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Tokyo, the capital of Japan is vibrant and welcoming to those visiting the destination for the first time. Although densely populated, it has a lot of sites that make it worth exploring for those travelling alone or with family. There are hundreds of attractions in Tokyo to visit which can seem quite overwhelming, making it hard to know where to start. To help you, here are some of the top attractions in the city worth checking out during a city break in Tokyo.
Top Attractions in Tokyo
The Imperial palace is a popular attraction in Tokyo because it is one of the main homes of the Japanese Emperor. In earlier times, it was home to the brave samurai warriors and was referred to as Edo Castle. The expansive palace lies on hundreds of acres and is located in the middle of the metropolitan area. In the compound, stands cherry trees, water-filled moats, and green parks that make it worth strolling through when visiting the palace. In April, the trees bloom revealing a picturesque background perfect for photos. Opening times for the palace are from 10 am daily giving you a chance to explore the residence alone or as part of a guided tour.
Ueno Park is a green paradise in the middle of the concrete jungle which is Tokyo. It is popular with tourists because of its expansive grounds, numerous temples, and interesting museums. Some of the best spots to visit when in the park include Shinobazu Pond which allows visitors to explore it while in a small boat. The Toshogu Shrine which was set up in the 17th century is also a great place to spend time in and admire its many lanterns made from stone and bronze. Additionally, the park is home Aqua-Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the country, and has large aquariums that will fascinate children as well.
Tokyo National Museum
Learn about the origins of the Japanese and their artifacts by visiting the national museum in Tokyo. The museum showcases over ten thousand significant artworks of the Japanese such as paintings, lacquer-work, and calligraphy. Besides, artwork the museum also has a landscape garden that comprises three pavilions with various galleries. In addition to Japanese national treasures, the museum also displays Indian and Chinese art and sculptures from various centuries. Overall, visitors can expect to see pottery, old textiles, Asian ceramics, historical weapons, military equipment, and Japanese clothing.
Religion is an important part of the people in Tokyo and this is seen in the importance given to attractions such as Meiji Shrine. The shrine which was established in 1926 and later reconstructed in 1958 receives thousands of visitors yearly. It is divided into two areas namely inner and outer precincts which contain royal treasures and a picture memorial gallery respectively. The site has over 120,000 trees that surround the area revealing an evergreen forest that makes it resemble a fortress. One of the trees is considered a “wishing tree” where visitors write out their wishes and hang them on its branches.
Akihabara, located in the Chiyoda ward is often full of travelers looking for a place to shop for electronics and interact with otaku culture. The district shows a side of the Japanese culture that purely focuses on the technology aspect of the country. Although the Japanese are known to be tech-savvy, Akihabara is a great place to experience it in full. In the same district, are hundreds of stores that sell collectibles specifically of the manga and anime culture. If you are fun of the popular anime, then this a “must-visit” attraction when in Tokyo.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
If you need to take a break from the many tall buildings that dot the Tokyo skyline, bustling streets, and busy shopping areas, you will love the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. The garden has a unique design that comprises of French formal, English garden and traditional Japanese landscaping. The distinct landscapes are seen as you stroll or enjoy a picnic within the garden. Additionally, visitors can admire the more than twenty thousand cherry trees in the garden especially when they are in full bloom. Opening hours in the garden are from 9 am to 4 pm with minimal entrance free.
Japan hosts hundreds of temples with the oldest being Sensoji, which is located in Tokyo. The temple is more than 1,400 years but had to be rebuilt to its original style after getting destroyed in world war II. At the entrance, you will notice huge gates usually referred to as Thunder Gate which hosts a festival every year. When leaving, make sure you browse through the wares displayed at Nakamise-dōri which include snacks and souvenirs. The temple is also popular with locals because it is a symbol of their resilience and acceptance of new beginnings. Visitors can visit the temple at no cost.
The Japanese love their fish, with sushi and seafood being a staple in their diet. It is no wonder Tsukiji Market is popular with locals because of the wide array of fish on offer for sale or consumption. The market has an inner and outer section with the former serving shoppers that are buying in bulk, while the latter serves those looking for fish just for dinner. If you prefer to eat a meal made from fresh fish, then you can take a table at one of the restaurants in the same location.
The Skytree is one of the most recognised attractions in Tokyo and stands at 634 meters tall. It is the tallest structure in Japan and possibly the world which makes it a popular attraction with tourists. The structure which opened its doors in 2012 has observation decks that are located at the 350 and 450 meters giving you a chance to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views. If you have a strong stomach, then you can take the spiral walkway made of glass to higher viewpoints made of glass floors.
The Hama-rikyu gardens have been part of the Tokyo landscape for years and is a popular spot with tourists. It is filled with hundreds of cherry and plum trees which bloom all through the spring season. In autumn, the foliage is seen all over the garden from October to mid-November. Apart from the excellent natural scenery, the garden has a pond that is filled with water throughout the year. The pond also has a tea house that is perfect for enjoying matcha tea when visiting the gardens.
Overall, most attractions in Tokyo are great to visit alone or with family and can turn out to be one of the best holidays with a bit of good planning.