Visiting Tokyo - What to See and Do

(Tokyo Narita International Airport NRT, Japan)

Japan has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to memorable holiday destinations. Nevertheless, Tokyo's wealth of ancient landmarks, glamourous skyscrapers, thrilling parks, impressive architecture and innovative culture hold the capital aloft from the rest of the country. Of course, cities like Osaka will proudly dispute this statement. Yet, it takes only one visit to Tokyo for tourists to realise just how special the Japanese capital really is.

It is hard to believe that 500 years ago this spot was nothing more than the small fishing village of Edo. Thanks to the power of the Tokugawa shogun, the Imperial family moved to Tokyo in 1868 and the city has never looked back. Its vast size, hectic pace and illustrious facade is enough to overwhelm first-timers. However, it won't take long for tourists to settle into this majestic metropolis.

Sightseeing in the busy Japanese capital is a great way to witness the most alluring spectacles of the city. The mesmerising sights and chaotic sounds of the city come in many forms, from the blinding neon billboards of Ginza, to the bellowing cheers in the Tokyo Dome. However, visitors can also find bastions of soothing tranquility, including attractions like the Imperial Palace and the Sensoji Temple.

Ten things you must do in Tokyo

  • The centre of Tokyo, and modern Japan, is the Imperial Palace in the Chiyoda district. Don't expect to walk into the palace on any given day, even by tour. The doors to this site only open two days every year. Nevertheless, the surrounding park is astonishing. The moats add a touch of elegance to the palace and the Edo Castle replica is a remarkable attraction.
  • Even though Japan is not an overly religious nation, there are numerous temples of note, and Asakusa's Sensoji Temple usually is at the top of the list. Upon arrival, visitors have to pass through Thunder Gate, which is guarded by fascinating statues of the gods of thunder and wind. The shopping arcade (hozomon) and Kannon Hall (Kannondo) are the main draws to this site, although the ancient pagoda is also quite breathtaking.
  • Get out of the city centre and enjoy several days at the Tokyo Disney Resort. Families will adore Asia's most amazing theme park. Disneyland and Tokyo Sea Disney sit side-by-side, attracting millions annually. Disney theme parks need no introduction. This resort may not be as large as its North American brother, but it is just as thrilling.
  • To see the city's youth culture at its finest, head to Harajuku's Yoyogi Park on a Sunday. Some of the sub-groups on display are simply out of this world. Greasers listening to old-style rock music wearing classic black denim, sullen gothic teenagers in massive groups, and street performers plying their trade on the sidewalks are found throughout the park. The circus that is Yoyogi Park has to be seen to be believed.
  • Even though Akihabara is the centre of the capital's political sector, it is also known as 'electric town' for its abundance of electronics stores. Every night, the streets of this district dazzle tourists. Everything from games and cameras, to face razors and more come in their thousands here. Japanese 'manga' comics are also sold in Akihabara. You don't have to be a computer geek to adore this district. Worth noting, the district is just a few steps from the JR Akihabara Station.
  • Ginza is arguably the world's glitziest neighbourhood. When visiting this central Tokyo shopping Mecca, it wouldn't hurt to bring a pair of sunglasses, even at night. The dazzling neon lights meandering from street to street can be overwhelming at times. However, the energy of Ginza is still worth it. Find brand-name fashion stores, traditional eateries, modern international restaurants and thousands of people along the avenues of this illuminated district.
  • The Tokyo TV Tower is one of the best lookout points in the entire city. Budget travellers may balk at the idea of paying the relatively high entrance fees. However, once at the top of this attraction, the panoramic views of the city and bay will quickly dispel any negative connotations toward this landmark.
  • Catch the fish auctions at the Tsukiji Fish Market between 05:00 and 06:15. Deep-sea crabs, lobsters, shark, massive blue fin tuna, salmon and all kinds of other fish are on show during this lively event. Visitors are welcome as long as they stay out of the way. There is also a wholesale market found within the same building and just outside too. Most shops close before 10:00 in the morning, so get to this site early to experience its thriving ambience.
  • If tourists are looking for a fun day out, then head to Bukyo's Tokyo Dome City. This is the site of the Tokyo Dome and much more. There is an amusement park, bowling alley, shopping centre, baseball museum and the Nippon League Hall of Fame. Even when the baseball season is over, this attraction is busy with locals and tourists.
  • In Japan, baseball is almost a religion. Being Japan's largest city, Tokyo possesses several Nippon League baseball teams. The Yomiuri Giants and also the Yakult Swallows are the two most popular teams in the city. Of course, the Chiba Lotte Marines and the Yokohama Baystars are not too far away either. Visiting a Japanese baseball game can only be described as a vigorous experience.

Tokyo Airport NRT

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