Tokyo is one of the top ten international cities in the world, and no more so when it comes to tourist attractions. With everything from shopping to dining, palaces, museums, world-class gardens and parks, shrines and temples, the visitor to Tokyo often feels a little overwhelmed. That’s why a great way to get to know Tokyo is to start by visiting these four top Tokyo tourist attractions. They’ll give you a taste of what Tokyo is all about.
Shibuya – One of Tokyo’s most famous shopping districts, even if you’re not much of a shopper you must visit Shibuya. Tokyo’s top fashion district, it’s packed with boutiques, famous department stores, indie shops, shoe shoes, accessory shops,music stores and more. It’s famous for its ‘love hotels’, hotels where the Japanese go for a few hours of passion. Shibuya is also one of Tokyo’s best places for clubs, bars and nightlife. Particularly for young travelers to Tokyo, Shibuya should be the first tourist attraction you visit. You’ll probably never leave.
Sensoji Temple – Fully deserving of being one of Tokyo’s top tourist attractions and Tokyo’s most famous temple, Sensoji Temple is a wonderful example of traditional Japanese Buddhist architecture. The temple is Tokyo’s oldest temple, with the first buildings being built in 645, and is visited by millions of people every year.
Sensoji Temple is also famous for the hundreds of small shops and food stalls that surround the temple. Here you’ll find traditional Buddhist amulets, Japanese candy, t shirts, noodles, sushi, kimonos, cell phone accessories and hundreds more items. Inside the temple, there are even stalls where fortune tellers will tell you what’s in your future. They only speak Japanese, but are fun to watch.
Tokyo National Museum – I’m of the belief when you visit any new country you should visit at least one museum and, for Tokyo, that museum should be Tokyo National Museum. It’s the oldest and best museum in Japan and features thousands of rotating exhibits of Japanese and Asian artifacts.
At Tokyo National Museum, there are five exhibition buildings, with everything from Samurai clothing to swords, ceramics to calligraphy scrolls, metalwork to sculptures, modern art to artwork more than 2,000 years old. Don’t miss the Gallery of Horyuji Treasures, with its digital archives and superb restaurant, as well as the Museum Garden, a stupendous example of traditional Japanese gardens. There’s also an excellent museum shop, several cafes and restaurants, and special exhibits every month.
Tokyo Imperial Palace – Located on the most expensive real estate in the world, the Tokyo Imperial Palace is the home of the Japanese Emperor and his family. The palace consists of various royal buildings, and a large expanse of gardens and parkland. There’s a music hall, a traditional Japanese tea house, and a Privy Council building to name a few.
Normally closed to the public, there are limited guided tours available but you have to book months in advance (see link below for how to book the Tokyo Imperial Palace tour). The tours are in Japanese, but there is a recorded tour in English and as it’s difficult to get on a tour, it’s well worth doing something so unique.
Tokyo National Museum
Application To Tour Tokyo Imperial Palace