See also: Things to Do in Tokyo
Considered as one of the most important in the list of the world’s powerful global cities, Tokyo is the capital city of Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun. As it has the elements of both that of a city and that of a prefecture, Tokyo is known as a "metropolitan prefecture", a trait that’s unique to the capital city. Instead of being a capital with a city like structure, Tokyo is a collection of suburban areas with their own centre, together forming a large city. The fact that each of these suburbs has its own character traits and individuality, making a visit to Tokyo all the more interesting.
Visiting Tokyo makes you take a deep dive into the Japanese culture, interact with the polite Japanese people and understand why they are so famous as a host. With the city being well connected with a proper metro system, and the Yamanote Line or the “loop line” connecting the city’s major areas and important landmarks, your visit to Tokyo is promised to be a memorable one. Although space is something that is hard to find in Tokyo, yet with the sweet Japanese hospitality and great hotel standards at reasonable prices, your stay in Tokyo is expected to be comfortable as well.
Tokyo has been frequented by travellers since ages, and it still is a preferred destination for many. The beautiful city is much more than cherry blossoms, historic temples, Mt. Fuji, or sushi as we see in postcards and movies. Tokyo is a historic city that has held on to its culture, its traditions and to its roots and with the passage on time. It has mixed the ultramodern to its tradition and has formed a place of beauty and colour.
While Tokyo’s Harajuku region is famous for its extreme fashion, colourful costumes and real-life anime style of clothing, the city’s Tsukiji Fish Market is known for being the largest as well as the busiest fish market in the world. On one hand, Tokyo’s Akihabara is known for being the electronic jungle for the quirky attractions that it holds, while on the other, Sensoji Temple region helps the tourists with its spiritual touch. While places like Ueno Park, Yoyogi Park, Meguro River and many more take you close to nature, providing a picturesque landscape with beautiful cherry blossoms, Shibuya Crossing, on the other hand, is known for being the busiest railway station with an active city life.
The western half of Tokyo is known for its modern aspects and technological advancements. Its cutting edge design, innovative structural designs of buildings, modern shopping centres, and a colourful active nightlife attracts lots of tourists all through the year. The eastern half of the city has a serene ambience as it lies on the ancient historical Samurai regions with their wonderful sanctuaries and notable sites. Being a city with such an active life and varied personality, there are many notable areas and activities to do when in Tokyo.
Tokyo is a city with unique attractions which makes it a beautiful destination to spend your vacation. Before you start planning your holiday, let us help you take a look at different areas of the city and their specialities to help to decide where to stay in Tokyo.
If you are looking for the modern active and colourful Tokyo to spend your holiday days in, Shinjuku is the place you would want to be in. With vibrant neon lights, busy streets, bustling train stations, futuristic high rises and skyscrapers with advanced technologies, shopping malls, 100 yen shops, bookshops, picturesque parks, cafes, and restaurants- Shinjuku is what modern Tokyo is all about, and more. Located on the west side of the station on the Yamanote Line, Shinjuku is connected enough to help you travel throughout the city with ease.
Along with convenient trips to important landmarks like Hakone and Mount Fuji area, being on the Japanese busy train line ensures an active rush of people and a bustling local atmosphere. Shinjuku is known for its active nightlife, great restaurants and 100-yen shops.
The west side of the Shinjuku train station or the Nishi-Shinjuku is filled with corporate buildings and towers, which ensures you keep your eyes glued towards the sky to stay mesmerized by the modern Tokyo’s architectural standards. The Golden Gai neighbourhood and the Omoide Yokocho or ‘Memory Lane’ nearby are narrow lanes filled with bars and restaurants, offering different kinds of cuisines while some of them still hold on to the old Japan’s roots since World War II. While, on the east side of Shinjuku train station is Kabukicho- the modern Tokyo with futuristic technology-filled part of the district.
If you want to take a break from the active city life, you should visit Shinjuku Gyoen Park. Known for the cherry blossoms Gyoen Park has a serene ambience amidst the rush of the bustling city. Also, on a day with clear sky, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Free Observatory should be in your ‘to visit’ list to get a beautiful view of Mount Fuji.
Prefered by the younger crowd of Tokyo, it is quite similar to Shinjuku. Quite like Shinjuku, it has a proper transport system that keeps it well connected to other parts of the city. With a number of restaurants, cafes and pubs present in Shibuya, it has a youth-oriented ambience and is a little less populated than Shinjuku, as students in uniforms form Shinjuku’s crowd. Tokyo’s Shibuya is where you will find the famous Hachiko dog’s statue - the dog who waited for his master until it died. Shibuya even has a plaza – Hachiko Plaza named after him.
Shibuya is quite famous for the stores and the anime and gothic based fashion options that are available here. If you are into these kinds of quirky fashion, cute accessories, Takeshita-Dori street and Harajuku is the place for you, as it is filled with exceptional second-hand shops. Here you can find many Japanese young souls dressed up in bright colourful costumes. Shibuya’s Omotesando street is filled with modern designer boutiques and international style brands.
