As it is so big and there is so much to see, it is worth making a plan of what you want to do before you arrive. Decide which touristy sightseeing destinations you want to visit and then also allow plenty of time to make the most of the city’s other highlights – shopping and food!
Starting with the must-see tourist destinations, the obvious one is the city’s oldest temple, the Sensoji, but there’s also the Nezu Shrine which is also stunning and set in lush green gardens. The pretty gardens of Kiyosumi Teien, or the Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens with its classic footbridges over idyllic ponds are perfect places to get some fresh air and wander around whilst you get over your jetlag. There’s also the Tokyo Tower (like the Eiffel Tower but taller), the Imperial Palace and a cruise along the Sumida River that you should fit in.
When you’ve done enough sightseeing, explore some of the different neighbourhoods, there’s Harajuku with its hip boutiques and trendy restaurants and Aoyama with its’ pretty side streets brimming with coffee shops. Yanaka is a traditional neighbourhood where the old-town atmosphere still survives, so hire a bike and explore the quiet lanes with wooden houses and old-fashioned sweet stalls.
Then there’s the shopping – a must-do activity in this consumer hungry city. Akihabara is a gadget lover’s dream with its’ endless electronic shops and comic book stores. Ginza is the fashionable shopping and entertainment district with high-end shops, amazing department stores and little boutiques. Asakusa, the area around the Sensoji temple, has small lanes and alleyways with souvenir shops and art and crafts boutiques. Also visit the famously busy Shibuya crossing, said to be one of the busiest crossings in the world, this area is filled with trendy shops selling everything that’s cool right now from clothes to music.
Tokyo is a food lover’s dream and is choker block full of places to eat. There are the hole in the wall gyoza places all the way up to the high-end Michelin Sushi bars – in fact there are more Michelin starred restaurants in this city than any other city in the world. If you’re up really early with jet lag, head to the world’s largest fish market, Tsukiji for an incredible sight of tons of fresh seafood. If you can get there before 5am you can register for the tuna auction, but if not, then just wander around the shops and restaurants and get a fresh sushi breakfast – which might sound a bit weird but it’s got to be done!
Lunch is a great meal in Tokyo as it’s not normally as pricey as dinner, but just as good. If you want variety then head to a depachika, the basement floor of any good department store – but they sell take-away food only – otherwise most restaurants usually offer single dishes only like Katsu, Ramen or Sushi. If you’re looking for something really special then there are plenty of wonderful sushi restaurants, like the three Michelin-starred Kanda restaurant, but there is something for every budget. The Japanese style pubs, the izakaya have a good atmosphere and serve excellent tapas-sized, seasonal food. And when you’ve enjoyed an excellent meal, what better way to round off your evening than with a good old sing-a-long! Enjoyed by all ages, Karaoke is the national pastime and you can’t leave Tokyo without having a go!
Japan is a beautiful country filled with amazing sights and rich culture. Visiting one place is just not enough, we recommend combining Tokyo with one or two other destinations to make the perfect multi centre holiday. We specialise in luxury tailor made holidays and can put together anything that interests you. Take a look at some of our tailor made multi centre itineraries for some inspiration.