There are a lot of things to do in Tokyo! Just going on an urban hike around the city is interesting. These five things to do in Tokyo were our top choices when we visited Japan on a limited timeline in August 2016.
The Sensō Ji temple is located in Asakusa. Sensō Ji is Tokyo’s oldest temple and the city’s best known. As one of the things to do in Tokyo, it ranks high for both locals and foreigners. The temple is dedicated to the Buddhist goddess of mercy, Guanyin (or Kannon, according to the Japanese pronunciation), and its foundation was built in 628 AD. Inside the temple is a peaceful Japanese style garden, while at the temple’s entrance is it’s own famous piece of the Sensō Ji temple (the gateway is called the Thunder Gate).
The Tokyo Skytree stands tall against Tokyo’s horizon, and is on many travelers’ list of things to do in Tokyo. Located in the Sumida area of Tokyo, the structure houses an observation tower, restaurant, broadcasting station, with shopping located nearby. It’s Tokyo’s tallest building and the world’s tallest tower. On our visit to Tokyo in 2016, our vacation rental was close to the Tokyo Skytree, so we often used the Tokyo Skytree subway station to get from place to place. The Tokyo subway almost deserves it’s own place on this list as a cultural experience that’s interesting but still low key.
Asakusa is arguably one of the most talked about things to do in Tokyo, and is definitely one of the most culturally rich. There’s always something going on there. When we visited, there was a parade going on just outside the subway station. While the Shibuya Crossing offers a more modern look at Tokyo, Asakusa explores its past. During World War II, the neighborhood was Tokyo’s most popular entertainment center with its famous cinemas and geisha houses. The area was heavily damaged in the 1945 Tokyo firebombing, but it has been successfully restored. Asakusa offers a wealth of shopping opportunities as well as a number of temples to visit with the most famous one being the Sensō Ji temple.
The Shibuya Crossing is an intersection in Tokyo where large groups of people cross the street. It’s one of the most famous images of Tokyo. The Shibuya Crossing can be viewed easily from the Shibuya subway station, but you can (of course) also go cross the street at the Shibuya Crossing and go explore the Shibuya area of Tokyo. One of the other things to do in Tokyo (Tokyu Hands) is located in Shibuya. But if Tokyu Hands doesn’t strike your fancy, walking around the Shibuya area is a good way to explore modern Japanese culture.
- Tokyu Hands
Tokyu Hands is an 8-level department store located in the Shibuya area of Tokyo. Although not technically a tourist attraction, it’s still an interesting look in to Japanese life. Each level of Tokyu Hands is like its own store. Some of the sections include a hardware area, craft area, kitchen and home living area, a machine repair area, and even a pet supply section on the top floor! Each section at Tokyu Hands is extensive. Even if you’re not looking to buy anything, Tokyu Hands offers lots of stuff, and it can be fun to just look around at all the wonderful options. We had fun looking at the cat toys on Tokyu Hands’ top floor for our cats, Garfield and Babylonia, even though we didn’t buy any in the end (we seriously considered it).