Here is the ultimate list of tours and attractions in Tokyo to try before you die.
- Best Tours
- Shibuya Food Walking Tour
- Yarakucho, Ginza, Shinbashi Food Tour
- Tsukiji Fish Market & Sushi Making
- Sushi Making Course
- Tokyo Private Full-Day Sightseeing Tour
- Shinkansen’s Mt. Fuji and Hakone Day Trip
- Best Things To Do in Tokyo
- Yoyogi Park
- Yasukuni Shrine
- Volunteer Guide-led Tours around Tokyo
- Ueno Zoo
- Tsukiji Fish Market
- Toshugu Shrine
- Tokyo Tower
- Tokyo SkyTree
- Tokyo Photographic Art Museum
- Tokyo National Museum
- Tokyo Joypolis
- Tokyo DisneySea
- TMG Observatory
- Suntory Museum of Art
- Sumida River Cruise
- Shitamachi Museum
- Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
- Senso-Ji Temple
- Sengakuji Temple
- Rikugien Garden
- The Railway Museum
- Panasonic Center Tokyo
- Ota Memorial Museum of Art
- Oriental Bazaar
- Oedo-Onsen Monogatari
- The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum
- Oedo Antique Market
- Nezu Museum
- National Museum of Western Art
- National Museum of Modern Art
- National Museum of Nature and Science
- National Museum of Japanese History
- National Diet Building
- The National Art Center, Tokyo
- Mount Takao
- Mori Art Museum
- Miraikan – National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation
- Meiji Jingu Shrine
- Mega Web
- Kasai Rinkai Park
- Kappabashi Dougugai Dori
- Kabukiza Theatre
- Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum
- Imperial Palace
- Hara Museum of Contemporary Art
- Hama Rikyu Garden
- Ghibli Museum
- Fukagawa Edo Museum
- Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum
- Edo Tokyo Museum
- East Garden
- Asakura Museum of Sculpture
- Amuse Museum
- Ameyoko/Ameya Yokocho
Shibuya Food Walking Tour
Undeniably a tour you should not miss out. It takes you to the gut of the busy streets of Shibuya, with a fantastic introductory course towards Japanese dishes, culture, and attractions.
Yarakucho, Ginza, Shinbashi Food Tour
The tour focuses more on izakayas, offering more of the street-food vibe and culture of Tokyo. Not an experience to miss out.
Tsukiji Fish Market & Sushi Making
Takes you around the famed fish market of Tokyo. Included in the tour is a lesson on making sushi from ingredients bought in the market.
Sushi Making Course
This is a course to take if you want to make sushi without the hassle of picking the ingredients.
Tokyo Private Full-Day Sightseeing Tour
A Tokyo tour that is 7 hours long, takes you around the famous attractions and locations like the Senso-Ji Temple and the Tsukiji Fish Market.
Shinkansen’s Mt. Fuji and Hakone Day Trip
It is an encompassing tour of the Hakone district. They take you around the little villages in the area along with a trip to the famed Mt. Fuji.
Best Things To Do in Tokyo
Stations Nearby: Meiji-Jingumae, Yoyogi-Koen, and Harajuku
In history, this site was used by the Japanese army as grounds for their drills. By the time World War II happened, it had become a haven for the US occupational forces. Then on the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, it served as the Olympic village where the competitors from other parts of the globe came to stay. The park is 133 acres wide and is a popular area that locals and tourists love to stop by and roam around on. The greenery of the domain is very well maintained, making it apt for picnics for groups of tourists, lovers, or families. The park also houses the Meiji Shrine (a sanctuary for birds), a stretch for dogs to run on, a facility for renting bikes, and a course for cycling that comes along with it. A separate course was made for kids to enjoy their cycling time. The park is quite near Shibuya and Harajuku, that’s why it attracts cosplayers and street performers that are present on almost every weekend. The park is also known to hold significant events. Tokyo’s annual Rainbow Pride weekend for its LGBT constituents is held here every May. Sometimes, there are also flea and antique pop-ups for passers-by to peruse.
Stations Nearby: Kudanshita
Found by Emperor Meiji in 1861, the shire was made for the casualties of the Edo Era. A civil war occurred back against the government running in feudalism, claiming the lives of many royal troops and samurai. The shrine was very ridden with controversy, given that there had been problems arising towards how the locals see it in comparison to that of the people outside the country. It was supposed to be a reminder of Japan’s grieving from manslaughter of its men. But instead, other countries think of it as a symbol of the patriotic and martial history of Japan. The vast land is covered with around 600 cherry trees, a ton of bonsais, and Japanese-style flower exhibition. Beneath all this nature lies about 2.4 million corpses that are now considered holy. These people include casualties from the two world wars, the war with China, the war with Russia, and the Mukden Incident.
Along with the Sunday pop-up flea market held at the entrance, the main attraction of the temple is the Yushukan. The famed war memorial museum depicts the hardship of the graves that the shrine embodies. Also, in the display are uniforms, armors, weaponry, and military vehicles used back in their days. Weirdly enough, universal translations of the stories tend to censor through vagueness on over how Japan was a pivotal assailant to most wars. Also splattered around an exhibit is a disconcerting collection of war photos, showing even the carcasses of the juvenile military, the comfort women, and the medics.
Volunteer Guide-led Tours around Tokyo
Station Nearby for a tour from TMG: Tochomae
This one is definitely for tourists on a tight budget. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has an array of 10 trips for guests to avail when they come to Tokyo. Unlike privately arranged bus tours, this walking tour around Tokyo will only cost you fare, food, and entrance fees. Led by volunteers, you only have to pay for yourself and the guide but not the service. The tour occurs at 10 am or 1 pm Monday to Friday at the Tokyo Tourist Information Center in Shinjuku (this is also located on the TMG Observatory building). These TMG tours must be booked three days prior, and the timeslots available are from 10 am to 2:30 pm from Mondays to Fridays Grouped into 5, the guides take you around the National Diet, Asakusa, East Garden, Harajuku, along the alleys of Shinjuku, a trip to the department store, and a tea ceremony at Shinjuku Gyoen Park. Other tours are also available for free, such as the one from Goodwill Guides. The people employed by Goodwill Guides are volunteers. These volunteers are usually either students, housewives, or retirees. This tour may take you around Asakusa, the East Garden, and Ueno Park. The tour requires no reservations, and you are only needed to be at the designated meet-up area 10 minutes before departures.
Station Nearby: Ueno
One of Japan’s longest standing zoos, spanning at 35 acres wide. This zoo is considered home by around 3000 animals, but its most famous residents are pandas Shin Shin and Riri. The zoo was formed in 1882, and it was erected at a very strategic location inside Ueno Park. It has then been surrounded by historical sights, museums, and playgrounds, having it become a convenient spot and a relatively budget-friendly escapade for families to come over. The two parts of the park are connected by a monorail and walkway, and the entire thing houses gorillas, zebras, giraffes, crocodiles, rhinos, Japanese Black Bears, polar bears, Hokkaido brown bears, Japanese macaques, tigers, monkeys, lions, and a bunch of tamed animals placed inside the petting zoo. The zoo has been maintained quite well but has sustained damages in specific cages and houses for animals due to the establishment’s old age. The zoo is also famous for gaining recognition from participating at breeding programs on an international scale. Some notable achievements of the zoo are the breeding of pygmy hippos and aye-ayes. Also housed inside the establishment are the ginormous Kan’ei-Ji Temple and a pagoda-cum-teahouse that is five stories large. The Kan’ei-Ji Temple is a historical monument that reminds people at a time in the Edo Period when royal troops have been in combat with shogun sympathizers.
