From neon lights and chaotic crosswalks to sacred shrines and springtime sakura – the cosmopolitan cutting-edge of Tokyo is waiting to be discovered.
Tokyo is guaranteed to enthral with its captivating blend of modern and traditional, leaving all that visit hungry for more. A gastronomic goliath of rustic ramen and deep-fried skewers, with diverse arts and culture from the delicate brushstrokes of Sumi-e to manga, this city of neon lights, serene shrines and bustling crowds always seems to satisfy. Whether it’s your first time visiting or you’re a loyal returnee, be sure to tick off these top experiences to make the most of your Japan escape.
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Order lunch at Tsukiji Fish Market
Famed for exporting world-class seafood around the globe, Tsukiji Outer Market is the public wholesale destination for chefs and home cooks as well as a trove of culinary treasures worth discovering. While the iconic tuna auctions have moved to Toyosu, Tsukiji's fishmongers remain. Selling more than scales and tails, Tsukiji is peppered with kitchenware stores and food stalls hawking their wares; from forged chef's knives and ornate teapots to moreish street foods. Hungry? Embark on a gourmet voyage of melt-in-your-mouth tuna sushi, fried fishcake, buttery sea urchin or delicate sashimi served with green tea and heavenly daifuku for dessert.
Walk the streets of Shibuya
Japan's trendsetting capital, Shibuya is known for its vibrant crowds. Shibuya109 towers over the chaotic Scramble Crossing, an iconic intersection diverging into laneways framed by glimmering skyscrapers and urban sprawl. Navigate the human tide (taking a quick selfie as you go) and on the far shore, wander the streets to explore hip cafes and trendy boutiques. Discover the bittersweet tale of loyal Hachiko, browse the clothing racks of Cat Street or take a break at the elevated Miyashita Park. As the sun sets, Shibuya pulses with exhilarating energy across dazzling neon lights, bustling restaurants and cosy izakaya-style bars.
Step back in time in Asakusa
A timeless district of Tokyo with a traditional aesthetic, Asakusa is one of Tokyo's most popular tourist destinations. Encounter the vermillion lantern of Kaminarimon as you travel up Nakamise Shopping Street, sampling traditional snacks and acquiring memorable souvenirs as you go. At the end of Nakamise-dori towers the colossal seventh-century Buddhist temple, Senso-Ji. The temple and pagoda here are a must-see but are far from Asakusa's only attractions. Browse restaurant-grade kitchenware and iconic plastic food displays on Kappabashi shopping street and peer down from great heights at nearby Tokyo Skytree's observation deck to glimpse the golden Asahi Flame.
Experience the magic of Tokyo Disney Resort
The first Disney resort to open beyond the United States, Tokyo Disneyland and companion park Tokyo DisneySea deliver magical experiences for the inner child. Journey to seven themed lands featuring seasonal decorations and parades, feel the thrill of iconic Disney rides, indulge in sweet treats and experience thrilling attractions. Revel in futuristic games at Tomorrowland, ride the kid-sized rollercoasters of Toontown, snap a selfie with everybody’s favourite cartoon mouse or cruise aboard the riverboat for a scenic change of pace. For Disney veterans, Tokyo DisneySea contains seven new ports of call themed around nautical exploration that are unique to this resort, boasting intricate details you must see to believe.
Discover old vs. new in Harajuku
In Harajuku, ‘Kawaii’ culture collides with enduring tradition. Standing in solemn tranquility amid the forest is the venerated Meiji Shrine, where deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and consort Empress Shoken enshrined within. Just outside the verdant foliage, rockabilly Elvis impersonators dance up a storm on Sunday afternoons in Yoyogi Park. Meanwhile the luxury boutiques of Omotesando are a mecca of high-end shopping against the pastel battleground of Takeshita Street, where the various tribes of Harajuku’s youth wage style war. Indulge in crepes and candy strong enough to give cavities, while taking in the cosplay and pastel rainbows that collide with edgy Goth and Punk subcultures.
Be entertained in Shinjuku
Home to the busiest train station in the world, around 3.5 million passengers are thought to flow through lively Shinjuku each day. Whether passing through for work or amusement, this neon playground that never sleeps delivers entertainment for all. Soar over the city at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Deck before slurping down a warming bowl of ramen at Ramen Hayashida. When night falls, discover dazzling Kabukicho as you seek out tumbledown bars in the labyrinthian, lantern-lit laneways of Golden Gai, belt out a tune at Bar Amici or delve into cacophonous Pachinko parlours.
See stunning cherry blossoms in bloom
Forecasts of blushing blooms draw eager crowds to observe the annual traditional Hanami flower-viewing parties. Gathering on the vast lawns of Harajuku's Yoyogi Park and the manicured gardens of Shinjuku Gyo-en, sakura spectators celebrate the arrival of spring with a picnic under the pink-hued showers of Japan's national flower. Near Mitaka's Ghibli Museum, hundreds of cherry blossom trees delicately frame Inokashira Park's serene lake with a floral haze. If picnics aren't for you, watch pastel petals tumble into the Meguro River as you sip expertly made espresso on the balcony of Starbucks Reserve Roastery.
Sing your heart out in Tokyo’s best karaoke bars
A Japanese entertainment icon, karaoke is the perfect choice for a fun night out in Tokyo. Even if your vocals are slightly off-key, it’s all part of the fun, so let loose and belt out whatever tune you fancy. For those with stage fright, 1Kara's single-occupancy booths are a perfect choice. Travelling with friends? Drag them to Karaoke Kan, add costumes, all-you-can-drink deals and Japanese fried chicken for instant memories. Perfect for anime enthusiasts, Pasela Resorts Akihabara (known for franchise cafes aplenty) offer themed karaoke dens with a great selection of foreign music and Pasela’s unique honey toast: a brick of bread glazed with honey and piled high with toppings.
Ready to spring into sakura season? Check out the Top Five Places in the World to See Cherry Blossoms.