Sights & Landmarks in Tokyo
Tokyo has a vast array of sights, but the first items on the agenda of most visitors are the temples of Asakusa, the gardens of the Imperial Palace (in Chiyoda) and the Meiji Shrine (明治神宮 Meiji-jingū, in Harajuku).
Tokyo has many commercial centres for shopping, eating and simply wandering around for experiencing the modern Japanese urban phenomenon. Each of these areas have unique characteristics, such as dazzling Shinjuku, youthful Shibuya and upmarket Ginza. These areas are bustling throughout the day, but they really come into life in the evenings.
If you're looking for a viewing platform, Tokyo has plenty of options:
- The Tokyo SkyTree is Tokyo's latest attraction, not to mention it's also the second-tallest structure in the world, soaring to more than 2000 feet above the ground.
- The more familiar Tokyo Tower is still around, though not as expensive as its newest rival.
- For a view that's light on your wallet, head to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government buildings (in effect, Tokyo's City Hall) in Shinjuku. Its twin towers have viewing platforms that are absolutely free, and offer a great view over Tokyo and beyond.
- The World Trade Center Building (10:00-20:00, or 21:00 in July and August, ¥620) at JR Hamamatsucho station offers stunning views of Tokyo Tower and the waterfront due to its excellent location, especially at dusk.
- Tokyo City View. In Roppongi Hills has an observation deck – admission is a steep ¥1500, but includes admission to the Mori Art Museum.
- The Rainbow Bridge linking Tokyo to Odaiba is another good option, if you don't mind traffic noise and smell. The bridge's pedestrian walkways (open until 20:00 at night) are free, and the night-time view across Tokyo Bay is impressive.
- The Bunkyo Civic Center next to the Tokyo Dome, dubbed by one newspaper as a "colossal Pez candy dispenser", has a free observation deck on the 25th floor offering an iconic view of Shinjuku against Mt. Fuji on a clear day.
The city is dotted with museums, large and small, which center on every possible interest from pens to antique clocks to traditional and modern arts. Many of the largest museums are clustered around Ueno. At ¥500 to ¥1,000 or more, entrance fees can add up quickly.
Riding Sky Bus Tokyo, an open-top double-decker operated by Hinomaru Limousine (every hour between 10:00 and 18:00), is a good option to take a quick tour around the city center. The 45 minutes bus ride on the "T-01 course" will take you around the Imperial Palace via Ginza and Marunouchi district, showing the highlight of Tokyo's shopping and business center. The fare is ¥1,500 for adults of 12 years old and over, and ¥700 for children between 4 and 11 years old. You can borrow a multi-language voice guide system free of charge upon purchasing a ticket, subject to stock availability. Four other bus courses are offered, including a night trip to Odaiba, but those trips are conducted in Japanese with no foreign language guidance.
Other tour companies catering to foreign tourists offer bus tours with English guidance – JTB is an excellent example.