Tsukiji Fish Market
Stations Nearby: Tsukijishijo and Tsukiji
This market is world-renowned in selling the best and freshest fish and seafood. Operating on a 2-hour window from 9 am until 11 am, this public market offers a wide array of ingredients that are local to Japan and are used in all of their famed dishes. The produce ranges from uni (sea urchins) to bright, long stalks of wasabi, along with food that may seem alien to tourists that are not that deep into the local culture. With a no-flash photography policy, a ginormous warehouse is filled to the brim with stalls of different exquisite selections. Inside here you can witness the rationing of a huge tuna fish, the preparation of an octopus about to be sold in retail, people owning restaurants bargaining their way for a good sale, and the vendors making a living in their most natural habitat. The famed auctions for tuna happen every 5:30 in the morning. This auction is an event with a 120-person capacity that is set at a first come, first serve basis. The game is hectic and stressful, as queues are up as early as 2 am. If you are not able to catch that, the market surrounding this famed section also has a lot of stalls, shops, and restaurants for your satisfaction. Usually, the best sashimi comes from here. Do note that given the occurrence of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Tsukiji market has been moved to Toyosu since 2018 after a 2-year delay.
Station Nearby: Ueno
The shrine was erected in 1651, and it was made in honor of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The movement to have it built was from his grandson, reminding Japan of how Ieyasu’s cunning leadership as a shogun helped push forward Edo (now Tokyo) for around 250 beautiful years. The shrine stands amidst Ueno park and is a miniature of a more magnificent shrine erected in Nikko of the same name. It stands as Ueno Park’s most significant spiritual symbol and is as intricate, delicate, and elegant as the bigger version at Nikko. Often called “The Shrine of Gold,” the entire structure is bathed throughout with gold, along with delicately sculpted and beautifully painted pictures of fish, aviary, flowers, among other creatures. Despite the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, the Second World War, and the 1868 rumble between royal troops and shogun loyalists, the shrine stuck through in one piece unlike most of Tokyo and Ueno. Most importantly, an important reminder stands here for the victims of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Ever since that treacherous war on Japan, a flame goes forever on somewhere in the grounds of the shrine both to reflect on the atrocities along with a signal to promote peace on earth.
Stations Nearby: Kamiyacho and Onamiron
It was erected back in 1958 to mimic the Eiffel Tower, and now houses very wacky features, tacky souvenir shops, and two observatories. Was once Japan’s tallest structure (defeated by the Tokyo SkyTree by 301 meters), it currently still has foot traffic of around two million. The tower is still able to hold its spotlight around Japan’s growing number of high-rise buildings. With its highly noticeable light shows at night and its red and white façade, the tower still stands hard to miss. It also offers majestic views of the cityscape, with two observatories located at 820 feet and a lower one at 492 feet. This 1092-foot tall behemoth is open for tourists and guests until late, so you can opt to look around in the morning or a little bit late for a different vibe of the city. The tower is filled with a lot of random, quirky things to lose time to, such as food spots, souvenir stations, and even boasting a randomly put aquarium. Nearby, there is also an anime-themed attraction called the Tokyo One Piece Tower about Eiichiro Oda’s magnum opus. This tower is filled from top to bottom with countless mementos and features that are slapped with the anime’s branding. Attractions include a theater inside a dome, a gallery for the anime’s heroes, simulators and rides, and so much more.
Stations Nearby: Tokyo Skytree and Oshiage
Recognized by the Guinness World Records, it is one of Tokyo’s observatories that sit on the non-budget friendly end. It is the tallest broadcast tower in the world, hailing at 604 meters tall. The tower boasts the capability to get a panoramic glimpse of Tokyo Bay, Asakusa, Mt. Fuji (if the skies are clear enough), some high-rise structures in Shinjuku, and other neighboring megapolises. These can be done at observatories 2080 feet high and one lower at around 1150 feet. Also, touchscreen fixtures are available on the observatories for you to figure out which landmark is which. Given the price, it is wise to come over only when the skies are clear to get the most out of your time and ticket. It is also apt to come over weekdays and very early, given that there are large groups that visit. For tourists from outside the country, a Fast SkyTree Ticket is available at a different queue and a more expensive number. Attractions inside this towering structure are over 300 markets and food spots, a Pokemon Center that has recently opened, and the Solachi Mall.
Tokyo Photographic Art Museum
Station Nearby: Ebisu
A showcase of around 30,000 pictures taken by international and Japanese artists. Keen eyes are highly appraised in this museum, along with the skill of using a camera together with intense precision. Erected in 1986 and coined the “Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography,” the Tokyo government had renovated and pushed through on September 2016 with a new moniker. The general theme of the museum circulates Tokyo; its people, its history, and its culture. Both rising and famed photographers are features along its walls, garnering different exhibits on the span of the 4-story building. It holds a Lab Theater for worthy of being featured films, exhibitions, a display for multimedia, a look in the past, and contest’s top entries. Tickets to the museum are usually sold per exhibit or in conjunction with one another. Other in-house attractions are its café and souvenir spot, along with the expanse of the Yebisu Garden Palace that houses more food spots and markets.
Tokyo National Museum
Stations Nearby: Ueno
This establishment is a 4-in-1 exhibit tied up together as Japan’s most excellent museums. With over 110,000 artifacts, objects, and historical features, it is one of the most comprehensive collections that Japan has to offer its culture to date. The complexity and span of the museum led it to be separated into four parts, with around 3,000 pieces shown and exhibited from time to time on rotation. In addition to this, a gallery is also inclusive of the place, with a currently changing exhibition that happens regularly. Guests look forward most to the Honkan, considered the main gallery filled with a lot of Japan’s prized possessions. Old kitchenware, weaponry, uniforms, printing tools, religious imagery, writing tools, house fixtures, and day to day objects are stored in its 23-room span. The museum also has a fantastic souvenir shop, selling replicas of their featured items which are and made by their renowned artists. The Honkan is also an essential part of the museum, which houses a lot of Asian artifacts ranging from the Chinese, Hindu, Korean, and most of Southeast Asia and even some from Egypt. Another is the Horyuji Treasures Gallery, containing Buddhist artifacts from Nara’s Horyuji Temple. These are of exceptionally high value given that they are from the 7th and 8th century. You should also visit the Heiseikan gallery, which showcases a lot of ancient Japan, archived by archaeologists who took time in rummaging for the artifacts.
Stations Nearby: Tokyo Teleport and Odaiba Kaihin Koen
Strengthened by Sega (the world-renowned video gaming company), this large and indoor attraction serves as a theme park filled with features more than anyone can muster. They have erected the park over Odaiba, the reclaimed island. The establishment houses top-of-the-art simulators, house of horrors, a roller coaster, performers, and a lot of video games spread throughout this four-story monstrosity. A knockout attraction for kids, teenagers, and adults looking for some gut-gripping action and tension, this crazy park stands amidst the numerous food spots, museums, and department stores of Odaiba. Featured inside are a few simulators that span across 4-dimensions, recreating wild scenarios such as tunneling through angry waters of a river rapid (water included!), a thrilling ride on a sled in the slow or a spindling roller-coaster, or inside a car moving with much reckless abandon. Other attractions boast 3D feature films, a stage for performances done digitally or live; walk-in themed exhibits such as horror houses, and a vast arcade for everyone to enjoy. A ride-all-you-can pass is available (which gets more inexpensive when the evening comes), but an entrance only pass can also be acquired. The entrance only passes will then require you to pay on-site for certain attractions you only want to interact with. As per usual, restrictions are present on most rides. Age and height are very much considered for the safety of the guests on most rides and exhibits.
