Traveling to Japan has been an undeniably fun and memorable experience. Call me too much but it's true!
While in Japan, I come to a deeper understanding of its culture, traditions, and the preferences of its people. Over 12 days, I got to visit six cities, with Tokyo being one of the highlights.
Tokyo brims with attractions and sights. However, due to our limited time, we had to make choices. So, in this article, I'll share to you 10 amazing places my husband and I experienced in Tokyo. Stick around to the end for the full journey!
Upon touching down in Japan, Shinjuku was our first stop. As one of Tokyo's busiest districts, Shinjuku Station holds the Guinness World Record for the world's most bustling train station—witnessing a staggering 3.5 million daily commuters!
Shinjuku isn't just a transport hub; it's a vibrant mix of business, shopping, entertainment, and nightlife. It's truly an epitome of Tokyo's essence with its dynamic streets, towering skyscrapers, and diverse activities.
One standout area is Kabukicho—Tokyo's prime nightlife zone, easily identifiable by its iconic red-lit gate. Inside, you'll find a myriad of attractions from the Godzilla head atop a theater to host clubs and delicious yakitori stalls.
Though Kabukicho has a red-light district reputation, I felt it safe, yet it's always wise to stay alert given the crowd density.
A whimsical memory was a 3D cat video billboard that seemed to captivate many tourists. And, not to forget, we treated ourselves to a delicious ramen bowl at Honolu Shinjukugyoenmae Halal Ramen before exploring the nightlife, please check the review below:
On our second day in Tokyo, despite the rain and chilly weather, we still made our way to the Akihabara district! Akihabara stands out as a bustling hub in the heart of Tokyo, famed for its electronics retailers and as the center of otaku culture—dedicated fandom that is particularly passionate about anime and manga.
This unique blend of modern technology and pop culture makes Akihabara a hit with both international visitors and Tokyo locals.
In this place, there are a lot of shops cater to fans of anime, action figures, and manga, nestled among the myriad of electronic stores.
My husband and I explored one of the stores dedicated to anime and figures that extended up through four floors—truly a dream destination to those who love its genre.
Strolling through Akihabara's lively streets, we encountered numerous Gachapon vending machines and game centers. I tried my luck at one of these game centers and, while I didn't win anything, the experience itself was fun!
But Akihabara's isn't only known for shopping, but also for animated fantasy, notably through its themed maid cafes. In these cafes, waitresses dressed as anime characters to serve guests.
Additionally, manga cafes—or manga kissa—offer a cozy retreat where visitors can indulge in reading comics and watching videos, with internet access included.
With games and action figures out of the way, it's time to go shopping in Ginza! Ginza is one of Tokyo's most luxurious and iconic shopping districts. If you want to shop for good and branded items, Ginza is definitely the choice!
Here you can find famous department stores like Mitsukoshi and Matsuya, as well as international luxury boutiques like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci. I myself paid a visit to MUJI and the world's largest Uniqlo in Ginza, spanning 12 floors!
It's not just about the standard Uniqlo items here; they also offer UT (graphic design clothes). These are special designs born from collaborations with designers from different corners of the world.
The MUJI store in Ginza is another must-visit. It boasts an extensive collection of items ranging from clothing to home goods, and even includes a bakery and other food sections. Trust me, you'll be spoiled for choices here.
Unfortunately, my husband and I didn't get to explore much while visiting the Ginza district because Japan was raining all day. We're hopeful for sunnier skies next time we come there.
Next on our journey was Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, which said to be Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temple and has a fascinating history.
According to legend, in the year 628, a fisherman named Hinokuma Hamanari and his brother made an extraordinary find in the Sumida River—a statue of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, who is referred as the Bodhisattva of compassion, Kanon.
The story goes that Kannon blessed this statue with the ability to return to the Sumida River, no matter how many times it was moved or lost.
To remember this event, Sensoji Temple was built close to where the statue was discovered. Now, as the most ancient temple in Tokyo, it draws millions of visitors from around the world each year.
One of the things that makes the temple standout is the Kaminarimon gate, Sensoji's main entrance. It's famed for its enormous lantern that dangles at its center.
Another notable attraction is Nakamise Street, which links Kaminarimon to the temple's main hall. This lane is lined with shops offering an array of souvenirs, from traditional snacks to handmade crafts.
I myself picked up some charming fridge magnets and keychains as a keepsake. I also had the chance to try a traditional treat known as Fried Manju—a Japanese steamed bun coated in flour and deep-fried.
With fillings that range from chocolate to red bean, its texture reminded me of the sweet treat Onde-Onde. It was a fun experience to have, for sure.
The next destination we explored was Shibuya Sky. This open-air observatory is situated atop Shibuya Scramble Square, one of the towering buildings in the Shibuya district of Tokyo.
Perched at approximately 229 meters high, the observatory on the 46th floor offers a sweeping view of Tokyo's cityscape! If you visit, you'll be able to spot iconic landmarks such as the Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree, and Yoyogi Park, among others.
Given that Shibuya Sky is an open-air observatory, you can expect it to be quite cold and windy—so I'd recommend you to dress warmly (and avoid using skirt for females).
