Tokyo Destination Guide
Nothing quite prepares you for Tokyo. This sprawling, endlessly enthralling city is not only Japan's multifaceted national capital, it's also one of the most exciting destinations in the world.
From the bustling streets of Shibuya to the fashion icons of Harajuku, the ancient temples of Asakusa and the neon lights of Shinjuku, this is one world city you won't ever get bored with. In fact, there's so much to do in Tokyo the biggest challenge is often where to start!
Whether you're keen on kabuki or determined to check out the cherry blossoms in Ueno Park, there's no danger of running out of things to do. From high-end restaurants to history-laden bars, tantalising Tokyo has truly got it all.
- Country: Japan
- Currency: Yen
- Visas: Australians travelling to Japan for less than 90 days do not require an entry visa
- Tipping: Tips are not expected and will often be refused
- Electricity: Japanese outlets run on 100V, so you'll need an adaptor
Get a sense for the city in…
- Asakusa & its revered Senso-ji Shrine
- Harajuku on Sunday for madcap fashion
- Shibuya & its infamous zebra crossing
Tokyo rises like a monolithic concrete monster from the depths of Tokyo Bay, bedazzling first-time visitors with its neon-lit urban sprawl. Look past the glittering skyline and you’ll soon discover one of the world’s most fascinating cities filled with age-old Shinto shrines, lush green city parks and world-class restaurants fit for a serious foodie. Tokyo attractions are spread far and wide. One of the most recognisable is the Eiffel Tower-esque Tokyo Tower, while a more recent addition to the skyline is the newly built Tokyo Skytree in Sumida. For a touch of Tokyo's historic past, take a boat ride down the Sumida River to atmospheric Asakusa and the popular Senso-ji temple. The sprawling Imperial Palace in Chiyoda and the picturesque Meiji Shrine in Shibuya are similar reminders of Tokyo's historic past.
Do something different and…
- Spend a night in a capsule hotel
- Dine at a quirky themed restaurant
- Buy a wacky vending machine souvenir
A haven for foodies, Tokyo has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in the world. However, Tokyo restaurants don't have to break the bank – there are enough cheap noodle bars, sushi restaurants and department store options to keep even the most money-conscious of visitors satisfied. There is no one central hub for restaurants – simply peruse the streets until something takes your fancy. If you feel like a drink, head straight to an 'izakaya' – the Japanese equivalent of a traditional pub, where you can sample delicious morsels to your heart's content. The range of drinking establishments in Tokyo is simply mind-boggling and the city is home to some of the finest whiskey bars anywhere in the world.
Tokyo hotels can be expensive, particularly in the high-end range. A cheaper option is to stay in one of the ubiquitous business hotels dotted throughout the city. Whatever your choice, the nightlife hubs of Shinjuku and Shibuya are popular places to stay – be sure to check out the hotbed of humanity that is the neon-lit Shibuya Crossing after dark. For a uniquely Japanese experience, you can spend a night in a capsule hotel, some of which now include women-only floors. Representing the other end of the scale are the luxury hotels in the upscale neighbourhood of Akasaka and clustered around vibrant western Shinjuku.
Enjoy a scenic view from…
- Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
- Asahi Beer Hall, overlooking Sumida River
- Ueno Park during cherry blossom season
If you want to shop 'til you drop, Tokyo is the place for you. Tokyo shops run the gamut from cheap 100-yen stores to the most upscale of luxury department stores. Some items are synonymous with certain parts of the city. Akihabara is the place to find not only electronics but also 'manga' comics. For fashion, try Shibuya and colourful Harajuku, where you'll see thousands of teenagers displaying their outrageous fashions outside the stores. Upmarket Ginza is home to some of the more exclusive fashion outlets but, if that doesn't take your fancy, simply hop on a train and head elsewhere – there's a chance to shop around practically every corner in Tokyo.
Tokyo like a Local
What once was a small fishing village grew rapidly into one of the world’s largest cities. Today, Tokyo’s charm lies in its limitless opportunities: catch a sumo bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan, marvel at the famous temples of Asakusa, watch the sun sink on shimmering Shinjuku and enjoy a Michelin-starred meal in this most eclectic of cities. A trip to Tokyo Disneyland is the quintessential way to experience the city like a local. When the weather in Tokyo warms up, lovestruck Japanese couples head straight for the Disney Resort Line to visit Disneyland. A trip to one of the Disney resorts on Valentine's Day is a quirky Japanese tradition for many young Japanese couples.
Watch some world-class sport at…
- Ryogoku Kokugikan: the best sumo in town
- Meiji Jingu: home to baseball’s Tokyo Swallows
- Ajinomoto Stadium: see FC Tokyo score goals
Everyone knows sumo. But did you know that when you watch it at Tokyo's famous Ryogoku Kokugikan, you can follow all the action in English? Hire a handset and you can tune in to NHK's dedicated English-language commentary, ensuring that you'll soon know your 'yorikiri' from your 'yoritaoshi' in one of Tokyo's most foreign-friendly venues.
Japan Rail Pass
Perhaps the best resource on offer to those visiting Japan is the Japan Rail Pass. Available to foreigners entering Japan as a 'Temporary Visitor,' the Japan Rail Pass allows unlimited travel across the entire JR network, excluding Nozomi and Mizuho-class trains. It's especially useful for long-distance travel, ensuring you can use Tokyo as a base for exploring greater Japan.
It's one of Tokyo's most iconic street scenes and every day, thousands of intrepid pedestrians take part in the ritual. The Shibuya Crossing is a famous intersection outside Shibuya Station in which the traffic lights turn red in sync, allowing thousands of pedestrians to cross from all directions. Expert tip: the best way to view this controlled chaos is from the Starbucks cafe above.