Speaking to visitors on the ground about six of Tokyo’s must-visit spots
From shopping and fashion to delicious food and traditional culture, the bustling capital of Japan has so much to offer, while also being close to attractions like Mount Fuji, Hakone and Nikko. We asked visitors at six of the city’s top spots what makes each one feel uniquely Tokyo to them. . .
Tokyo Station is a major rail hub with a number of shinkansen bullet train platforms. Recently restored to its 1914 red brick exterior, the station is an attraction in itself. A short walk away is the Imperial Palace. The gardens and the palace moat here are a calming oasis in the centre of Tokyo.
© Y.Shimizu/© JNTO
Shibuya’s scramble crossing, surrounded by huge TV screens and neon signs, is one of the most famous images of Japan. Where Tokyoites come to have fun, it is a hive of shopping, dining and entertainment. One of the area’s most well-known buildings is Shibuya 109, a treasure trove of unique fashion.
Harajuku is the home of Japan’s iconic kawaii (cute) culture. Its Takeshita-dori shopping street is lined with boutiques offering all sorts of cute fashion, and cafes with great crepes and other sweets. Next to Harajuku is Omotesando, an avenue lined with some of Tokyo’s best modern architecture.
Tokyo’s oldest temple, Senso-ji in Asakusa is a must see. From the giant lantern at its Thunder Gate, the Nakamise-dori shopping street leads to the main temple. The grounds also feature a pagoda and zen gardens. One of the best ways to explore this historic area is with a guided rickshaw tour.
Within walking distance from Asakusa is the 634-metre Tokyo Skytree, the city’s newest landmark, and the tallest structure in Japan. Visit the observation deck to witness breathtaking views of the metropolis all the way to Mount Fuji. Beneath the tower is a shopping centre and aquarium.
Historically Tokyo’s wealthiest area, Ginza’s main street is lined with department stores where you can shop while experiencing the best of Japanese customer service. Ginza is also home to the Kabukiza, an historic theatre that hosts traditional Kabuki plays.
FOOD WRITER JANE LAWSON TALKS TOKYO
A frequent visitor to Japan for more than 30 years, food writer Jane Lawson now runs independent tours to the country. Her works include the Tokyo Style Guide, Milkbar Memories, Snowflakes and Schnapps, Yoshoku,
A Little Taste of Japan and Zenbu Zen, all published by Murdoch Books.
I learnt Japanese in high school, where my fascination for Japan began. I first travelled to Tokyo when I was 15 and became hooked – so much so that I ended up working for Japan Airlines for a while! I love the culture, food, and friendliness of the Japanese people. Their omotenashi (hospitality) is the icing on the cake of Japan’s stunning gardens and temples, local arts and crafts, and shopping! Tokyo is an extremely diverse and exciting city with so very much to do, see and experience. It is wonderfully clean and very safe – making it an excellent city to travel in on your own as a woman. I love its four defined seasons, and their accompanying rituals and matsuri (festivals). Each area of the city has its own personality, and the transport runs like clockwork. I love Asakusa, Yanesen and Kagurazaka for a more traditional feel. For a more relaxed vibe I like Kichijoji, Shimokitazawa or Nakameguro. Tokyo is a city that deserves to be walked all over!