But the experience was truly exhilarating. Visiting Shibuya Sky is something I'd recommend to anyone when in Tokyo—it's a unique way to see the city from a different perspective.
If you're curious about how to get there, the operating hours, ticket details, and more, please look for the additional information provided in the article below.
Harajuku is also one of the most vibrant and popular district in Tokyo, nestled between Shibuya and Shinjuku. It's easily accessible via the Yamanote Line if you're traveling by train.
There's something truly unique about Harajuku. As soon as you arrive, you will feel the lively and colorful atmosphere—it's hard not to smile. This district is known as the heart of Japan's teenage culture and fashion scene.
But Harajuku isn't just for the young or the trendy. It also offers great shopping for adults and features several fascinating historical sites, including the Meiji Jingu Shrine, which I'll talk about later.
The cultural heart of Harajuku beats strongest in Takeshita Street (Takeshita Dori). It's often said that you haven't really experienced Harajuku unless you've strolled around this street.
Lining Takeshita Street, you'll find an array of trendy clothing shops, thrift stores, crepe stands, ice cream shops, and other snack places. The crepes here are a must-try—they're a local favorite, with plenty of stalls to choose from.
Takeshita Street is lively every day, but on weekends, it's especially busy. Luckily, I visited on a weekday, which made the crowd a bit more tolerable.
Meiji Shrine, or Meiji Jingū, stands out as one of Japan's most popular shrines. This tranquil place of worship is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shōken. Located next to Harajuku Station on the Yamanote Line, it's a peaceful escape right in the heart of Tokyo.
Despite being surrounded by the urban landscape, Meiji Shrine and the adjacent Yoyogi Park are refreshingly cool. You will spot this lush grounds alone amid the city. The park also features walking paths that are perfect for a stroll.
Just a ten-minute walk from the main entrance near Harajuku Station brings you to the shrine. There's also another entrance close to Yoyogi Station for an alternative.
As you enter through the large Torii gate, marking the shrine's territory, the city's noise fades away, replaced by the serenity of the forest. My husband and I truly enjoyed the peaceful walk—it was a highlight of our visit.
And did you know? The forest at Meiji Shrine is made up of around 100,000 trees that were planted during the shrine's construction, with contributions coming from all across Japan. Cool!
In Tokyo, my husband and I also visited Odaiba, a remarkable man-made island in Tokyo Bay. Originally, Odaiba was a group of small fortified islands constructed between 1603 and 1868.
It was built as a defensive measure against possible maritime attacks. The name "daiba" translates to "fortress," which describes its historical purpose.
By the 1980s, these smaller islands were merged to form the larger Odaiba we know today. The vision for Odaiba was to transform it into a modern and innovative urban area that would impress everyone.
However, the ambitious development of Odaiba faced a setback during the economic downturn of the early 1990s, which slowed its growth significantly until it looked like a ghost town.
Despite these challenges, Odaiba has since flourished with several great projects. Visitors can now enjoy attractions such as the distinctive Fuji TV Building, the convention center known as Tokyo Big Sight, the iconic Gundam statue, and even a replica of the Statue of Liberty overlooking the bay.
Odaiba is not only a hub for sightseeing but also a beautifully designed space with plenty of greenery. So, it is an ideal spot for leisure walks.
While there, we had the opportunity to try halal soba noodles at Shinshu Sojibo, a restaurant located within one of Odaiba's malls. Check the article below for the review:
Our next stop was teamLab Planets, a digital art museum in Japan that has become incredibly popular. So, we wouldn't want to miss it while in Tokyo!
teamLab Planets is not your average art exhibition; it's an innovative space where digital technology and art combine to create immersive experiences
Unlike traditional art museums where you might view artworks from a distance, here you can interact directly with the installations.
The exhibits are designed to be interactive, responding to your touch, movements, and even your presence. This means that every visit can be a unique experience, as the art changes with the participation of its audience.
For those who are interested in the details like ticket prices, opening hours, and more, please check the article below:
Wrapping up our Tokyo tour, we got to visit Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Tokyo, which is not only the largest Starbucks in Japan but also stands out as one of the most impressive in the world.
Spread across four floors, Starbucks Reserve Roastery is a hotspot for coffee lovers. On the ground floor, guests can see the fascinating process of coffee beans being roasted and ground, all the way to where the coffee is poured into cups. The roasting machinery also extends through the height of the building.
In addition to coffee, the same floor offers freshly made pizza and a selection of pastries available on a limited daily basis in which visitors can try.
Moving up to the second, third, and fourth floors, visitors will find a Teavana Bar, a Cocktail Bar, and the AMU Inspiration Lounge—perfect spots for socializing and relaxation.
For me, as a coffee lover and a fan of Starbucks, the visit was a fun and memorable experience. It's the kind of experience you cherish, not knowing when you might have the chance to do it again.
And for those interested, we've captured a snippet of our visit on video, which you can check out on our Instagram.
These are the 10 destinations we explored in Tokyo, Japan. Have you been to any of these places, or do any of them feature on your travel wishlist?