Station Nearby: Maihama if you’re on JR Keihyo; Musashino if you’re from Tokyo Station. The Narita, Shinjuku Station, and Tokyo station also provides buses that go straight to this particular attraction
The only Disney-themed sea park in the globe. This is the most exclusive of a voyage you will ever encounter, not to mention having Tokyo Disneyland just beside it. It still mimics how mystical yet magical all of Disney’s attractions are, but this one sits very special and close to one’s heart given the play with water. The park is separated into seven stops for a ship, has most exhibits are majestically laid out into Urayasu. Every stop is a different motif and theme, including custom-made features and rides. Some of these stops feature Delta the lost river from Indiana Jones’ Temple of the Crystal Skull, Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage and a beautiful replication of the coast of Arabia, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’s famed Mysterious Island. Mickey, the famed poster boy of the entire franchise, can also be seen making rounds through the park along with Princess Ariel. On most attractions are also family-targeted shows for groups to sit down and enjoy. Ever since the park was put and opened to the public, it has been quite famous for having couples that have been going around and dating. With the sea attraction only 15 minutes away from Disneyland via train, most super fans tend to book rooms around the vicinity along with their passes that can get them inside both attractions for more than just a day.
Station Nearby: Tochomae
Sitting on the 45th floor of the 1st building of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, this observatory has no fees and is considered of the top in all of Tokyo. Two of them exist and are erected at the north and south towers of the building. The view is clear and without obstruction, offering 360-degree satisfaction from one of Shinjuku’s largest high-rise buildings. From atop, it easy to pot the vast greenery of Meiji Jingu Shrine, Yoyogi Park, Shinjuku Park, Mt. Fuji on bright winter days, and most skyscrapers around the vicinity. These attractions can be made sure of given that photos in the panorama are provided in the observatory detailing and highlighting most of Tokyo and Shinjuku’s famous attractions. Both observatories have food and souvenir spots and offer almost the same views. The northern tower is open more extended than the other, staying late until 11 pm. The variance in opening and closing times led for the north tower’s café to turn into a bar when the night shifts. Beneath the observatories, the Tokyo Tourist Information Center is available for tourists and guests to gather information through maps and pamphlets about the city, its culture, its attractions, and everything in between.
Suntory Museum of Art
Stations Nearby: Roppongi
This museum is considered as one leg of the trio aptly called Art Triangle Roppongi. Together and within the vicinity of the Mori Art Museum and the National Art Center Tokyo, this 2- story museum contains a privatized collection if artifacts and historical items that are unique to Japan. Most of what it bestows are scheduled exhibits and groups from other museums, both of which do not stay in the establishment forever. The motif is pristine and elegant, making use of darkness as its most appealing attribute. Local materials such as paper and wood are used to line the walls and ceiling, housing around 3000 irreplaceable items. They hold onto the saying “Art in Life,” hence, they try their best in showcasing their precious and antique kitchenware, tableware, accessories, uniforms, clothing, everyday items, and ornamental facets. Altogether, it beautifully captures life in Japan through art. Some exhibits previously erected are the likes of Prague’s glassware in the style of Bohemian along with Musee d’Orsay’s works of Emile Galle.
Sumida River Cruise
Stations Nearby: Hinode, Asakusa, Daiba, Hama Rikyu, Shiodome, and Shimbashi
Provided by the Tokyo Cruise Ship Co., the cruise takes you along Sumida River to a trip to Asakusa. The cruise is highly reminiscent of the Edo Period back at around 1603 to 1868. Back then, the river served as a vessel for transporting produce such as rice towards the city. Also, it was the best way to have a good time back then, since the gates of Asakusa is near most popular attractions and destinations at the time. Now, the cruise features views of bridges, superhighways, complex buildings and infrastructure formations, and also friendly barges roaming the waters. The views from the cruise are such a stark contrast to that of the skyscrapers, as one is given a chance to look at things from below. The cruise starts at Hama Rikyu Garden (ticket inclusive), Odaiba, or Hinode pier, providing the most relaxing trip to Asakusa you will ever experience.
Station Nearby: Ueno
Filled with replicas of shitmachis, the museum makes it feel as if you were living in Japan a hundred years ago. It was made with the thought in mind to preserve the history and culture of Japan then for their predecessors in the future to still witness. They were looking to have it be like an unadulterated experience, given the drastic changes of the country due to the 1964 Olympics, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the Second World War, and 1923s Great Kanto Earthquake. The museum is not as massive or grand, but it holds incredible replications of the shitamachi such as tenement homes, old shops of merchants, candy shops, kitchen objects, a telephone dating to 1910, old photographs, and even a front entrance of an old-time establishment. Tours with no fee are also provided by volunteers, having the guests delve more in-depth in the shitamachi culture. Some exhibits are even interactive, letting you play with old games and old toys. Located not that far from Ueno Park, it is undoubtedly hard to miss when visiting the area.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Stations Nearby: Sendagaya, Kokuritsu-kyogijo, Shinjuku-Sanchome, and Shinjuku Gyoenmae
Considered one of Tokyo’s biggest parks, boasting a 144-acre wide attraction that can be accessed through three different entrance points. Hailing from the Meiji Era between 1896 and 1911, the park went through different phases. It was once owned by a feudal lord who uses it as his estate. It was then turned into a scientific venture for the locals who study how the people from the west make produce. Lastly, it became a personal spread of greenery for the royal family before opening it for public visits after the Second World War. The Shinjuku Gyoen can be divided into three parts through the landscape: one of Tokyo’s top conventional Japanese Gardens, a French garden, and an English garden. A Taiwan-style pavilion for the emperor of Showa’s wedding, small isles within large ponds, tea spots, and bridges all surround the Japanese landscape garden. It also has a greenhouse with over 2,400 plants both tropical and subtropical, wide, grass-filled lawns, areas filled with foliage that have azaleas, cherry blossoms, and other flowers when in season. During autumn, large crowds visit the park to gaze at the beautiful falling brown leaves (the part on Maple Hill is to die for!) along with a short visit to an exhibit for chrysanthemums.
Station Nearby: Asakusa
The temple was found when a gilded statue of the Goddess of Mercy of the Buddhists was caught by two fishermen using their nets back in the 7th century. Being the most famous temple of Tokyo, this is also considered the oldest as it has been around for over a thousand years. The spot where the fishermen caught the statue was where a temple was put up. The same place is now mobbed by religious patrons to pay respect and pray to the deity, also filling the offering box of the temple. Around the temple, there are also other religious imagery and attractions that are put up. The Asakusa Shire was put up for the two fishermen, and two gates were made to serve as the entrance. The Nitenmon Gate was found to have been made in 1618, making it the oldest thing erected within the temple. The Kaminarimon Gate, on the other hand, is famous for its enormous red lantern that weighs up to 220 pounds. The entire temple survived a lot of hardships in Japan for the past 1,300 years and has been known to have been wrecked and restored for around 20 times the last being from that of the Second World War. A lot of beliefs circulate within the temple, including a never-ending dispensing incense burner that patrons bathe on the smoke in hopes that it will make their health better.
