From elegant gardens to stoic shrines and museums of fine art, Tokyo is full of places to stimulate the mind, soothe the soul, and please the senses.
We recently took a look at 20 great places to eat in Tokyo, as picked by the users of travel website Trip Advisor. No matter how much of a foodie you are, though, you’ll still need something to do between meals, which is where today’s list comes into play.
Along with restaurants, Trip Advisor allows users to evaluate sightseeing attractions, and below are their top 20 picks for sightseeing places to visit in Tokyo.
20. National Art Center, Tokyo
The eclectic exhibitions of this Roppongi art museum, opened in 2008, have run the gamut from Japanese anime art to classic European masterpiece paintings. An especially nice touch is that, unlike many Japanese museums, this one is actually open on Mondays, taking Tuesday as its regular day off instead.
A number of banquet halls dot the grounds of this garden in the Shirokanedai neighborhood, but the lovely landscaping makes it worth a visit even if you’re not on the guest list for any events being held inside.
18. Edo Tokyo Museum
While there are dozens of museums in Tokyo, this one stands out by also being about Tokyo, with displays and exhibits tracking the city’s transformation from a feudal era town of middling importance to one of the most dynamic metropolises in the world.
17. KidZania Tokyo
KidZania is a unique cross between a chidlren’s museum and an amusement park. Billed as “a real city for kids,” at the Tokyo branch (there’s also a KidZania in Hyogo Prefecture), kids can try their hand at several grown-up professions, getting a taste of what it’s like to be a veterinarian, manga artist, car designer, investment consultant, or one of many other jobs.
16. National Museum of Western Art
Along with being the capital of Japan, Tokyo is also an international, cosmopolitan city. The prize piece of the impressive collection of the National Museum of Western Art, located in Ueno Park, is Monet’s Water Lilies.
15. Ghibli Museum
Yes, a visit to the Ghibli Museum does require some advance planning, as tickets must be purchased in advance and only give you access to the facility for a limited block of time. But if you’ve got even a passing interest in the anime from the studio founded by Hayao Miyazaki, you owe yourself a trip here to see the giant Catbus or sip Valley of the Wind beer.
14. Tokyo Station Marunouchi Hall
Tokyo Station’s recently renovated Marunouchi Hall may not be worth going too far out of your way to see, but if you’re passing through Tokyo Station anyway (as you’re quite likely to, given how many train, subway, Shinkansen, and airport bus lines converge there), the beautiful architecture is a treat for the eyes.
13. Yasukuni Shrine
While the grounds of this modest-sized Shinto shrine are usually quiet, its dedication to those who gave their lives fighting for Japan in armed conflicts, including Word War II, means that on any given day there’s a chance there’ll be demonstrators in the area, either in favor of or opposition to the shrine’s political implications.
12. Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum
Formerly the residence of Japan’s Prince Asaka, this Meguro museum’s opulent architecture and expansive garden are as big a draw as its revolving art exhibitions.
11. ANA Airplane Factory Tour
Reservations are required for this insider look at airline ANA’s operating maintenance facility, attached to Haneda Airport.
10. National Museum of Nature and Science
Yet another museum located in Ueno Park, visitors can see a variety of natural history and scientific exhibits, covering both Japan-specific and global topics.
茂木勇紀 (@musicrider0119) April 28, 2017
Chidorigafuchi is also sometimes referred to as the “Imperial Palace moat.” The more elegant Japanese name, though, which translates to “pool of a thousand birds,” seems more fitting since the waterways are bordered by beautiful gardens filled with cherry blossom trees.
8. Nezu Museum
Dedicated to pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art, this museum’s permanent collection includes paintings, sculptures, and lacquerware, with some pieces over 1,000 years old and designated as important cultural properties by the Japanese government.
7. Akasaka Palace/Geihinkan
Technically, this is referred to in Japanese as a rikyu, meaning “detached palace” or “Imperial villa.” Located in the Akasaka neighborhood, it was once the residence of the Crown Prince, but now serves as the lodgings for important politicians visiting from overseas. While that means most of us are unlikely to ever spend the night, the building is open to the public for a number of days every year.
6. Tokyo National Museum
One last Ueno Park museum, but if you’re going to visit only one, this should be it, as it’s where you’ll find one of the greatest collections of historically and artistically significant Japanese antiquities.
5. Meiji Shrine
When you step out of Harajuku Station, you’ve got two choices. Going east will funnel you into some of the busiest or most fashionable clothes shopping streets in the country. Going west, meanwhile, will lead you towards Meiji Shrine, surrounded by a forest so lush and thick it can block out the din of the surrounding city.
4. Tokyo Racecourse
Japan has long had a reputation for automotive athletics, but Tokyo Racecourse, in the Fuchu neighborhood, isn’t a venue for motorsports, but for horse racing.
3. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Another green oasis in the middle of Tokyo’s concrete jungle, Shinjuku Gyoen is at its most beautiful when the cherry blossoms bloom in spring and when the leaves change color in the fall. It’s also reasonably priced at just 200 yen (US$1.80) for adults (yes, they do charge admission).
2. Tokyo Tower
The Skytree may be taller and newer, but there’s an undeniable romantic appeal to Tokyo Tower’s orange-and-white color scheme, and its parkside location, not to mention its playful spirit.
1. JAL Sky Museum
ANA’s rival, Japan Airlines, has a museum and maintenance facility tour of its own. It’s also located near Haneda Airport, meaning that if you time it just right, this could be the first, or last, stop on your Tokyo travel itinerary, which, armed with this list, you should have no trouble filling with places to go.