If you are considering a trip to Japan, it may be useful to find out the top things Tokyo is known for.
Here we have some of the top aspects that Tokyo is famous for, ranging from landmarks to the best neighborhoods to explore to the best parks to visit.
With this guide we have something for everyone, so read on to prepare for your next Tokyo trip!
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Famous Tokyo Landmarks
Throughout Tokyo, there are many famous landmarks, both old and new.
Whether you are more interested in stunning panoramic views or experiencing traditional culture, there is something for you.
Here we have some of the top landmarks to explore in Tokyo.
Tokyo Skytree is one of the most popular landmarks in Tokyo.
Standing at 634m tall, Skytree is the tallest building in Japan and was the second-tallest building in the world at the time of completion.
For this reason, it is generally considered to have some of the best views of Tokyo from any viewpoint.
Tokyo Skytree has two observation decks, located at the 350m and 450m points. These provide 360-degree panoramic views of the city.
These views are stunning at any time of day and are especially popular around sunset and early evening.
Skytree is also popular among locals for its constantly changing light-ups.
The tower is regularly lit in various colors to represent different seasons, events, or causes.
The ‘Tembo Deck’, located at 350m offers amazing views out over the city and the entire Kanto region.
Visitors can then progress up to the ‘Tembo Galleria’, also known as the world’s highest skywalk.
This sloping spiral ramp takes visitors on an amazing tour of the city from the sky.
1-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida
10:00AM – 9:00PM
Tokyo Skytree has a range of ticket options available.
Standard same-day combo tickets cost ¥3100 for adults on weekdays and ¥3400 on holidays, ¥2350 on weekdays and ¥2550 on holidays for students and ¥1450 on weekdays and ¥1550 on holidays for children.
A ticket for the Tembo Deck only costs ¥2100 on weekdays and ¥2300 on holidays for adults, ¥1550 on weekdays and ¥1650 on holidays for students and ¥950 on weekdays and ¥1050 on holidays for children.
If tickets are booked in advance there is a discount of ¥200-¥400.
Note that this is one of the most famous attractions of Tokyo and therefore often busy.
We, therefore, recommend buying skip-the-line tickets. These are cheaper when bought in advance than on-site.
Check prices and availability:
Tokyo Skytree Skip-the-line Tickets
Meiji Jingu Shrine
Meiji Jingu is considered one of the newer shrines in Japan’s history of thousand-year-old shrines, having only been completed in the 1920s.
However, it is also one of the most visited shrines in Japan, being located in a beautiful forest of 70 hectares in Tokyo.
It was originally built to commemorate Emperor Meiji and his wife, who spearheaded the Meiji Restoration, a period of great change and innovation in Japan.
It is often considered a symbol of this time in Japan’s history. The shrine has a beautiful inner garden and a very informative museum.
Meiji Jingu shrine holds a number of events throughout the year so if you can time your visit to coincide with one of their events, it becomes a great way to experience Japanese culture.
If there are no events on at the time, strolling through the forest to the shrine and marveling at the history behind the shrine is still a great way to spend a morning.
1-1Kamizani-cho, Yoyogi, Shibuya
5:00AM – 6:00PM
Main Shrine – Free
Inner Garden – ¥500
Museum – ¥1000
Shibuya Scramble Crossing
Shibuya Scramble Crossing is commonly seen in movies, TV shows, and other media depictions of Tokyo. It is now at a stage where it can be seen as a representation of Tokyo within itself.
Located in the center of Shibuya, this large 4-way pedestrian crossing is often called ‘the busiest crossing in the world.
With up to 3000 people crossing at once and the busiest days reaching up to 500 000 people in a day, the Shibuya Scramble Crossing is a sight to behold.
While the scramble crossing is just a pedestrian crossing at its core, it is also a great place for street photography or simply people-watching.
There are many skyscrapers surrounding it, often with windows providing great views of the crossing.
Some of the most popular include the Starbucks overlooking the scramble crossing or the L’Occitane café with windows facing the crossing from the 2nd floor.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is a feat of modern architecture with its unique Gothic-inspired design.
Looking at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building brings to mind the image of an imposing Gothic cathedral, but with a modern twist. It is also the tallest city hall in the world.
There are two main towers of the building, both of which feature observation decks overlooking the city. These observation decks are free to visit and so are ideal for taking in the amazing views of the city on a budget.
The building also has an information center with plentiful information on places to see and visit in the Tokyo region as well as regular events introducing various destinations and products from around Japan.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is a must-see for design enthusiasts and a great option for getting those panoramic city views over Tokyo.
