Don’t scratch them off your itinerary just yet, though.
It’s hard to fully express just how much exposure Tokyo gets from the Japanese media. As the center of the nation’s cultural, economic, political, and entertainment worlds, websites, talk shows, and magazines are constantly running features about the city, meaning that many people have seen images and heard stories of Tokyo’s points of interest before actually visiting the locations themselves.
Because of that, it’s inevitable that some people are going to find that the real deal doesn’t mesh with their preconception of it. Japanese Internet portal Goo recently asked its users what sightseeing spots in Tokyo didn’t live up to their expectations, and from 2,168 responses compiled the following top 8 list.
7 (tie). Asakusa Hanayashiki (73 votes)
Founded in 1853, the Hanayashiki amusement park claims to be the oldest in Japan. Unfortunately, its cramped, downtown location means that it just can’t compete with newer, more expansive rivals like Tokyo Disneyland.
7 (tie). Tokyo Tower (73 votes)
Tokyo Tower remains an iconic Tokyo landmark, and its distinct color and park-side location lend it a romantic air. For less amorous visitors, though, it might be a little hard to ignore the fact that since Tokyo Tower was built in 1958, several taller buildings have gone up in the city, somewhat lessening the impact of its vantage point.
6. Roppongi Hills (77 votes)
Located in the trendy Roppongi neighborhood, Roppongi Hills tries to do a little something for everybody, with shops, restaurants, bars, a theater, an art museum, and an observation tower all part of the sprawling complex. There aren’t too many bargains to be found, though, and the high prices may have contributed to it being part of the list.
5. Ameyayokocho (81 votes)
In many ways the polar opposite of Roppongi Hills, this network of shopping streets, which starts just outside Ueno Station, was the site of a major black market following World War II. The merchandise being sold today is legit, but there’s still a bit of a seedy air to Ameyoko, as the district is also called, which might be a little off-putting to those expecting more glitz from Japan’s biggest city.
4. Takeshitadori (93 votes)
Another shopping street, this time located outside Harajuku Station. The Harajuku neighborhood is largely synonymous with youthful fashion, but with dozens of clothing stores flanking the narrow road, you’ll have to be as OK with large crowds as you are trendy threads.
3. Sanrio Puroland (96 votes)
While much newer than Asakusa Hanayashiki, Sanrio Puroland, a.k.a “The Hello Kitty Theme Park,” has a similar problem, in that it just can’t match the scale of Japan’s premiere amusement parks.
2. Shibuya Scramble Intersection (97 points)
Footage of the multi-directional crosswalk outside Shibuya Station, flooded with people, has become one of the go-to establishing shots of Tokyo in movies and other media. It is, though, still just a crosswalk, so those expecting more might be left feeling a little cold once the “Don’t walk” sign comes back on.
1. Tokyo Skytree (108 votes)
The 634-meter (2,080-foot) Skytree isn’t just the highest point in the city, it also ended up in the highest position on the list.
Now, before you start completely reworking your itinerary for that trip to Tokyo you’ve been planning, it’s important to take the survey’s rankings with a grain of salt. Common sense tells us that no single tourist destination is going to please everybody. The locations listed here might have made the list due to the sheer number of people they attract, of which a certain percentage is bound to be dissatisfied, rather than because they’re fundamentally boring places to spend time at.
Also, since the survey was only concerned with negative reactions, it doesn’t account, in any way, for the potential enjoyment of polarizing places.
Reserved tickets to go up the Tokyo Skytree start at 3,000 yen (US$26) for adults, which is awfully high for those without a serious interest in seeing high-altitude urban views. If that is your cup of tea, though, a visit to the Skytree is likely to be a major highlight of your time in Tokyo. Takeshitadori and the Shibuya Scramble are constantly crowded, but some people will enjoy the intense rush of being in one of the world’s busiest cities. And Puroland may not have a roller coaster, but you’ll have a hard time finding any other amusement park that does stage readings of boys’ love novels.
In other words, do a bit of homework before you go, and you should have no trouble finding places in Tokyo that’ll leave you feeling happy that you went.