There are so many fun and exciting things to do in Tokyo on your first trip. However, most first-timers opt to create an itinerary of Tokyo destinations and activities. Worry no more and fasten your seatbelt for this article will give you ideas about where to visit and the list of exciting things to do while in Tokyo.
What do you know about Tokyo? It is a capital that is always featured not only in movies, documentaries, blogs, vlogs but also, in everyone’s travel goals. Why? Because tall buildings, panoramic views, and themed parks will welcome you there. Also, the dining experience can be so overwhelming for over tons of restaurants in the city serving both local and international cuisines. And to make everyone’s travel experience more memorable, the city has been offering various activities for tourist visitors to enjoy. Are you starting to feel the thrill to visit Tokyo? Let’s begin to fill in your list of things to do in Tokyo!
1st Destination: Tokyo Tower
Visit the Eiffel Tower-inspired in Shiba-Koen district of Minato, Tokyo, which is a communication and observation tower. The second tallest structure in Japan, which has a height of 332.9 m or 1092 ft. The tower was built in 1958 and designed by architect Taichi Naito.
The difference between Tokyo Tower and the Eiffel Tower is that it provides visitors with two observatory decks. The first one is located 145 meters above the ground, and the other one, which is the special observatory deck located 250 meters above the ground. The tower’s base or known as “Foot Town” has Guinness World Records Museum, a wax museum, an aquarium, and restaurants.
Things to do in Tokyo Tower:
- Enjoy the breathtaking view from the Main Deck.
- Join the Top Deck Tour and get a special prize.
- Shop designed souvenirs.
- Enjoy music at Club 333 Live!
- Be attracted to One Piece Tower.
- Dine at the Foot Town.
- Enjoy the seasonal illuminations. White color lights from July to September and orange color lights from October to July.
2nd Destination: Harajuku
Colorful is the perfect word to describe to our next destination, which is one of the most visited places by tourists in Tokyo. The town is full of unique people who wear colorful and fashionable dresses from bright, neon to dark tones. Harajuku has side by side well-designed apparel boutiques, including those branded names and a variety of cafes and dessert shops.
Since fashion is everywhere in Harajuku, people go out in the street and dress like the well-known gothic Lolita, schoolgirl, french maid, or rock star. Do you want to immerse yourself in this famous town? Wear your style on these streets on your first visit to Harajuku.
1. Takeshita Dori – in this street, you will find trendy shops, fashion boutiques, used clothes stores, crepe stands, and even fast food outlets.
2. Omotesando– in this street, you will find famous brand name shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Things to do in Harajuku:
- Make a wish at Meiji Shrine.
- Shopping at the largest DAISO shop.
- Take the nicest photos at Purikura Land NOA.
- Enjoy delicious crepe at Marion Crepes.
- Shop artsy stickers.
- Try CALBEE’s fresh Poterizo.
- Have a food tour through Arigatou Japan Food Tours.
- Buy trendy accessories at WEGO.
- Eat a lot of gyoza at Harajuku Gyozalo
3rd Destination: Senso-Ji Temple
Let’s uncover the traditional side of Tokyo by visiting one of its largest temples, the Senso-Ji Temple. Most tourists prefer to visit temples to learn about Japanese culture, so you should have one or more on your list of things to do in Japan.
This large temple in the Asakusa district is visited mostly for spiritual worship and tourism. Originally a Buddhist temple, this temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo. The structure is awe-inspiring that makes your tour satisfying.
Festivals are held here such as Sanja Matsuri during May.
Things to do in Senso-Ji Temple:
- Burn incense and purify yourself with the smoke.
- Try your fortune by drawing Omikuji.
- Take your memory photo at the front of the 48-meter five-story pagoda.
4th Destination: Meiji Shrine
Another temple you should not fail to visit on your first trip to Tokyo. Meiji Shrine was built in the memory of the 19th-century emperor who was known for opening Japan to the West. This is also Dedicated to the deity of emperor Meiji. Shinto activities are mostly held here. Every January, millions of visitors often visit here to offer their prayers.
The grounds here are very spacious for a relaxing walk.
Best spots from here:
1. Meiji Jingu Museum which was opened in October 2019 displays treasures and belongings of the late emperor and empress.
2. Inner Garden is popular for its blooming flowers during June. You need to pay for the entrance. If you haven’t seen this, please visit here for the raw experience. The view from here is a panoramic that you will not regret coming to Tokyo.
