Attractions in Tokyo

As promised, below is a list of attractions in Tokyo. I’ve categorized them by interests and the time when you should visit. I also listed some suggestions for day trips from Tokyo. Together with my list of things to do in Japan, you should be well equipped for your adventure in Tokyo!

The list

  1. Asakusa
  2. Shibuya
  3. Haraijuku
  4. Ikebukuro
  5. Ginza
  6. Akibahara
  7. Ghibli museum
  8. Meiji Shrine
  9. Tsukiji fish market
  10. Gyoen garden
  11. Shinjuku
  12. Odeo Onsen
  13. Tokyo Skytree
  14. Tokyo Tower
  15. Roppongi

Day trip

  1. Mount Fuji
  2. Hanoke
  3. Nikko
  4. Yokohama
  5. Kamakura
  6. Enoshima

How to get around

Public transit of course! Unless you are a baller and cab every where. Lucky for us, Japan has one of the best public transport systems in the world: much trains, many coverage, such service, very punctuality, wow! Unlucky for us, Japan also hosts the most complicated transit system: Tokyo. After all, Tokyo is the most populous meta city in the world with almost 40 million people. That’s right, 10 millions more humans than all of Canada squeezed into a city.

Tokyo map

Tokyo attraction map

Above is a very useful map of Tokyo with many famous attractions and train stations. The big circle is the JR Yamanote line, which you can ride for free with JR pass. The line goes both directions with train every 3 minutes. To give a perspective, it takes 30 minutes to go from Shinjuku to Akihabara station (one third of the circle).

In real life, it’s much more overwhelming due to numerous train lines and subways. Even the locals have to use an app to navigate through the city. Do yourself a favor and get a data sim card for your trip.
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 Shopping

1. Asakusa – Senjo-ji temple and street food

Asakusa used to be the main entertainment district of Tokyo. It’s the special part of Tokyo where you can always catch the festive atmosphere and the tradition feel on every corner of the streets.

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Centuries old Nakamise shopping street

You will need to take an additional line from the Yamanote line to Askusa station (not included in JR pass). Right out of the station is the big thunder gate (Kaminarimon) with a giant red lantern, making it an impressive first sight. Beyond the gate lies the centuries old Nakamise street leading straight to Senso-ji temple, which is the oldest temple in Tokyo.

 

The walk though Nakamise street was definitely my favorite part, very entertaining, lots of things to see and filled with street food, souvenir shops, and students in uniform. We had too much mochi and red bean cakes.

We didnt spend much time at the temple because we burned all of our time at the Nakamise street. However, the girls did make time to draw their fortune telling papers here. My girlfriend managed to get the worst card as usual.

Rating: 5/5
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2. Shibuya – busy intersection and fashion shopping

Of course I have to mention Shibuya. People said it has the busiest intersection in the world. While I cannot verify this, it does have a super busy crossing street. Countless of people talking and walking in all directions is a mesmerizing view. It’s like a scene straight from a movie.

We checked out Shibuya 99, Uniqlo, lined up for some mini crepes at a place near by. Three hours were not enough. Definitely would come back for more strolling.

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Hachiko statue, Shibuya

Of course you have to pay visit to Hachiko, the loyal Akita dog. It’s right here at the Shibuya station, where he waited for his deceased owner for more than 9 years, every day at the same time, same spot, same hope. RIP.

Rating: 5/5
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3. Harajuku – extreme teenager culture

Harajuku is another great area for day trolling. It’s famous for extreme teenager culture and Takeshita street. There are also lots of souvenir shops and crepe stands! See here for a cute review on the LINE Friends store from RebelRiotori.

Harajuku definitely has a different atmosphere than Akasuka and Shibuya, more relax, more casual, more young people. The fashion here is much more advanced, open-minded in a sense that they are highly irregular, almost costume like. There is also a 100-yen Daiso store here.

Rating: 5/5
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4. Ikebukuro – Sunshine City and pokemon center

Ikebukuro is another good place for shopping. This was actually where we did most of our shopping on our last day of Japan. There are Sunshine City department and many other stores in the area. However, there is another (main) reason why we came: Pokemon center!

Sunshine City has the biggest Pokemon center in Tokyo. We went there expecting it to have everything: all types of Pokemon, Pokeball, gym master badges. It has none of those things. However, It does have a lot of Pikachu and Pikachu in costumes.

What we didnt know about Ikebukuro is that it’s also the holy ground of female Otaku (manga nerds). That explains why we saw a lot of book stores with focus on boy-love manga and posters (some very graphic).

We also stumbled upon Book-off which we later found out to be a famous chain for used books and electronics. Got ourselves a couple 100-yen manga there 😛

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Loveless vs 7-ghosts

Another great finding is the Passport store in Sunshine City, ALTA section. They have many cute household items like floor mat, tissue box cover, flipflops, bath ropes at very reasonable price. We got the cat floor mat for only 1500 yen and the tissue cover for 1000 yen.

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Passport store, Sunshine City

Ratings: 5/5
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5. Ginza – upmarket shopping

Ginza is another famous place for high end shopping. We didnt have time to check it out so it’s next on the list. I heard there is also a Kabuki theater there.
Rating: N/A
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Manga and Anime

6. Akibahara – men manga and action figures

As opposed to Ikebukuro, Akibahara is the head quarter for Japanese male Otaku. You will find there lots of female-focused manga and posters. Some of them are even topless, which I’m not a big fan of.

We didnt have time to explore Akihabara as much as my brother wanted. Originally we budgeted an entire day for Akibahara, however, it got shrunk into 3 hours. My brother obviously wasnt happy. It’s already dark when we got there. We had time to visit some stores, most of them sell manga and anime figures. Some places have up to 5 level of goodness.

