We arrived in Tokyo a few days ago and we explored the city from dawn till dusk (well, actually deep into the night). Tokyo, the capital of stunning Japan offers so much to its visitors, we could stay for a week or more. The city is huge (14 million people have to live somewhere 😀 ), but well connected with public transport. Each district is like a small city by itself and everywhere you come out of a metro station is like being downtown. We visited a lot of places, here is a list of the TOP 6 most crowded sights.
1. Shibuya crossing
I’m sure everyone knows this crossing – it’s so often on TV in connection with Japan like the White House with the USA. This is the biggest and busiest crossing in Tokyo, where sometimes 1000 or more people cross the intersection at once. Join the crowds, but be aware you’re in Japan – try to find your way through the people mass smoothly without bumping into someone. If you don’t fancy being in a herd, just watch, take pictures or even better – videos. The intersection is right next to Shibuya station and in between huge shopping centres covered in neon signs. A good view of this spectacle is from the Starbucks at the corner, or the L’Occitane restaurant is also ok.
2. Tokyo Station
If you think you have seen a busy train station, then you haven’t seen Tokyo Station. Surprisingly only one Metro line stops at this station, so where do all the crowds come from? JR a.k.a. Japan Railway. Shinkansens and other trains stop here – around 3000 trains per day!, bringing thousands of people to the city and again the same number out. It’s so busy, you will feel like in a formicary. How big it is says the fact, it has a shopping mall and commercial centres behind its walls. If you’re not in a hurry, go to the main hallway and just stand still (watch out you don’t block someone’s way) for a few minutes and watch the crowds.
3. Sensoji temple
Let’s make it clear – this is the Shibuya crossing of the temples and shrines in Tokyo. It’s extremely busy, taking pictures can be difficult, not to mention surviving the way through the Nakamise shopping street, which connects Kaminarimon Gate and Sensoji temple.
The temple is actually dedicated to Buddha, but on the temple grounds is also a Shinto shrine. It’s the oldest temple in Tokyo, built in 645, but was destroyed during the WWII. It was again rebuilt and today it stands for peace and rebirth. Look forward to a huge vivid red lantern at the outer entrance gate Kaminarimon.
Just a tip (or two): If you visit the temple in evening hours, a totally different experience awaits you – the Nakamise shopping street is closed, just a few people wander around and the gates and temple are nicely lit by soft lanterns and lights.
If you would like to see it from a bird’s perspective, go to the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Centre, take the elevator up to the 8th floor and go to the viewing platform (free). From here you can see the Nakamise shopping street, Sensoji temple and to the right the big Tokyo Skytree.
Kabukicho or the town that never sleeps is an entertainment area in Tokyo, known for thousands of bars, massage salons, love hotels, restaurants, night clubs and hostess clubs. At daytime it’s not that shiny or crowded, but when night falls, it uncovers its true face – blinking lights and neon signs invite guest with exposed girly pictures, unusual massage pictures and usually non-Japanese men standing on the street offering drinks and sexy girls. Ever heard of Robot Restaurant? It’s a futuristic show with robots and girls, with a price of 8000 yen (web discount available) and food is 1000 yen extra. We decided not to go, but maybe it’s interesting for you.
Takeshita Dori is a narrow (or it seems narrow because of thousands of visitors) shopping street full of small boutiques and shops with cheesy, funny and cute stuff (from souvenirs, clothes, to food). I had my best (and cutest) cotton candy in my life here :). If you want to see Japanese youth in their element, head here for people watching. Btw. you can buy good quality for reasonable prices and most of it is Japanese made 😉
6. Tsukiji Market
This is the mother of all fish-markets in the world: the biggest, busiest and with the most money involved. The most desirable is the tuna-auction, but because of problems they had with tourists now only 120 visitors per day are allowed to see it. Be aware: you have to be there at 3 AM, 3:30 AM latest and hope to get through as no reservations are possible. The auction starts just after 5 AM. If this is too early for you, you can still visit the wholesale market after 9 AM. The outer market is always open for visitors – buy seafood, dry or fresh, or spoil yourself with the freshest sushi you will get in your life.