Ginza, Tokyo Station & Tsukiji
After Shinjuku, Ginza is the next best area to stay in. With frequent transport options making it a well-connected area, Ginza, Tokyo Station and Marunouchi area can be considered the best place to stay. It has a variety of options and lifestyle choices that suits your wallet.
Much like London’s Oxford Street, Giza is known for its luxury hotels and expensive brand’s retail shops. Filled with high-end brand shops and shopping malls, Giza’s posh ambience is well known among tourists. After sun-down Giza’s ambience gets all the more bright as the shops light up and put up a colourful display creating a mesmerizing effect, which makes this place perfect for window shopping. Although it might sound intimidating, Giza is also famous for its mid-range and cheap shopping options that include bargain stores and shops selling second-hand fashion accessories.
Filled with restaurants for people from all monetary standards, the Ginza, Tokyo Station and Marunouchi area is known for its pleasant parks and broad streets that create a calming ambience altogether. Since it is not as crowded as Shinjuku or Shibuya, many tourists prefer this region to spend their holidays.
Once you are here, a visit to the Tsukiji Fish Market, Kabuki-za Theater, Hibiya Park and the Imperial Palace is must, to get the complete feel of a Tokyo visit. With multiple cosy cafes, restaurants and pubs, the Ginza, Tokyo Station and Marunouchi area provides numerous dining options and accommodations as well. With Ginza being best suited to travellers with a luxury lifestyle and shoppers with extravagant budgets, many tourists often prefer the Tokyo Station and Marunouchi part of the district.
If you are looking for old Tokyo, Asakusa is the place you would love to be in. This region has held itself to its roots with the passage of time with modernization barely having any effect on it. Amongst all the old-Tokyo like ambience, you are bound to spot Tokyo Sky Tree- Tokyo’s tallest building.
While large malls, shopping complexes are a rare find here, Asakusa is more about small shops and eateries. Although a bit away from central Tokyo, and the location of this region not being as convenient as Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ginza or Tokyo Station, the city’s excellent metro service connects Asakusa to every other part of the city, solving the distance problem.
With great local ambience of authentic Japanese culture, Asakusa is perfect for the tourists who are looking for a stay away from the rush and crowd of the city. Considered as the least expensive place in Tokyo, you can choose Asakusa as your shopping spot and buy Japanese crafts and take them back home as souvenirs. With nice dining options, it also has affordable options for hotels and ryokans that provides a comfortable stay during your stay.
In Asakusa, big chubby wresters are quite a common sight as here you can find the National Sumo Stadium Kokugikan. Also, if you are looking for a calm and serene experience with the authentic Japanese ambience, you can visit Senso-Ji Temple and Asakusa-jinja Shrine, while the Edo-Tokyo Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art gives you a trip of Tokyo’s history and art.
Known for the Rainbow Bridge and the famous Statue of Liberty replica, Odaiba is the well-planned region of Tokyo. Beautified with waterfront, the promenades, and walkways, this part of the city is devoid of any local Japanese atmosphere and is preferred by parents as it is filled with theme parks and science museums, that keeps children busy. Also being close to Tokyo Disney, Odaiba is a favoured region of parents for their kids.
Odaiba has wide streets and large buildings and has come a long way from the old Japanese culture with modernization taking its place. After sunset, it also offers an excellent view of the Rainbow Bridge.
Although a bit far from central Tokyo, Odaiba has convenient access to airports and is well connected to other parts of the city. Being away from the Tokyo centre also ensures a calm and peaceful stay with a resort-like vibe, away from the noise of the city. Tourists who stay here often visit the Tokyo Disney Resort.
If you prefer great dining, entertainment and an active nightlife, Roppongi should be your first choice as it surely is another great place to stay. Although not being on the Yamanote Line ensures that you can not really move around the city easily, still it is preferred by both the tourists and the locals for its excellent dining and drinking options.
Roppongi is also famous for several art museums, galleries, shopping centres, and theatres. Roppongi is the cosmopolitan part of Tokyo where the wealthy tourists come to enjoy, eat and drink.
Roppongi Hills is a massive complex which includes around 220 restaurants and shops, offices, movie theatres, hotels, and art museums. There are several museums in Roppongi like the Mori Art Museum of Moro Tower in Roppongi Hills complex, National Art Center Tokyo and Suntory Museum of Art.
There are also several historical places in Roppongi like the Nogi-jinja Shrine, that honours General Nogi, the Russo-Japanese War hero; Buddhisim’s Jodo sect’s important temple - Zojo-Ji Temple, that has one of the three great bells of the Edo-period; and the Atago-Jinja Shrine. Quite like Odaiba’s Statue of Liberty replica, Roppongi also has an Eiffel Tower look-alike - Tokyo Tower, which interestingly is 13m higher than the original.
With cheaper accommodations and a bit away from central Tokyo, Roppongi is a great place to stay if you are looking for an active and happening nightlife with great dining options.
Although these are the most famous places in Tokyo, there are few other exceptionally beautiful places in the city where you can choose to stay. In the end, it’s all about how you plan your holiday itinerary and what you are looking for. As it turns out, Tokyo is a place which serves a history lover as well as a young colourful with quirky fashion choices and love for anime.