Along with this are fixtures that put out fortunes translated both in the mother tongue and in the universal language. Nakamise Dori, a route that leads from the outside to the temple is filled to the brim with markets and pop-up shops that sell conventional and sometimes tacky souvenirs. They offer accessories, toys, replicas of old objects, clothing, and even food. The vicinity of the temple is shitamachi that is around since the period of Edo. This is a very good experience for some tourists and guests to delve in the ancient times of glorious Tokyo.
Station Nearby: Sengakuji
The temple stands as a memorial for the 47 ronin that are from a very fame Japanese lore. The story has been a staple, as every local knows it even from childhood. It has also been one of the famous stories featured in kabuki plays from time to time. Every 14th of December, a feast is held in the shrine in honor of the 47. The story revolves between feudal lord Asano and his supervisor Kira, dating back to 1701. Legend has told that they fought over a lesson on proper decorum in court, as Asano was to about to have a grand royal entrance in Kyoto. The fight pushed Asano to pull out his sword on Kira, which was highly punishable if committed inside Edo castle. Asano was then charged with seppuku, his belongings and lands were taken by the government, his family was stripped of honor and belongings, and the samurai under him turned into Ronin. To the dismay over the death of their master, the 47 ronin sought to avenge him by decapitating Kira at his abode. They further went on to parade the head along Edo back to Sengakuji at the grave of Asano. The 47 ronin were then all punished and following suit with their master. Now, they are immortalized as heroes, and this museum temple served as the home for the memories they have made along with some personal items they have that are on display. On a hill, nearby lies tombstones, one for each of the fallen 47.
Stations Nearby: Sengoku and Komagome
Located far up north of Tokyo, it stands as one of its most jaw-dropping traditional Japanese-style gardens. It has been a big deal for quite some time between both locals and tourists, as the beautiful greenery swallows you whole in much amazement. The name was from a Chinese poetry principle that loosely translates to “Garden of the Six Principles of Poetry.” As with any garden, it is most prevalent in fall given the beautiful, brown foliage scattered and in spring when the cherry blossoms and azaleas are in full bloom. Undoubtedly, the garden is spectacular throughout the year, boasting hills, vast expanse of greenery, cute “beaten” paths to stroll on, and a huge pond in the middle along with some isles. Every step is sure to keep you at awe with every little detail along with the fantastic views. The creation of it was finished in 1702 but was donated to the city in 1938. It was made by the shogun’s confidante and was bought by Mitsubishi’s founder in 1852. In the garden, there is also a teahouse for you to enjoy some matcha to take your time and be swallowed by nature.
The Railway Museum
Stations Nearby: Omiya. There is also a shuttle available that takes you directly to the museum. If you take the JR Utsunomiya line, alighting at Ueno would be 20 minutes away from the attraction
Located in Saitama city, the museum is the perfect place for people who love trains. If you don’t like trains, you’d still enjoy its vast collection of both vintage and quirky locomotives. All sheltered beneath a large building shaped like a hangar reminiscent of a train station from Europe, it houses various locomotives; from old-style ones to versions of bullet trains in Shinkansen, and the emperor carriages used way back when. Included also are trains spanning from the first one built for Japan in 1872 that runs on steam along with that of the first one in Shinkansen made for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. In-depth information on train operation and functionality are also spread in the museum, along with a train simulator that lets you ride to Shinkansen or the JR Akihabara Station, a roof deck to see an actual Shinkansen train operating on its route to Tokyo or Tokohuru, and a cute diorama of a train with a track that spans 4600 feet long. The museum is also targeted to cater to kids, having 36 trains open for them to peruse and learn. A playroom that is indoor was also made for the young ones, a train-themed playground for the older ones, and even a small train for all of them to ride and to go around the museum. Also included is a souvenir spot that sells trains for you to build and play with once you get home.
Panasonic Center Tokyo
Stations Nearby: Kokusai-tenjijo and Ariake
It is Panasonic’s showroom of its products, both old, new, and upcoming. The prototypes are fascinating, showing a glimpse of what possibly may happen to the futures of our homes, offices, and basically, our lives. The showroom features a corner dedicated to the video game company Nintendo Entertainment for you to pry and try games both old and new. It has a corner dedicated to the Olympics and how Panasonic comes into play both for the past one and the one about to happen in Tokyo in 2020. Product prototypes are also available, showing you a vision of the future towards beauty products, appliances used both at work and home, and its pioneering line of equipment used for both audio and video. They also have a paid exhibit called RiSuPia, which focuses on challenges that are science and math-based that are supposed to encompass an educational motif while wrapped in the guise of a museum. Assisted tours of Wonder LifeBOX are also available on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, which is a mock-up of Panasonic’s vision on what the world would be around the decade of 2020 and 2030. It shows a future where humans control most things through their smartphones. This includes having someone installed in your mobile like Amazon’s “Alexa” or Apple’s “Siri” to help you navigate life. It can throw alerts of your house, family members, or general calamities at you. It can also show sleeping patterns, give kitchen help, show an image of you in an outfit you have not put on, and even provide information about spots in the street like a virtual guide, map, and pamphlet rolled into one.
Ota Memorial Museum of Art
Stations Nearby: Meiji-Jingumae and Harajuku
It’s a museum of prints which were compiled by Seizo Ota for over 50 years. Privately owned and located somewhere in the back streets of Harajuku, it is considered and hailed as the top spot to look at woodblock prints in Japan. Showcasing over 14000 prints, it covers every topic in the Edo period from landscapes for lovebirds, comfort women, and even actors and actresses from kabuki play. Included in the archives are works from renowned artists such as Utagawa Hiroshige, Kitagawa Utamaro, and Katsushika Hokusai. Exhibitions that contain less than a hundred prints are on rotation gave the vast expanse of art the museum holds. The features are all translated in English, making it friendlier and more manageable for tourists and guests to access. In theory, you can visit the museum every month but never really get to encounter everything from the archive.
Stations Nearby: Omotesando, Meiji-Jingumae, and Harajuku
Operating since 1951, this Omotesando Dori- based souvenir spot is the biggest and most famous of all Tokyo. The three-story establishment with a shrine-like orange, green front first started catering visiting families from a nearby US barracks. Now, it serves as a haven for guests and tourists to find books, kimonos old and new, key chains, toys, kitchenware, woodblock prints, accessories, origami products, clothing, dining ware, porcelain from Imari and Kutani, and even antiques and historical items up its 2nd floor. The shop, having attracted attention from foreign tourists, allows for transactions in Euros and US Dollars and is even willing to ship outside the country.
Stations Nearby: Telecom Center
The theme park is located right spat in the middle of Odaiba, amidst its attractions, stalls, and department stores. Designed like it’s from the period of Edo, hot springs are spread throughout the park, offering different kinds of baths depending on the guests liking. Open 22 hours a day; this onsen offers baths inside and outside, baths with steam, and even specialized baths catered to your every need. The showers are separated per sex, and guests are offered kimonos made of cotton that are vastly varying in pattern and coloration. These yukatas are provided for you to wear in common areas such as the tatami-filled lounge with foot bath, game station, market, and food join. The yukata is given to you, so can coexist with other groups and families without being bare and unpleasant. Also available here are fish therapy (wherein small fish lovingly bite off dead skin cells off of your body), a health spa for massages, and even foot reflexology. A policy was made in the park that tattooed people are not allowed; as it is a universal bathhouse policy running through Japan.
