The largest city in the world can be a tricky one to navigate – especially for a first-time traveller. From convoluted subway systems to narrow alleyways and endless vending machines (more per capita than any other place in the world), we can’t say we blame you for not knowing where to start.
1. Adachi Market
One of the most iconic spots on the well-trodden Tokyo tourist path is Tsukiji Fish Market. Known for its early-morning hours, the wholesale market boasts a smattering of restaurants serving up some of the freshest fish in town, for hungry travellers in search of some sushi of their own. But if you’re looking to beat the crowds, head to the lesser-known Adachi Market. The second largest in Tokyo, Adachi is actually the only wholesale market to exclusively sell seafood, with a row of restaurants serving freshly caught fish on the cusp of the expansive market. As it’s still very much a market in operation, it only opens to the public twice a month, so be sure to time your visit wisely.
Adachi Market, 50 Senjuhashidocho, Adachi, Tokyo
2. Shibuya Crossing
One of the more obvious attractions in the Tokyo prefecture, the Shibuya crossing isn’t made less appealing because of the swarms of people that flock there – that is, in fact, the lure of the attraction. Thought to be one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in the world, people come and go from every which way, making the crossing in front of Causeway Bay’s SOGO look tame in comparison. Whether you’re looking to get into the thick of it or watch the crowds ascend from afar (and get that ‘gram shot while you’re at it), this is a must-see for a reason.
3. The Hachiko Statue
The shibas in Po Hing Fong may have something of a following here in Hong Kong, but they’ve got nothing on Hachiko – an akita and loyal companion to his owner Hidesaburo Ueno. Hachiko would send his owner off to the train station each morning, and await his return for their journey back home. When Ueno tragically passed, Hachiko stood loyally by Shibuya train station at the same time every day for over nine years, waiting for his owner to come home. He became a pivotal part of community life in the area, and after his passing, a statue was erected in commemoration of man’s best friend.
4. Team Lab Planets
Team Lab’s Borderless exhibition is still a highly sought-after experience, and tickets can be hard to come by without some serious forward planning. From now until the autumn months of 2020, visitors are given an additional option – Team Lab Planets – an immersive arts space and contemporary museum that houses large-scale, abstract installations. These digitally rendered installations are ever-changing, depending on your perspective. Regular tickets are priced at ¥3200, or ¥4200 for a Priority Lane pass, and can be purchased online.
Team Lab Planets, 6 Chome-1-16 Toyosu, Koto, Tokyo
Akihabara is known as the site for the popular Electric Town, one of the world’s largest complexes dedicated to all things tech – from cameras to gadgets, and every accessory under the sun. But the area is also something of a Mecca for manga and anime fans. Mandarake Complex holds stocks of all manner of goods for an anime aficionado and is known to be something of a pilgrimage for true comic fans.
Electric Town, Taitō, Akihabara, Tokyo
Mandarake Complex, 3 Chome-11-１２ Sotokanda, Chiyoda, Tokyo
6. Harajuku District
Home to cosplay fanatics, ancient architecture (the Meiji Shrine is located here), and an assortment of street eats set to rival any city in the region, Harajuku is an area well worth dedicating an afternoon (or two). Box-ticking tourists will ensure they pay a visit to Takeshita Dori – the infamous pedestrianised path that plays host to a number of cafes and clothing stores selling trademark Harajuku staples. If you’re looking to take in the sights and sounds of the city but are a little too vertically challenged to, head to the Tokyo Tower, the Espace Louis Vuitton Gallery has a free viewing platform on the top floor. If you’re looking to source a few one-of-a-kind pieces for your flat back home, the Yoyogi Park Flea Market (held on Sunday mornings) is a great place to browse and is just a few minutes walk from Harajuku station.
Espace Louis Vuitton Gallery, 7/F, 5-7-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
7. Tokyo’s Weird and Wonderful Cafés
Cat cafes, robot restaurants – you name it, Tokyo’s got it. The city has become almost synonymous with the plethora of bizarre themed food and drink outlets it plays host to, so a trip to the territory would be incomplete without at least stopping by. If you’re in for the full fan of the fare, Robot Cabaret can be quite the spectacle.
Owl no Mori, 1-22-3, Asakusa, Taitou-ku, Tokyo
Robot Restaurant, 1-7-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo
8. Nakagin Capsule Tower
Built in just 30 days in 1972, this iconic building is the first of its kind. Comprised of unique capsules, the mixed-use building today may appear in a state of disrepair, with a lack of running water rendering it inhospitable. There have been attempts at demolition in recent years, so for a glimpse of history before it’s gone, we’d advise a visit in the not-so-distant future.
Nakagin Capsule Tower, 8-16-10 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo
9. Under the Bridge Eateries
Yarakucho lies on the edge of the Imperial Palace grounds. Stepping out of the subway, you’ll see the train tracks overhead in a seemingly innocuous part of town. But a closer look at the area unveils the plethora of izakayas – little eateries typically serving yakitori skewers, sake, and beer. Row upon row fill the alcoves under tracks and down little alleyways, so make sure to arrive hungry as each has its own specialty, and you’ll definitely want to sample them all.
10. Sumo Town
Ryogoku is the site of the first permanent sumo stadium in Tokyo. Today, a newer inception – Kokugikan stadium – takes pride of place in the heart of ‘Sumo Town’, and is surrounded by sumo stables. Early morning training sessions are sometimes open to the public, though booking this through an organised tour is advisable to avoid disappointment. Nearby restaurants are often run by retired wrestlers, so if you’re looking to bulk up and become a worthy opponent, we’d suggest an extra portion or two!
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