The capital city of Japan, Tokyo is a 14-hour flight from New York City, 11 and a half hour flight from Los Angeles and a seven-hour flight from Singapore. If you’re feeling the pull to get to this sprawling metropolis, we have a list of the best things to do and see in Tokyo:
1. Try the food and explore Tsukiji Fish Market
According to GoTokyo, the official Tokyo travel guide, Tokyo’s local cuisine was shaped by the people for over 400 years. Foods to try are sushi, sashimi (thinly sliced raw fish served without rice), soba (buckwheat noodles, served cold or in a bowl of hot broth), fukagawa-meshi (rice topped with miso-based stew), unagi (grilled eel), ramen, and chanko-nabe (hot pot).
The best place to try a variety of traditional food is at Tsukiji Fish Market’s outer market. To avoid being overwhelmed, we suggest joining a Tsukiji Fish Market food tour with a knowledgeable tour guide.
Those who plan to witness the tuna fish auction at Tsukiji Fish Market’s inner market must visit Tokyo before October. The old market closes its doors on October 6 and will be torn down to make way for a transportation hub in Tokyo.
Only 120 visitors are allowed into the inner market per day. Tickets are given out on a first come first serve basis. For additional information, please read Japan Guide’s Tsukiji Fish Market guide.
2. Visit Sensoji and Nakamise Shopping Street
Sensoji or Asakusa Kannon Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo. Located on the Sumida River, the temple complex Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) is the first gate you’ll see, followed by a short shopping street known as Nakamise and Hozomon (second gate). After Hozomon is the temple’s main hall, the five-storied pagoda, and the Asakusa Shrine.
Some fascinating things to look out for are the large lantern at Thunder Gate and the traditional Japanese gifts offered on Nakamise.
3. Cross the famous Shibuya crossing
To get a feel of the world’s busiest street crossing, we suggest taking the train to Shibuya station and exit from the Hachiko exit. The Shibuya crossing, an intersection just outside the exit has over 2,500 pedestrians crossing at one time during rush hours.
Another attraction at Shibuya station is the Hachiko statue for fans of the movie, Hachi: A Dog’s Story (a true story based true story).
4. Enjoy the neon lights of Tokyo
Strolling on the busy streets at night is a must when visiting Tokyo. The dazzling neon lights in Shibuya, Kabukicho-Shinjuku, Ginza, and Akihabara are some of the best in the city.
5. Stroll in Hamarikyu Gardens
Hamarikyu Gardens was the family garden of the last Tokugawa (Edo period 1603–1868) Shogun of Japan. It’s where you can see Tokyo’s only seawater pond (Shioiri-no-ike) from the Edo era, a 300-year-old pine tree, two kamoba (duck hunting sites) built in the late 1700s and traditional teahouses.
Stop by at Nakajima-no-ochaya teahouse for a cup of Japanese matcha and wagashi (a type of Japanese mochi).
Have you been to Tokyo? What’s your favorite thing to do?