally clean and pleasant, though they get uncomfortably crowded during rush hours and late at night (for a short window in the morning and early evenings, many trains have women-only carriages).

The city's trains stop running between midnight and 5am (give or take an hour, depending on the line) while many bars, clubs, karaoke rooms and izakaya (gastro pubs) remain in business until the wee hours or even 24/7. It's wise to check when your last train departs or be prepared to find another (more expensive) means of transport home.

The JR network covers the whole country and includes the Shinkansen (bullet train). In Tokyo, the above-ground Yamanote (loop) and the Chūō–Sōbu (central) lines are the most useful. Tickets start at ¥180 and go up depending on how far you travel.

Tokyo has 13 subway lines, nine of which are operated by Tokyo Metro and four by Toei . The lines are color-coded, making navigation fairly simple – although a transfer ticket is required to change between the two networks.

A Pasmo or Suica card makes this process seamless, but either way a journey involving more than one operator comes out costing slightly more. Fares depend on the distance traveled.

A hand holding up a travel pass ticket in front of ticket gate at Tokyo Station.

Grab a transport pass for seamless travel in Tokyo

Referred to generally as IC cards or IC passes, prepaid rechargeable Suica and Pasmo cards work on all city trains, subways and buses (you can also use passes purchased in other regions of Japan, such as the Icoca from western Japan or the Kitaka from Hokkaidō).

Buy these from any touch-screen ticket vending machine in Tokyo (including those at Haneda and Narita airports); most have an English option and the cards are interchangeable. JR stations sell Suica, and subway and independent lines sell Pasmo.

Both require a ¥500 deposit, which is refunded (along with any remaining balance) when you return the pass to any ticket window. Passes can be topped up at any touch-screen ticket-vending machine (not just, for example, at JR stations for Suica passes) in increments of ¥1000.

Unfortunately, a shortage of chips has resulted in a supply failure of the physical cards and they're now hard to find in Tokyo. iPhone users can use a digital IC card through their Apple Pay function and there are tourist-specific cards available at the airports.

These have a much shorter expiry date than the regular cards – 28 days versus 10 years. If you still have an IC card from your last trip to Tokyo, it will work fine if it's less than 10 years old.

If you’re planning a packed day, you might consider getting an unlimited-ride ticket. The Tokyo Subway Ticket allows unlimited rides on both Tokyo Metro and Toei subway lines, with 24-hour, 48-hour and 72-hour options available.

This pass is only available to foreign travelers on a tourist visa; you’ll need to determine whether the trains you plan to use will be largely JR or metro to get your money’s worth.

Using IC cards is simple: just run them over the card readers at the ticket gates upon entering and exiting. Fares for pass users are slightly less (a few yen per journey) than for paper ticket holders.

A train travels over a bridge above roads with pedestrians, cars and a bus below

See more of Tokyo on a bus

Toei runs an extensive bus network in Tokyo, though it’s only more convenient than the subway when you’re in the outer suburbs or making short inner-city jaunts. A particularly useful bus, the number 06, connects Shibuya , Hiroo and Azabujuban – three popular cosmopolitan neighborhoods. 

Fares are ¥210 for adults and ¥110 for children; there are no transfer tickets. Pay by IC pass or deposit your fare into the box as you enter the bus – if your pass is out of credit, you can charge it at the front of the bus (the word for “charge” is cha-ji).

There’s also a change machine by the driver’s seat that accepts ¥1000 notes. Most buses have digital signage that switches between Japanese and English; otherwise, listen for your stop. Signal the bus to stop in advance of the approaching stop by pushing one of the buttons near your seat.

Japan is a global leader in hydrogen energy, one of the world’s cleanest energy sources, which emits only wastewater (even if some question the technology’s cost-effectiveness).

Some 85 hydrogen fuel cell buses have been in operation since March 2021, traveling primarily between Tokyo Station and the Tokyo Big Sight  convention center in Ariake, while passing through the popular Yurakucho, Ginza and Tsukiji neighborhoods.

The local government is aiming to have more than 300 hydrogen buses in operation by 2030.

Get a fresh view from a water bus

Tokyo’s “water buses” look like robotic beetles skimming across the placid waters of its eastern river networks.

Thanks to their glass-walled exteriors, they’re a great option for taking in the sights of Tokyo Bay while traveling between Asakusa and the likes of Odaiba, Toyosu and Hama-rikyū Gardens .

Journeys will cost between ¥280 and ¥2600, depending on distance, and are generally more comfortable than their terrestrial public transport counterparts.

Tokyo taxi turning right in a busy road, traffic ahead has motion blur, the shops have neon billboards

After a late night out consider a taxi

Getting a taxi in Tokyo only makes economic sense for short distances or when in groups of four – unless you’re stranded during the lull in nightly train operations.

All cabs run by the meter, with fares starting at ¥500 for the first 2km (1.2 miles) and then rising by ¥100 for every 255m (836ft) you travel or for every 90 seconds spent in traffic.

When traveling longer distances, this starts to add up at a rather alarming rate, especially when you factor in the nighttime surcharge of 20% between 10pm and 5am, and potential highway tolls. 

Drivers rarely speak English, though most taxis have navigation systems. Have your destination written down in Japanese – or, better yet, a business card with an address.

