20 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Tokyo

Jul 22, 2021

The first thing you might notice about Japan is its people. Not only are they polite, they're also very attentive. They quickly become interested in your personal history and respond to the quirks of your personal behavior in a uniquely charming way.

There's also a sharp contrast between the real Japan and the popular image of Japan that Westerners tend to hold. Whereas many Westerners picture Japan as a cultural anomaly that doesn't understand modernity, and few Westerners could comfortably exist in Tokyo's packed and frantic megalopolis, Japan's capital city is a city that's comfortable in all seasons and always busy with interesting things to see and do.

One of Japan's greatest assets is the sheer scope of its entertainment offerings. In a country that literally has something for everyone, Tokyo is home to a diversity of dramatic performances that span the globe. Its world-class museums and gorgeous temple sites are incredible, and the city offers endless opportunities for the active traveler, whether it's going on a hike, cycling tour, or whale watching.

There are many unforgettable attractions in Tokyo; plan your trip with our list of the top attractions in Tokyo.

Meiji Shrine

Photo of Meiji Shrine
Meiji Shrine: en.wikipedia.org

The Meiji shrine is Tokyo's most important Shinto shrine and lies to the north of downtown in the Ueno area. It's well worth a visit, not only for its beautiful buildings but because the traditional approach to Shinto shrine life is still practiced there today. As a priest leads the elaborate procedures, visitors pray and offer small gifts. This is followed by the reading of a poem, with all voices raised. Then, with bowing and offering more gifts, visitors leave, partaking in the same rituals as at any Shinto shrine. There is also a shrine museum, which provides a nice overview of the traditions and architecture of Shinto.

Tokyo National Museum

Rising from the once marshy island of Tama in Tokyo Bay, the Tokyo National Museum (Tōkyō Kokuritsu Kindai Bijutsukan) was founded in 1927 and now houses a unique collection of paintings, sculpture, archeological artifacts, and documents. These include a collection of Japanese and world art dating from the Edo period (1600-1867) as well as the island's geological history, covering sea shells, coral, and plants. Also of interest is the world's first coal-powered railway, which takes visitors on a 3-km tour of Tama's cities and villages. The museum is adjacent to Tokyo's two best-known mountains, Mt. Takao and Mt. Haruna.

The Imperial Palace

Photo of Tokyo Imperial Palace
Tokyo Imperial Palace: en.wikipedia.org

Home to the Japanese imperial family, the opulent Imperial Palace in Tokyo is a place where historical events from world history were shaped and shaped the world as we know it. Since the day it was built, the palace has survived almost unscathed by war and natural disasters and its lavish interior is a fascinating display of ancient court culture. Rows of black lacquer screen the ground floor, and from the balcony of the imperial box, the emperor and his entourage watched over official ceremonies of the nation's existence. Today the palace is open to the public. Visits are limited, but there are daily shows at the Imperial Palace Museum.

National Museum of Western Art

Photo of National Museum of Western Art
National Museum of Western Art: en.wikipedia.org

The National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo is the world's largest museum dedicated to the collection and presentation of Western art. Besides the vast collection of medieval armor and firearms, there are also strong collections of art from late Renaissance and early Baroque, which is connected with the group of museums and art galleries that form the Museum of Oriental Art. The collection of European paintings is particularly extensive with the present modern art from the beginning of the 20th century. The Japanese collection of swords from the same period is particularly interesting and the exhibition of Japanese artists, prints and photographs also impressive.

Tokyo Skytree

Photo of Tokyo Skytree
Tokyo Skytree: en.wikipedia.org

Tokyo Skytree, which rises 227 meters (741 ft) above the city, is the tallest freestanding tower in the world and features one of the highest free-flight observation decks in the world at 212 meters (702 ft). There are numerous special features to enjoy including a viewing platform for the famous Tokyo Imperial Palace and a special exhibition gallery on the top of the tower.

Ueno Park and Ueno Zoo

Photo of Ueno Park
Ueno Park: en.wikipedia.org

Ueno Park (Tōen-kōen) is one of the city's main attractions, a lush, green oasis just north of the center. The main east entrance is the T-shaped Shinobazu-ike. Close to the bridge on the opposite side is the grand gates of Yanaka Shrine. If you continue past the gate, you can visit the Gotenyokaku-en, a beautiful courtyard of wooden buildings with original 17th-century structure. From here, walk west past the shrine to see the Ukiyamidamachi Arcade, an atmospheric pedestrian street with shops and restaurants. Northwest of the Shinobazu-ike is the vast Ueno Koen Garden, the largest park in Tokyo and one of the biggest in the world. The zoo, Tōen-kōen Ueno Zoological Garden (Tōen-kōen Ueno Zōshigū), was founded in 1882 and is home to more than 200 species of animals. Don't miss the African Rift Valley enclosures, Asia's biggest and a world's largest zoo. Near the zoo is the Hozoobu Rock Garden, the oldest in the world. Ueno Park and Ueno Zoo are about a 15-minute walk from the Asakusa Kannon-dō. For more on the zoo, see the sidebar, A brief description of Ueno Zoo and Ueno Park.

