Tokyo is a unique capital city. While it boasts the highest population in a city in the world, at 13 million inhabitants, Tokyo manages to keep a relaxed feel and a serene atmosphere characteristic of Japan. Furiously contemporary, with its neon lights, decadent neighborhoods and world-renowned attractions, Tokyo is not only the economic center of Japan, but also deeply embedded in its historic heritage. From the glits and glamor of Ginza, to the sublime temples and shrines across the city, as well as the shining lights of Shibuya, here is a quick overview of the best Tokyo has to offer! Find more information in our dedicated article about Tokyo.
Shibuya is the most fascinating and most vibrant district of Tokyo. This well-connected area is a popular shopping area for Tokyoites, an economic center, Shibuya is a genuine icon of the Japanese capital and an area you must visit.
Shibuya is undoubtedly the Tokyo district which best illustrates the charm of the city; this is a unique district in Tokyo. Shibuya is famous for its enormous and crowded pedestrian crossing, and its hundreds of fashion stores, neon signs, and giant screens; as well as its lively atmosphere with music being played everywhere.
To discover the area, we recommend that you lose yourself in the streets of Shibuya, as the neighbourhood is rich in activities and discoveries.
Shibuya Station is extremely busy, and it’s the second busiest in Tokyo after Shinjuku station. Sometimes you have to be patient to find your way through the maze of corridors and exits. The station is currently undergoing redevelopment, with completion scheduled for 2027-28. Part of the redevelopment includes Shibuya Scramble Square, a huge central building connected to the station that offers a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as amazing city views from its upper floors.
The iconic Shibuya crossing has been used in many movies, to the point of becoming a symbol of Japan. It’s the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world!
Shibuya 109, is a gigantic shopping mall, a true Mecca for Japanese women at the forefront of fashion, it has around a hundred high-end fashion boutiques over eight floors. You can explore different trends floor by floor in a luxurious setting. Also nearby is Mark City, another huge shopping mall.
But the afternoon of shopping doesn’t stop there: the entire district is home to shops of all types: ready-to-wear, leather goods, shoes, eyewear, jewellery, souvenir shops, you’ll find everything you need and more. Large chain stores rub shoulders with 100 yen shops and small boutiques such as thrift stores and designer stores.
Shibuya has a lively nightlife (often until the early hours!): it’s a district of bars, nightclubs and concert halls.
If you want to try karaoke, this is an ideal neighbourhood to experience it. Karaoke Kan is where the famous scene from Lost In Translation was filmed.
- Shibuya Station is very well-connected, served by the JR Yamanote Line, JR Saikyo Line, JR Shonan Shinjuku Line, Hanzomon Subway Line, Ginza Subway Line, Fukutoshin Subway Line, Tokyu Toyoko Line, Tokyu Den-Entoshi Line and Keio Inokashira Line.
- It is also served by many Narita Express trains, for direct access to and from Narita Airport.
Read more about Shibuya HERE.
Shinjuku is almost a city unto itself, and is designated one of Tokyo's seven sub-metropolitan centres, or fukutoshin.
Shinjuku Station is the world's busiest railway station, handling more than two million passengers every day. It is served by about a dozen railway and subway lines, including the JR Yamanote Line. Shinjuku is also one of Tokyo's major stops for long-distance highway buses.
First and foremost, Shinjuku means shopping, eating, and partying! Shinjuku has several huge department stores, music stores, electronics stores, as well as hundreds and hundreds of bars and restaurants catering to every taste imaginable.
Shinjuku is divided into Higashi (east) and Nishi (west) Shinjuku by the train lines that run through Shinjuku Station. Nishi Shinjuku in particular exudes wealth and power with its towering skyscrapers.
One of the most eye-catching is architect Kenzo Tange's Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, or 'Tocho', daily home to 13,000 Tokyo bureaucrats. Its observation decks are open to the public for free, and the views are incredible, day or night.
Kabukicho is a red-light district off Yasukuni-dori Avenue, accessible from the Kabukicho or Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae (Shinjuku Ward Office) intersections. It’s renowned for its thousands of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and numerous love hotels. There are plenty of restaurants and bars that cater to every taste, to keep you from wandering around for too long. Explore with caution though, and beware of high cover fees and even drink spiking that can result in loss of cash and credit cards. This has been known to occur at establishments run by non-Japanese, initiated by touts who target foreign tourists.
Golden Gai is a block of bars just east of Kabukicho that preserves the Tokyo of the 1960s. Famed for its dense rows of tiny bars and its unabashed shabbiness, this ground-level warren of tiny bars attracts a multitude of different types of people. Of the over 200 bars here, there are many that welcome overseas visitors. Look for signboards with English.
