Behind Asakusa’s landmark Kaminari-mon is Tokyo’s oldest temple, Sensoji. You can see Tokyo Skytree from here, so you can take a picture of the fusion of Japan’s traditional and modern architecture. Also, in front of the temple, they burn incense that is said to be effective for ilnesses, so many visitors direct the smoke towards their heads and bodies. There are many stalls lined up on the road heading to the temple, and on weekends you can enjoy a festival-like atmosphere.
2. Imperial Palace and the surrounding cherry blossoms
The Imperial Palace, the emperor’s resident, is one of the symbols of Japan as a country which is 2,000,000 square meters large in area. This peaceful space suddenly appears in the modern, busy area of Marunouchi near Tokyo Station. While going inside the Imperial Palace requires a prior application, you can fully enjoy the beautiful scenery of the outer moat freely. In the spring, the cherry blossoms bloom in profusion, and many photographers gather to take pictures of the sight.
3. Tokyo Station – Ramen / Character Street
Tokyo Station is the entrance way to Tokyo for a lot of tourists, and in its underground shopping center you can enjoy modern Japanese culture. In Tokyo Ramen Street, there are 8 popular ramen restaurants that always have a long line of people in the queue from morning till night. Also, on Tokyo Character Street, there are character shops selling everything from Pokemon to Precure to Tamagotchi. You can also find limited edition goods here.
Rikugien is one of the two major gardens from the Edo period (1603-1868), which took 7 years to build. The garden is very spaceful, and you can comfortably spend your time here while enjoying the four seasons. It’s very famous as a spot where you can appreciate the cherry blossoms and the autumn foliage. In those season, March-April and November-December, the park holds light-up events.
5. Nakamise Street/Asakusa
The 250 meter long road full of souvenir shops leading from the Kaminarimon in Asakusa is called Nakamise. Nakamise is a temple city that has been around since the Edo period. Even today it’s still adorned with showy Japanese-style ornaments in each season, making you feel the vestiges of the old days. Some popular souvenirs are snacks called ningyo-yaki and age-manju. It’s recommended to walk around the temple grounds while enjoying the food.
6. Yakatabune Cruisers
The yakatabune cruisers that calmly float down the Sumida River, while taking in the sight of Tokyo’s downtown has been a refined way of pleasure since the Heian era (794-1185). It is popular as an excursion tour because you can see many famous sightseeing spots as you ride. There are many boarding areas, including Tsukishima, Hamamatsucho, and Asakusa, so you can pick which tour you’d like to go and from where you’d like to start. There are also boats with meal plans where you can eat a sashimi assort served in a boat-shaped dish.
7. Akasaka Ninja Restaurant
The motif of this restaurant are “ninjas”, warriors who served the samurais during the Sengoku Era, or the Warring States period (1467-1568). If you pass through the door hidden from the outside world, you enter the restaurant, which is set up like a fort. There are many items inside that are created under the ninja theme, like the scroll and shuriken shaped foods, bringing together the entire concept. During the meal there are surprise events, and being able to see the art of ninja up close is one reason why this restaurant is so popular.
8. Ryogoku Kokugikan
At Ryogoku Kokugikan, the institution built for professional sumo wrestling, there are sumo tournaments held three times a year in January, May and September. Since the tournaments tickets usually sell out, it is best to buy them in advance. There are many sumo stables in the area, so if you walk around you might encounter sumo wrestlers in their topknots. The “soul food” of sumo wrestling, chanko-nabe (a hot pot with a variety of ingredients), is famous in the area.
9. Kinshicho Daiso
Supplying everything from daily necessities to fashion items and meal ingredients, Daiso is a popular 100 yen shop. The Kinshicho Daiso is famous for being the biggest one in Tokyo. Their selection of underwear, cold weather items, dinnerware, hygiene-related items and gardening goods is particularly good. It would be good if you stop by on your way to or from the Tokyo Skytree.
10. Ueno – Ameyoko
After World War II, the Ueno area became one of Tokyo’s leading downtown areas, and black markets used to be held there. As there were many candy shops in the area, it was given the name “Ameya Yokocho” (“ameya” for candy shop and “yokocho” for alley), which was later shortened to Ameyoko. It’s still a popular area where you can find food and miscellaneous goods for sale. It’s a rare area in Tokyo where you can haggle for the best deals, and stores along this street are often featured on TV.
11. Tokyo Tower
Tokyo Tower is a broadcasting tower well-known as a symbol of Tokyo. At night, it lights up with warm orange lights, and it colors the Tokyo skyline. It’s a popular date spot, and it is a spot that even the Japanese people feel they would like to visit at least once in their lives. If a couple sees the moment at midnight when the tower lights are turned down, it’s said they’ll find happiness for eternity.
12. Meguro Gajoen
In the 1930s, a businessman reformed this residence into a traditional Japanese restaurant, and began Japan’s first wedding ceremony-reception hall. That luxurious building is referred to as “the Showa era’s Palace of the Dragon King” and there is a huge number of art pieces decorating it. Currently, there is a wedding hall, a restaurant and a hotel, so it’s a spot where men and women of all ages gather. There are full-time guides there, who can take you on a tour of the grounds to experience and enjoy Japanese art.
13. Shibuya Center Town – Japanese souvenir vending machines
The shopping street that runs through the center of Shibuya is called Center-gai. Among the crowded street, there are fast food joints and arcades that overflow on weekday afternoons with middle and high schoolers. In the evening, you can spot a large number of businessmen making their way to izakaya bars or karaoke boxes. A day in Shibuya will let you feel the diversity of the city. In one section of Center-gai, there is a “Japanese souvenir vending machine” area where you can buy souvenirs like kanzashi hairpins and Japanese-style earrings. It’s something you can’t miss.
14. Ikebukuro Plaza (A capsule hotel even women can stay at)
Capsule hotels are popular among foreign tourists because it feels like you’re staying in a spaceship. However, most capsule hotels do not allow women to stay there. Ikebukuro Plaza is a capsule hotel that has women-only floors. As you can have an interesting experience here at a reasonable price, it’s a recommended spot.
15. Senbon Inari at Sannou Inari Shrine
Next to the shrine of the god of thriving business, Hie Shrine, is Sannou Inari Shrine. In this shrine, you can enjoy a scenery of red-lacquered torii gates like that of Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Shrine. Also, the scale is different, you can enjoy similar scenes at Hie Shrine and Ueno Park Hanaen Inari Shrine, so visit it as a photo spot.