Things to do in Tokyo
At 634 metres, Tokyo Skytree is the world's tallest free-standing tower. You can see 100 kilometres away from the observation deck and all the way to Mt Fuji on clear days. The panorama from the lower observatory is truly breathtaking, with glass floor panels in one part allowing you to peer down at the ground below. At the base of Tokyo Skytree is Solamachi, where you can shop at a variety of stores and dine at Western restaurant chains.
Tokyo Skytree and Cherry Blossoms
Stand at Shibuya Crossing to get a true feel for the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. It's arguably the world's busiest intersection. With every light change, hundreds of people dodge each other effortlessly. The neon lights and giant video screens flashing behind the mass of people is a true spectacle – Shibuya Crossing is a sight that can't be missed. For the best vantage point, slip into the Starbucks on one corner and try to get a seat at the upstairs window.
Neon signs of Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo
Imperial Palace Tokyo
Catch a train to Tokyo Station and walk to the Imperial Palace grounds, once the residence of Japan's Imperial family. Here you can take a guided tour. The impressive site, a large park surrounded by moats and towering stone walls, is a beautiful area to stroll around – particularly on a clear, spring day. Be sure to see the Nijubashi double bridge at the entrance to the inner palace grounds.
Nijubashi bridge Imperial palace in Tokyo Japan
Have your camera at the ready for picturesque Senso-ji, Tokyo's most visited temple. Enter the complex by passing through the red Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) and soon you'll be overshadowed by a five-storey pagoda and giant incense cauldron – many believe the smoke bestows health. While you're in the area, pick up some souvenirs for loved ones back home in the temple precinct's shopping street, Nakamise-dori.
High Angle View Of Senso-ji Temple Amidst Buildings
For a peaceful day out, visit Meiji Shrine, Tokyo's grand Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Meiji Shrine is a great place to experience Japan's rich history, as it was destroyed in World War II air raids and rebuilt in 1958. Relax in the ground's strolling garden, breathe in the scent of the flowers, and admire the 12m torii gate made from 1,500-year-old Taiwanese Cyprus.
Prayer Plaques at Meiji Shrine, Tokyo
Marking the centre of Japan's capital is majestic Tokyo Tower. The tower stands at 333m high and offers great views of the city from its observatory at 150m. To reach the observatory, take a cruisy elevator ride up the tower or challenge yourself with a 600-step climb. Tokyo Tower, now a popular tourist spot, serves as a broadcast antenna and is an important symbol of Tokyo's post-war recovery.
View of Tokyo Tower on a clear morning
For a surreal, fairytale-like experience, visit Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. Animator Hayao Miyazaki designed the space, which is adorned with original sketches, activities, and animated shorts – a dream collection if you're a fan of Howl's Moving Castle, My Neighbour Totoro, or Spirited Away. Tickets must be purchased in advance through your travel agent, Tokyo convenience store or the Lawson website, with entry times staggered.
Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo National Museum houses an impressive collection of Japanese art. From ancient pottery and samurai swords to Buddhist sculptures, kimonos and colourful woodblock prints, the museum's temporary exhibits are a must-see. In true Tokyo spirit, the museum also has a gorgeous garden with several vintage teahouses.
Front gate of Tokyo National Museum. ©Yasufumi Nishi/© JNTO
Mori Art Museum
In Roppongi Hills is Mori Art Museum, where the best of contemporary architecture and art is on show. Participate in one of the museum's many thought-provoking learning programs. These programs are designed to be entertaining, stimulating, and interactive. Patrons are encouraged to join dialogue and debate about what is important in culture and society.
Immerse yourself in the hands-on displays and demonstrations in Miraikan (hall of fame). This National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation showcases science and technology that will shape the world in years to come. It makes for a fascinating day out and you may even get to meet ASIMO, the world-famous humanoid robot.
The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation
National Museum of Nature and Science
For a museum experience focused on the natural world, pay a visit to the National Museum of Nature and Science. Be amazed by the fascinating wildlife of Japan, including the giant beetles of Okinawa and bears of Hokkaido. Other highlights include an Edo-era mummy, a giant squid, a rocket launcher, and a seismograph that records earthquakes in real time.
National Art Center Tokyo
Admire the architectural genius and visiting shows of the National Art Center Tokyo (NACT). In its first year, NACT held over 70 exhibitions, and in 2016, it hosted the 19th Japan Media Arts Festival. Take some time to check out the large exhibition space before retiring to one of the many fantastic cafes in the surrounding area for lunch and a cup of coffee.
National Art Center, Tokyo