2-8-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku
9:30AM – 11:00PM
Hachiko Memorial Statue
The Hachiko Memorial Statue is sometimes underwhelming at first glance, but after learning the story behind it, it grows in significance greatly.
The Hachiko statue is located at the exit of Shibuya station, next to the Shibuya Scramble Crossing.
The original Hachiko was an Akita dog, owned by a university professor in the 1920s.
Every day Hachiko would walk to the station in the morning and from the station to home in the evening with his owner.
One day the professor died, meaning there were no more walks.
However, Hachiko continued to show up at the station to meet his owner every day until his own death years later.
The state was built as a testament to this loyalty. The statue is now one of the most recognizable statues in Japan.
The Hachiko Statue is located in a square that many young people use as a meeting place.
This makes it great for people-watching and enjoying the atmosphere of Shibuya. The statue itself is well-loved and is a common photo spot.
Inspired by these Tokyo Landmarks and want to see more? Check out these famous Japanese landmarks.
Tokyo’s Coolest Neighborhoods
One of the best ways to spend an afternoon or even a full day in Tokyo is by exploring some of the cool and quirky neighborhoods of the city.
There are many unique neighborhoods that are great for wandering around and enjoying the interesting sights.
Akihabara is a popular neighborhood in the heart of Tokyo. Nicknamed Electric City, Akihabara has long been known as the hub of electronics stores in Japan.
These range from large manufacturers to small niche retailers.
However, in recent years, otaku culture has taken over Akihabara, to a level where it is now almost more well-known for the abundance of anime goods shops, maid cafes, game centers, and other otaku interests.
This clash of technology and anime culture makes Akihabara a unique and exciting area to visit.
When visiting Akihabara, exploring some electronics stores and anime and otaku interests are a must-do.
Some of the top places include Yodobashi Camera, a 9-story electronics department store, Mandarake, one of the leading secondhand anime figures and toys shops where you can often find rare and unique items. Radio Kaikan, a 10-story store with products ranging from electronics to anime figures to vintage toys.
On the other end of the spectrum is Asakusa, one of the more traditional neighborhoods of Tokyo.
One of the most popular attractions in Asakusa is Sensoji Temple, which we will cover later in this guide, but there is much more to Asakusa than just this.
In the lead-up to the temple, there are shopping streets filled with stalls selling traditional foods, souvenirs, and crafts.
There are also a number of traditional shops in the nearby streets.
If you are visiting Asakusa it is possible to take a rickshaw tour of the area to truly experience the traditional atmosphere.
Some of the highlights of Asakusa include exploring the many small shops specializing in traditional crafts, clothes, foods, and more.
Harajuku is one of the most well-known neighborhoods in Tokyo, thanks to the rise of Harajuku fashion and its international popularity.
However, Harajuku is really a hub of pop culture, having shops catering to a range of interests.
There are many fashion shops ranging from large chains down to smaller designers.
There are also a number of food trends centered around Harajuku.
Some of these include rainbow cotton candy, crepes, and other sweet treats.
It is often considered the center of fashion and style in Japan.
Harajuku is also very close to Omotesando, the trendy area of high fashion and designer labels.
Takeshita St is the main street of Harajuku and is great to explore.
However, to elevate your Harajuku experience, it is important to explore the small side streets or nearby streets to find truly unique and niche stores.
Kabukicho Nightlife District
Kabukicho is generally known as one of the main nightlife districts of Tokyo.
It is also sometimes referred to as a red-light district due to the high amount of host/hostess clubs, kyabakura (cabaret clubs), and love hotels in the area.
There are many unique clubs and bars throughout Kabukicho, making it a prime pick for anyone looking for a night out.
If you are looking to experience Japanese nightlife or even just browse around, Kabukicho is the place to go.
However, Kabukicho is also one of the few areas in Japan where you do need to be careful in relation to crime.
Some bars employ quite aggressive touts and there are many horror stories of tourists agreeing to one drink at a club and ending up with their credit card gone and bank accounts emptied.
Therefore, it is important to stay alert and make your decisions about where to go based on what you want to do, not what a club or bar promoter promises you.
Simply walking through Kabukicho is enough to take in the bright light, and nightlife atmosphere of the area, but going into a few bars or clubs is ideal for those wanting more of a nightlife experience.
Golden Gai is well-known as home to a number of unique, often-themed bars and so is a top street to visit in the area.
Here is an overview of more amazing places to visit in Tokyo.
Shrines and Temples
Japan is well-known for the thousands of temples and shrines dotted throughout the country.
Some of the most famous and well-loved shrines and temples in the country are located conveniently in Tokyo.