Omoide Yokocho (meaning “memory lane”) is a small maze of alleyways along the tracks northwest of Shinjuku Station. The narrow lanes are packed with tiny eateries serving ramen, sushi, yakitori and kushiyaki. Many of the restaurants have just one counter with a few chairs, making for a cosy experience.
Shin-Okubo Koreatown is a collection of Korean shops and restaurants lining the main road and side streets around Shin-Okubo Station, one stop north of Shinjuku Station. Many of the shops and restaurants are operated by Korean residents and sell a variety of Korean wares, including K-Pop music, beauty and skincare goods, and groceries.
Beautiful Shinjuku Gyoen Park is mere minutes walk away if you need a break from the busy city. It is considered one the best (and largest) of Tokyo's many parks. It costs 500 yen to enter and is open 09:00-18:00 (closed Mondays and New Year: Dec 29 - Jan 3).
- JR Shinjuku Station and JR Yoyogi Station are the main points of access on the Yamanote Line to the heart of Shinjuku.
- Sendagaya Station on the Chuo-Sobu Line is adjacent to Shinjuku-Gyoen Garden.
- Other stations serving the Shinjuku area are Minami-Shinjuku (Odakyu Odawara Line), Nishi-Shinjuku (Marunouchi Line, Tokyo Metro), Shinjuku-Nishiguchi (Toei Oedo Line), Shinjuku San-chome (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi, Fukutoshin Line, Toei Shinjuku Line), Kokuritsu-Kyogijo (Toei Oedo Line) and Tocho-mae (Toei Oedo Line).
Read more about the Shinjuku area HERE.
One of Tokyo’s most popular areas and an absolute go-to whilst visiting, Harajuku is internationally known as the centre of Japanese youth culture and fashion. The name refers to the area spanning from Harajuku Station to Omotesando. It is famous for its shopping and independent, youth-oriented stores and cafés as well as having larger chain franchises with high-end luxury items.
The main area that centres around Harajuku’s youth culture is Takeshita-dori. Here you will find shops, boutiques, vintage/second-hand clothes stores, crepe stands and fast food outlets geared towards the fashion and trend-conscious teens. If you are more interested in visiting shops and restaurants for a more adult clientele, visit Omotesando instead.
Harajuku Station is on the JR Yamanote Line, only 2 stops south of Shinjuku and one north of Shibuya.
Complete with many open spaced lawns, ponds and greenery, Yoyogi Park is one of Tokyo’s biggest city parks. It is a very popular area for picnicking particularly during the Hanami season when the cherry blossoms bloom in Spring. As well as cherry blossoms, it is also a great spot to see the ginkgo tree forest turn a spectacular gold in autumn! All year round it is one of the best places in Tokyo to escape the city environment and enjoy its green open spaces and fresh air.
Yoyogi Park is only a 5 minute walk from Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line, located next to Meiji Shrine.
Read more about the Harajuku area HERE and in our articles:
Harajuku, the fashion district of Tokyo
Takeshita-dori: The iconic street in Harajuku
Asakusa is one of Tokyo's most popular districts, both tourists and locals shop here before going to Senso-ji temple. From the revered temple to the futuristic Tokyo Sky Tree Tower, this district is a perfect example of the blending of old and new in Tokyo.
Over the centuries, a constant flow of visitors have come to pray in the main hall of Senso-ji temple. Today, travellers come from around the world to admire the architecture.
The first unmissable place in the district is Kaminari-mon, or "thunder door". With its huge red lantern and its wooden sculptures of the thunder and wind gods, it has become one of the symbols of Asakusa.
A word of advice: try visiting Kaminari-mon at night. The crowd is less dense and the atmosphere, thanks to the illuminations, is much more mystical.
Asakusa is part of Tokyo’s Taito ward, a popular district renowned for its artisans of all kinds. If you're interested in traditional items, visit some of the old shops in the area.
Visible from Sensoji temple is a more recent attraction on the outskirts of Asakusa: the Tokyo Skytree. Rising 634 meters above sea level, this futuristic tower offers incredible panoramic views of the city and, on a clear day you can see all the way to Mount Fuji!
Asakusa can be accessed by four different train lines: the Ginza Subway Line, Asakusa Subway Line, Tobu Skytree Line, and Tsukuba Express line.
Each line has its own "Asakusa" station: a total of four, which can get a little confusing.
Read more about Asakusa in our article HERE.
Discover more things to do in our article: 10 things to do in Asakusa
Located in the heart of Tokyo in a wooded area of over 100,000 trees, Meiji-Jingu is one of Japan’s most famous shrines, and is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.
