Top 20 things to do in Tokyo

Here are the top 20 things to do in Tokyo, the capital of Japan

Top 20 things to do in Tokyo

Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun is a popular place for tourists thanks to its nature of consisting both of older and modern buildings and traditions. When people think of Japan, half of them will think about samurais, shrines and other feudal aspects, while the other half will think about busy cities and futuristic innovations. The most amazing thing about Japan that both of the aspects are true. Japan is full of technological innovations, but they still honor their very old traditions, including their own religion, the Shinto, and of Buddhism as well. Their two capitals also reflect these two sides. Kyoto is more on the traditional side, as it was the capital of the nation for a very long time, while Tokyo, t he current capital, is on the moderns side, but of course it still retains a lot of the older, more traditional buildings and aspects. Even if you don’t like crowds, as Tokyo is the most populous metropolitan area in the world, the city is still a must-see for anyone traveling to Japan, and for that, we have collected the top 20 things to do in Tokyo.

  1. Tokyo Tower
    As a tower that was inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tokyo Tower stands out among the other tall structures of Tokyo thanks to its distinct colors and style. The tower was built as an observational and communications tower, and quickly became a symbol for the rebirth of Japan as an economic power in the second half of the 20th century. Approximately 3 million people visit the tower each year, and visitors can climb the tower for a spectacular view of the city.

2. Sensou-ji
As the oldest and largest Buddhist temple of Tokyo, the Sensou-ji is frequently visited by both foreigners and Japanese citizen. The building is almost one and a half thousand years old and was formerly part of the Tendai Buddhist sect, but it became independent after World War II. It is highly suggested to see it at least once, as the wonderful buddhist architecture can be a breathtaking experience.
3. Tsukiji Fish Market
Many people say that the Japanese people only eat fish. While this is far from being the truth, it is true that they eat a lot of it, mostly due them being an island nation. One of the best examples of their dealings of fish is the Tsukiji Fish Market, the biggest wholesale seafood and fish market in the world. They deal in hundreds to different species of fish and othet seafood, from the smallest to the largest that one can imagine. They even have auctions every day for some of the rarer fish they catch. If you like fish, or to be more precise, you like to eat fish, then this place is for you.
4. Miraikan
The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, or more commonly known as Miraikan (meaning “Future Museum”), is a tribute to the innovative and technological nature of modern Japan. The museum is dedicated to robotics, engineering and space exploration, and most of the exhibitions are interactive, which both parents and children can enjoy.
5. Meiji Shrine
The Meiji Shrine was built as a memorial to Emperor Meiji, who, according to Japanese history, modernized Japan in the 19th century. This is a shinto shrine, and can also be used for traditional Japanese weddings. While you are at shrines, be mindful of the rules there, as some things can be considered disrespectful, like taking photos inside the shrine.
6. Yoyogi Park
Located next to the Meiji Shrine is Yoyogi park, a large park in Tokyo. The park is a common gathering spot, especially during spring when the sakura (cherry blossom) trees bloom. The site was used as an army parade ground between the World Wars. Yoyogi National Gymnasium is also located here, which is one of the stadiums used in the 1964 Summer Olympics of Tokyo, and which will be used again in the 2020 Summer Olympics.
7. Ginza
Ginza is one of the districts of Tokyo, and is arguably the most expensive part of it. The district is full of fashions shops and luxurious restaurants. Real estates here are one of the highest in the world. Coming here is advised even if you don’t want to do expensive shopping, as the neighborhood itself is interesting to see as well. During the weekends, the district becomes pedestrians-only, as vehicle traffic is closed off.
8. Tokyo Sea Life Park
For those enthusiastic about sea life or just want to see some very beautiful attractions, the Tokyo Sea Life Park is a must-see. This exhibition has several aquariums built for different species, according to their original habitats, like the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean or the Indian Ocean. The aquarium itself is also built on the water itself. For more information about the park and what you can find there see this site.
9. Tokyo National Museum
The Tokyo Nation Museum is place that must be visited for anyone who wants to learn about the history of Japan and see countless Japanese works of art and artifacts, as this museum holds the largest collection of them. The collections includes artifacts such as paintings, calligraphy, kimonos, samurai armors and equipments, ornate swords and much more. The museum has as many as six buildings for all these, so one can only imagine how large the collection is.
10. Tokyo Big Sight
Located on the shore of Tokyo Bay, the Tokyo Big Sight is the largest convention and exhibition center in Japan. Just like its name suggests, the building is very big and has a very distinct architectural style, which can be spotted from far away. The location is almost always busy with events, of which one of the most popular is the Comiket. Comiket is short for Comic Market, and is considered one of the biggest convention for anime and manga, especially self-published manga (doujinshi). Every year there at least thirty-five thousand sellers and half a million visitors during the days its held with very long queues infront of the building.