The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum
Stations Nearby: Toro. If you’re using the JR Utsunomiya Line, the attraction would be around 30 minutes away from Ueno
This ancient art dating back to the 9th century has been preserved and celebrated by having an entire museum filled with bonsai. This Japanese skill that was learned off from China utilizes growing trees on small scale environments. This means that you will stagger and confine the growth of the plant through where it is planted along while carefully pruning most of its protruding branches and roots. Located at Saitama, most bonsai from nurseries were transferred in the museum since the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. The museum also provides lessons in bonsai making and tending, along with an appreciation of the art and the fruit of labor. It looks closely and emphasizes on the rudimentary skills such as repotting, branch shaping, and pruning. The highlight of the museum is the 50, or so bonsai displayed, in a tokonama-style alcove indoors and a vast garden outdoors. Also housed in here is “Todokori,” a thousand-year-old bonsai considered the oldest among the bunch. These bonsai are known to be near immortal, lasting almost forever and being passed off from one generation to another. The museum also provides extensive information and exhibits on bonsai; from the carefully chosen pots per plant, a compilation of ornamental rocks used in landscaping, paintings, and even an audio guide that describes in detail every bonsai in the museum.
Oedo Antique Market
Stations Nearby: Tokyo and Yurakucho
A pop-up market showing up every month but only on 1st and 3rd Sundays. Famous for being Tokyo’s largest market of antiques. Located at the International Forum building’s courtyard, it showcases trinkets, knick-knacks, historical objects from around 250 retailers and resellers. Most things that pop up from their ever-changing collection are stuff from the Edo period such as used clothing, vintage goods, kitchenware, furniture, tableware, antique bowls and glasses, and some woodblock prints if you’re lucky. Some stuff from the West also get in the mix from time to time but are expensively priced to make up and be at par with the Japanese goodies. There is always a fulfilling feeling that comes with any surprise, and so does it go for this market. The stuff being highly reflective on the past of Japan, it is a proper perspective of the culture and ways of life from the ancestors of the Japanese. It is also good to note that a website is available to check inconsistencies and changes in dates and location of the market if ever something else comes up.
Stations Nearby: Omotesando
This private museum laden in the heart of Aoyama strikes tourists and visitors alike, with its collection of East Asian and Japanese artifacts along with a dashing spread of a garden. Owned by a tycoon of railroads, the museum stood where a suburban estate of his was once erected. Around 7000 items are in rotation in this elegant museum, housing tea-related ceramics, historical objects, art pieces such as paintings and sculptures, dazzling calligraphy, tableware from made from clay and bronze, and even some textiles. They also feature seven “National Treasures,” such as the 13th century Nachi Waterfall hanging scroll and 18th Century work from Ogata Korin called “Irises (which are screens that fold). Their website shows what is available and up for display and is updated regularly. Admission to the private property also entitles you to view their garden and NEZUCAFE that is caged in glass. The garden offers a relaxing smorgasbord of greenery, some teahouses, some sculptures, a pond, and some bridged leading to paths that take you around the serene spot. The café, on the other hand, offers a great view of the garden with the glass enclosure, while serving you light bites for some time away from the art.
National Museum of Western Art
Stations Nearby: Ueno
The 1951 establishment houses high-valued art items ranging from works that had sampled almost every renowned painter from Europe including some sculptured of Rodin. Being the only museum solely dedicated to art from the West in Japan, Le Corbusier’s extensive collection from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century has then been hailed in 2016 as a World Heritage Site. The circulation inside this magnificent museum encompasses works of famous artists such as Dubuffet, Pollock, Max Ernst, Courbet, Picasso, Van Gogh, Sisley, Gauguin, Renoir, Pissarro, Tiepolo, Delacroix, Rubens, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Tintoretto, and El Greco. Emphasizing also on the clout and love Claude Monet has from Japan, the museum also reserved an entire room just for him. Rodin’s “The Gates of Hell,” “Adam,” and “The Kiss” are all respectively placed outdoors and indoors, establishing the gravity and feel of this attraction. Aside from the galleries, there are also around 5500 pieces on rotation that were compiled from various reputable and distinguished organizations around the globe.
National Museum of Modern Art
Stations Nearby: Takebashi
The most excellent collection of contemporary Japanese art in all of Japan. They feature permanent exhibits that change quarterly; with around 200 pieces taken from their 12000 extensive collections. Some of these are 20th to 21st-century sculptures, drawings, watercolors, and paintings both in styles of the West and East. Most are showcased to compare one another as part of the rotating collection of the museum. From there, it can be figured out that the East and West have been sharing and passing off specific motifs to each other; with the East having a personal take on most movements such as expressionism and impressionism, while the West makes the most out of woodblock prints in the style of uyiko-e. These can be seen in the portraits, landscapes, and other media that can be found scattered and displayed within the confines of the galleries. Some notable people with works to look out for are Shiko Munakata, Ryusei Kishida, Kuroda Seiki (Japan’s father of Western-style painting) and Yokoyama Taikan (one of the most significant influences in Nihonga art). Inclusive upon admission is access to a 1910 building made of bricks called the Crafts Gallery, which showcases modern art objects such as clayware, baskets made out of bamboo and glasses also in a rotating exhibit.
National Museum of Nature and Science
Stations Nearby: Ueno
Targeting children as one of its primary audiences, the appeal of the museum is highly unmistakable and hard to miss. It offers creative exhibits and pop-ups you can tinker with and spans from the Darwinian evolution of the human race up to modern prototypes and discovered inventions made in Japan. With the building split into two, the Global Gallery focuses on a macro perspective of life as we know white while the Japan gallery focuses on the culture, history, and how the country will move forward. Also featured are animals from around the globe that are taxidermized, real and replicated dinosaurs in flesh and bone, skeletons of other vertebrates, an Edo-era mummified royal figure, the progress of technology in Japan, and a tear-jerking display of Hachiko (in reference to Shibuya Station’s Akita that has then been given a bronze statue). There is much to do in the vast expanse of the museum, along with a panoramic theater with limited English capabilities. Entry to the theater is inclusive of admission, yet it might be wise to pay extra for audio guides if you are a tourist.
National Museum of Japanese History
Stations Nearby: JR Sakura Station or Keisei Sakura. Around 60 minutes away from Tokyo Station if taking the JR Sobu Line. Fifty-five minutes away from Ueno Station if taking the Keisei line and is necessary to take a taxi or bus after.
A comprehensively detailed account of the history of Japan made more tangible and visual. All of Japan’s periods are chronologically presented straight from ancient times until the current time, managing to spread it on six galleries. It’s easy enough to burn half a day inside this museum, as the 284 entries of the audio guide would already require 3 hours of your life. The museum features the aristocratic living in the Heian Court of Kyoto from 794 to 1192, Edo’s pushing of a shogunate movement and the rise of the samurai, life in the time of Edo from 1603 to 1867, the Great Kanto earthquake, the Western colonialism through infrastructure and philosophy, pop culture in the 50s, and the wars between the 19th and 20th centuries. Also included is the façade of a Japanese inn, a diorama of a village from 1950, another diorama of the 1915 Asakusa streets, 12th-century kimonos for aristocrats in Kyoto, a miniature of a castle owned by a feudal lord in the 16th century, and a map of the castle of Edo. Despite being deep into Sakura City, Chiba and far from Tokyo, the museum is within proximity to the Sakura Castle Park. The Park houses the Botanical Garden of Everyday Life, showing how ancient Japanese people make do with plants for dyes, medicine, writing peripherals, and adhesive, among others.
