Tokyo is undoubtedly a destination number one in Japan – and there is no surprise in it! What’s now the capital was once a small village named Edo that grew into a major city under Tokugawa’s shogunate and was finally renamed into Tokyo.
See the 15 tick-boxes below you have to do in Tokyo (whether you’re attending a rugby match this autumn or not) and let me know what you would like to do the most!
Explore Asakusa Area: rent a kimono in Asakusa, visit iconic Kaminarimon gates (original gates date back to the 10th century but the current version dates back to 1950) with a giant red lantern, shop at Nakamise-Dori street on the temple’s grounds and admire Senso-ji, the oldest Tokyo temple.
2) Tokyo Tower
Climb Tokyo Tower, one of the most iconic landmarks in the Japanese capital since its opening in the 1960s, observe the city from it and visit the Zojoji Temple nearby!
3) Toyosu fish market
Visit the Toyosu fish market, which recently opened its doors to the public instead of the Tsukiji market! One of the main attractions of it remains the Tuna Auction that recently opened on a new location. It takes place from 5:30am to 6:30am, and you can watch if from the observation desk if you’re lucky enough to get a place.
Food stalls and multiple shops have also migrated to a new location. From my experience, I can say that the new market is much better adapted for visitors, contains English signs and direction everywhere – and navigation became much easier even considering the fact that new market is so much bigger!
Btw, the waterfront area is extremely nice too!
You can still visit the area of the Tsukiji outdoor market – there are many shops and restaurants still fully functioning in that area. I strongly advise you to pop in Kagura restaurant for some specially fermented rice used for sushi – this recipe roots in Edo Period.
See the photos below to get an idea how Tsukiji market used to look like because I was extremely lucky to visit both fish markets, the old and the new one.
4) Ueno Park
Stroll along the Ueno Park, one of the first public parks in Japan, see the magnificent pagoda of Tōeizan Kan’ei-ji Endon-in temple, pop into the museums, stroll around the Shinobazu Pond with lotuses and maybe even get acquainted with pandas in the zoo nearby!
Get a proper lunch at Shinjuku area, pop into shopping centers and multiple animal cafes but make sure that the cafe you decided to go to is all about the care for animals!
6) Tokyo National Museum
Explore the collection of Tokyo National Museum, the complex of six buildings that houses the largest and one of the most important museums in Tokyo dedicated to the history of the country.
Make sure you see the Honkan collection at least – it covers ukiyo-e, samurai armour, noh and kabuki masks, lacquerware, kimonos, archeological treasures and so many more!
7) TeamLabs Planets
Have you ever been to any of TeamLabs, interactive museums where art fuses with technology?
My first one was TeamLab Planets in Tokyo where you move through water (barefoot!) crossing the spaces with 7 different installations: for instance, room with giant balloons which change color when you touch them and a knee deep pool with “drawings” of koi on the water surface that transform into flowers!
Eat some crazy Instagrammable food at Harajuku – for instance, this rainbow candy floss! Each layer has a different fruit taste. Would you love to try it?
9) Fukagawa Edo Museum
Dive into the life of an Edo city at the Fukagawa Edo Museum – wander around the city built indoor and learn the story behind every single building and its owners! Lighting and sound effects, moving figures and real flowing water all add to the authenticity of the place.
Shop at Ginza district (I’ll write a separate blog about it!) and enjoy a performance at Kabuki-za, freshly renovated theatre staging traditional Japanese kabuki performances. Although its style is extremely distinctive from the western theatre, I enjoyed my visit very much!
11) Ghibli Museum
Find Hachiko statue who is still waiting for his owner, Hidesaburō Ueno, at Shibuya station and walk along the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world! The reasons of the intersection being so crowded include the proximity of one of the biggest stations (Shibuya) and a number of offices and other workplaces nearby.
Get blinded by the colours and lights of Akihabara, explore the Electric Town, buy some anime related souvenirs and maybe even pop into one of the maid cafes.
14) Meiji Jingu Shrine
Visit the early 20th century Meiji Jingu Shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōke and explore the forest outside of it too! The barrels of sake there are absolute icons.
15) Imperial Palace
Stroll along the Imperial Palace located on the site of Edo Castle and symbolising the end of Edo Period and the beginning of the Meiji era. It’s open only on particular days of the year and you’ll need an online reservation to visit it – but you can still see the Seimon Ishibashi bridge on any day you want.
I’d strongly recommend you explore the magnificent Ninomaru gardens nearby too – especially during the blooming season!
Hope you enjoyed my today’s post!
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Anna | London & Beyond
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