Navigating the world’s largest metropolis—home to almost 13 million people—can be a daunting prospect for visitors. Tokyo’s maze of neighborhoods seems to offer up every imaginable sight and sound—some of them cacophonous and modern (speeding bullet trains; herds of hurrying, be-suited businessmen; bizarrely futuristic toilets), and some of them ancient (centuries-old shrines and temples; the waddling combat of sumo wrestlers). The trick here is to explore one enclave at a time; for instance, starting in Ginza or Shibuya for shopping, then heading to Shinjuku or Roppongi for nightlife. And if you get lost, just ask for help—Tokyo residents are some of the politest city-dwellers in the world.
Once a fishing village, Tokyo has evolved into an economic powerhouse with a population of 13 million. It's a city of delightful contrasts, where skyscrapers demand as much attention as Zen-style gardens. Ready to book your trip? Craft the perfect itinerary using this Tokyo travel guide.
Things Not to Miss in Tokyo
Anime fans should check out the Studio Ghibli, nicknamed the Disney of the East because it showcases characters from various Studio Ghibli films and exposes the animation process. Other top activities include:
• Buddhist temples and ancient pagodas
• Mt. Fuji day trip
• Tokyo Tomin Golf Course
• Tokyo Joypolis
• Designer shopping in midtown
When to Visit Tokyo
Weather in Tokyo is generally mild, with hot summers and mild winters. Typhoon season peaks in August and September. Many festivals take place during the month of July, when Mount Fuji is also open for climbing. Springtime is the best time to not only beat the tourist rush, but also see the landscape at its most lush. October is also lovely.
Tokyo has many cultural celebrations. Every two years in May, thousands flock to see the elaborate floats at the Kanda Matsuri Festival. Other festivals include the Bunkyo Tsutsuji Matsuri (Azalea Festival) in April and Hinode Matsuri (Sunrise Festival) in May.
- An afternoon wander through the city’s most peaceful oasis, Meiji Jingu in the Shibuya district—where a gorgeous Shinto shrine is surrounded by 175 acres of forest, gardens, and walking paths. (If you’re a morning person, substitute a visit to Tokyo’s oldest shrine, Sensoji, before it fills with crowds.)
- Diving into Tokyo’s unique, fantastical culinary offerings—either by visiting the legendary fish stalls in Tsukiji, tasting local delicacies at Isetan Depachika, sampling libations at a sake seminar, or digging into street-food staples like yakitori and ramen.
- Embracing the city’s wild (sometimes just plain weird) youth culture, from Harajuku’s mod-Goth Lolitas to the manga shops and “maid cafes” of Akihabara.