National Diet Building
Stations Nearby: Kokkai-gijidomae and Nagatacho
An entire legislative structure of Japan that is dedicated to having its northern half be for the House of Councilors and the southern half be for the House of Representatives. An assisted tour for the House of Councilors is done in Japanese (with provided brochures in English) and last an hour, taking you around the Emperor’s Room, the Central Hall, and the chambers among other units. The assisted tour for the House of Representatives, on the other hand, need to be reserved, happen twice a week, done in English, and last about an hour and a half. This building was only available to the public around 50 years after planning and 17 years of labor, resulting it to open doors at around 1936. There had been problems regarding the building not looking “Japanese enough,” extending the work of the Germany-based architects by a decade and so. Eloquent as it is exquisite, the Central Hall building stood the highest at its time with a pyramid at its peak and was housing a stained-glass fixture along with its church-like ceiling which stood four stories tall. It was previously known as the Imperial Diet before the Second World War, having the representatives be elected by people already in power such as royal entities and people in ranks collectively known as the House of Peers. Now, the representatives are chosen by the people of the country, as stated in the 1947 constitution.
The National Art Center, Tokyo
Stations Nearby: Roppongi and Nogizaka
A museum of ever-changing exhibits but boasts as being one of the largest institutions in all of Japan. Included in the Art Triangle Roppongi along with the Suntory Museum of Art and the Mori Art Museum, this establishment caters to exhibits that are brought in by organizations from around the globe, local associations of artists, local curators, and even mass media moguls. Previously, the repertoire of the museum has been of much gravity, holding exhibits for the likes of Renoir from Musee d’Orsay and Musee L’Orangerie and even the eccentric pieces of renowned fashion symbol Issey Miyake. Also housed in the glass-fronted museum is a brewery owned by Paul Bocuse, a cool souvenir spot, and some cafes. The museum is accessible to anyone and does not ask for fees.
Stations Nearby: Keio Line’s semi-special express last stop, Takaosanguchi. The station is beside Takaosan Onsen Gokurakuyu, an outstanding hot-spring bath to unwind after a day full of hiking and climbing
A famous spot to escape from the concrete wasteland that is the city. Usually very crowded on weekends, and even more during fall when the trees form beautiful foliage. Around an hour away from Central Tokyo, the mountain offers eight hiking paths to take that are intertwined with each other. The paths span from the middle of the mountain to its foot and vary in difficulty, making it apt for newbies and veterans alike. Hidden in the trails are the Yakuoin temple, a great view of Mt. Fuji in the summit, and also a suspension bridge. Around the middle of the mountain houses an observation deck and a beer garden. The deck offers an amazing view from the mountain showcasing nearby mountain ranges and even the metropolis. Take note that the beer garden is only open for three months, spanning from the middle of July to the middle of October.
Mori Art Museum
Stations Nearby: Azabu Juban and Roppongi
The third leg of the Art Triangle Roppongi which stands at the 53rd floor of the Mori Tower. Despite existing among Roppongi Hills’ numerous food spots and department stores, this is considered and hailed as Tokyo’s best spot for the most revolutionary and groundbreaking art. Standing at such a height, it also houses an observatory that gives of the best sights of the metropolis. The museum is known for its quarterly exhibits that encapsulate architecture, design, and visual arts which all are displayed at the same time. Exhibits prior have been Japan’s possibly largest display of Warhol artifacts, an experimental art film collective, some Thai modern art, and some exhibits that cross boundaries with each other but circulate a central motif. Also featured are free audio guides, the amazing bar, late closing times (up until 10 pm maximum), and their ultramodern galleries that tower 20 feet high and that make use of natural lighting that they can manipulate. If you feel shortchanged by the trip, you can hop on over to the Tower’s Sky Deck that allows guests to enter until 7:30 pm.
Miraikan – National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation
Stations Nearby: Telecom Center and Fune-no-Kagakukan
The museum was made state-of-the-art and to be tinkered with. It shows its visions and predictions of the future, altogether while heavily based and themed on science and technology. It covers both macroscopic and microscopic scales alike, spanning from the operation of a particle accelerator, the functionality of the human brain, and how digitizing data through spatial information science can save this humanity through prediction from current trends. They also feature how the world wide web operates, better medical procedures that require less strain on the human body, a copy of the decks in the International Space Station, and even a game that allows visitors to create an ideal future while figuring out steps to achieve what they have in mind. To digress, the museum takes pride and puts their robots under the spotlight. They currently house the world-famous robot Asimo, which can perform human activities while, of course, somewhat resembling a human being. The museum pushes the boundaries of thinking regarding robots, trying to maximize our current technology for the benefit of the race and what is left of our future.
Meiji Jingu Shrine
Stations Nearby: Meiji-Jingumae and Harajuku
The shrine is situated in central Tokyo, just a few shy steps away from Harajuku. It prides itself as Japan’s top famed shrine, as it pays tribute to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. The two were known to have brought Japan to the age of industrialization it is in now from its harsh, agricultural feudalism of an economy. Given its fame, it has been a top spot for New Year (as patrons then ask and pray for a good year to follow) and most Shinto-related festivals, events, and weddings that run around the year. Greenery is densely packed inside, boasting 170,000 trees that bestows such a tranquil and serene environment for the attraction. This would be more felt upon the trip from the first torii until you make it to the shrine that is furnished through cypress and topped with a roof made of copper. Just nearby the shrine is the Treasure Museum (that showcases personal belongings of Empress Shoken and Emperor Meiji), and the Meiji Jingu Gyoen that has an amazing spread of azaleas, foliage in fall, and irises.
Stations Nearby: Tokyo Teleport and Aomi
This Odaiba-laden theme park shouts all things Toyota. Part entertainment complex, part showroom, and part theme park, it is a cute diversion for groups and couples to burn some time on their Japan trip. The free exhibit shows Toyota’s vintage collection, its current top line, and would even let you a ride in a simulation of one of their cars. The Toyota City Showcase (their showroom) offers a glimpse into the entire catalog, from their prototypes to their racing line, their hybrid line, a “universal line” that accommodates PWDs and the elderly, and some models that are only available outside of Japan. Some of the cars on display may be tinkered with and checked out, as they are open for guests to peruse. Also featured in the park is a machine testing reflexes called the “Driver’s Workout,” simulators for racing and even their security features and new equipment, and even a theater that mimics a ride inside one of their cars. They also let you try their version of the Segway, which they call “Winglet.” Their vintage line and cars from the 50s to the 70s are located in their History Garage, which sometimes also shows restoration experts work on some of the models in need of repair and beautification.
