Tokyo highlights



While not necessarily boasting its share of famous attractions, Tokyo is undeniably one of the world’s major cities. It is a good stopover on a RTW trip as well as being the main entry point for those going on to explore more of Japan. Four days in Tokyo is just about enough time to sample a few of the city’s districts and experience some of its unique attractions. If you only have a couple of days you’ll need to arrive with a plan and get started as soon as you dump your bag in your hotel.  Here are five suggestions of things to do on a short visit to Tokyo:


Get up ridiculously early to visit the Tsukiji Fish Market 

Consistently listed as one of Tokyo’s leading things to see, the daily auction of freshly caught fish begins at around 6am. A few tourists are allowed to watch this spectacle but you’ll need to be there by 5am (before the subway starts) to be sure of a place. It is well worth bearing this in mind when jet lag has kicked in and you’re wide awake on your first night at 3am. If you’re not an early riser you can still head down for 9am to observe the wholesale market in full swing before enjoying one of the freshest sushi breakfasts you’re ever likely to taste. (Closed Sundays)


Shop for electronics in Akihabara and visit a maid café

Akihabara is the famous electronics district where you can wander from one 9 storey shop to the next, each piled high with the latest PCs, phones, tablets and DVDs. Now is sadly not the best time for bargains. With the yen currently so strong you might want to stick to playing with the toys on display and watching the geeks cooing over the latest arrivals. For more good people-watching head into one of the nearby manga comic stores. Some of these are also spread across many floors, with the cartoon characters becoming more raunchy as you reach the higher floors. If the comics have left you a little uncomfortable, step outside and you’ll soon find some of the characters brought to life in the form of one of many pigtailed teenage girls waiting to lure you into a nearby maid café. 

Admire Tokyo’s most striking buildings in Odaiba

Head across Tokyo Bay via the monorail to this ultra-modern part of the city. Fans of bold and creative architecture will love Odaiba with its many unusual skyscrapers and stand-out public art (there’s even a Statue of Liberty here). Pride of place goes to the Fuji TV Centre with its giant metal sphere suspended in the middle of its upper floors. The TV-related content of the building will mean nothing to a non-Japanese visitor but the views from the top on a clear day are excellent. 

Visit one of the city’s most popular temples at Asakusa

This district of Tokyo is famous as the home of the Senso-ji temple. Access to the temple is via a long straight street lined on both sides with old shops selling everything a tourist could possibly want. Once you approach the temple itself things get a little calmer; watch the people filing in to learn the etiquette of washing your hands and rinsing your mouth before entering. 

Chill out in Ueno Park 

For an escape from Tokyo’s sea of concrete and glass head to this popular park in the north of the city. Families come here to enjoy a weekend picnic or to take a stroll, while in the week businessmen can be seen on the benches around the park’s perimeter enjoying a relaxing moment away from the shackles of their desks. Best of all is the large zoo to the west of the park which has all the usual suspects (the two pandas attract the longest queues). 


(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)