National Art Center

Photo of The National Art Center, Tokyo
The National Art Center, Tokyo: en.wikipedia.org

The central art museums of Tokyo are perhaps the finest in the world, particularly the museums that belong to the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Among these are the National Museum of Western Art, where a forest of beautiful contemporary Japanese painting is on display; the National Museum of Modern Art, which holds one of the world's finest collections of Japanese art of the 20th century; the well-organized Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA); and the 三代目日本美術館 (Senso-ji), which is dedicated to the visual arts. Other important art museums in the vicinity include the (somewhat cramped) Ukiyo-e Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Contemporary Arts Center.

Ginza District

Located just below Shibuya, the well-heeled fashion district of Ginza consists of 100 or so boutiques, department stores, and specialty shops along major streets like Omotesando, Roppongi, and Harajuku. K-town's premier shopping destination is home to the trendy youth hub of Harajuku, the center of Tokyo's youth culture. Ginza is also known for its numerous theaters, most of which were converted from famous Kabuki theaters. Some of the world's most expensive stores such as TAKUMI and PLEIADES, along with the super chic Mochijirō fashion center, the lofty skyscraper that houses JUNICHI LEATHER, and the sophisticated SAKUMA, are in this district.

National Museum of Nature and Science

Photo of National Museum of Nature and Science
National Museum of Nature and Science: en.wikipedia.org

The National Museum of Nature and Science opened to the public in May 2009, to much media attention, in a move that may eventually reshape the way that the museum world operates. Located in a cluster of futuristic glass and concrete buildings, the museum's expansive collection of 1.8 million specimens and artifacts include such topics as the creation and evolution of the universe and the human body. It also has exhibitions that explain major scientific discoveries and developments in the field of physics, chemistry, and biology. While many exhibits are in Japanese, both in English and Japanese, a new English language Discovery Zone, featuring interactive touch screens, allows visitors to learn more about life sciences and interact with many exhibits.

Tokyo Tower

Photo of Tokyo Tower
Tokyo Tower: en.wikipedia.org

Tokyo Tower is a large communications tower and observation deck with a height of 354 m located in Tokyo, Japan. The main structure was erected between 1960 and 1966 to replace the previous Tokyo Skytree, and has become an iconic landmark in the city. It is the second tallest man-made structure in the world and was the first structure to be constructed of a lighter-than-air materials, tetrafluoroethylene (TFE). The structure is made from 1.8 million glass balls. When lit, the balls glow as they reflect each other's light, producing a multicolored spectrum of colors. In the year 1996, Tokyo Tower won the American Society of Civil Engineers' award for the Most Beautiful Structure in the World. This was given as a recognition to the owner's kindness and contribution to the project that lasted five years. Tokyo Tower also has a restaurant and a tea room at the top.

Nakamise-dori Area

Photo of Sensō-ji
Sensō-ji: en.wikipedia.org

Nakamise-dori (Nakamise Street) is the main pedestrian street in one of the most charming and expensive areas of Tokyo. The area contains many trendy shops, bars, and restaurants. Although it is a little touristy, it is a fun place to visit with a multitude of interesting shops and buildings to explore. Nakamise-dori can be found in a suburb of central Tokyo. The best way to get there is to take the Shibuya subway line (yellow line) to the Harajuku-Nakamise exit and take the yellow streetcar that runs along the street, or take a taxi. To get off at Nakamise-dori you should get off at Harajuku-Nakamise exit. There is an entrance near Tokyo University, near the Nakamise department store, or take the bus to Nakamise-dori.

Shibuya Crossing

Photo of Shibuya Crossing
Shibuya Crossing: en.wikipedia.org

Shibuya Crossing, a Japanese tourist hotspot that always seems to have something going on, has the curious distinction of being something of a melting pot of cultures. The tourist zone of Shibuya is densely populated with tourists and offers many sights and souvenir shops, as well as an abundance of shopping centers, restaurants and bars. Nearby is the affluent Roppongi neighborhood, which, with its high concentration of designer clothing stores, represents a more recent and Western influence.

Harajuku Area

Photo of Harajuku
Harajuku: en.wikipedia.org

Much of Tokyo's unique shopping atmosphere is attributed to the appearance and dress of the area that used to be an open-air bazaar. Located just off Shibuya in Shibuya, Harajuku is home to popular shopping centers like Omotesando, which is a major destination for department stores and malls with flashy fashion brands. Just a few steps away is Meiji, another popular destination. Meiji is famous for its retro stores and is also home to shops from the best Japanese fashion designers. There are great international fashion brands such as Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood, Givenchy and Fendi. The focal point of the area is the densely packed Harajuku area, home to popular fashion stores that draw huge crowds. Best time to visit is during the summer, especially during July and August when many stores open.