We spent a big chunk of our time at a maid cafe called Maidreaming. It was an interesting experience but I would rather spend more time exploring the area than sitting there 2 hours for some cake. You can read more about this experience here.

Bonus of the trip: X Hunter Takoyaki, the best takoyaki we had in Japan.

Rating: 5/5
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7. Ghibli museum

Ghibli studios is where My neighbor Totoro, Spirited away, princess Mononoke were made and Ghibli museum is where you can find everything about them. My brother and I really wanted to visit this place but all tickets were sold out. Make sure to check the Ghibli official website to buy ticket in advance. The museum is a bit out of the way, but I’m sure it’s worth the trip.
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Morning attractions

8. Meiji Shrine – magical morning walk

Meiji Jingu was the first attraction we visited in Japan. It’s the grandest Shinto shrine in Tokyo, only two stations from Shinjuku.

The shrine is actually located inside a big park. The park entrances are marked by wooden Torri gates, which signal the sacred ground. We must have entered through a side entrance of the park because we only saw the giant Torri gate and the sake barrel stands when we went out.

Here we learned how to pay respect using the purification fountain. You must rinse both your hands and mouth before entering the shrine. We also got to see up close the great straw rope Shimenawa and the wooden wishing plates Ema, which you should leave at the shrine to receive blessings from the Shinto gods.

 

Rating: 5/5
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9. Tsukiji Fish Market – tuna auction & Sushi breakfast

The most famous and overrated attraction in Tokyo by far. Of course we had to visit it. We couldn’t make it to the tuna auction because it starts absurdly early. You need to arrive before 5 am to get a spot (only 120 total) and the only way to make it is to take a cab or stay the previous night some where nearby.

The lives around the fish market is quite entertaining. There are people driving in those weird looking karts back and forth on the street. There are also lots of food and fresh fish stores.

We went to one of those famous sushi breakfast. The line ups were long as expected but what most disappointing was the quality of the food. It’s not that good, tiny portion, and expensive. Vancouver sashimi sushi is much better!

The best part about this place is that it’s a real market. You can buy good cheap souvenirs here, and have some street food. We bought those ceramic tea cups for under 500 yen/cup. And make sure to try those super fresh warm soft egg rolls.

 

Rating: 3/5
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10. Shinjuku Gyoen garden

Shinjuku Gyoen is Tokyo’s largest and most popular park. It’s the best place to watch cherry blossom. To be visited.
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Night time attractions

11. Shinjuku

Shinjuku is famous among tourists because it’s a great area to stay in Tokyo. Located right on the Yamanote line and connected to many other lines. There are also lots of entertainments, shopping, restaurants, night time activities. It’s where we stayed in Tokyo. To be clear, you can visit Shinjuku in both day and night time. I listed it as night time because it’s always dark when we got back.

Ironically, we didnt get to shop at Shinjuku or explore the night lives that much. We were busy visiting other places than our own staying area.

If you visit Shinjuku, make sure to check out Tatsunoya ramen, the best ramen we ever had, our first meal in Japan as well.

Rating: 5/5
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12. Odeo Onsen (Odaiba) – over night entertainment

This is just a hidden gem we found in Tokyo. For me it’s definitely the best part of our trip. In fact, we love it so much that we decided to cut our Kyoto trip short to come back for another night. I wont go much into details here because my girlfriend already covered it here.

Some high light: naked indoor/outdoor hot bath, wearing yukata, indoor street food, foot massage, sauna, sleeping in tatami room.

One downside of this place is it’s hard to get to. There are free shuttles from some stations to the Onsen, but it will be challenging to find the correct shuttle pick-up spot. We were able to catch the shuttle the first time with a lot of struggles. But the second time was straight up lost for two hours. It’s best to just follow google direction and take the city bus. The experience is way worth the commute!

Rating: 6/5
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13. Tokyo Skytree

Another great place to visit at night. From 450 m above the ground, it offers a commanding view of Tokyo. A spectacular sight you shouldn’t miss.

Only from here you can appreciate the world’s biggest city. The city literately stretches to the end of the horizon all around you.

Rating: 5/5
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14. Tokyo Tower

We didnt checkout Tokyo tower in favor of Toky Skytree. Could be good.
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15. Roppongi

Roppongi is another famous night life district. To be visited.
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Day trip from Tokyo

There are many other great places near Tokyo what would make a good day trip. We didn’t have time visit any but will defenitely check them out next time.

1. Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji was closed in the winter so we couldnt try the hike if we dare but we were able to have a glimp at it on the Shinkashen train.
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2. Hanoke

Hanoke is 100 km from Tokyo, it offers a beautiful view of mount Fuji.
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3. Nikko

Only an hour north from Tokyo, Nikko is the central place for Shinto and Buddish culture.
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4. Yokohama

Only 30 mins south of Tokyo, Yokohama is Japan’s second largest city.
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5. Kamakura

Kamakura is a coastal town less than an hour south of Tokyo.
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6. Enoshima

Short ride west of Kamakura, Enoshima is a beach town with a view of mount Fuji.
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7 thoughts on “Attractions in Tokyo

  1. Jun says:

    Hi, you guys overnight at oedo onsen? how much does it cost? I read from the website saying need to add on another 1700 yen whereas some just say need to pay that

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jun, yes we just visited again for the 3rd time last month. So the entry fee is 2612 yen for weekdays and 2828 yen for weekends. But if you come after 6pm, it’s discounted to 2072 and 2288 yen respectively. If you stay pass 2am, you need to pay another 2100 yen for the night access. That’s how you stay overnight. Note that they close at 9am the next day and the bath closes at 8am. Here is the English link for fee, hours and how to get there
      http://daiba.ooedoonsen.jp/en/#access

      Like

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