Exploring the Top Tourist Attractions in Tokyo

by | Jan 19, 2023 | Asia, JAPAN

Tokyo, Japan, is a vibrant and exciting destination that has something for every traveler. From the stunning sights of Tokyo Tower to the historic temples and shrines, it’s no wonder why Tokyo is one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions in Asia.

If you want a once-in-a-lifetime experience or a glimpse into Japanese culture, our complete guide to the best tourist spots in Tokyo will make sure you don’t miss a thing.

This blog post will explore all things related to visiting Tokyo, including its brief history, when you should visit for optimal experiences, how to get there quickly, what must-see places there are, and which neighborhoods are best suited for your stay.




Brief History of Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan, has a long and storied history. It began as a small fishing village known as Edo in the 12th century. Over time, it became one of Japan’s most important cities and eventually became its capital city in 1868.

Early History: The first written records of Edo date back to 1180, when it was established by Minamoto no Yoritomo, who was then the shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate.

By 1603, Tokugawa Ieyasu had unified Japan under his rule and made Edo his base of operations. Edo flourished as an economic center during this period, with many merchants setting up shop there.

Meiji Restoration and Modernization: In 1868, Emperor Meiji moved the imperial court from Kyoto to Tokyo (formerly known as Edo). This marked the beginning of modern Tokyo’s development into a major metropolis.

The city underwent rapid modernization during this period, with new infrastructure such as roads being built and foreign technology being imported from Europe and America for use in industry and transportation systems like railways.

Tokyo’s history is full of dramatic changes and a fascinating evolution, making it one of the most exciting cities in the world. Now that you know about its past, let’s explore the best time to visit Tokyo.

Tokyo – Ryo Yoshitake

Key Takeaway: Tokyo has a long and interesting history. In the 12th century, it was a small fishing village, but Tokugawa Ieyasu brought it together, and in 1868, it became the capital of Japan. It quickly became more modern, with new roads and trains being built. This helped it become one of the most important cities in Japan today.


Best Time to Visit Tokyo

Think about the weather. Tokyo has four distinct seasons: hot and humid summers, cold winters, and mild springs and falls.

Summer is usually the most popular time to visit due to its warm temperatures and sunny days. However, it can also be very crowded during this time of year.

Spring is a great time for sightseeing in Tokyo, as the city comes alive with cherry blossoms.

Tokyo Cherry Blossoms in April – Alan Godfrey

Fall is also a pleasant season with cooler temperatures, making exploring the city more comfortable.

Winter can be chilly but offers plenty of attractions, such as winter illuminations or skiing trips outside the city limits.

Throughout the year, there are many festivals taking place in Tokyo, including:

  • Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing) in April/May
  • Tanabata Matsuri (Star Festival) in July
  • Sanja Matsuri (Festival of Three Gods) in May
  • Sumida River Fireworks Festival in July
  • Asakusa Samba Carnival in August
  • Kanda Matsuri (Kanda Festival) in May/June
  • Yosakoi Soran Festival on June 9th-11th
  • Roppongi Hills Bon Odori Dance Festival on August 3rd-4th

You can enjoy these events if you plan your trip accordingly.

The peak tourist season for Tokyo runs from late March through early April, when visitors come to see the cherry blossoms, or “sakura,” bloom across Japan’s capital city.

During this time, there are a lot of tourists from Japan and other places around the world.

Additionally, summertime brings large crowds due to school holidays, which last until mid-August throughout much of Asia, making it another busy period for tourism within Tokyo’s borders.

Top Tourist Attractions in Tokyo
Tokyo – Jazael Melgoza

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Best Places to Visit in Tokyo

Tokyo is an incredible city with various attractions, from museums and cultural sites to shopping districts and gardens. With so much to explore, it’s easy to see why Tokyo is one of the world’s top tourist destinations.


Museums

Tokyo is home to some of the world’s most renowned museums and cultural sites. The Tokyo National Museum, located in Ueno Park, is Japan’s oldest museum and houses a vast collection of artworks worldwide.

