Home to the futuristic capital of Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Area is the most populous metropolis in the world and the largest in the country. The bustling central city area of Tokyo consists of 23 wards, while the Greater Tokyo Area spills out onto its prefectural neighbors of Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa. Needless to say, Tokyo is simply enormous, separated into pockets of unique communities that bring the city together as a whole. Step out of the train at a different station and step into a new world, be dazzled by the vibrant city rush of Shinjuku, or wander the open park spaces and galleries of Ueno. From the top of Tokyo Tower, buildings stretch as far as the eye can see, as if the city goes on forever. Yet, every corner is interconnected by Tokyo’s impressive network of subways and train lines, a futuristic marvel that somehow moves millions of people every day. That’s 9 million, to be exact, totaling to 30% of Japan’s entire population living within the Tokyo Metropolis.
Divided by waterways like the eastern Edogawa River and the Tama River to the south, unique districts with their own subcultures bubble beneath the city’s surface. Whether it's shopping in Shibuya or partying in Roppongi, neon lights and towering skyscrapers are deeply integral to Tokyo’s identity. With a number of big company headquarters producing the latest high-tech toys and creative designs, Tokyo represents a symbol of the future. Science meets outlet shopping on the manmade island of Odaiba, with a view overlooking the sparkling waters of Tokyo Bay. Have the happiest day on earth in Disneyland, or immerse yourself in one of the city’s major museum institutions. All things kawaii in Harajuku contrast the humility of traditional Asakusa, while salarymen help the economy go round, crunching numbers in offices throughout the city.
Fueled by long nights of drinking sake and eating every type of food your heart could ask for, Tokyo’s fast-paced energy is undeniably infectious. However, the Greater Tokyo Area offers moments of bliss on beaches and mountains amidst the chaos of urban life. As exciting as it is overwhelming, with access to both high and low culture Tokyo offers the best in traditional sights, nightlife, and shopping. And of course, with mouthwatering Japanese food and world cuisine at every turn, it would take multiple lifetimes to explore Tokyo’s thousands of bars and restaurants.
Being the largest city in Japan, Tokyo offers a variety of cuisines from all over the country and the world, making it easy for visitors to find what they are craving. In fact, Japan’s capital is one of the best places for food lovers to visit, with the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world year after year. Tonkatsu, ramen, sukiyaki, and sushi are must-eat dishes in Tokyo. Visit shopping streets like Ameya Yokocho in Ueno and Takeshita Dori in Harajuku for your fix of street food, or explore the izakaya gastropubs of Shibuya and Shinjuku to experience the nightlife of Tokyo. Residential areas of Tokyo, such as Kichijoji, also offer their own charms and unique specialties.
Tokyo boasts historic temples, towering skyscrapers, ample museums, picturesque little alleyways, and stunning parks. Places such as SHIBUYA SKY and the top floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building offer magnificent views of all of Tokyo and are best visited during sunset, where you can see the silhouette of Mt. Fuji and the moon on a clear day. Visit Harajuku and Omotesando for the viral rainbow cotton candy and to see the youthful fashion trends. Ueno Park is not only a great place to visit for a breath of fresh air, but is also home to several museums including the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, National Museum of Nature and Science, and Shitamachi Museum. The historic district of Asakusa is also a must-visit, especially Sensoji Temple and its shopping street. Of course, Tokyo DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland are also must-visits for families and lovers of animated films!
There are many cherry blossom viewing spots in Tokyo, each with their own unique features. Nakameguro is a great place to view cherry blossoms as it runs along the Meguro River, illuminated by lanterns. You can also stop by the famous Starbucks Roastery which is along the river as well. For more of the best places to see sakura in Tokyo, check out our guide, Where to Catch the Sakura in Tokyo.
Anime, unique fashion, delicious food, and rich culture are everywhere in Tokyo. When it comes to landmarks, Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree are icons of the city. Once in a while, the colors of the buildings will change to commemorate different events in the area. Tokyo is also known for the Shibuya Scramble Crossing and colorful Harajuku.
Japan is a paradise for stationary enthusiasts, with all the washi tape, pens, and cute paper you could dream of. Itoya has been around for over 100 years and offers high-class stationary goods. These envelopes are used as gifts, particularly for weddings and graduations. As for food, Tokyo Banana is a popular gift, a cake-like snack that’s enjoyed by people of all ages. The diverse range of Japanese Kit Kat flavors including wasabi, sake, and green tea, also make great souvenirs from Tokyo.