Hi there! Lilly here. Born and raised in Osaka, Japan and been living in the states for last 14 years, I’ve often asked by my coworkers who are planning to go visit Japan and seek any recommendation of where to visit, what to see, what to eat, etc etc.
Although I’m very familiar with Osaka/Kansai area, from my experience visiting Tokyo and some thorough research, I came up with the list of “Tokyo Must See List” which I give to my coworkers.
Tokyo is a very big city with heavily populated concrete jungle. There could be too much to see and overwhelming. The list I created is geared towards to visiting Tokyo for the first time travelers.
There are “9 must-see Tokyo Spots” on the map. I will start with “1. Tokyo Imperial Palace” and will go clock-wise. 🙂
1. Tokyo Imperial Palace
Short walk from Tokyo station, Tokyo Imperial Palace is the residence of Japan’s Imperial Family. It was built in 1888. People usually spend time sightseeing this palace from 15 minutes to 1.5 hours.
- Address: Chiyoda 1-1, Chiyoda, Tokyo, 100-8111
- Visiting Hours: Tues/Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat/Sun. Depending on the day of year, the admission time is slightly varied, but safe to visit between 9am and 3pm.
- Admission: Free
You can check out below website for more details.
- Tokyo Imperial Palace official website: http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/guide/koukyo.html
- Wikipedia Tokyo Imperial Palace: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokyo_Imperial_Palace
Akihabara is a well known place for “Electronics” and “Anime”. If you are into latest technology from computer, camera, video, television and home appliance, or love Japanese manga, this is the place to visit! Even if you are not so into above items, you can still enjoy finding some trinkets for sure!
It will take you just less than 10 minutes train ride from Tokyo station to Akihabara.
- Address: Soto-kanda 1, Chiyoda, Tokyo
Asakusa is located in north of Tokyo station, by approx 20 minutes train ride. Sensoji, a buddhist temple built in 8th century, is highly recommended to visit. Near by the temple, there is a shopping street where you can feel the good old Japanese downtown from the past.
- Address: Asakusa 2-3-1, Taito, Tokyo, 111-0032
You can also enjoy “Rickshaw tour” while you are there.
According to the website 30 minutes tour is approximately $82 for 2 people. Could be a bit pricy but you can surely get one of a kind experience apart from riding on a bus/taxi around the town.
4. Tokyo Sky Tree
Close to Asakusa, you can visit the “Tallest Tower in the World” – Tokyo Sky Tree which is equipped with broadcasting, restaurants and observation area. If you are not afraid of height, pay a visit to the tower and enjoy the view of all Tokyo area and even the magnificent Fuji Mountain.
- Address: 1-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida, Tokyo, 131-0045
- Visiting Hours: 10am – 9pm
- Admission: Approx $30~40 per adult over 12 years old, $15~20 per children 4-11 years old.
Official Tokyo Sky Tree website in English: http://lang.tokyo-skytree.jp/en/index.html
Photo of Mt. Fuji from Tokyo Sky Tree: https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g1066459-d1872416-i44839689-Tokyo_Skytree-Sumida_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html
♥Once again, let me leave you the map here so that you don’t have to scroll up again. ♥
5. Ginza Shopping
Ginza is very famous for uptown shopping district where you can find from high-end boutique to traditional Japanese sweets. Less than 5 minutes train ride from Tokyo station, this is where you can visit Kabuki theater as well.
I personally haven’t been to just yet, but I’ll definitely go visit next time when I’m in Tokyo is “Ginza Six department store” which has grand opened Spring 2017. What is interesting about this building is that it is also equipped with “Noh” theater where you can see Japanese Noh traditional play.
- Ginza 6 website (English): https://ginza6.tokyo.e.abf.hp.transer.com/news/news_category/art
- Wikipedia “Noh”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noh
- Japanese traditional sweets “Wagashi” – Toraya: https://www.toraya-group.co.jp/english/
Don’t forget to visit Kabuki Theater in Ginza while you are in the area. Even if you don’t see the play, you can still visit the souvenir shopping area in the Kabuki theater. 🙂
Kabuki theater official website: https://www.kabukiweb.net/theatres/kabukiza/information/
6. Tsukiji Fish Market
If you are into seafood, this is the place to be! Tsukiji Fish Market is a wholesale for fish, fruits and vegetables in central Tokyo. Walking distance from Ginza shopping district, or approx 20 minutes train ride from Tokyo station, you will want to visit this market in the morning time for the freshest seafood feast. Even though this is a wholesale market, there are many small restaurants adjacent to the market so you don’t have trouble finding where to eat.
♣As of July 2017, Tsukiji Fish Market is scheduled to move to a different location near future, so please check out their website before you decide to visit. ♣
- Tsukiji Fish Market guide website: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3021.html
7. Shibuya Shopping District
Just to try crossing the famous Japanese intersection and you will gain the true Japanese experience in Shibuya! Shibuya is mainly for youth centered fashion and culture hub, so if you are into Japanese fashion/pop culture, visit Shibuya just for even a short period of time.
You can also see Hachiko statue – the loyal dog who patiently waited the return of his deceased owner more than 9 years. Approx 25 minutes train ride from Tokyo station to Shibuya.
- Address: Shibuya Train Station, Shibuya, Tokyo, 150-0043,
Hachiko Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hachikō
8. Meiji Jingu Shrine
If you want to enjoy both Japanese pop culture and traditional historic culture, visit Meiji Jingu Shrine which is located right next to Harajuku. Meiji Jingu shrine was dedicated to Meiji Emperor and his empress, Empress Shoke. Completed in 1924, the original shrine was destroyed during the WWII, the present construction was rebuilt in 1958.
- Address:1-1 Yoyogi Kamizonocho, Shibuya, Tokyo, 151-0052
- Visiting Hours: From sunrise to sunset
- Admission: Free
Meiji Jingu Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meiji_Shrine
9. Harajuku Shopping District
Located right next to Meiji Shrine, Harajuku can offer both young and adult fashion entertainment. You can find many interesting youth pop culture shops in Takeshita-dori or if you are more grown ups, you can go to Omotesando Hills. From Tokyo station, it will take you approx 35 minutes train ride to Harajuku.
- Takeshita Street: https://taiken.co/single/things-to-do-on-takeshita-street-harajuku
- Omotesando Hills: http://www.omotesandohills.com/english/
You can also find many Japanese traditional antiques/trinkets/miscellaneous items at Oriental Bazaar in Harajuku. http://www.orientalbazaar.co.jp/en/index.html
Last but Not Least
Still too many to see? You can also try “Hato Bus Tour”. This bus tour will take you around many of main sightseeing spot in Tokyo. “Hato” is “pigeon” in Japanese and is a multi language bus tour. The company has been around in Tokyo since 1948.
Hatobus tour official website: https://www.hatobus.com/
Thank you for checking out this page! The next sightseeing city will be Kyoto! Hope you have a great time visiting Japan!! 🙂