Top 10 attractions in and around Tokyo

8 Jan

Tokyo’s a great city to visit, but it doesn’t deliver as big a sightseeing trail as some of the European cities. It can feel a bit disappointing when you fly here from somewhere like Paris or New York, and find a lot less sightseeing potential considering its size. The sights they have, however, are unique and thrilling in their own ways. There’s still many great places to visit and many neighborhoods to explore, and tons of great food. The culture of Japan is very unique in both modern and ancient ways. Some of its best attractions are just outside of it, rather than in the city itself. In this list, I count the top ten attractions in and around Tokyo.

1. Tsukiji Fish Market

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It’s the world’s largest fish market, and one of Tokyo’s top attractions. There’s a tuna auction very early in the morning that’s popular with local sushi chefs and with jetlagged tourists. The market itself, as it operates during the day, is very impressive. There’s all sorts of fish and other sea creatures, and there are some great places to get a sushi meal or snack, some cheaper than others; but all good choices. The market is full of hustle-bustle throughout the day. 

2. Akihabara

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Akihabara is a great showcase of the modern, geeky side of Japan. It’s the top destination for anime and manga fans, and as you may expect, it is full of shops selling the latest in electronics, anime, manga, and video games. For me, Akihabara was a fun place to walk around, even though I wasn’t looking to buy anything specific. I know it’s not the only aspect of Japanese culture, but I’m a big anime/manga fan myself. Watching Hetalia, Fullmetal Alchemist, One Piece, and Fairy Tail was part of what got me very excited to visit Japan.

3. Tokyo National Museum

The Tokyo National Museum is the Louvre of Japan. It has one of the world’s largest collections of Japanese art and artifacts from many eras of this unique civilization’s history.

4. The Skytree

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The Skytree is Tokyo’s latest architectural endeavor. It’s a 1000 ft tall observation tower with incredible views of the city. On a clear day you can see the summit of Mt. Fuji, which I was lucky enough to be able to see. But even more stunning is the sheer size of the Tokyo area. Seeing a city that big, with so many skyscrapers that sprawls across the landscape seemingly endlessly, from such a high point truly makes you ponder the impact human civilization has on the planet.

5. Senso-ji Temple

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Japan is known for its temples, but in general, Kyoto is far more well suited for temple-hopping than Tokyo. Senso-Ji is a rare refuge of traditional architecture in a city whose modern, dense, urban jungle seems to go on and on forever. It’s quite crowded with tourists and there’s loads of tacky souvenir shops, but the temple itself really is magnificent.

6. The Imperial Palace

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The Imperial Palace is a well known palace in Japan, the home of the imperial family. Parts are off limits to tourists, but the garden area is beautiful to walk through, and is to Tokyo what Central Park is to Manhattan.

7. Day trip to Mt. Fuji

I haven’t done this trip yet (I went there in December), but Mt. Fuji is Japan’s most well known natural wonder, similar to how Mt. Washington is New England’s most well known natural wonder. Mt Fuji is far more famous, however. There are several routes up, and those who reach the summit before dawn to watch the sunrise are in for an incredible experience (and bragging rights).

8. Day trip to Yokohama

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Yokohama was one of the first ports in Japan to open to western influences, and for a long time this port area was home to many immigrants from the US. A substantial Chinese population exists here as well, in one of the largest Chinatowns in the world.

9 and 10. Day trips to Nikko and Kamakura

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Nikko and Kamakura are both great places to go to visit Temples, but they are in totally different environments. Nikko is up in the mountains north of Tokyo, whereas Kamakura is in the hills by the coast down south. Both were historically major centres of zen Buddhist activity, and walking through the temples is a very calming experience.

 

 

 

 

 

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