Meiji Jingu was completed in 1920, and has become Japan's most famous Shinto shrine. It is dedicated to the souls of Emperor Meiji (1852-1912) and his wife, Empress Shoken (1849-1914). Emperor Meiji ascended the throne in 1867 at just 15 years old, as Japan saw the violent end of over 260 years of Tokugawa rule and the Meiji Restoration (Meiji Ishin) brought a period of industrialization, urbanisation and colonial expansion as Japan attempted to catch up with the West.
After the Emperor and Empress’ deaths in the early 1900's, Meiji Jingu was built to venerate them. The shrine became a meeting point for Japanese right-wing radicals leading up to World War II, in which it was destroyed by American bombing in 1945 and rebuilt through public donations in 1958.
One of the most beautiful areas in Meiji Jingu is the Inner Garden (Jingu Nai-en or Gyoen). It is said the Emperor designed this garden himself for his wife.
Further in is the Treasure House Annex, where the royal couple's clothes and personal things are kept.
The Treasure House to the north of the main shrine buildings exhibits portraits of previous Japanese emperors and the elaborate court kimono worn by the Meiji monarchs.
The park that surrounds Meiji Jingu is a forest of around 120,000 trees of 365 different species. The trees were brought from all over Japan, and now the forest is a haven for many species of birds. You’ll quickly forget you are in the world's largest city.
Meiji Jingu Shrine is a short walk from Harajuku Station or Yoyogi Station on the JR Yamanote Line.
Read more about Meiji Jingu in our article HERE.
Ueno has something memorable for everyone: casual tourist, culture vulture, nature lover, fitness fanatic, or shutterbug. The park is the main attraction for visitors here, in spring it is full of burgeoning blossom, and in fall a leafy landscape of red and gold.
Ueno Park is famous for the many museums found on its grounds, especially the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Western Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and the National Science Museum. It’s also home to Ueno Zoo, Japan's first zoological garden.
It’s impossible to get through the whole of Ueno Park in a day, as it has so much to offer. Choose what you're into, and explore at a leisurely pace. The park gets very crowded by mid-afternoon, so try to get there early. Many of the facilities are closed on Monday.
Just across from the park is the entrance to Ameyayokocho shopping street. This is part of the Okachimachi area that is neighbor to Ueno.
Ameyayokocho, or just "Ameyoko" for short, is a permanently packed jumble of street stalls, clothing and shoe shops, snack and sweet sellers, and just about every other kind of vendor, all yelling Irasshai! ('Welcome!') at the top of their lungs. It’s definitely worth taking a look around if you’re in the area.
Take the JR Yamanote Line to Ueno station. The Ueno Park Exit of JR Ueno Station is the most direct route to the park.
Read more about what Ueno has to offer HERE and in our articles:
Ueno and Okachimachi Shopping
Tokyo Tower is one of Tokyo's most iconic landmarks: a red and white web of sky-high steel by day, and a breathtaking beacon of lights by night.
The tower is located in Tokyo's Minato ward, next to Shiba Park, in an area with ancient temples and numerous relaxed high-class eateries.
Tokyo Tower was built in 1958 as a TV and FM radio broadcasting tower, and at that time was the world's tallest self-supporting steel tower, at 333 metres (1093 feet). Tokyo Tower is 13 metres (43 feet) higher than the Eiffel Tower, after which it was modelled, but thanks to its more modern engineering technology it is 43% lighter in weight. Being one of Tokyo's tallest structures (second only to the Tokyo SkyTree), Tokyo Tower is a prime spot from which to view the Tokyo metropolis, with its Main Observatory 150 metres (492 feet) above ground level.
Tokyo Tower has two high-rise observatories, accessible by elevator (or stairs, for the extra fit!).
The double-decker Main Observatory provides explanations to help make sense of the urban jungle below. Mount Fuji can sometimes be seen too, on very clear days. There are also coin-operated binoculars, and free interactive touch-screen displays to match up parts of the city with a map on the screen.
Downstairs on the Main Observatory's lower floor are glass windows in the floor, 150 metres (492 feet) above ground, as well as a cafe, souvenir shop, and small Shinto shrine.
The Special Observatory is 100 metres above the Main Observatory, at 250 metres (820 feet).
For prices and opening hours, check the Tokyo Tower official website.
- Akabanebashi station on the Oedo Subway Line. Turn left out of the ticket gate to the Akabanebashi Crossing exit and walk 5 minutes.
- Hamamatsucho station on the JR Yamanote Line, Tokai-Hondo Line, and Keihin Tohoku Line. Take Exit B2, and walk 12 minutes.
Read more about Tokyo Tower and the surrounding area HERE.