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Live like a local
Tokyo’s incredible skyline is one of the most iconic in the world, so a trip up one of the many skyscrapers to take in the views is absolutely essential. The highest vantage point is the Skytree, the tallest structure in Japan, while Tokyo Tower, now in its 60th year, has truly spectacular views. Cerulean Tower has an excellent bar up top and is perfect for seeing the lights of Shibuya at night. And the bar at the top of the Park Hyatt hotel is iconic with great views of the city at night. But the best might just be the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, where you’re most likely to catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji behind the skyscrapers on a clear morning.Find out more
While much of Tokyo is constantly on the move, there’s still a healthy respect for historic customs and traditions. Nestled in the heart of Harajuku, like an oasis of calm, is the Meiji Shrine and its surrounding park. Even on festival days, when Edokkos (natives of Tokyo) turn out in their finest kimonos, it retains a tranquillity that belies its position in the heart of the city. Tokyo is packed full of art galleries and museums, but for an overview of the history of the city, either the Tokyo National Museum or the Edo-Tokyo Museum are great places to start. The Edo is also near Ryōgoku Kokugikan, the heart of sumo, where you can take in a match when tournaments are on, or watch practice sessions in the offseason.Find out more
Visit Toyosu Fish Market, the new name for the original Tsukiji fish market (one of the city’s major tourist attractions), which is located down on Toyosu waterfront. Meanwhile, the pulsing, electrifying nightlife of Shinjuku is relentless, as salarymen blow off steam seven nights a week and the coolest citizens try out the latest hotspots.
If you need to get away from it all, Mount Fuji is just a short train ride away. The climb is intense but there is a true sense of achievement at the summit.
With the kids
The famous arcades of Akihabara are fun and noisy, and you’ll also get to see cosplayers in this area: super-fans of anime and video games who dress elaborately as their favourite characters. Fans, both young and old, of such classic films as My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away will adore the Studio Ghibli Museum. The Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo is essential for followers of the games and anime. Tokyo also has several amusement parks and rollercoasters, with highlights being Tokyo One Piece Tower (based on the incredibly popular manga and anime series) and LaQua. However, if you’re seeking theme parks, the call of Tokyo Disneyland might be just too strong to resist.Find out more
Tokyo is a strong contender for the crown of best shopping city in the world. For its citizens, shopping is practically a national pastime, so expect to see the streets and stores packed on weekends. Shinjuku, Ginza and Harajuku maintain a healthy rivalry over which district has the best shopping selection (and most extravagantly designed stores). Flagship outlets for practically every design brand in the world are split between them, but Ginza is a good one as it’s more open plan and easier to navigate. However, don’t miss out on trendy independent boutiques and hipster stores in smaller districts such as Shimokitazawa.Find out more
Food and drink
At first glance, menus at individual establishments might seem rather small, without much variety on offer. But when you look at it on a grand scale you realise that establishments work hard to specialise in just a few dishes (or, not uncommonly, just the one). This means if you want ramen you go to a ramen restaurant, if you want sashimi you go to a sashimi place, etc. The result is usually excellence, as practically every place to dine or drink, be it modest hole-in-the-wall or glitzy Michelin-starred joint, maintains incredibly high standards.Find out more