Other notable museums include the Edo-Tokyo Museum, which explores the history of Tokyo from its beginnings as a small fishing village to its status as one of the largest cities in the world, and the Mori Art Museum, which showcases contemporary art from Japan and abroad.


National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation

The Miraikan is a Tokyo science museum focusing on cutting-edge science and technology, such as robotics, AI, and space travel.

The museum’s main attraction is the “Geo-Cosmos,” a huge circular screen showing real-time data from earth observation satellites.

Hands-on exhibits at the museum let people learn about cutting-edge science and technology while playing with them. The interactive and fascinating exhibits make it a popular destination for children and adults.

The museum lies in Tokyo’s Odaiba neighborhood, which is easily accessible by public transit, and it is open daily except for Mondays and the year-end and New Year holidays.

National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation – Ryo Tanaka

The Tokyo National Museum

The Tokyo National Museum is one of Japan’s oldest and most significant museums. It houses a large collection of Japanese antiquities, ceramics, sculptures, and paintings.

The museum is especially well-known for its Chinese and Korean art and Islamic collections.

The exhibitions are organized between various buildings, each focusing on a distinct aspect of art and history.

The permanent displays are housed in the Honkan, the main building, which houses the museum’s most famous and costly works.

This museum is a great place for visitors to learn about Japan’s long and interesting history and culture.

The exhibits are very well put together and give a full picture of the art and objects on display. The museum also features a library and research center for scholars and researchers.

The museum is located in Ueno Park, a nice spot to explore once you’ve finished exploring the museum.

Tokyo National Museum – Wiii via Creative Commons

The Edo-Tokyo Museum

The Edo-Tokyo Museum is dedicated to Tokyo’s history and culture during the Edo era.

The museum lies in the Ryogoku area, well-known for its connection to the traditional Japanese sport of sumo wrestling.

The Edo-Tokyo Museum is styled after an old Edo-era warehouse, with a spectacular entrance hall and a central atrium. The displays are well put together and give a full picture of the history and culture of Edo-era Tokyo.

The museum has a number of interactive displays, dioramas, and life-size reconstructions of Edo-era buildings and streets that offer visitors a sense of what life was like in Tokyo at the time.

It also has a collection of clothes, weapons, and other items from the Edo period, as well as documents from that time.

There’s also a library and research center for scholars and researchers, and except for Mondays and national holidays, the museum is open every day.

Overall, the Edo-Tokyo Museum is a must-see for anybody interested in Tokyo’s history and culture during the Edo period. The exhibits at the museum are well-curated and interactive, providing an engaging and educational experience, while the building itself is an attraction. The museum is an excellent method to learn about Tokyo’s history and how it evolved into its current city.

The Edo-Tokyo Museum – Kakidai via Creative Commons

The Ghibli Museum

Studio Ghibli is a well-known Japanese animation studio. The Ghibli Museum is a museum that is all about their work. The museum is built to look like a fairy-tale castle and is located in Tokyo’s Mitaka district. There are displays about Studio Ghibli’s history, movies, and how they make animations. There is also a collection of original artwork and sketches from the studio’s movies.

One of the museum’s highlights is an exhibition dedicated to the film “My Neighbor Totoro,” which features a copy of the house from the film and a life-size statue of Totoro.


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The museum also includes a theater where Studio Ghibli’s short films are shown and a gift store where visitors can buy souvenirs and products related to the studio’s films.

The Ghibli Museum is a must-see for Studio Ghibli and its film enthusiasts. It provides an in-depth look at the animation company’s work and its creative process.

Except on Tuesdays, the museum is open daily and requires a pre-purchased timed-entry ticket.

Overall, the Ghibli Museum is a fun and unique place where fans of Studio Ghibli movies can get a full experience. The exhibits are well-curated, and the museum itself is attractive, making it a fun and fascinating location.