Kasai Rinkai Park
Stations Nearby: Kasai Rinkai Koen (12 minutes away if alighting from the Tokyo Station through the Keiyo line)
An attraction since 1989, it is considered the biggest stretch of a park that treads along Tokyo Bay. Inside it is hiking paths; an aquarium considered the top in the city, and many more. The all-in-one feel makes it great for traveling groups and families given the multifunctionality of the location. The place even has a sanctuary for birds where you can also watch them, along with diagrams spread around for you to identify which avian you are looking. Also featured are a deck with a 360-degree view of the bay, a beach to dig clams but not swim, and the largest Ferris Wheel in all Japan that can give you a majestic look over all of Tokyo Disneyland. The real standout is the Tokyo Sea Life Park, being the biggest and with the most bang for your buck. It serves as a shelter to life at sea ranging from species found at the Great Barrie Reef, South China Sea, the Pacific Ocean, and of course, Tokyo Bay. You will be able to spot penguins, hammerhead sharks, and bluefish tuna together with a touch and tide pool housing some rays and small sharks. The nearby food spots give you not much option to choose from and might not be something spectacular, so it may be helpful for you to opt to bring packed meals. A rare feature in most parks exists here, such as their yakitori, which is also an excellent venture to lose yourself into while you are here.
Kappabashi Dougugai Dori
Stations Nearby: Tawaramachi
It is a district that is sandwiched by Ueno and Asakusa and houses one of the biggest possible stretches of stores that sell wholesale stuff that restaurants would need to open the shop and continue operating. This century-old establishment is six blocks long, with around 170 stores that specialize and cater to both Eastern and Western necessities in cooking. Even though the district is used to selling to people who own restaurants and professional chefs, most of them also cater to guests and tourists that visit. It is very apt for gifting or even for people curious at the craft who are trying to learn a thing or two. Here you can find disposable chopsticks sold wholesale, bento boxes, aprons, restaurant furniture, fine china, industrial level restaurant equipment, large woks, pots and pans, mats made from bamboo, Noren, and even individual condiment containers among others. The distinguishable store along the stretch is the one that sells food replicas made of plastic to be used as a display outside restaurants to attract customers. Here you will find fake versions of traditional Japanese food, beverages, and even Western cuisine made to look appetizing despite being inedible. The craftsmanship is top notch, and the artisans do not sell for a relatively low price. If you’re looking for remembrance from the area, it might be wise to go home with some magnets and keychains.
Stations Nearby: Higashi Ginza
It is the most popular kabuki theatre in all of Japan. The castle-like façade is a long-time house of traditional Japanese entertainment that is also one of its more famous performing arts, boasting amazing sets onstage and stories that capture everyone’s through the revolving themes of love, avenging, and commitment. The theater is built to resemble a building from the era of Momoyama, while the inside offers complete amenities such as runways that run to the spectators, a stage that can revolve, and platforms for actors to stand on and be brought up or down. A peculiar thing about this performing art despite having most pieces originate from the Era of Edo is that all members of the cast are men. This being the case, they all make do with what they have, sometimes even having some of them perform as women if need be. In a year, around eight to nine shows are run in circulation. These shows are played in a certain repetition throughout a single day. Some guests only come over for one act, in which its tickets are sold first come first serve. These plays last for around an hour or an hour and a half, which is an experience you must try whenever you get to Japan. To complete the visit, the 5th floor of the theatre holds a gallery for Kabukiza, showcasing sets, costumes, props, and other kabuki-related things.
Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum
Stations Nearby: Mukogaoka-Yuen Station. If taking the express Odakyu Line and alighting at Shinjuku, it would take you only about 30 minutes max.
The museum aims to recreate an old village of Japan, making visitors feel like they have up for a trip back in time. This feat of architecture took 25 houses and relocated it to the spot along with some other fixtures fit for the vibe and feel of the entire place. The infrastructure from the Edo period consists of a kabuki stage, a shed for storage, a shrine, a water mill, a house for fishers, some shelter for merchants, a gate that once fronted the towering manor of a samurai, and a spread of thatched farmhouses dating to be around 300 years old. These establishments are spread along the sides of the hill that are bound by wood and are furnished with time appropriate furniture and key items to further the vision of what it’s like to live in that place at that time. Signages and pamphlets that speak of the vast history of the relocated stuff are in English, and an Exhibition Hall is also available to know more about the intricacies involved in the architecture and skill used for these thatch-roof houses, Kyoto-based machiya-style townhomes among others. If you’re lucky enough to come over on a Sunday between April and November, you’d be able to catch crafts being made by expert artists live in front of you. An Indigo Dyeing Workshop is also present, which you can participate in and lasts for an hour. If ever you get hungry, one of the thatched structures houses a soba joint to fill you up for the day.
Stations Nearby: Otemachi and Nijubashi-mae
This structure at the heart of the city center is the humble abode of the regal family of Japan. It was once a castle for a shogun, hence being located inside the heart of a moat dating to medieval times. Parts of the palace are not open to the public, such as the actual residence and the function rooms and halls. The grounds, on the other hand, are available at the emperor’s birthday every January 2 (where he and his family take time to get some fresh and be acquainted with the people he rules) and twice in a year for patrons to throw their best wishes. Assisted tours are also conducted from Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 1:30pm. The entire tour lasts around an hour and a quarter which takes you to a 1.3 mile stretch inside the kingdom. The bookings for the palace can be made in advance or even on the day itself through a call, through their website, through electronic mail or even on site. The Japanese-led tour (audio guides in English are available upon request) shows the moat inside, buildings for officials, and also the Nijubashi Bridge and the Fujimi Turret which are considered artifacts from the shogun castle that previously occupied the lands. Another site to see inside is the East Garden, which once houses the inner citadel of the shogun. The biggest attraction inside the palace that tourists are most fond of having their pictures taken is just below the arch of the Nijubashi Bridge, with the Fujimi Turret standing firm at the back.
Hara Museum of Contemporary Art
Stations Nearby: Shinigawa but requires you to walk for 15 minutes. Otherwise, you may take bus 96 and then get down at Gotenyama, the first stop.
It is considered as one of the longest-running museums to house modern international and Japanese art. Since 1979, the museum had been putting up exhibits quarterly or triennially, showcasing photos, design, and architecture from other countries. It also houses around a thousand pieces of art, ranging from short films, sketches, sculptures, and even paintings that are put up once a year and in rotation. These art pieces are from the likes of Kusama Yayoi, Frank Stella, Claes Oldenburg, Christo, Andy Warhol, Tadanori Yokoo, and even Jackson Pollock. The museum is an Art Deco home dating back to 1938 and was built in a Bauhaus fashion. It was conceived by Jin Watanabe, the same visionary responsible for Tokyo National Museum’s main gallery. The houses’ more obscure rooms such as the comfort room and closets were refurbished as quirkier spots for permanent exhibit installations. These are found to be a crowd favorite, as guests tend to give more time and emphasis to the pieces given the aberrance of the placement. A good example would be Yasumasa Morimura’s work on the toilet downstairs, which usually shocks and surprises guests towards what they are up for. The museum also has a glass-walled café that is al fresco, which is nice to have a breather after delving into the good-natured insanity of the museum.
Stations Nearby: Asakusa
An 1853 flower park-turned-amusement park, it stands as one of the longest running attractions not that far from Asakusa’s Sensoji Temple. Targeted to patrons 13 below, the park’s carnivalesque nature proves to have never lost its charm. It is filled with quirky attractions such as a small-scale Ferris wheel and rides that shake a bit and are in the shape of animals or miniature vehicles. It also houses one of the oldest roller coasters in all of Japan, along with a house of horrors, a labyrinth, and even boasting a 3D theatre. It is a cheaper alternative to most modern theme parks, and the place would be enjoyable for kids and for adults who are looking for a spike of nostalgia. Entrance only tickets are available along with ride-all-you-can passes. The entrance only admission can you only take you as far as you get in, requiring you to pay for every ride you want to experience. This set up is apt for most adults accompanying young one when they do not want to be on the ride and support the dream of a child from the attraction’s railings.