While we have already mentioned Meiji-Jingu Shrine above, here we have more temples and shrines to fulfill your cultural curiosity.
As mentioned above, Sensoji Temple is located in the traditional district of Asakusa.
Built in the 7th Century, Sensoji Temple is still one of the most impressive temples in Japan. It is also the oldest temple in Tokyo and one of the most popular in Japan.
When approaching the temple, you are first met with the Kaminarimon, which translates to Thunder Gate.
This impressive name suits the gate well as its height, bright colors and giant lantern are truly breathtaking.
You can then walk through the naka-mise, or shopping street previously mentioned.
After reaching the main temple, there is a 5-storied pagoda, the temple’s main hall, and few smaller buildings.
Wandering around the area of Asakusa and making your way slowly through the Kaminarimon and up to the main temple makes for a great day excursion.
The temple grounds in combination with the surrounding area means there is no shortage of things to see and do.
2-3-1, Asakusa, Taito City
Nezu Shrine is somewhat of a hidden gem of Tokyo, with nowhere near the popularity of Meiji Jingu or Sensoji Temple.
However, it is no less beautiful, and in some ways is even better due to less crowding.
Nezu Shrine was built in 1705 and is registered as a cultural asset of the area.
It is famous for its rows of red vermillion torii gates, similar to those found in Fushimi Inari in Kyoto.
The Nezu shrine torii gates are much easier to access and have far fewer people. If you are visiting in spring, the shrine is also famous for its azalea festival and beautiful gardens.
Some of the highlights of the Nezu shrine include the many torii gates, the beautiful gardens surrounding the shrine, and the relaxing atmosphere of the shrine.
There are also many small cafes and traditional food shops nearby to enjoy after visiting the shrine.
1-28-9, Nezu, Bunkyo City
Japanese cuisine has become increasingly popular over recent years and there is no better place to experience it than Tokyo.
From quirky themed restaurants to top-quality Michelin restaurants, there is a range of culinary experiences to be had in Tokyo.
One of the great options for dining out in Tokyo is themed restaurants.
There are many restaurants and cafes that are entirely focused around a specific concept or theme, with everything from the décor to the food fitting the theme.
They can also be themed around a historical period, such as the Sengoku Café, themed around the Sengoku period of Japan’s history.
There are also many cafes with more broad themes, such as vampires, ninjas, or Alice in Wonderland.
Finding a themed restaurant or café to suit your interests is a great way to enjoy your interests in a new and different way.
There are also many pop-up-themed cafes and this is a fun way to have a ‘limited edition experience.
Japan has one of the highest ratios of vending machines to people with an estimated 1 vending machine to every 23 people.
No matter where you are in Japan, there’s likely to be a vending machine somewhere close.
Most vending machines are fairly unremarkable, selling basic bottled water, drinks, coffee, and the like.
They have a row of seasonal drinks, being cooled in summer and warmed in winter.
However, Tokyo also has a number of unusual vending machines selling a variety of surprising items.
These can include fresh food items, such as fruit or bread, various condiments like soy sauce, and small toys, similar to those found in capsule machines.
There are also vending machines that provide hot food, such as pizza, hot sandwiches, and hot dogs.
Often unusual vending machines are grouped together with a number of other strange vending machines, making it easy to explore a number of them at once.
For something a bit more refined, you may be interested in visiting one of Tokyo’s many Michelin-starred restaurants.
Tokyo is actually well-known as having the most Michelin-starred restaurants of any city in the world, making it a gourmet paradise.
These restaurants serve a range of Japanese cuisine, including traditional meals, restaurant versions of street food, Japanese fusion food, and experimental cuisine.
If you’re looking for something a bit different, there are also a number of Michelin-starred restaurants serving various other cuisines in Tokyo, such as Italian or French.
Enjoying the carefully constructed and well-cooked food of a highly-acclaimed chef in beautiful surroundings is one of the best ways to finish a long day of exploring Tokyo.
Try a variety of restaurants for a full journey through Japanese cuisine.
For a list of healthy Japanese food, click here.
While Tokyo is generally known as a bustling city, it is also home to a number of beautiful and relaxing parks and gardens.
If you are looking for a nature fix while visiting the amazing city of Tokyo, one of the parks below could be for you.
Shinjuku Gyoen Park
Shinjuku Gyoen Park is one of the largest parks in Tokyo and is also one of the most visited.
It is especially popular during spring when the park bursts into bloom with the many cherry blossoms. Here is an overview of more amazing places to see the sakura in Tokyo.
The park is made up of three main gardens, a traditional Japanese garden, a formal French garden, and a large landscaped English garden.
