What the top five things to do in Tokyo are depends on when you plan to visit in Tokyo and what kind of a tourist you are.
Perhaps the greatest example of a modern city, Tokyo offers something special for every tourist. The backpacker, the honeymooner, the family man or the retired couple, the religious and the obsessive shopper, everyone will find the vacation of their dreams here.
1. The Tsukiji Fish Market
Tokyo is definitely the greatest place in the world for a foodie, especially a fish lover. Hence the first thing on our top five things to do in Tokyo list is visiting the Tsukiji Fish Market. The Tsukiji Fish Market is the largest fish market in the country and probably the only one of its size in the world. Where else will you find people waking up at four in the morning for a tuna auction? Even if you are not a morning person there’s still something for you there. The numerous Sushi joints there offer amongst the best and freshest fare you can find anywhere.
The market offers more varieties of fish than conceivable. Your palate will definitely thank you. And while you are dodging the sellers pushing their fish carts around, you will gain a cultural experience that is unique to Tokyo. But if the controlled chaos is not your style, there are several high class eateries also where you can order from both traditional and modern menus.
2. Festivals in Tokyo
Number two on the list of things to see and do would be the several festivals in Tokyo. Whatever the season of your visit you will always be able to catch some festivities. There are four distinct seasons in Japan ? spring, summer, fall and winter. If you had the foresight, or were just plain lucky, to time your trip during the spring (March to May) you could watch the Hanami (Cherry Blossom Festival) and the Japanese Plum Festival in all the parks and gardens around the city. The blooming of the Sakura flowers (cherry blossoms) has long been one of the main attractions for tourists from all over the world. Summer (June to August) maybe the toughest for sightseeing since it can be a little too hot and humid. But colors and lights abound in the city even in these months.
The Tanabata festival sees all the main streets decorated with colorful streamers attached to bamboo poles. People write their wishes on papers and hang them from their houses and from the trees too. In late July there is also the Tokyo fireworks display on the Sumida River. Fall (September to November) is witness to Momiji (Foliage Festival) when the whole city turns a beautiful red and orange. Winter (December to February) might not have a major festival but Tokyo is done up beautifully during Christmas and New Year. Shogatsu or the Japanese New Year falls in January. Hatsumode is the Japanese festival where, beginning with midnight on New Years’ Eve, the Japanese visit holy shrines to pray for health and prosperity. The Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo is a popular shrine.
3. Places in History
With a civilization as old as the Japanese the next thing a tourist must do is explore the history of the city. The first stop has to be the Imperial Palace on your Tokyo sightseeing tour. The palace is home to the emperor and his family. Moats and massive stone walls surround the castle. Kokyo Gaien or the palace garden is located just outside the palace and is the perfect place for souvenir photos. The Sensoji temple in Tokyo is a Buddhist temple. According to legend its construction was completed in 645 making it the oldest temple in Tokyo.
When you are done with old buildings, visit the Tokyo National Museum which contains old samurai mirrors and interesting woodblock prints among other artifacts. The Edo-Toyko Museum is also a must-see for all interested in the history and culture of this unique empire. Here one can see the original Edo Castle and also the replica of an ancient Kabuki theatre. Don’t forget to watch a sumo wrestling match or a Kabuki show. Only then will your cultural experience be anywhere near completion.
4. A dazzling cityscape
Having seen the city from the inside, wouldn’t you want the bird’s eye view too? In Japan you can catch it for free. A visit to the forty-fifth floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office provides a magnificent view of the whole city, a fantastic blend of old buildings and marvelous samples of modern engineering. From up here a tourist realizes how well planned the city of Tokyo is and how extraordinarily it manages to use every inch of free space. If your eyes tire of the city you can catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji from up here too!
5. The shoppers’ final stop
The fifth and final thing in our list of top five things to do in Tokyo is reserved for the compulsive shopper in all of us. Akihabara, also called the Akihabara Electric Town, will satisfy even the geekiest gadget guru in the world. It is home to one of the first stores that is completely devoted to personal robots. The Oriental Bazaar will satisfy all your souvenir cravings. Nakamise-dori street was first formed around 1685. It extends for approximately 250 yards and is lined one both sides with vermillion lacquered shops that sell everything from handmade rice crackers to crafts and theatrical merchandise. There is no lack of big-name designer stores in Tokyo either.
Here is wishing all tourists to Tokyo Gokouun o inorimasu (Good Luck).
Photo of red fishes at Tokyo Fish Market, Japan originally posted by gruntzooki