Tokyo is a cultural whirlwind, unlike any city in Japan, let alone the world. Known for it’s unique and often strange underbelly, there is a rich, beautiful landscape of things to do in Japan’s capital city.
Thick with museums, parks, sight-seeing from upon high and, of course – food, Tokyo offers everything for anyone looking experience something truly unique.
The residence of the Emperor of Japan, the Imperial Palace is the site to many pre-existing palaces that stretch far back into Japanese history. However, this sprawling, beautiful terrain isn’t only for emperors and royalty – it’s also great for tourists.
Among the things one can do at the Imperial Palace include strolling the East Gardens, which surround the ruins of Edo Castle and are also the site of many administrative buildings. Other great, free sight-seeing opportunities include the Chidorigafuchi Moat, which surrounds the Palace, as well as Kitanomaru Park – a site absolutely filled with beautiful scenes of nature and parks.
Spend time at a Matsuri
Matsuri simply means “festival” in Japanese, and the Japanese are indeed very festive. One can find a festival in some area of Tokyo virtually every weekend, from the famous Gion Matsuri on consecutive weekends in July to the Kanda, a May festival in which the Kanda Myojin Shrine is paraded throughout the city.
These festivals are absolute eye-candy for photo buffs and lovers of history and culture, as they often depict and honor scenes of authentic, historical Japanese lore.
Visit Sensoji (Sensō-ji)
Sensoji is a nearly 1,500-year-old temple in Tokyo and one of the most famous Buddhist sites in all of Japan.
Completed in 628, Sensoji is a popular site for tourists due to it’s stunning vistas, ample photographic opportunities and the temple grounds, which are a major site for shopping and great, original Japanese food markets. Additionally, Sensoji is the site of Sanja Matsuri, another popular festival that stretches over four days in late Spring.
Gardens at Hotel Chinzanso
The gardens predate the hotel, which was only built in 2013 to take advantage of the beautiful wildlife area, by more than 130 years. The Gardens at Hotel Chinzanso are home to gorgeous original relics, such as the thousand-year-old pagoda and seemingly ageless hanging stone lanterns. Another site among the grounds are the natural, wild camellia flowers that can be seen throughout.
The hotel is a large establishment, boasting 260 rooms and twelve restaurants that include French and Italian bistros, world-class Sushi and fine-dining.
Enjoy public art and architecture
The creative brilliance of the Japanese is apparent around every corner, and in everywhere square, which makes Tokyo an ideal location for sighting free public art and gawking at some of their wondrous architecture.
Among the favorites is Constellation, in the Pacifico Yokohama Convention Center. It is a stained-glass recreation of the late Ikuo Hirayama’s paintings and features stars and constellations The Maman, a masterpiece by the legendary French artist Louise Bourgeois, is located in the Roppongi Hills courtyard. The spider-like work draws interest from both tourists and locals alike, as it’s realistic bronze stainless steel structure stands over 30-feet high, and contains within it’s abdomen 26 marble, realistic-looking eggs!
A heartthrob location for culinarians and foodies, the Tsukuji Market is a sprawling fish and seafood market that handles more than 700,000 metric tons of fresh seafood each year. The variety is vast, including simple fare such as inexpensive seaweed to high-end caviar and controversial cuts of fresh whale, all of which are for purchase for laymen as well as giants in the local Tokyo food scene.
Sight-seers had better arrive early, however, as the market opens at 3am with the auction-style selling of prime products taking flight at 5:30! A pending move of the market out of Tokyo has been delayed until at least winter of 2017, so don’t waste time if this is on your culinary bucket-list!
Odaiba is an artificial island built in the 1850s for defense purposes, but has since been designated into an area for shopping, sight-seeing and leisure.
A stunning nighttime vista, the Odaiba is connected to the heart of Tokyo by the Rainbow Bridge and includes such attractions such as a Statue of Liberty replica and Daikanransha, a 377-foot tall Ferris wheel that overlooks the island.
Tokyo, like anywhere else, can be had without emptying your wallet. In fact, some of the most beautiful and enjoyable things to see can be experienced without even opening it!