Japan:A Closer Look At Tokyo-Part 1

Jan 26th, 2009 | By | Category: Regional Travel Resources

Today Honor (UKTokyoite) from Tokyotopia continues her series of guests posts on Tokyo in our Japan: A Closer Look Series. Last week she shared some advice on the practicalities of visiting Tokyo and today she will tells us about some of the great things to do and see in Japan’s capital city. Take it away Honor…

Where to begin?  This was a really tough article to plan for because there’s just no way I can cover everything in Tokyo that you can see or do! Bear in mind that there are 23 wards that make up greater Tokyo. Each one has its own characteristics and individual set of things to do.  With that in mind I’ve put together some of my favorites in the southern part of the city but don’t think of this as a definitive list. Please feel free to share your personal recommendations in the comments to this article.

Things To See And Do In Tokyo

The first thing I would say is to take half a day (more if you fancy it) and just follow your nose. Go walk about somewhere and see what you find, just be sure to wear some comfy shoes! 23 wards there may be but, at least in the case of central Tokyo, it is pretty easy to get from one place to another using the Tokyo Metro system or Japan Rail.  Jump off the train somewhere and embark on your own little adventure into the back streets of the city.  Early morning is a great time to do this if you want to see things like the local tofu shop in operation and to see the city come to life as the sun rises.

Futako Tamagawa is one of my favorite haunts, where you will find views of the Tamagawa River separating Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture.

If you prefer something a little more structured,  choose one of the Tokyo walking itineraries (PDF File) presented by the Japan National Tourist Association before you put on your walking shoes.

Sega Joypolis TokyoMore mainstream in nature but a place I’ve always enjoyed wandering round is Odaiba. Watch the sun rise and set with the famous Rainbow Bridge in the foreground, have a look round the shops, visit a museum, or play some video games.   There’s something for almost every taste in Odaiba.

musashi-koyama-shopping-mallMoving on, why not go local for a day. Get out of the city center and into one of the more local suburbs that lie outside the Yamanote line that loops around central Tokyo. I live to the south of Tokyo so this is the area I know best. I love a little area called Musashi Koyama that is two stops south of Meguro station on the Meguro line. The Palm shopping mall is supposed to be the longest in Tokyo and is full of knick knack type shops as well as one of my favorites for buying food items that can be hard to find in Japan, Kaldi Coffee Farm. Here’s a local commentary about the Musashi Koyama area which is worth a look and a smile (you’ll understand the smile when you read it).

Get a more historical sense of the city and enjoy some really beautiful surroundings at Meiji Jingu shrine in trendy Harajuku (lantern at shrine entrance pictured above – top). The shrine was built in honor of Emperor Meiji who brought an end to Japan’s isolation from the rest of the world. Many major events take place here and if you happen to be visiting when there is a Japanese festival occurring on the calendar, Meiji Jingu is a good place to catch the action as it unfolds.

Next week I’ll be looking at some of the things to do and see in the Northern half of the city so make sure to check back. In the meantime, visit Tokyo Tourism Information or drop by my site, Tokyotopia, to learn about lots of other great things to do and see in Tokyo. Have a great week!

Other Articles in the Japan: A Closer Look series:

Image Credit:  UKTokyoite, Personal Collection

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  1. I have still not yet been to Odaiba.

  2. I can definitely second Honor’s recommendation to just get out and walk around some of the low-rise neighborhoods. Musashi Koyama is a terrific spot with lots of mom and pop stores still left. (I usually wind up walking there from nearby Togoshi Ginza on the Tokyu Ikegami Line). I would also suggest Nishi Ogikubo on the Chuo Line. I’ve spent many a Sunday afternoon meandering around and checking out all of the shops. Mitsuya Sake Shop in Nishi Ogi is one of the best in town.

  3. Well, it depends on what you’re into of course, but I going there - especially in summer. It’s a really nice place to have a dinner looking out over Rainbow Bridge and the city as well.

  4. Te-chan!

    I’m glad you like the recommendation and its great to add another place to the list - thanks : )

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