Top 10 Tokyo – Highlights
Tokyo Highlights – The Essential Must Sees
Discover Tokyo with this list of Tokyo highlights containing 10 essential sightseeing attractions for tourists when traveling to this cosmopolitan city.
Meaning ‘Eastern Capital’, Tōkyō (東京) is Japan’s capital and its largest city and is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. With a unique urbanscape where modern skyscrapers and ancient shrines blend together in its monstrous metropolis, it has come a long way from its origins as a collection of shallows and tidal pools at the mouth of the Sumida River. Tōkyō has over 13 million people living in the city’s 23 wards and a total of 40 million in Greater Tōkyō making it the core of the most populated urban area in the world and one of the commanding centers of the world’s economy. The easternmost of the great Asian cities, and the world’s most expensive city for expatriates (according to the latest ranking by Mercer), Tōkyō’s energy and frenetic pace of life brings high-tech visions of the future side by side with glimpses of old Japan.
1. Sensō-ji Temple
Also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple, Sensoji Temple is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa. Tokyo’s oldest temple, and one of its most significant, it enshrines a golden image of Kannon (the Buddhist God of Mercy), which according to legend was miraculously fished out of the nearby Sumida River by two fisherman in AD 628. The main avenue to the cities holiest sanctuary is crammed with stalls and booths selling a wide range of traditional goods and souvenirs.
2. Takeshita-dōri & Omotesandō
Takeshita-dōri, running from Harajuku Station to Meiji-dōri, is a narrow pedestrian-only shopping street famous for its alternative street fashions. A haven of youth culture and fashion it is crammed with many trendy shops, teen fashion boutiques, used clothes stores, crepe stands and fast food outlets.
In stark contrast nearby Omotesandō is an upscale tree-lined shopping boulevard that showcases fashion flagship stores. With its alfresco street cafes and international brand outlet boutiques Omotesandō is sometimes referred to as “Tokyo’s Champs-Élysées”.
3. Imperial Palace
Tokyo Imperial Palace is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan. It is a large park area situated in the centre of Tokyo. The palace grounds are encircled by moats, stone walls, ancient bridges and gardens. The current compound is built on the site of the old Edo castle where some of the original fortifications remain.
4. Tokyo Skytree
The Tokyo Skytree is a television broadcasting tower and Tokyo landmark. With a height of 634 meters, it is the centerpiece of the Tokyo Skytree Town in the Sumida City Ward. It is the tallest building in Japan, the tallest tower in the world and the second tallest structure in the world at the time of its completion.
The Tokyo Sky Tree took over the broadcasting duties for all major Tokyo broadcasting stations from Tokyo Tower. This is because Tokyo Tower with a height of 333 metres, no longer gives complete broadcasting coverage because it is surrounded by many high-rise buildings.
5. Meiji Shrine
Meiji Shrine is one of the major spiritual sites in Tokyo. Dedicated to the memory of Emperor Meiji and his consort Empress Shoken, under whose late 19th-century rule Japan ended its long isolation from the outside world. The shrine is located beside Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote line.
Together with the adjacent Yoyogi Park, the shrine’s vast grounds make up a large forested area within the densely built-up city. Yoyogi Park is one of Tokyo’s largest city parks. It features wide lawns, ponds and forested areas which makes it a great place for jogging, picnicking and other outdoor activities. If you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of a bunch of Japanese rockabilly’s jiving to 50s rock ’n’ roll.
6. Shibuya Crossing (aka Hachikō Crossing)
The Shibuya Crossing, hailed as the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world, is the famous intersection located in front of the Shibuya Station Hachikō exit. When the lights turn red at this busy crossing vehicles stop in all directions allowing pedestrians to billow across the teeming junction.
The video below shows the organised chaos of the pedestrian scramble:
You will also find the Hachikō Statue that stands facing the Hachikō exit outside of Shibuya Station. The statue is a famous meeting place at the entranceway to Shibuya Crossing.
Built on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay, Odaiba is a large artificial island accessed from central Tokyo via the Rainbow Bridge. A popular entertainment district featuring high-tech buildings, exhibition pavilions, game centres, museums, fashion malls and a giant Ferris wheel.
8. Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Market (築地市場 Tsukiji shijō) is the world’s largest and busiest fish market. It is where all that seafood comes after it has been fished out of the sea before it turns up on sashimi platters. Located on reclaimed lands in Chūō-ku beyond Ginza in central Tokyo. It is the lifeblood of Tokyo’s sushi restaurants and bars and a favourite destination for tourists. From before dawn each morning the wholesale markets are a blaze with activity as the best of the catch from local and international waters are auctioned to the highest bidder. Before you go, however, check this website to see if public access is permitted that day. If so, it will be on a first-come, first-serve basis, and limited to 120 people.
Roppongi is a district in Tokyo that is well known as the city’s most popular nightlife district among foreigners, offering a large number of foreigner friendly bars, restaurants, night clubs, hostess clubs, strip clubs and cabarets. Two of Tokyo’s largest recent redevelopment projects, Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown changed the district’s face over the past decade and expanded Roppongi’s appeal to a wider range of visitors and residents with their elegant retail, leisure and residential space, offices and luxury hotels.
10. Tōkyō Disney Resort
Tokyo Disney Resort is a theme park and vacation resort located just east of Tokyo. It is the first Disney theme park to be opened outside the United States. The complex has developed into resort consisting of two theme parks (Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea), three Disney-branded hotels (Disney Ambassador Hotel, Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta and Tokyo Disneyland Hotel), six non-Disney hotels and a shopping complex. All facilities are linked by Disney Resort Line monorail.