There are also many large lawns, an art gallery, and a restaurant.
The park was once home to an Edo-era feudal lord and has over 20,000 trees on the grounds.
This includes over 1,500 cherry blossom trees in around a dozen different varieties.
This makes it great to enjoy the different trees and flowers year-round.
Exploring the different styles of gardens is a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend time in Tokyo.
It is perfect for appreciating seasonal changes, such as autumn foliage or spring flowers.
11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku
Ueno Park is a great park to visit as part of a sightseeing day out.
It is home to Ueno Zoo, which can be an additional activity for the day. Ueno Zoo is well-known for its pandas.
However, even if you don’t want to visit the zoo, the park alone is perfect for exploring.
There are also multiple museums on the grounds, as well as a variety of small shrines and temples.
This includes the octagonal Bentendo Hall, located on a small island in the main pond of Ueno Park, and Kaneiji Temple, the original temple around which the park was built.
Some of the key highlights of Ueno Park include Ueno Zoo, the Tokyo National Museum, and Kaneiji Temple.
Uenokoen, Taito City
Yoyogi Park is another large park in Tokyo and is conveniently located close to Harajuku.
It is also next to Meiji Jingu Shrine, making it ideally located for a day excursion.
The park was the site of the Olympic Village for the Tokyo 1964 Olympics and became a public park soon after.
There are many large lawns, forested paths, ponds, and picnic areas.
It is a calm and relaxing park to wander through. Yoyogi Park is very impressive during autumn when the ginkgo forest becomes a bright golden yellow.
Strolling along the walking paths, having a picnic, and enjoying the relaxing atmosphere of Yoyogi Park is an ideal way to enjoy nature while in Tokyo.
The autumnal ginkgo and spring flowers are enjoyed yearly in Yoyogi Park.
Heading 4: Address
2-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya
More Things Tokyo Is Famous For
Sumo is one of Japan’s national sports and is enjoyed by a range of people.
Dating back to the 7th Century with organized competitions starting in the 17th Century, sumo has a long history imbued with tradition and culture.
Today, there are 6 main sumo tournaments a year, 3 of which are held in Tokyo.
These are held at Ryogoku Sumo Stadium, the home of sumo in Tokyo.
This is where sumo wrestlers live and train, sumo tournaments are held, and the sumo museum is located.
Each tournament lasts for 15 days, meaning if you are in town during a tournament, there should be tickets available.
Tickets for grand tournaments go on sale at least a month in advance and you can buy them online.
Highlights of attending a sumo tournament include experiencing the ceremonial aspects of the sport, along with observing the strength and training of the competitors.
1-3-28 Yokoami, Sumida-ku
Sumo tournaments start quite early in the day, but most attendees arrive in the afternoon to see the main match of the top-ranked competitors.
Arena seats start at around ¥3800, however, there can be some variance depending on the date, specific seat, and popularity.
Capsule hotels are another interesting aspect of Japanese culture.
Originally designed as an accommodation option for businessmen who are on short business trips or were working overtime and have missed the last train home, they have now become a more versatile form of accommodation.
Capsule hotels generally consist of gender-segregated areas, with each area having a number of small box-like ‘capsules’.
Each capsule is large enough to sleep in and store a few small personal items.
There is often a small TV, light, electrical plug, and clock in the capsule.
Larger luggage is stored in a separate room and there is a communal bathroom for each gender.
There are many capsule hotels located in Tokyo, due to it being the business center of Japan.
These range in price, quality, and style and can be a unique experience for visitors to Japan.
Cherry blossoms, or Sakura as they are known in Japanese, are often considered one of Japan’s national symbols.
The beautiful blossoms bloom during spring, but only for a short period of time.
However, the various varieties of cherry blossoms sometimes have different blooming periods, meaning that even if you miss the main cherry blossom time, there is still a chance of catching some early or late sakura varieties.
There are many places to view and enjoy Sakura in Tokyo, some of which we have already mentioned.
However, to find out more about the best places to enjoy the cherry blossoms in Tokyo, see our previous post here.
Tokyo DisneySea is another top attraction in Tokyo.
Interestingly, despite the name, Tokyo DisneySea is actually located in Chiba, just outside of Tokyo.
However, it is still considered a Tokyo attraction. Tokyo DisneySea is part of the Disney resort in Japan and was opened in 2001, making it fairly new.
There is a general nautical theme, but it incorporates a number of beloved Disney characters.
The park has 7 main ‘lands’ or themed areas. These are all aquatically themed, but are still quite different, ranging from the ‘American Waterfront’ to the ‘Mysterious Island.
