Whether you’re there for a mandatory stopover or a short stay before continuing on to the rest of Japan, there’s no denying that Tokyo offers an endless stream of sights and experiences.
If you’ve only got two nights up your sleeve (or even just one), what should be at the top of your must-see-and-do list?
Glimpse the Imperial Palace
If you’re looking for a relaxing activity amidst the buzz and bustle of Tokyo, head to the Imperial Palace, home to Japan’s Emperor and Empress.
The beautifully manicured gardens, moats and bridges are impressive, and historically, the site was once occupied by the Tokugawa shogun rulers, who reigned in Japan’s Edo period.
Tours run twice a day at 10am and 1.30pm and advance registration is recommended.
Take a night trip to Shinjuku
The neon glory of Japan comes to life in Shinjuku, especially at night. The shopping, restaurants and night culture here are dazzling, and you can either walk the streets, discover the shops or find a top-floor restaurant that offers amazing city views.
If you can’t make it at night, it’s still worth a trip during the day, but make time to visit the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden next door as well.
Marvel at the Tsukiji Fish Market
It’s one of the largest fish markets in the world and it’s a spectacle to behold, particularly if you’re a seafood lover.
To attend the famed early morning tuna auctions, you’ll need to register at the Kachidoki Gate and line up well before 5am. Elsewhere in the market, you can explore and buy whatever you like, or grab a meal at one of the in-house eateries.
Keep in mind this is a place of business, so obey the rules! – no heels or open shoes (e.g. thongs, sandals), no suitcases and no small kids.
Ascend the Tokyo Skytree
Spectacular views are what it’s all about at the Skytree, which towers 600 metres over Tokyo and features two observation decks.
During the day, you’ll get to see the sprawling city with Mt. Fuji in the background if the skies are clear. At night, the entire city glitters with lights, and dining at 634 Musashi is a great way to experience the views.
Ensure you visit the aquarium and mall at the base of the tower too.
Visit the Shrines and Temples
There are plenty of shrines and temples to visit in Japan, but if you’ve only got a short while in Tokyo, we recommend Meiji Shrine or Sensoji Temple.
Meiji is Tokyo’s most famed shrine. A place of serenity with gardens and museums, it’s set within a forest that lies between Shinjuku and Shibuya.
Sensoji Temple is one of the country’s oldest, and legend claims it was pulled out of the Sumida River by two fishermen in 628AD. The temple’s vibrant red colours, five-story pagoda and adjacent Nakamise market make it a popular place for history, sight-seeing and souvenir shopping.
See Cherry Blossoms at Ueno Park
If you’re visiting Tokyo during cherry blossom season (late March – early April), one of the most dazzling spots to visit is Ueno Park for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
Around 800 cherry blossom trees line the walkways, and picnicking during the day is common. At night, the park lights up with hundreds of lanterns, and the vibe picks up with markets and other entertainment.
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