Our favourites in Tokyo

We´ve already told you, which tourist attractions in Tokyo are the most crowded, but we still haven´t revealed our favourite places in this busy yet amazing city.

Asakusa waterfront is a nice area, especially at night, when the Tokyo Skytree glows in all its glory. In the evening it´s also a lot less crowded, so make the most of your visit of this area and go to the Sensoji Temple – you´ll be surprised how nice it is compared to the daytime.

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Asakusa waterfront

If you arrive at Narita airport, the first thing you´ll spot is the Tokyo Skytree. As the second highest building in the world (after Dubai’s Burj Khalifa), it does justice to its name – it’s bright, with general admission you get access to 3 floors on 350 metres, where you can enjoy a 3600 view of this amazing city (and in good weather conditions of Mt. Fuji!), take crazy pictures in different photo booths and there is even a restaurant with reasonable prices (curry lunch 980 yen, sandwich selection 780, different cakes from 500). If you want to go higher – additional 1030 yen payed at floor 350 will do for 100 metres more. Although the tower is pretty new (opened in 2012) it’s not that busy – we had to wait apx.30 minutes – the same as for Burj Khalifa where we reserved our tickets in advance – this is Japanese efficiency.

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View from Tokyo Skytree

This is a pretty unknown and “off the beaten track” place in Tokyo –  Yokoamichu Park is home to a pale green memorial hall in Buddhist style, a round memorial full of flowers  and a small pond for the victims of the WWII Tokyo Air Raids. In the corner is the earthquake & air raids museum – two storeys full of history: downstairs are pictures and objects from the Tokyo 1923 devastating earthquake and in the second storey are pictures and a short film about the Tokyo air raids in WWII. The park was chosen for these memorials and museum because back in 1923 after the earthquake a firestorm killed 44,000 people in this park.

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The Memorial Hall

Meiji Jingu is one of my favourite sights in Tokyo. It’s a Shinto Shrine in the middle of a lovely evergreen park. The Shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meji and his wife Empress Shoken, but as many temples and shrines in Tokyo, this one was also destroyed during WWII, but rebuilt again in 1958. At the entrance to the park is the first torii or shrine gate, followed by two more. Colourful sake barrels are on display in the park as well as 365 different trees and plants. We were lucky and had the honour to see a traditional wedding – oh my, was the bride beautiful!

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Sake Barrels
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Newlyweds at Meiji Jingu

Don’t miss Ueno park, the oldest park in Japan, especially in the time of Sakura or cherry blossom. Hundreds of cherry trees are lined up next to the foot paths, in the evening lanterns go off and illuminate the blossoms like in a dream. In the park is also a zoo, a museum, art galleries and of course Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. The most fun part is the pond with boats – you can rent rowboats for 600 Yen or swan-looking paddle-boats for 700 Yen. If you´re there in the afternoon/evening, food stalls offer Japanese snacks and a flea-market was right next to the entrance to the park.

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Ueno park just before Sakura season
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Yes, in the middle of Tokyo this is possible 🙂

Tsukiji fish market in the Ginza district is the biggest fish market in the world and a must see for all food lovers. The tuna-auction is extremely popular, but only 120 people are allowed to see it. How to be among them? Be there at 3:30 AM, line up and hope. The auction starts shortly after 5:00 AM, the first group of 60 people is inside for around 30 minutes, after that the other 60 people are led inside.  The fish market has an outer and an inner market – the outer market is open to the public at any time, the inner market (wholesale) can be visited after 9 AM. So don´t be disappointed if you don´t make it (or just can´t get up so early, or like in our case where we didn´t want to see so many dead fish and went later) to the auction – you can go to the inner market later. In the outer market are many restaurants serving mainly sushi and hundreds of shops selling all kinds of fish, fish products etc. Great fun, I´m telling you 😉

Nihombashi area is a nice area with high end hotels, shopping centres and restaurants. We were there in the evening searching for the nicely illuminated Fukutoku shrine. But we found a lovely neighbourhood, which allows you to dream big. A rustic beer-house is also around the corner, serving selected and modern Japanese beers.

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Fukutoku Shrine

Inside the building of Roppongi Hills is the observatory Tokyo City View. With no waiting time, a free memory photo, different “science experiments” and great 3600 city view it is truly a secret tip for beating the crowds and making the most of your money. We went there in the evening to enjoy Tokyo by night from above and we had an unforgettable and romantic time. A small cafe and restaurant is also on the observatory and sometimes they offer star-gazing with the Roppongi Astronomy Club.

Tokyo City View

Shibuya crossing is also on our list of the most crowded sights in Tokyo, but still – we really enjoyed it. And the crowds have to be there to make it happen. 🙂 As one of the most crowded and busy crossings in Tokyo and probably also Japan it´s remarkable, that almost no one bumps into each other (except us, foreigners). By now you probably already know, that the best view is from the Starbucks right on the corner, but on the other side is the L´Occitane restaurant, from where you can also see the spectacle.

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Sometimes you just need to stop …

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