The following spots are a must for a visitor to Tokyo:
Tsukiji Fish Market
The Tsukiji market also known as (築地市場 in Japanese is a marketplace for selling fish, vegetables and fruits to wholesalers and consumers. It is one of the busiest places in Tokyo and the largest market in the world.Here, you will find tonnes of fish and meat being sold and distributed in Tokyo. There are 10 markets in Tokyo and Tsukiji is the most popular.
While the market was meant solely for trading fish, meat, vegetables and fruit, it has unexpectedly turned into a major tourist attraction. Numerous tourists come to the fish market every year to take a look and experience the activity in this place. The place is always a hustle and bustle with people coming in and out of shops and going on with their business.
To see this top market in action, you have to visit the wholesale market, outer market and the tuna auction. The tuna auction is only 45 minutes long, it starts at 5:25 am and closes about at around 6:15 am. The wholesale market opens its gate at 9:00 am for visitors and the outer market is active as from 5 am to 2 pm.During the holidays, the market is closed as well as on Sundays. No payment or admission fee is required from tourists to enter the market.
Akihabara also known as (秋葉原) in Japanese is a district in central Tokyo that is well known for its wide range of electronics shops. Here you will find shops that specialize in otaku, manga and anime.It is a bustling electronics district. The Akihabara complex is developing into a major international center for promotion and trade in electronics goods.
Chuo Dori Street is lined up with numerous electronics shops, ranging from small stalls to major electronics distributors. Anything you might think of when it comes to electronics is available on the streets in Akihabara.
The Japan’s culture of otaku and anime is celebrated in this district via the numerous shops which offer related products.Gifts, collections, video games and internet cafes themed around manga, otaku and anime are found in this district. You will find maid cafes with waitresses dressed up as anime characters.
Koishikawa Korakuen garden also known as (小石川後楽園 in Japanese is an old beautiful garden located in Koishikawa in central Tokyo. The garden was built by the Tokugawa family between 1600 and 1867 when Tokyo was a small village known as Edo.
The garden is a scenic masterpiece with trees, ponds and hills that strive to imitate existing local attractions by reproducing them in miniature scales. It is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Tokyo with a network of trails and panoramic views. You can visit the garden from 9 o’clock in the morning to 5 pm.The garden is closed on New Year holidays but open on Christmas holidays. The entrance fee to this ancient well kept garden is 300 yen.
The Imperial Palace also known as (皇居, Kōkyo) in Japanese is where Japan’s royalty lives. It is the location of the former Edo Castle that was built there in 1457.It comprises a huge stone walled park. Japan rulers from Tokugawa shogun and later emperors made Edo their capital. The present palace that stands there today has been in existence since 1888 and its style and architecture preserved and restored even after it was destroyed in World War 2.
Visitors to the palace can view the Meganebashi stone bridge also known as the EyeGlass Bridge. The East Gardens can be visited during the week and they are closed to the public on Mondays and Fridays.However, the public is restricted from entering the palace grounds and gardens. Entrance to the palace grounds is only allowed on the Emperor’s Birthday on 23 December and a day after New Year when the Emperor makes an appearance from the balcony.
Visitors cannot simply decide to visit the Imperial Palace on their own will, they have to make an advance booking with the Imperial Palace agency.
Hama Rikyu also known as (浜離宮 in Japanese is a big garden situated in central Tokyo. It is an attractive garden close to Tokyo Bay. Visitors to the garden can view the tidal sea ponds and enjoy a cup of tea at the teahouse. The view of the garden against the adjacent high-rise buildings is amazing.
The garden is not just another garden but like most gardens in Japan, it is has some historical origins dating back to the old days. The garden was built between 1603 and 1867 as the residence of a Lord who lived in Tokyo. Duck hunting was also practiced in this garden. Years later, the garden was transformed into a separate palace.
Today, the Hama Rikyu is open to the public for viewing the scenery which includes old remains of rock walls, moat and duck hunting blinds. To take a stroll in the garden, visitors have to pay a 300 yen admission fee. The garden is open from 9 am in the morning to 5 pm.
Imperial East Gardens
The Imperial Palace East Gardens also known as (皇居東御苑 in Japanese form part of the Emperor’s residence in central Tokyo. This section of the Imperial Gardens can be visited and viewed by the public during the week. They stand on the old location of the Edo Castle built by a monk in the 12th century. Remains of old guardhouses, stone walls, moats and gates dating back to the Edo period can be seen.
Tokugawa shogun, the Japanese ruler established his residence at Edo Castle in 1603 until 1867.The succeeding ruler Emperor Meiji also resided at this place where he also built the Imperial Palace that stands up to this day.
Although the Edo Castle has vanished from view, what remains today are its foundations on the hill. The castle was the most prominent building in the area because of its height. Standing 51 metres high, the castle was the tallest building in Japan. When the castle was burnt to ashes in 1657, it was never restored.
Visit the Imperial Gardens between 9 am and 4:30 pm when they are open to the public on Tusedays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Entrance is free. The gardens are closed on national holidays and during New Year’s celebrations between 28 December and 3 January.
Ginza also known as (銀座) in Japanese is central Tokyo district that is known for its wide range offering of shopping and entertainment. Here you will find departmental stores, restaurants, dining facilities, cafes, night clubs, art galleries and fashion shops. Renting space in Ginza is very expensive with rentals in the region of 10 million yen per square metre.The world famous brands and prestigious shops are found in this location.