Things to do in Meiji Shrine:
- Visit the shrine during Sundays to see traditional weddings.
- Before praying, purify yourself with the communal water tank.
- Write wishes through a piece of paper or throw a coin(yen) in the offering box.
5th Destination: Tokyo Skytree
Tokyo Skytree is a 634-meter tall tower with observation decks. When up above, you can clearly see Mt. Fuji and Japan’s tallest structure.
The two observation decks are between 350 m to 450 m high.
Tembo decks which are 350 m high is the lower deck.
This building is open daily from 8:00 AM till 10:00 PM.
Did you know?
Tokyo Skytree is a Television broadcasting tower. It is also a landmark in Tokyo. It is the tallest structure of Japan and second in the world.
For first-timers, try climbing up there
in the daylight to see Mt. Fuji clearly. At night, it is best to climb there to see the tallest buildings of Tokyo featuring the city lights. If you want to try this for the first time, then you made the right choice my friend.
Things to do in Tokyo Skytree:
- Shop for souvenirs or omiyage.
- Try a bowl of Skytree-inspired tempura.
- Enjoy the marine life at the Sumida Aquarium.
6th Destination: Tokyo Imperial Palace
This palace is the main residence of the imperial family. Although destroyed in world war 2, this was rebuilt afterward on the site of the old Edo Castle. The gardens are awesome for the tourist whose interest is history. If you want to come here, you must apply online in advance.
Best spots from here:
Nijubashu bridge – two bridges that act as an entrance to the inner grounds of the palace. However, the inner grounds are only accessible to the public by Jan 2 and Feb 3 which is the New Years Greeting and emperor’s birthday respectively. Adjacent to the inner grounds is the Imperial palace east garden. This is Open to the public.
Things to do in Tokyo Imperial Palace:
- Be surrounded by nature and old buildings in the Imperial Palace East Gardens.
- Be at the Kokyo Gaien to see the Emperor himself if you are lucky.
- Try boat rentals at the Chidorigafuchi Moat surrounded by sakura flowers.
- Attend concerts at Budokan.
- On December 23 which is the Emperor’s birthday and January 2 which is New Year, you can visit the inner Imperial Palace.
- Get a tour in the palace but you must apply online first.
7th Destination: Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo national museum is Japan’s one of the oldest and best museums. Here you can find collections of art and archeological artifacts, nearly a hundred national treasures.
English information and audio guides are available here. So you don’t have to worry about your first visit. If you are very interested in the history of Japan and it’s artifacts, Japan National Museum has it all. You can find the collection of potteries, sculptures and even swords here. The museum is divided into six buildings. Check them out:
1. Honkan displays Japanese artworks from ancient times to the 19th century such as
Buddhist statues, painted sliding doors, scrolls, ceramics, and maps, masks, costumes, armor, and weapons.
2. Hyokeikan displays temporary exhibitions.
3. Toyokan displays Asian arts from China, Korea, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, India, and Egypt.
4. Heiseikan displays ancient Japanese cultures.
5. Horyuji Homotsukan displays religious objects.
6. Kuroda Memorial Hall displays artist Kuroda Seiki’s paintings and sketches.
Things to do in Tokyo National Museum:
- Visit at late night to see the actual crossing without people.
- Visit during peak hours for a raw experience of the literal millions of people crossing the street.
- Try finding a good spot above the tower hotels nearby for better view of the Shibuya crossing. Window seats are the best.
9th Destination: Cat Café
Are you an animal lover, cats for specification? There are several of Cat cafes in Tokyo. Temari no Ouchi in Musashino, Cat cafe calico in Shinjuku and Chiyoda Neko JaLaLa is very recommended.
You can order drinks while petting different breeds but cute felines.
10th Destination: Tsukiji Fish Market
Are you looking for the very fresh sushi for breakfast and different plates of seafood? Then, go up early to Tsukiji Fish Market. Open daily from 5:00 AM, this fish market is very large and liveliest auctions delicious tuna.
Things to do in Tsukiji Fish Market:
- Try sample snacks and dishes in every food stall.
- Try onigiri and tamagoyaki.
- Grab a bowl of ramen and miso soup.
- Try mochi dumplings.
There are many ways how to make your Tokyo visit a very exciting one. You could explore those suggested places and most importantly, indulge yourself in a variety of things to do there. We hope that you will enjoy your first visit to Japan.