For a lot of people, visiting Tokyo or even Japan might seem like a once in a lifetime opportunity, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Tokyo has so much to offer for tourists that it would actually take a handful of trips in order to see and do all the things on a traveler’s list. Plus, no one should rush their experience, either. With all of the sights, scents and sounds, they'll want to take the time to appreciate the culture, the country, and of course, the wonderful people who inhabit it.
One of the reasons why Japan is on top of everyone’s bucket list is because the country is so different from the US and Europe, yet so fascinating at the same time. Plus, no one has really lived unless they’ve been to the Kawaii Monster Café, explored Ueno Park during cherry blossom season, or have had sushi made and prepared the right way. Trust us, there is nothing that we could eat in Tokyo that we wouldn’t want over and over again.
With that being said, here are 20 reasons why tourists should cancel all of their travel plans this year and head to Tokyo, Japan instead. They can thank us later.
Odaiba is a great family-friendly neighborhood with great places to shop, eat and explore. There are also fantastic views of the city’s Rainbow Bridge, regardless of where you are staying or standing. It’s also got a great seaside town vibe, despite being only 20 minutes from Tokyo’s city center. One person wrote on Trip Advisor, “This is a nice spot on the Tokyo tour. Easy to find, just a short walk from the metro stop. You can also see the Rainbow Bridge in the background. The area is nice for evening walks. A big shopping center is also close by.”
19 Seno-ji Temple
Simply put, there’s no way that you can visit Tokyo without stopping by the Seno-ji Temple. The temple was completed back in 645 and it Tokyo’s oldest. It was built to honor Kannon, the goddess of mercy and sees millions of tourists from all over the world each year. This person wrote on Trip Advisor, “This temple is a must-see in Tokyo. It is a large complex featuring the temple itself, the gateway to the temple which is an entrance from the street, rows of shops on the path to the temple, a pagoda, and other buildings and shrines.”
18 Tokyo Skytree
If you want the best views of the city, check out the Tokyo Skytree. At first, it might look like a replica of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but it’s actually a broadcasting and observation tower. It also became Tokyo’s tallest structure in 2010. It’s also a great family-friendly tourist destination, especially if you want to get a bird’s eye view of the city. This person wrote on Trip Advisor, “Great place to see a panoramic view of Tokyo; definitely recommend going at night. It was also a plus that it was really easy to get here from the nearby train station. Would definitely recommend getting the tickets for both decks to get some great views of Tokyo.”
17 Tokyo Disneyland
You didn’t think that we would make a list of things you must see and do in Tokyo without mentioning Disneyland, now did you? Even if you’ve been to the original Disney World and Disneyland in Florida and California, the Japanese version is a must, especially it’s one-of-a-kind park, Disney Sea.
This person wrote on Trip Advisor, “This place really exceeded my expectations. They have attractions that we don’t have in Anaheim such as a whole exhibit on Leonardo da Vinci. The exhibit looked just like fishermen’s bastion in Budapest. I could have spent hours just going through all the different tourets and floors."
16 The Tsukiji Market
Chances are that once you arrive in Tokyo, you will be feeling very jet-lagged, especially coming from the West. And since you won’t be able to sleep throughout the night, you might as well be up early in the morning to check out Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji Market for their popular tuna auctions, which you won’t see anywhere else. As Travel US News likes to put it, “Even if you're not a sushi connoisseur, the Tsukiji Market offers an unforgettable experience. It is the largest and oldest fish market in the world, handling upward of 1,800 tons of seafood per day.”
15 The Harry Hedgehog Café
If you’ve always wondered how it would feel to sip on a warm mid-day cup of cappuccino while playing with a pen of hedgehogs, this place is for you. Tokyo has several Harry Hedgehog Cafes where guests can come and play with these cute but spikey creatures while enjoying a cup of coffee. It’s a café, after all. But you will want to get their early, as the place fills up with long lines pretty fast. “I’ve never held a hedgehog before, so this was pretty neat,” says one 10-year-old visitor. “Plus, they have hot strawberry-flavored drinks. It was a lot of fun.”
14 The Cat Café
If hedgehogs aren’t your thing, luckily Tokyo has a great place where you can spend an hour getting to know a new feline friend instead. Cat Cafes are actually a growing trend in big cities around the world, but no one has as many of them as Tokyo. A few places to check out include Cat Café Calico or the Cat Café MoCHA. One visitor wrote on Google Reviews, “The cats are absolutely adorable! This was my first car cafe so I wasn't sure what to expect. They have a like a drink dispensing machine with soda, tea, coffee and everything (it's really cool), but beware there's no food.”
13 The Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace is the primary resident of the Emperor of Japan and in the heart of Tokyo. Located in the Chiyoda ward of the city, it contains many buildings, including the main palace. And the best part is that the entrance is free. This person wrote on Google Reviews, “Beautiful, spacious, and peaceful. They open the place to the public only twice a year; once in the spring and once in the fall. I have been there in the spring during cherry blossom season and it was fantastic. If possible, you want to go there on a weekday. I heard it's super crowded during the weekend.”
12 The Tokyo National Museum
If you happen to be visiting Tokyo during the summer and are looking to beat the heat, check out the Tokyo National Museum. It’s a vast and stately complex devoted to the art and antiques of Japan, along with other Asian countries. It was established in 1872 and is one of the oldest Japanese national museums. The museum is filled with national treasures and extremely valuable cultural artifacts.
This Google Reviews user wrote, “A very educational and interesting museum [...] A lot of beautiful historical exhibits. And to see “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” in real life was a dream come true!”