The history of the district dates back to 1612 when a coin minting business was established in this place. The district is named after a silver coin which is called “Ginza” in Japanese language. An earthquake disrupted the place in 1923 and after which the district became a prime shopping area. You will find numerous upmarket shops in Ginza which are opened daily for shoppers and tourists.
The Yasukuni shrine also known as (靖国神社 in Japanese, is a war memorial that was established in 1869 for Japanese soldiers who died in wars since the Meiji restoration in 1868.The Meiji restoration saw the reinstatement of the Imperial Empire under Emperor Meiji.The next war after the Meiji period was the Sino-Japanese war that occurred between 1894 to 1895.This was Japan’s first war with the ruling dynasty in China which saw China ceding Taiwan and other islands to Japan. The rest of the wars in which Japan participated include the Russo Japanese wars, the Manchurian conflicts and World War ll Pacific wars.
Standing next to the shrine for dead soldiers, is the Yushukan museum.Here, you will find archives of Japan’s war history. The museum is open from 9 am in the morning to 5:30 pm.To enter the war museum, you have to pay an 800 yen admission fee. The Yasukuni shrine is open to the public from 6 am in the morning to 6 pm.It’s free to enter the shrine.
Tokyo Dome City
Tokyo Dome City is an amusement park located in central Tokyo. It’s free to enter the dome and there are lots of things to do while you are there. You will find all sorts of entertainment for family, kids and adults. The main feature is the stadium which hosts a lot of events for spectators including sports, music concerts, exhibitions, fairs and expos.Local sporting events as well as international contests are held inside the dome. Although the dome is the baseball stadium for the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants, many other types of sports and activities can be held here. Large crowds are a common sight during major concerts and events.
Besides sports and entertainment, there is a huge chain of shops that sell merchandise that includes sporting goods, baseball paraphernalia, sports fashion and collections.
Attending an event at the Tokyo Dome is a wonderful experience .The Meets Port hall offers state-of-the-art equipment and facilities that include lighting effects and sound systems. It is a perfect place to watch theaters, artist performances, circus and indoor contact sports. High quality restaurants and dining halls are close-by to satisfy the appetites of attendees. You can order snacks and light menus. The Japanese love of green gardens and the value they place on mind relaxation is well known. As a result, there is a beautiful green garden around Meets Port to relax your mind during a lunch break. The garden is well taken care of and always green – to take your eyes away from the surrounding skyscrapers and the hustle and bustle of the city. A spa and hotel are also available at the Tokyo Dome.
Tsukishima also known as (月島 in Japanese, is an artificial island in Tokyo Bay that was built from material dug from the bay during the construction of a shipping channel. Built in 1892, the purpose of the island was to provide space for an iron working plant. It took two years to complete the build-up of the island and today it looks elegant with imposing skyscrapers.
The modern-day island is no longer used for iron working but it has been converted into a residential area with several restaurants that offer the delicious monjayaki dish also known as (もんじゃ焼き), in Japanese. Most monjayaki restaurants are situated along Nishinaka Street near the Tsukishima station. The island is connected to the mainland by the Tsukuda Bridge, Chou Bridge and Eitai Bridge.
The closest island to Tsukishima is Tsukudaijima which has become a part of Tsukishima. This island is known for its tsukudani delicacy whose main ingredients are soya sauce, sweet sake and shreds of sea food such as beef, grasshoppers, seaweed, shrimp or fish. The most interesting part of Tsukudajima is the three oldest shops that have existed since 1457 when Tokyo was then known as Edo.
Nihonbashi also known as (日本橋) in Japanese, is a district in Central Tokyo. It derives its name from the local Nihonbashi Bridge. This famous bridge has origins which can be traced back to the days of Emperor Meiji.It was originally a wooden bridge whose replica can be found in the Edo-Tokyo Museum. The wooden bridge was replaced by a stone bridge in 1911 which has survived up to this day. There have been calls to relocate the bridge as an underground passage but no plan has been proposed yet because of the prohibitive costs of the construction.
The city district of Nihonbashi is known as a highly successful commercial center that has thrived since the 1600s, thanks to the Mitsui family who opened a branch in the area for the Echigoya business enterprise. They established the first department store in Japan which is credited for catalyzing development in the Nihonbashi district. The success of the Mitsui family has attracted a lot of investors to the district and several shopping complexes have been opened. The Mitsui family store in Nihonbashi is now known as the Mitsukoshi department store.
Marunouchi also known as (丸の内) in Japanese, is a district for the headquarters of the richest companies and financial institutions in Central Tokyo. This district was the seat of Japan’s feudal lords in the 1400s.
Most of the land in Marunouchi is owned by Mitsubishi, a world famous brand. The real estate division of the company has initiated most of the development in the area which involved demolishing old buildings and erecting modern high-rise buildings. The upper floors of the skyscrapers are usually utilized for office space while the lower and ground floors are reserved for retail space, restaurants and banks.
The district has emerged as the most prestigious place in Tokyo and this has attracted a variety of investors and visitors to the place. Most of the district has received a major facelift and additions to the skyline.
To illustrate the prestige of Marunouchi, here are some of the major organizations that have their headquarters in the district – The Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, Hitachi, Nikko Citigroup, Aeromexico, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Royal Bank of Scotland, Standard & Poor, Deloitte Touche, Bain & Company, Bank of India and others.