The Ghibli Museum – Todd Fong via Creative Commons

The Tokyo National Museum of Nature and Science

The Tokyo National Museum of Nature and Science is a natural science and technology museum. The museum is near the Tokyo National Museum and the Ueno Zoo in Ueno Park. It has a big collection of animals, plants, rocks, minerals, and other things from the natural world.

It also features exhibits on the history of science and technology, such as early scientific instruments and interactive displays that teach visitors about the most recent scientific findings.

The Planetarium, which allows visitors to explore the universe in a realistic and immersive manner, is one of the museum’s highlights.

The museum also contains a Butterfly House where visitors can see butterflies from all around the world.

The Tokyo National Museum of Nature and Science is a terrific place to visit if you’re interested in natural sciences and technology. It has a large and varied collection; the shows are well put together and interesting. The planetarium is an excellent addition to the museum, providing a one-of-a-kind, immersive experience. It’s an excellent way to spend a day at Ueno Park, especially for families with children.

The Tokyo National Museum of Nature and Science – Joy of Museums via Creative Commons

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Shopping Districts and Markets

Shopping districts abound in Tokyo, with each area offering something unique for visitors. Ginza is known for its luxury boutiques, while Shibuya offers trendy fashion stores catering to younger crowds.


Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji Fish Market is one of the world’s most famous fish markets. It is a wholesale market that sells various sorts of seafood from all across Japan, including fish, shrimp, and seaweed.

The market is open to the public and is an excellent place to see and learn about various sorts of seafood.

The tuna auction, which begins extremely early in the morning and is exclusively open to a restricted number of spectators, is the main attraction of the Tsukiji Fish Market.

Visitors can also try a range of seafood delicacies at the market’s sushi restaurants and street food vendors.

Tsukiji Fish Market – Michael DeMarco

Harajuku

Harajuku is a fashionable district in Tokyo noted for its fashion and teenage culture. Takeshita-dri is the main street, full of shops, boutiques, and cafes that cater to young, trendy people.

Visitors can observe people dressed in distinctive costumes and styles in Harajuku, also known for its cosplay and alternative fashion scene. It’s a terrific place to visit if you’re into fashion, young culture, or alternative styles, and it’s conveniently accessible by public transportation.

Harajuku – Elton Sa

Roppongi Hills

Roppongi Hills is a huge mixed-use development in Tokyo’s Roppongi area. It is a popular shopping, dining, and entertainment destination. The complex has shops, restaurants, cafes, a movie theater, an art museum, and an observatory with views of the city.

Roppongi Hills – Matthew Kenwrick via Creative Commons

The Roppongi Hills Arena, a green open space in the complex, is a popular spot for locals and visitors to relax and enjoy the flora.

The Mori Art Museum, which exhibits modern art from throughout the world, is also located in the area. It’s a terrific place to go if you want to mix shopping, food, entertainment, and art, and it’s conveniently accessible by public transportation.

Mori Art Museum – Wei-Te Wong via Creative Commons

Akihabara

Akihabara is a Tokyo neighborhood known for its electronics, anime, and manga stores. The neighborhood is also known as “Electric Town,” and it is a popular destination for otaku culture and technology enthusiasts.

Chuo Dori, the main street, is lined with businesses that offer electronics, video games, anime and manga items, and cosplay outfits.

Visitors can also experience a unique Japanese subculture at arcades and maid cafes in the region. Some various shops and stores sell antique and used gadgets and video games.

Akihabara – Jazael Melgoza

Ginza

Ginza is an upmarket Tokyo neighborhood noted for its exquisite eating and luxury shopping. Chuo Dori, the main street, is lined with high-end shops, department stores, and boutiques that sell premium brands and designer goods.

There are also various art galleries and museums in the region, as well as the Kabukiza Theater, which is dedicated to traditional Japanese Kabuki theater performances.

Ginza also has a number of prominent restaurants and bars that serve a variety of gastronomic alternatives, ranging from traditional Japanese to international cuisine.

Ginza – Pema Lama

Shibuya

Shibuya is a busy and well-known area of Tokyo that is known for its shops, entertainment, and nightlife. In the area is the famous Shibuya Crossing, a busy pedestrian crossing known for its bright neon lights and billboards.