11 The Meiji Shrine
At first, it might seem like you are lost if you are trying to make your way to the Meiji Shrine. After all, it is situated in the middle of a forest. But don’t worry, as you will soon find out that all roads lead to the shrine, which was once dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. This Google Reviews user wrote, “This is one of my favorite places in Tokyo.It's such a weird feeling... almost like stepping into a time machine and travelling 100s of years back in time as you walk the path that feels like you're going deep into a forest.”
10 Nissan Crossing
At first it might seem odd to visit a place that is dedicated to a car maker that your parents once owned but trust us again, it’s well worth the trip. Nissan Crossing is located in the Ginza district of the city and is worth a quick visit, especially if you want to see their newest cars on display. If that weren’t enough, you can also order a cup of coffee with your picture on it (how cool is that?). This person wrote on Trip Advisor, “Awesome place for automotive enthusiasts and tech lovers. Staff is very kind and speak English.”
If you love video games, Akihabara will seem like a dream come true. If you want to experience all of the contrasts that Japan has to offer, Akihabara will feel like another world compared to all of Tokyo’s temples and zen gardens. In other words, it’s a city of gadgets and a heaven for geek and gadgets lovers. This person wrote on Trip Advisor, “Very noisy and full of neon but it's fascinating to see. Loads of Manga and Anime and an eight floor Sega arcade with some retro and some totally weird games.”
Roppongi is a district of Minato and famous for the affluent Roppongi Hills development area and popular night club scene.It’s also where you can experience Tokyo’s legendary nightlife and even hit some of the spots that were filmed in the 2003 movie Lost in Translation. This visitor wrote on Trip Advisor, “Roppongi is a nice vibrant area. Good connections via the metro. Lots to do and see in this area. Plenty of restaurants, bars and dessert bars.There’s also a nice shopping mall, although expensive. Here’s an insider tip: a lot of people love visiting the Almond Café.”
7 Edo Castle
Tokyo, just like many other cities around Japan, is full of history that you cannot miss. The Edo Castle, which is also known as the Chiyoda Castle, is another must-see attraction to capture for your Instagram feed. This person wrote on Google Reviews, “The castle ruins and the surrounding park are lovely to explore. We spent a few hours here and it was really nice. Its worth noting that the part is closed two days a week, and you should check if it is open beforehand.Worth a visit if you like walking around. Also the walls are built with such intricacy.”
6 Ueno Park and Zoo
Ueno Park and Zoo is one of Japan’s most beloved and visited zoos in the country, especially during cherry blossom season. The park is where you can see some of the most unusual animals and is also Japan’s oldest zoo. It is a five-minute walk from the Park Exit of Ueno Station. It is quite large at 530,000 square meters and houses multiple facilities such as a museum and an art gallery, too. This visitor wrote on Google Reviews, “The variety of animals maintained at the zoo simply amazes me. They are nurtured and well taken care of. Had really close encounters with many of my favorite animals and enjoyed exploring and expanding my knowledge on animals.”
If you’ve ever had the dream to dress up as your favorite Mario Brothers character and race a go-kart throughout the streets of Tokyo, you are in luck. MariCar lets adults do that, by making Tokyo their own life-sized and very real video game. It’s fun, it’s fast, and it’s the best way to see the city. This person wrote on Trip Advisor, “This was amazing – make sure to get your International Driving Permit well beforehand. It was so hot outside, we chose not to wear costumes but it didn't interfere with the experience at all. Going over Rainbow Road at night when the city is all lit up is truly incredible. Once in a lifetime experience driving on the main streets of Tokyo!”
4 Takeshita Street
If there is one place that you need to shop in Tokyo, it’s Takeshita Street. Here you will find everything the little Harajuku in you has been looking for, as it’s a street lined with fashion boutiques, cafes and restaurants. It’s also known for it’s wacky, youth-driven style. Prepare for a rainbow of colors. This person wrote on Trip Advisor, “This is a must do for most tourists that look for hip teenager fashion and shops. You will see fashion shops, candy factories, cotton candy and filled crepes shops and lots of things you have never seen before like cat or dogs or owl cafes.”
3 Sanrio Puroland
There’s no way that you can visit Tokyo without visiting the city’s number one ambassador, Hello Kitty. If Disney is not your thing, check out Sanrio Puroland. It is an indoor theme park located in Tama New Town, Tokyo, Japan that attracts over 1.5 million visitors per year. But it’s not just Hello Kitty that you will meet. The theme park is devoted to the cast of many characters in the Sanrio stable. This person wrote on Google Reviews, “Great place in my point of view. Indoors with 4 floors of food and entertainment. I do like it over Disneyland for its price point. Very family oriented and their shows were amazing. Highly recommend visiting this place. You can even take free pictures with Sanrio characters.”
When we told you that Tokyo is heaven for video game lovers, we weren’t kidding. Joypolis is an amusement park chain with several locations in Tokyo along with other cities in Japan and in China, too. It’s where you can get your game on, and it’s indoors anytime of the year. What makes Joypolis stand out is that it incorporates technology with its games and rides compared to normal standard amusement parks. This guest wrote on Trip Advisor, “My 12-year-old daughter loved the experience. Park has some 'light' rides and she was delighted about it. We turned a boring cold day in an amazing rainy day on an indoor amusement park. Sure, the rides are mostly focused on the pre-teenagers, but in our case that was perfect!”
1 The Nezu Shrine and Torii Gate Tunnel
Nezu Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in the Bunkyō ward of Tokyo. It might be a little out of the way, but it’s a popular venue and one of the oldest places of worship in the city. It’s also one of Tokyo’s best kept secrets, with its Shinto architecture and multitude of Torii gates. This person recommends it on Google by writing, “Beautiful, atmospheric shrine. Go in the evening when the crowds have cleared out. When the sun is going down, this place really delivers. It’s like a secret getaway in the middle of a busy city. Some also call it a slice of Kyoto in Tokyo.”