11. Nakamise
Nakamise is a long line of shops, or more like a shopping street. It has almost a hundred shops where tourists can try traditional japanese food and snacks, and buy all kinds of souvenirs that they can take back home.

12. Kabukichou
As a red-light district, this place is mostly for adults, and not a place where one would take their children. This district is filled with host and hostess clubs, love hotels and nightclubs, among other places. Because of its nature, it is often called the Sleepless Town. While not high on the list of things to do in Tokyo, the district is an interesting place to see even if one doesn’t plan to go to the shops and bars here.
13. Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea
The Disneyland in Tokyo was the first one that opened outside of the United States, and the DisneySea is the 4th most visited park in the world. Both of these are amusement parks dedicated to the movies and franchises of Disney, with themed rides and a large number of souvenirs and other merchandise. These parks are highly advised for those coming with their children, or even for adults themselves who would like to have some fun.
14. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
As another large park of Tokyo, the Shinjuku Gyoen Nation Garden is an excellent place to take a rest or just walk around between the beautiful trees that fill the place. The park can be spectacular in during all seasons, especially during Spring when the sakura trees bloom, as the falling cherry blossom leaves are something that one should see at least once in their lifetime.
15. Yasukuni Shrine
Yasukuni Shrine is another shinto shrine in Tokyo, dedicated to those that dies serving Emperor Meiji in the 19th century. The shrine lists the name of almost two and a half million people, and even animals. The shrine today commemorates those who died in the wars as well. The national symbol of the Japanese Imperial Chrysanthemum can be found on the curtains leading into the shrine.
16. Hachikou’s statue
As a well known and very touching story, Hachikou’s statue is a famous memorial to visit among tourists. Hachikou was an akita dog who was taken in by a university professor, and the dog always greeted him at Shibuya Station every day. Unfortunately, one the day the professor didn’t come, because he unexpectedly died in cerebral hemorrhage. Nevertheless, for the next nine years Hachikou went to Shibuya Station and waited there, each and every day, always appearing at the exact time of the arrival of the train. His loyalty was admired by many, and even today his story is remembered and referenced in both real life and fiction. A statue was built in his likeness at the station, and Hachikou was present at the unveiling. To learn more about the story of Hachikou, see this link.
17. Roppongi
Roppongi is a district mostly known for its nightlife. The district is full of foreigner-friendly bars, night clubs and restaurants. Foreigners themselves, who now live in Japan, have opened up different kinds of shops and cafés here as well.
18. Ghibli Museum
As a museum dedicated to the animation studio, Studio Ghibli, this location is famous both among Japanese citizen and foreigners. The museum has replicas of the different characters from the works of Hayao Miyazaki, like My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away and Castle in the Sky, to mention just a few. The place is highly recommended for both adults and children, especially those who like anime.
19. Akihabara
Arguably one of the most famous districts of Tokyo, Akihabara is known for being the center and heart of the anime culture, with thousands of shops dedicated to anime, manga and other otaku culture. Maid Cafés can be found on every street, and the streets are frequently occupied by people cosplaying (people wearing the costumes of their favorite characters). Akihabara was once a district known for a large number of electronic shops, and although there are more anime and manga shops nowadays, there are still lots of electronic shops still operating. The district is a paradise for those who love anime, and has a high priority on their list of things to do in Tokyo.
20. Tokyo Imperial Palace
Just like its name suggests, the Imperial Palace is located in Tokyo, and this is the residence of the Emperor of Japan. The palace is built in the middle of a park-like area, has several buildings including the private residence of the emperor, archives and of course the main castle. The palace is not open to the public, only on select days can they enter the grounds, where the imperial family greets them from a balcony. Nevertheless, the palace is beautiful from the outside as well, so it is advisable to visit it at least once.
For other beautiful pictures of the Land of the Rising Sun, see our collection here. If you want to see amazing photos of the cherry blossom trees, check out this collection.