The neighborhood is also recognized for its stylish clothes, with numerous shops and boutiques selling the newest fashion and streetwear trends.

Shibuya is also a renowned nightlife destination, with numerous bars, clubs, and live music venues. There are also a lot of arcades and karaoke bars in the region, as well as cinemas, theaters, and other entertainment places.

Shibuya Crossing – Jazael Melgoza

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Parks and Gardens

Parks provide an escape from bustling city life in Tokyo, with many offering stunning views of Mount Fuji on clear days. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is one of the most popular parks due to its various gardens, ranging from English landscape style to traditional Japanese tea gardens.

Yoyogi Park also offers plenty of green space and a large pond where visitors can rent boats during summer. At the same time, the nearby Meiji Shrine provides an insight into ancient Shinto traditions still practiced today.


Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is a big park in Tokyo’s Shinjuku area. It is a popular site for travelers looking for a tranquil and natural respite from the city’s hustle and bustle.

The park has traditional Japanese gardens, an English landscape garden, and a French Formal garden, all demonstrating various gardening techniques.

The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden also has a greenhouse with tropical and subtropical plants. The trees and flowers in the greenhouse change with the seasons, making it a beautiful place to visit all year.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden – Kakidai via Creative Commons

Ueno Park

Ueno Park is a vast park in Tokyo’s Ueno neighborhood that is home to the Ueno Zoo, one of Japan’s oldest and most popular zoos. The Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Western Art, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum are among the museums, temples, and shrines in the park.

There are also several outdoor statues and monuments in the park, including a large bronze statue of Saigo Takamori, a famous samurai warrior.

Ueno Park also has a variety of bird and animal species, including monkeys, bears, and elephants, and it’s a famous spot for cherry blossom watching in the spring.

Ueno Park – Arisdp via Creative Commons

Yoyogi Park

Yoyogi Park is a big park in Tokyo’s Shibuya area. It’s a popular place for people to go when they want to get away from the noise and chaos of the city.

The park has several walking routes, gardens, and open spaces, making it ideal for jogging, cycling, and picnics. It also features a variety of monuments, notably the Meiji Emperor’s statue and the Meiji Shrine.

The park hosts various events, such as music festivals, flea markets, and seasonal events.

Yoyogi Park – jpellgen via Creative Commons

Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine is a Shinto shrine in the heart of Tokyo devoted to Emperor Meiji’s and Empress Shoken’s deified spirits. It’s a tranquil and peaceful setting surrounded by a big forest with walks, gardens, and ponds. The main gate, known as the “torii,” is built of cypress wood and is one of Japan’s largest torii.

Meiji Shrine – Berto Macario

Asakusa and the Sumida River

Asakusa is a neighborhood in Tokyo that is known for being very traditional. It is also home to the Senso-ji Temple, which is one of the most famous and oldest temples in the city. The temple stands near the end of Nakamise-Dori, a shopping street filled with traditional shops and street sellers offering souvenirs and local delicacies.

The temple also has a big pagoda that is visible from the street. The Asakusa Temple, a Shinto shrine dedicated to the gods of business and wealth, is also located in the region.

The Sumida River, a river that runs through Tokyo, is adjacent to Asakusa and provides a terrific chance to observe the city from a different perspective. River cruises are available for guests to take in the city sights while enjoying a leisurely ride.

The river provides an excellent view of the Tokyo Skytree and the Asahi Beer Hall, recognized for its distinctive golden flame-like structure on its roof.

Asakusa and the Sumida River – WikiVoyage via Creative Commons

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Landmarks

Many prominent structures and attractions in Japan’s capital highlight the city’s rich past and present growth.


The Tokyo Tower

One of the most famous landmarks in Tokyo is the Tokyo Tower, a 333-meter-tall communications and observation tower with a 360-degree view of the city.

Built-in 1958, the Tokyo Tower is an Eiffel Tower inspired structure and is a popular tourist destination.