Roppongi Area

Photo of Roppongi
Roppongi: en.wikipedia.org

Roppongi is a busy area in Tokyo, with major financial and government institutions close to the train station. The area is famous for its nightlife, shopping and dining and you will find a number of these close to Roppongi crossing. The districts of Harajuku, Omotesando, Shibuya and Ginza are full of bustling shops, bars and restaurants. Shibuya in particular is one of the most popular areas to go clubbing in Japan, famous for its famous Shibuya crossing and street scene. There are many famous landmarks, including the Tokyo Tower, Japan's highest and most famous building, built in 1964, at around 160 meters high. Its observation deck is home to the largest cupola in the world and from its top you can see the entire city.

Odaiba Island

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Odaiba: en.wikipedia.org

Odaiba Island is the main island on Tokyo Bay, and although it is a large and busy shopping and recreational area, Odaiba also offers a number of pleasant attractions. Located south of central Tokyo, Odaiba is home to the Fuji TV headquarters and a large Japanese university. Odaiba's most famous attraction is Odaiba Art Museum. It is a good place to see the work of artists such as Andy Warhol, who was a student of John Singer Sargent and studied in Paris. The nearby Chiba Marine Park is the largest outdoor aquarium in Japan, while the Sumida Park is a beautiful, riverside garden and is the venue for the Bonsai World Show in April.

Shikoku Island

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Shikoku: en.wikipedia.org

If you have just seen Tokyo, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and you are looking for something relaxing, then Shikoku is the place for you. Shikoku has a unique character and is a real escape from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. There are many places to visit including temples like Ōjiya, where you can do Shikoku's oldest stone cleaning ceremony. Hire the locals to do this practice for you. Don't miss out on the colourful festival held in Matsuyama at the end of August. This is an important event on the island with a multitude of activities including flower viewing, visits to Tatsuno Jinja Shrine and a festival of boat lanterns.

National Gallery

Photo of Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo National Museum: en.wikipedia.org

The National Gallery of Art is one of the world's largest art museums with more than 11,000 works of art from diverse time periods. The collection includes not only traditional Western works of art but also a large collection of Japanese art and other treasures from across the globe. The museum is in a grand structure built in 1925 in the style of an Italian Renaissance palace. The museum is open every day but Mondays and has a children's museum and an aquarium with penguins, sea lions, and giant tortoises. Ticket prices vary from ¥700 for a family ticket to ¥2500 for adults. Some exhibitions have an admission fee. Tours are available to help visitors appreciate the complexity of the museum and its various halls.

Tokyo Disney Resort

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Tokyo Disney Resort: en.wikipedia.org

With over 20 years of experience in the theme park industry, Tokyo Disney Resort (TDR) aims to offer visitors the best Disneyland® experience possible. A year-round destination, it combines Disney's signature entertainment, dining and shopping with the convenience of being on one site. Located just 20 minutes north of Tokyo's bustling Shibuya neighborhood, the resort is the first in the world to incorporate some elements of traditional Japanese culture into its attractions and entertainment. Among them are free mealtimes where guests can have family-style Japanese meals; seven new themed restaurants serving sushi and Japanese food; an Noh theater; ninja training; kiteboarding; a miniature golf course and a two-story dragon that can be ridden. As for the famous Disney entertainment, the destination boasts four big theme parks: Tokyo DisneySea, Tokyo Disneyland, Port Disney and Disneysea Parade.

Yurakucho Area

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Yūrakuchō: en.wikipedia.org

An urban mix of wonderful old buildings, skyscrapers and bustling shopping districts makes Tokyo's Yurakucho area (Yurakuchō) a highly popular sightseeing destination. At the time of writing, Tokyo Midtown, a huge office development that includes the region's biggest train station, Tokyo Station, had only been completed in 2015. While there's no direct link from Tokyo's Shibuya to Tokyo Midtown and beyond, shopping and eating outlets at Yurakucho are generally open long hours, so not only are there plenty of facilities, there are also ample opportunities for eating, shopping and entertainment in the area. Take a stroll around Yurakucho in the afternoons and evenings to appreciate its attractive old-style buildings and watch the people go about their business. Try to find the beautiful Yurakucho Post Office building, built in the 1930s.

Tōdai-ji Temple

Photo of Tōdai-ji
Tōdai-ji: en.wikipedia.org

Tōdai-ji Temple, or the Golden Temple, is one of the oldest and most impressive temples in Japan. The main temple buildings were constructed in AD 788 during the Nara Period, and are located in a densely packed area to the south of the present temple precincts. The central main hall features a large three-tiered pagoda and is decorated with exquisite wooden carvings. Also notable is the priest's house on the premises of the temple, the Kamado, with its special Kondo (incense burner) for burning incense. Tōdai-ji Temple is a few minutes from the Edo Station on the Tōbu and JR Tōkyō and subway lines.