Most taxis now also take credit cards and IC passes; since the pandemic began many have introduced automated payment systems attached to screens on the back of the main passenger seat. 

Train stations and hotels have designated taxi stands. In the absence of a stand, you can hail a cab from the street by standing on the curb and sticking your arm out; there are typically far more taxis roaming the streets than punters hailing them down.

Local tips for using cabs and finding addresses

Japanese cab doors are automatic, and even after years of residence in the city, many foreigners find themselves struggling to open self-opening doors. Exercise patience! 

Once in the taxi, you’ll notice how difficult Tokyo’s streets are to navigate, even for locals. Only the biggest streets have official names, and they don’t figure into addresses. Instead, addresses are derived from districts, blocks and building numbers.

Central Tokyo is divided first into ku (wards – Tokyo has 23 of them), which in turn are divided into chō or machi (towns) and then into numbered districts called chōme (pronounced “cho-may”). Subsequent numbers in an address refer to blocks within the chōme and buildings within each block.

Since it’s nearly impossible to find your destination using the address alone, smartphones with navigation apps have been a real boon.

Many restaurants and venues also have useful maps on their websites. If you get lost, police officers at kōban (police boxes) have maps and can help with directions, though few speak English.

At the very least, they should be able to steer you back to the nearest train station from where you can try again. Many businesses have also started using the What3Words app, which has divided the world into 3m-square grids to help users pinpoint a specific location.

Uber does operate in Tokyo but it's not cheaper 

Uber arrived in Tokyo in May 2018, though its boutique chauffeur service, Uber Black, dates back to 2015. The ride-share company has partnered with three local taxi operators to provide rides in Tokyo’s central business district and other busy areas.

Even though Tokyo strictly regulates ride-sharing apps, other competitors are entering the market, such as the city’s premier taxi app, JapanTaxi (which isn’t particularly tourist-friendly).

Given Uber’s unpredictable availability and a pricing structure similar to that of street cabs, there are few occasions where using the app is merited.

Young guy with backpack riding a bike at evening time on Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, Japan

Cycling in Tokyo

At first glance, Tokyo doesn’t seem like a bicycle-friendly city: dedicated lanes are almost nonexistent on major thoroughfares, cyclists often come up against pedestrian overpasses that need to be scaled (though a few have ramps for walking bikes up and down), and you’ll see no-parking signs for bicycles everywhere. 

Despite all this, you’ll also see plenty of pedaling locals. This is because Tokyo is a largely flat city, and much bike-friendlier if you’re cycling through city parks , in residential neighborhoods, along the river promenades near Tokyo Bay or around the maze of backstreets.

Cogi Cogi is a bike-sharing system with ports around the city, including some hostels.

Despite instructions in English, the system is a little complicated to use: you’ll need to download an app, register a credit card and have a wi-fi connection on the go to sync with the ports.

Chuo Street in Tokyo at night, very busy with traffic in motion, shops and signs are lit up

Think twice about hiring a car

Considering the traffic, the confusing and often excruciatingly narrow roads, and the ridiculous cost of parking, it’s best not to use a car to get around Tokyo; even most Tokyoties don’t bother owning a vehicle.

Day trips can easily be done by public transport, though renting a car will expand your options and allow you to explore regions rarely visited by the touring masses. 

For rentals, you will need an International Driving Permit, which must be arranged in your own country before you leave; certain conditions must be met (see the Japan Automobile Federation website for further information).

Rental companies with branches around the city include Nippon Rent-a-Car and Toyota Rent-a-Car . 

Local tips for car rentals in Tokyo

Rental cars are generally affordable, especially when the cost is split among passengers, and are economical with respect to gas mileage.

That said, highway tolls in Japan can be exorbitant – driving to Osaka and back, for example, would cost over ¥29,000 in toll fees, mitigating some of the money saved on skipping the bullet train. 

Also be sure to pay the extra fee for damage insurance. In the event that you are in an accident, no matter how small, you must first call the police to record the incident before the vehicle is returned to the shop or you’ll risk incurring hair-raising financial penalties.

Rental operators are fairly unsympathetic to those who don’t follow these rules; it’s worth bringing a translator to go through the small print to avoid any such mishaps.

Accessible transportation in Tokyo

Tokyo is working hard to improve universal access – or bariafurī (“barrier-free”; バリアフリー) in Japanese. It’s estimated that at least 95% of Tokyo’s approximately 700 train stations have step-free facilities and accessible toilets, while 94% of buses are also wheelchair accessible. 

Newer buildings have wheelchair-access ramps, more and more subway stations are introducing elevators (look for signs on the platform as not all exits have them), and yellow braille lines direct visually impaired passengers through major stations and guide them safely along platforms.

Train-station staff will also help wheelchair-using passengers on and off trains with a temporary slope.

A fair number of hotels, from the higher end of midrange and up, offer a barrier-free room or two (be sure to book well in advance). Note that what constitutes “barrier-free” is not always consistent, so check the details carefully.

Larger attractions, department stores and shopping malls tend to have wheelchair-accessible restrooms. If you need a wheelchair (車いす; “ kuruma isu ”) while in Tokyo, hotel staff can help you rent one.

Accessible Japan is the best resource for accessible travel. It also produces an ebook with lots of detail. Click here to download Lonely Planet’s free Accessible Travel guide.

This article was first published Apr 8, 2021 and updated Mar 23, 2024.

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