Visitors can take an elevator to two observation decks to view Tokyo’s skyline, Mount Fuji, and even some neighboring cities.

At night, the tower is illuminated with special lighting that makes it a beautiful sight from any angle.

Tokyo Tower – Jaison Lin

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Another well-known Tokyo landmark is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which serves as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s primary office. The building has two observation decks, one on the 45th floor and one on the 202nd floor, giving spectacular city views.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is well-known for its distinctive and eye-catching design. The structure consists of two 48-story towers joined by three sky bridges and mimics a computer chip, representing the city’s significance as a technology and innovation center.

The front of the building is equally distinctive, with a succession of diagonal lines and geometric patterns that give it a modern and dynamic aspect.

The structure was designed by the renowned Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, who received the Pritzker Prize in architecture in 1987.

Tange’s design for the building is regarded as a modern architectural masterpiece and an excellent example of how architecture can express a city’s values and goals.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building – Charles Postiaux

Tokyo Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace is the Emperor of Japan’s main palace, located in the heart of Tokyo. Massive stone walls and moats surround the palace, and its architecture uniquely blends traditional Japanese and modern design.

Tokyo Imperial Palace – Silversea

The Imperial Palace is not open to the public; however, tourists can take a tour of the East Grounds, which are open to the public, and get a view of the palace’s gorgeous Japanese-style gardens; it is also an excellent place to learn about the Imperial family’s history.

The Tokyo Imperial Palace also has a variety of historical structures, including the Imperial Household Agency and the Imperial Palace Museum, both of which are open to the public. The gardens also have a broad variety of cherry blossoms in spring.

Tourist Attractions in Tokyo – Imperial Palace Garden – Julie Anne Garrido

Tokyo Sky Tree

The Tokyo Skytree is a Tokyo landmark that stands 634 meters tall and is the tallest structure in Japan and the second tallest structure in the world. The observation deck on the 350th floor of the tower provides guests with a panoramic view of the city and surrounding area.

The observation deck also has a glass floor, giving visitors a unique view of the city below. The tower also has a number of restaurants and shops where visitors may eat and shop for souvenirs. The tower is particularly notable for its lights, which change colors depending on the season, and it’s a popular place to visit in the evening.

Tokyo Skytree – Leo

Senso-ji Temple

Senso-ji Temple is a Buddhist temple in Tokyo’s Asakusa neighborhood. It is one of Tokyo’s most famous and oldest temples, devoted to the bodhisattva Kannon. The temple has a massive gate nicknamed the “Thunder Gate” (Kaminarimon), which serves as the temple’s entrance and main attraction.

The temple also has a pagoda, a five-story building visible from the street. Within its complex, there are numerous smaller temples, shrines, and statues, as well as a traditional Japanese garden.

Visitors can also stroll down Nakamise-Dori, a retail strip with traditional shops and street sellers selling souvenirs and regional delicacies.

Senso-ji Temple – Florencia Lewis

Odaiba

Odaiba is a man-made island in Tokyo Bay noted for its futuristic vibe and is a popular retail, entertainment, and tourist destination. The island’s attractions include a replica of the Statue of Liberty, the Odaiba Rainbow Bridge, and the Odaiba Marine Park. Multiple shopping centers, including the Venus Fort and Palette Town, and numerous restaurants, cafes, and bars.

There are other museums on the island, including the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation and the Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. The island also houses the Fuji Television headquarters, with a free observation deck and panoramic city views.

Odaiba – Cem Ersozlu

Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea

Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea are two prominent theme parks in the Japanese city of Chiba.

It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Space Mountain are the world-famous Disney attractions at Tokyo Disneyland, the first Disney park developed outside of the United States.

On the other hand, DisneySea is a Japanese first with a nautical theme and attractions such as Journey to the Center of the Earth, Tower of Terror, and Mermaid Lagoon.

Both theme parks are famous for their parades, fireworks displays, and Disney characters.

Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea – Muhammad Faiz Zulkeflee

Neighborhoods to Stay in Tokyo

Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Harajuku Areas: Located in the heart of Tokyo’s metropolitan area, these neighborhoods offer a wide variety of accommodation options for travelers. Shinjuku is home to many department stores, shopping malls, restaurants, and bars.

Shinjuku – Jaison Lin

Ginza, Marunouchi, and Nihonbashi Areas: These districts are located near Tokyo Station, making them an ideal base for exploring the city. Ginza offers upscale shopping opportunities, while Marunouchi has some historical sites such as Imperial Palace East Garden and Kite Museum.

Nihonbashi is home to many traditional Japanese shops selling local products like kimonos or pottery items. Accommodation options range from business hotels to luxurious high-end properties with views over Tokyo Bay or Mt Fuji on clear days.

Asakusa Ueno Akihabara Areas: This part of town has something for everyone – from temples such as Sensoji Temple in Asakusa to electronic stores in the Akihabara district, popular among tech enthusiasts looking for the latest gadgets at discounted prices.

Akihabara District – Sebastian Kurpiel

FAQs about Top Tourist Attractions in Tokyo, Japan

What’s the most famous thing in Tokyo?

The most famous thing in Tokyo is undoubtedly the Tsukiji Fish Market. Located in the heart of Tokyo, this bustling market has been a major part of Japanese culture for centuries. It’s renowned for its fresh seafood and sushi, as well as its vibrant atmosphere and unique culinary experiences.

Thousands of people flock to Tsukiji daily to buy fish from over 600 vendors. The market also offers various other products, such as fruits, vegetables, spices, and kitchenware. Visitors can take part in guided tours or wander around the stalls taking in all that it has to offer – making it one of Tokyo’s must-see attractions.

Tsukiji Fish Market – Karsten Gohm

What is Japan’s number one tourist attraction?

Japan’s number one tourist attraction is the city of Tokyo. This vibrant metropolis offers a unique blend of modern and traditional culture, making it an ideal destination for travelers seeking to experience Japan in all its glory. Tokyo has everything from ancient temples and shrines to world-class shopping, dining, and entertainment venues.

The bustling streets are filled with colorful lights at night, while during the day, visitors can explore the many parks or participate in activities such as sumo wrestling or karaoke. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious vacation or want to immerse yourself in Japanese culture, Tokyo is sure to provide an unforgettable experience.

Tokyo City – Louie Martinez

What is Tokyo known for in Tourism?

Tokyo is known for its vibrant culture, bustling nightlife, and unique cuisine. It’s a city that offers something for everyone – from the traditional to the modern. Tourists can explore historical sites such as the Imperial Palace or Senso-ji Temple, take in stunning views of Tokyo Tower or Mount Fuji, shop at trendy boutiques and department stores like Harajuku and Ginza, sample some of Japan’s best food at world-famous restaurants like Sukiyabashi Jiro or Tsukiji Fish Market, enjoy unique nightlife spots like Shinjuku Golden Gai or Roppongi Hills, and experience many other attractions that make Tokyo one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

Tokyo – Alexander Schimmeck

Is Tokyo a big tourist attraction?

Yes, Tokyo has something for everyone – from the modern cityscape of Shibuya and Shinjuku to Asakusa’s traditional temples and shrines. Tourists can explore its vibrant nightlife, visit world-class museums, or take in stunning views from iconic skyscrapers like Tokyo Tower.

There are also plenty of shopping opportunities at department stores and boutique shops across the city. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that Tokyo attracts millions of visitors each year.


Final Thoughts

Overall, Tokyo is a vibrant and exciting city with plenty of tourist attractions. There are endless opportunities for exploration and discovery, from ancient temples to modern skyscrapers.

With its unique culture, delicious food, friendly people, and stunning scenery, many people choose this fantastic city when visiting Japan!

From shrines and temples to shopping districts, theme parks, and more – there is something for everyone in this dynamic city.

Let’s embark on a journey together that will leave you with unforgettable memories from your trip to Tokyo.

Tokyo – Steve Monaghan









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