DisneySea is a popular trip for Japanese people of all ages and can be a fun day trip for tourists as well.
Some highlights of Tokyo DisneySea include ‘Mount Prometheus’, a large volcano that is a main feature of the park.
‘Mermaid Lagoon’ is also very popular as it is home to the characters and theming of the hit movie ‘The Little Mermaid’.
1-13 Maihama, Urayasu
9:00AM – 9:00PM
1-day tickets range from ¥7900 – ¥9400 for adults, ¥6600 – ¥7800 for Juniors (students), and ¥4700 – ¥5600 for children.
This variance depends on the day chosen and the popularity of that day. Tickets should be purchased in advance.
The Imperial Palace is the home of the current Imperial family of Japan.
It is built on the site of the previous Edo Castle, home to the Tokugawa Shogunate during the Edo Period of 1603 – 1867.
It has since been rebuilt a number of times after being destroyed or damaged in fires or attacks.
The current palace isn’t open to the public for most of the year, however, there are guided tours available of the inner grounds.
It is still possible to observe the palace from the outside and to enjoy the adjoining East Gardens.
These gardens include many gates, moats, and ruins from the original Edo Castle grounds. There is a beautiful traditional Japanese garden on the site.
Observing the amazing architecture from the outside or taking a tour can both be great ways to enjoy the Imperial Palace.
Strolling through the East Gardens is often relaxing and enjoyable for most visitors.
1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda City
Tuesday – Saturday, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Japan is home to karaoke, and it is still one of the most popular pastimes for Japanese people.
Going to karaoke can be a social pastime for groups of friends, co-workers, and dates.
Karaoke in Japan is often different in Japan to Western countries as there are often private rooms, where you can enjoy karaoke singing with just your group, as opposed to a full bar.
However, if you enjoy the karaoke bar experiences, there are also a number of karaoke bars available in Tokyo.
There are a number of karaoke chain businesses you can enjoy, as well as small, independently-owned karaoke businesses.
Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics
Tokyo was the host of the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Despite the name, they were actually held in 2021 due to postponement as a result of COVID-19.
However, the games went ahead, largely as planned, in the summer of 2021.
The opening ceremony and closing ceremony were pared down, as were crowd sizes of the competitions.
The amazing new facilities that had been designed and built for the games were enjoyed by athletes and spectators alike.
There were stadiums built using wood from the stadiums in the historic 1964 games, design elements harking back to aspects of Japanese history, and futuristic shops and cafes in the Olympic village.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics was considered a unique feat in Japan’s history and a symbol of togetherness in a time of difficulty.
One of the safest cities in the world
Tokyo is regularly named as one of the safest cities in the world, with other Japanese cities following close behind.
Tokyo achieves this ranking for a number of reasons.
These include the low crime rate, the regular return and retrieval of lost or misplaced items, and the high level of public services available.
While there are some crimes that occur frequently, such as bicycle theft, and it is important to still pay attention to your own safety, Tokyo is a very safe city to both visit and live in.
The busiest train station in the world
Tokyo is also home to the busiest train station in the world based on passenger use.
Shinjuku station is one of the most central stations in Tokyo and holds the record for the busiest railway station in the world.
Shinjuku station has around 3.6 million passengers a day over 36 platforms and 12 different train lines.
Shibuya station is close behind with around 3 million passengers a day with Ikebukuro station coming in third at 2.5 million passengers a day.
Most of the other top busiest railway stations in the world are also located in Japan, primarily in Tokyo and other big cities in Japan.
Largest metropolitan city in the world
Tokyo is well-known as the capital and largest city in Japan; however, it is slightly less known that it is actually the largest metropolitan area in the world.
With around 13.4 million people calling Tokyo home, the metropolitan area sprawls over an impressive 13, 452km2.
This makes it one of the most populous cities as well as one of the largest.
Visiting Tokyo can be an overwhelming experience due to the size and density of the city.
This makes it a once-in-a-lifetime and an amazing experience, especially if you use the time to explore some of the places and attractions mentioned above.
Tokyo is one of the most famous cities in the world and for good reason – amazing culture, stunning landmarks, and beautiful gardens are abundant throughout the city.
In this guide, we have explored just some of the top things Tokyo is known for.
To explore them for yourself, it’s time to start planning a trip to Tokyo.
If you are traveling beyond Tokyo, check out these Japan 5-day itineraries, 2-week, and 3-week Japan itineraries. Wondering how to plan a trip to Japan? Check out our step-by-step guide.
If you prefer going with a package tour check out these posts: