Deciding what to do first in Tokyo can be overwhelming. The exciting city is packed full of cool attractions and quirky things to do for first-timers, but where should you start? Here are 10 ideas to get you going…
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1. Learn about the national sport | Sumo Morning Practice
A national sport in Japan, Sumo wrestling has been around since ancient times and is practiced by men only. Today, there are ‘sumo stables’ all over Tokyo where they train, eat and sleep. While it’s very difficult to just wander in unaccompanied by a local, you can join a guided tour for around 10, 000 Yen which will give you a well-rounded insight into the life of a sumo wrestler. If you are lucky enough to travel during tournament season (January, May and September) then you can see the matches ringside.
2. All roads lead to… | Shibuya Crossing
The world’ busiest public crossing is iconic and is the perfect starting point for exploring the districts within Tokyo! At peak times, thousands of people descend on the crossing from all directions. It’s truly mesmerising.
3. Discover the Weird and Wonderful | Animal Café
Love animals? Tokyo has become well-known for animal cafe’s where you can meet, touch and play with all kinds of fury friends. From Owl Village in Harajuki, to Ms. Bunny in Minato City, visiting an animal café will be an experience like no other.
4. Find your pot of gold | Rainbow Bridge
The city’s famous suspension bridge crosses Tokyo Bay, connecting Shibaura Pier and the Odaiba waterfront development in Minato. It’s a busy bridge with heavy traffic but is also pedestrian friendly. At specific times in the year, it’s illuminated in rainbow lights so you can capture the perfect photo and take in the views.
5. Unleash your inner fashionista | Harajuku
Located in Shibuya, Harajuku is home to hundreds of quirky boutiques and shopping malls. While it has become famous for its colourful cosplay fashion scene and rebellious teen culture, you can also find a host of other adult clothing and lifestyle stores. The main hub of activity is along Takeshita Street which is packed full of vintage clothing, gift shops, café’s and fast food joints. Omotesando is Tokyo’s high end fashion district just next to Harajuku.
6. A Place to De-stress | Yoyogi Park
At over 130 acres big, this park in Shibuya is immense. It’s a popular spot for picnics and street performers; if you’re lucky, you’ll catch drummers and dancers entertaining the passersby. The park itself is stunning, filled with large grassy areas, ponds with fountains, multiple sports courts, a bird sanctuary and wide footpaths perfect for a leisurely stroll.
7. Eat like a king | Tsukiji Fish Market
A trip to Tokyo isn’t complete without visiting the best place for fresh, cheap seafood! The market is just a few minutes’ walk from Tsukiji Shijo Station and Tsukiji Station. Inside you’ll find blocks of wholesale and retail shops, and shoe-boxed sized eateries lined up along the walkways. Typically, you can find delicious sushi, fresh oysters and other authentic Japanese dishes.
8. Get cultured | Tokyo National Museum
The oldest and largest of Japan’s museums, you can find it in Ueno Park close to Ueno Station. The complex has six buildings: Honkan, Hyokeikan, Toyokan, Heiseikan, Horyuji Homotsukan and Kuroda Memorial Hall. Collectively, they house the best collections of art and archeological artifacts in Japan – over 110,000 individual items in total. Audio guides are available if you want an in-depth guide to the museum’s history.
9. Take in the Views | Tokyo Skytree
At a whopping 2, 000 ft. tall, Skytree is the world’s tallest free-standing broadcast tower. Climb up to the observation decks for an unrivaled view of the city skyline. There’s also a restaurant where you can enjoy a meal or cocktail, perfect for a date night option while on holiday.
10. Visit an important landmark | Senso-ji temple
Located in the Asakusa district of downtown Tokyo, Senso-ji Buddhist temple is the oldest and most visited in Tokyo. Take a stroll down Nakamise Street, the approach to the main hall of the temple lined with traditional street snacks and souvenirs. It’s always busy here, especially on weekends, so try to visit during the week if you want fewer crowds.