Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world. During our seven week trip to Japan we were lucky enough to spend quite a lot of time there. As Tokyo is so large, when researching the city it can be quite daunting so we wanted to share some of our favourite places in the city.
One of our favourite spots in Tokyo, Asakusa retains its older feel while at the same time being part of a modern city. The Senso-ji temple is located here which is one of the largest and oldest temples in the city. It is a fantastic site to explore and even better to go back at night when it’s dark and see it lit up. Along with the temple the Asakusa has long streets filled with markets. With craft shops and fashion outlets. The area also has fantastic backstreet Izakayas and street food vendors.
This is an area that needs no introduction. Famous for its intersection that allows swarms of people to cross at once, creating some great viewing. There are also many high street shops and restaurants for you to enjoy. Our tip would be to avoid the que for the Starbucks and grab a drink in Hoshino Coffee to view the crossing. Another Shibuya attraction is the Meji Jingu shrine located north of Yoyogi Park. Exploring this shiinto shrine and surrounding park is a super way to spend an afternoon. You might even be lucky enough to catch a wedding party as they make their way to and from their ceremony.
The home of Tokyo’s nightlife scene Shinjuku is a hub of activity. From night clubs and karaoke bars to the cramped Izakayas and narrow streets of “Golden Gai” you are sure to find what you’re looking for here. If you are after a little bit of history and culture there is the Samurai Museum, or you could go to the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Building for great views of the city. It’s free and gives you a chance to see Tokyo from above.
Bordering Shibuya and the Meiji Jingu Shrine is Harajuku. If you wander the streets you will find yourself admiring the colourful street art. Many clothes stores are located here and it is known as the center of youth fashion and culture in the city. From our perspective it was not as large as we expected but still well worth a visit to do some window shopping, as well as take in the artwork.
A lesser known area of Tokyo for tourists, we found Ikebukuro to great spot to explore. It’s most famous attraction would be the Sunshine City. Home to a large Pokemon Centre which we really enjoyed visiting as well as some other cartoon themed stores. There are also some lovely public parks to enjoy, we particularly liked Minami-Ikebukuro Park. There is some great food to enjoy as well. Our two highlights were the GIANT gyoza from Kailaku and the top notch ramen from Mutekiya.
The Tsukiji Fish market is one of the must visits for any foodie in Tokyo. Located in the Ginza district of Tokyo this famous market is known for its tuna auctions and extremely fresh sushi. Head first thing in the morning and get yourself some for breakfast like we did. After you’ve had your fill take a walk south to the Hamarikyu Gardens. This public park is home to a 17th century Shogun villa along with some beautiful lakes and gardens.
Another part of Tokyo and Japanese culture we explored was the Video game and Anime culture of Akihabara. Located in the north of this city this area is a buzzing shopping hub. Offering massive stores containing every sort of video game, toy and trading cards you can imagine. It might seem overwhelming at first but you really get an understanding of how big a part of Japanese culture this is once you visit.
No trip to Tokyo is complete without visiting the home of the Emperor of Japan. Located in the Chiyoda Ward you can spend a day exploring the palace and grounds. First built in 1888 the castle and vast grounds offer some of the best examples of ancient Japanese architecture you can experience today. Head early to avoid the crowds.
These are just some of our highlights for Tokyo. No doubt there are plenty of things we missed out on. We just wanted to share our experiences of the city with you in the hope it helps you get the most out of your trip.
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