Tokyo Travel Guide
Tokyo is an enormous city filled with ancient temples and palaces. The Temple of Senso-ji honors Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. While the statue is not on public display, the beauty of the temple itself makes the trip worthwhile. Senso-ji, meanwhile, is right across from Nakamise-dori, a street lined with craftspeople selling their wares.
Another Tokyo icon is the grand Imperial Palace. It's in the very center of the city and was actually built to replace the original, which was destroyed during World War II. The emperor of Japan and his family still live there and so it is only open to the public on January 2nd and December 23rd (the emperor's birthday). Book ahead to tour the spectacular imperial grounds.
But one of the greatest pleasures here is simply exploring the city on foot, not only wandering into Buddhist temples but also into funky boutiques, noodle shops, and farther-flung residential neighborhoods. Fashion is a huge part of the culture here and you can find some of the more cutting-edge getups on Harajuku's Takeshita Street where people play dress up to a delightful extreme.
The Tokyo City View observation deck has floor-to-ceiling windows that provide panoramic views of Tokyo Tower, Haneda Airport, Mount Fuji, the island of Odaiba, and the Shibuya and Shinjuku districts.
A seven-meter, red-granite pool with an illuminated Jacuzzi is the centerpiece of Nagomi Spa, located at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo in Roppongi Hills. Created by acclaimed design firm Super Potato, the spa blends contemporary style with elements from old-fashioned Japanese bathhouses.
Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, a uniquely Japanese art form, are the focus of this niche museum collection, bequethed by the estate of Seizo Ota, the late chairman of a major Japanese insurance company.
Jugetsudo Japanese tea house opened its doors in 2003 in the Tsukiji district of Tokyo, next to the parent company Maruyama Nori. There you can savor delicious green tea in an atmosphere of natural and harmonious Japanese decor.
The dark, designy, one-person deep standing bar sells single servings of sake in little jars to keep the sake fresh.
To the right of the Kaminarimon—the gate opening onto Nakamise Dori, the narrow pedestrian-only shopping street leading to the Sensoji Temple—is this quaint shop specializing in washi, Japanese natural-fiber paper. It has been selling handmade paper and crafts since 1856.
The museum was designed by Richard Gluckman and houses contemporary Japanese art. The shop is worth the 52-story elevator ride for the colorful textiles.
Tokyo’s most impressive depachika (subterranean gourmet food market), Isetan may be the ultimate foodie destination.
Home to more than 200 shops, restaurants, and services, Roppongi Hills is one of Tokyo's premiere shopping destinations, located in the heart of an area that includes residences, a museum, hotels, theaters, and galleries.
Sushi chefs who arrive at the crack of dawn for the finest-grade tuna and yellowtail in the massive, centrally located Tsukiji-Jogai Market head to Sugimoto, sandwiched between other specialty stalls, to have their knives professionally honed.
Once the largest toy store in Tokyo, this century-old shop is still home to one of the most impressive toy collections in the city. Opened in 1899, Hakuhinkan is housed in a nine-story building in the Ginza district.
A distilled spirit made from potatoes, rice, wheat, or barley, shochu originated in Kyushu (in southwestern Japan), but is now produced all over the country. The Sho-Chu Authority carries over 3000 varieties of the liquor, which differs from sake in that sake is fermented rather than distilled.