Hama Rikyu Garden
Stations Nearby: Shiodome
A sight to behold forever, this conventional Japanese spread of greenery stands most accessible to locals and tourists alike. It is located near Ginza, along the Sumida River which is used as a path by mooring boats en route to Asakusa. This Edo-era garden was made as an abode for the shogun at the time when he wanted to venture into falconry and duck hunting. It was then later acquired by the royal family after the shogunate’s fall, who utilize the facility to entertain people of popular status such as the General of the United States Ulysses S. Grant. The 1946 garden houses a tidal pool which can be trekked with three separate bridges, the last of the seawater ponds in all of Tokyo that is maintained by a sliding gate controlled by the tide. A bird refuge was also built with a memorial for the ducks the shogun had slaughtered, a teahouse to take a breather on, a garden of peonies, and a majestic pine tree dating to be around 300 years old. The high-rise buildings from Shiodome somewhat had ruined the once unadulterated and pristine views from the garden, only having its southern tip be most apt for photos that seem to take you to a different place in time.
Stations Nearby: Mitaka. You can also opt to alight on the Shinjuku Station of the JR Chuo Line and take a bus ride that is only 5 minutes long.
A museum erected with many references from the brilliant mind of director Hayao Miyazaki. The exhibit is a vast expanse of references to fan favorites such as My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, and the critically acclaimed Spirited Away. Inside is a smorgasbord of crazy architecture reminiscent of how most Ghibli films are, taking its audience and guests to their most vulnerable to bring out surprises from all sides of the table. A part of this museum is dedicated to the art and animation of the famed Japanese director, showing concept art along with their process of movie making. A small theater located inside features some shorts made by the team of Studio Ghibli to further the experience of the guests and learn more about their favorite films. Despite having some attractions blatantly target a very young demographic (like the attraction of the life-size Cat Bus from My Neighbor Totoro), it can be universally understood that it is for adolescent and adults to dive more into the world of anime and for fans to delve deeper into Miyazaki’s universe. Given so, a great effort is apparent in visiting the museum, as it requires specific bookings to be able to have a stroll inside the attraction. No tickets are sold on-site, as they are only available online and for it to be booked in advance.
Fukagawa Edo Museum
Stations Nearby: Kiyosumi-Shirakawa
The is occupied by a life-size recreation of a 1800s Fukagawa town. It makes you feel as if you’ve been transported back in time yet again, but this time with a more movie set feel. The entire museum is programmed to act as if you will live a full day in the town in 45 minutes, packed with exceptional audio and visual effects like the sunrise to the sunset, birds, and roosters making animal sounds, and even vendors trying their loudest to make a sale. The entire set up is also changed depending on the season, such as the trees without leaves in winter, blossoming sakura in spring, and the addition of thunder and lightning during summer. Housed inside the museum are 11 life-sized attractions that are fully furnished and filled with stuff one can tinker with to learn about how the Japanese’ ancestors go on with their day to day lives. Common village structures are present such as markets where food ingredients are sold, a watchtower for village fires, a canal complete with a boat and boathouse, old-style apartments, and an old-style outdoor toilet. Intricate details were given to the museum for people to be amused for hours, such as snails randomly appearing on fences or pets rummaging around town. Some volunteers are capable of speaking in English, making up for a beautiful experience to learn about the times in Edo.
Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum
Station Nearby: Musashi-Koganei
The museum is the current home of most relocated homes and markets from the era of Edo until around 1940. Championing yet again the vibe of old Tokyo, the museum boasts approximately 30 structures that provide a vision on Japanese architecture and the influence of the Westerners upon their short stint on colonialism. The museum contains thatched houses that are around 200 years old and even a 1920 home influenced by the West. Other town functions are also available and are also fully furnished as if to seem that the village is functional only with a drastic lack of people. Along with these, outdoor fixtures are also relocated such as stupas, a cannon fired every noon, and watchtower for village fires. The museum is quite hard to access, taking around 30 minutes via train, a five-minute bus ride, and a stroll along a park.
Edo Tokyo Museum
Stations Nearby: Ryogoku
The museum encapsulates around 400 years of history, spanning from the Edo period to present day Tokyo. It makes use of a lot of dioramas to show how the citizens fought through the hardships of the town, from the shogunate, the calamities, the destruction, and the continuous revival of the city. The museum starts in the 1590 founding of Edo, proceeding to the Meiji Era than ran from 1868 to 1911. It also showcases the dissolution of the city due to the Great Kanto Earthquake, the events of the Second World War, up to its revival just in time for the 1964 Olympics. Described mostly in Japanese, assisted tours and audio guides are available for free up until 3 pm.
Stations Nearby: Takebashi, Nijubashi-mae, and Otemachi
Beneath the remains of the caste of Edo remains a beautiful garden and some parts of the shogun’s citadel. At the heart of the city center stands the birth of Edo and in this spot once rose a stronghold by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the shogun back in 1600. The cast was extensive, providing extra security and multiple inner walls. All now that remains now are remnants of the once great fortress, which is still a sight to behold. The 52-acre garden now houses a vast expanse of greenery along with most of what’s left with the Edo castle, making up for a serene escape from the bustling city of Tokyo.
Asakura Museum of Sculpture
Stations Nearby: Nippori
It was once the famed sculptor Fumio Asakura’s humble abode from 1935 until 1964. Located somewhere in Yanaka, the house-cum-studio is surrounded by greenery and a body of water to reflect the Confucian beliefs of the artist it had once sheltered. It has seen its phases: from a studio, turning into a school, and even being a receiving area for visitors from overseas. The views the rooms are spectacular, as the strategic location of the building makes use of what the sun can offer along with the water structures that surround it. A garden is also located by the rooftop, and as peculiar as that goes, most of his sculptures are scattered along with the property.
Nearby Station: Asakusa
This museum is filled with patchwork that is brought over from the chilly, northern part of Japan. These colorful and masterfully patterned boro (heavy cloth) was an essential piece of survival in the region of Tohoku, as it has been used as blankets for giving birth, like an overcoat, or even blankets large enough to keep an entire family warm. Some of these are featured in the 1990 film Dreams by Akira Kurosawa, as he was left at awe by the extensive collection of the museum. Along with these are items used by the people of Tohoku, and even a theater that showcases woodblock prints from 1603 to 1868, the era of Edo. Their roof deck also holds spectacular views of the vicinity, and a souvenir spot is also available that hold interesting trinkets taken from all over Japan.
Stations Nearby: Okachimachi and Ueno
Reminiscent of a shitamachi, the long stretch of the market sells virtually anything. Food both ready to eat and ingredients are available along with clothing, accessories, bags, beauty products, and even shoes are spread throughout, and most can be bargained for. Strategically placed between the stations of Okachimachi and Ueno, the dense crowd of commuters tends to be attracted to most of what is sold. The “ame” in Ameyoko both references to candy and American; as candy stores are abundant in the area and the stretch was once a black market for products related to the US military right after the Second World War. Up to now, it still holds a ton of Western-style apparel, from boots, caps, and jeans, among other things that are being sold.