Travel Guide Asia Japan Honshu Kanto Tokyo





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Tokyo, a bustling metropolis aglow with neon lights, is an image of the throughly modern Japan. With almost 38 million people living in Tokyo and the surrounding urban area, the Greater Tokyo Area is the largest metropolitan area in the world. While this large number of inhabitants can be overwhelming for the traveller at first, especially if trying to take a train at rush hour, Tokyo is one of the safest large cities to travel in. And while Tokyo may seem all glass, steel and neon at first, digging deep can reveal treasures from Japan's historic past.




The Tokyo metropolis consists of 23 city wards (ku), 26 cities, 5 towns and 8 villages, including the outlying Izu and Ogasawara Islands. Listed below are some of the most popular neighbourhoods for travellers.


The original boomtown in Tokyo, Shinjuku has some of Tokyo's earliest skyscrapers, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. A centre for shopping, the area boasts many major department stores and electronics stores, and on the east side of Shinjuku Station, the golden gai has many bars and nightclubs, though a number of places are private clubs or don’t allow foreigners inside. Shinjuku Station moves an estimated three million passengers a day, making it the busiest in the world.


Where Tokyo's youth go to shop and show off, offering travellers a chance to people watch and the wild fashions of the Japan's hipster. The scramble crossing outside of the Shibuya station Hachiko exist is the world's busiest street crossing, and nearby is the statue of Hachiko, a dog who met his owner every day at the train station, even after his masters death. The devotion of the dog, who returned every day to the station to wait for 11 years after his masters death inspired the Japanese, and also provides a common meeting place.

Akasaka and Roppongi

Akasaka offers many hotels and restaurants close to the active night life in Roppongi.


Where Japan's high end consumers come to do their shopping, Ginza offers department stores, upscale shops selling brand-name goods and some of city's finest and most expense restaurants.


Akihabara (Electric Town)

Akihabara (Electric Town)

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If you want to see bright lights, Akihabara is the place to go. This part of the city is most famous for its numerous electronics stores selling all kinds of gadgets and gizmos. More recently, however, it has become known as the 'otaku' centre of Tokyo. 'Otaku' is basically a sub culture of society made up of both young and old anime and manga lovers. Add to that the maid cafes where gents can go for a cup of coffee while being treated like a king and it's safe to say that Akihabara has firmly placed itself as the capital for animation and electronic fans in Tokyo.


Harajuku is the centre of teenage culture in Japan.


Odaiba is a futuristic shopping and entertainment district.


The Asakusa district is a good place to get a feel for the "old Tokyo". The main attraction is Sensoji, a 7th century Buddhist temple.



Sights and Activities


  • Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo - Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo - A selection of post-World War II works are on display in this museum. Address: 4-1-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum - Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum - Modern Japanese art is on display in this museum in Ueno Park. Address: 8-36 Ueno Koen
  • Mori Art Museum - Mori Art Museum- Situated on the 53rd floor of Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills, this museum not only offers great shows of emerging and established artists from around the world, but also some excellent views of the city. Address: 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-Ku
  • Edo-Tokyo Museum - Edo-Tokyo Museum - Chronicles the history of Tokyo (known as Edo during the feudal period). Address: 1-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida-ku
  • Tokyo National Museum - Tokyo National Museum - The largest museum of Japanese art in the world, with artefacts ranging from samurai armour and lacquerware to kimono and woodblock prints. Located in Ueno Park. Address: Ueno Park

Shrines and Temples

Nakamise - Tokyo, Japan

Nakamise - Tokyo, Japan

© All Rights Reserved jwongyboy

  • Sensoji Temple.
  • Meiji Shrine.
  • Sengakuji Temple.
  • Yasukuni Shrine.
  • Zojoji Temple.

Gardens and Parks

  • Rikugien is a Japanese style landscape garden.
  • Koishikawa Korakuen is a Japanese style landscape garden.
  • Hama Rikyu is a Japanese garden along Tokyo Bay.
  • Palace East Gardens is the Imperial Palace's public gardens
  • Ueno Park is a public park containing many of the cities most important museums and the Ueno Zoo.

City Views

In a big city, it’s often a good idea to get yourself up high to get a view of the place. The Tokyo Tower (Eiffel tower look-a-like) or Tokyo City View, both close to the Akasaka/Roppongi area both offer views, but both cost money. For a free view of the city, head to the Municipal Building to the west of Shinjuku station, where you can get up high and get a view of Tokyo for no cost. If you’re lucky, you might be able to see Mount Fuji, though due to either overcast skies or hazy smog it is becoming increasing rare to see.

Other Attractions

  • Imperial Palace is located in the centre of Tokyo.
  • Tsukiji Fish Market is one of the world's largest fish markets.
  • Ryogoku is the centre of sumo. Grand Sumo Tournaments are held here in January, May and September.
  • Ueno Zoo is home to several pandas.



Events and Festivals

Traditional Festivals

Japan has countless traditional festivals and holidays. Then when you add the local festivals that number just grows and grows. Here is a list of the few major national traditional festivals.

  • Japanese New Year (January 1) - the most important holiday in Japan. Although there are lots of customs and traditions most of them are done in the private. This is mainly a family holiday and Japan can feel very empty as almost everyone goes home. Travelling in Japan in during this time is difficult because everything is shut down.
  • Seijin No Hi (2nd Monday of January) - the coming of age holiday for Japanese women which 20. Traditionally families will buy any young woman how turned 20 in the last year a kimono. On this day almost all Japanese women will ear a kimono.
  • Hina Festival (March 3) - Also known as doll festival the Hina Matsuri festival is meant for young women. In early February families with daughters put dolls in order to make the women happy and healthy later in life. On Girls Day, on March 3, the dolls are put away until next year.
  • Shichi Go San Festival (November 15 in the old lunar calendar) - Boys who are 3 and 5, and girls 3 and 7 are taken to a Shinto shrine in traditional Japanese dress. The children are brought there to pray for good luck, good health and wealth.

National Holidays

  • Golden Week - Is quite often referred to as the "Japanese Spring Break." It is a combination of many state holidays, including Showa Day, Greenery Day, Children's Day, and Constitution Memorial Day in order to give a full week off. It takes place during the first full week of May. Everyone gets this week off in Japan so it is very bad time to travel because everything is crowded, expensive and most hotels will be full. There is also a major festival in the southern city of Fukuoka this week, it is called Hakata Dontaku.

Local Festivals

  • Daruma Kuyo - "Daruma Kuyo" is a traditional ceremony held after the new year where Daruma dolls are burned at the famous Nishi-Arai Daishi temple. Daruma dolls are a staple fixture in many Japanese homes and businesses; they symbolize the hoped-for good fortune Japanese families or businesses intend to experience in the new year and are often given as gifts. For Daruma Kuyo, thousands bring their dolls to the temple, where they offer blessings and gratitude for what occurred over the past year. Buddhist monks lead a lighting ceremony with traditional chants and prayers, and then the dolls are burned, symbolizing the end of a year. At that point, new dolls are purchased, and positive intentions are set for the upcoming year. The event is held the first weekend after the New Years celebrations have commenced.
  • Sakura Matsuri (01 Mar 2014 - 30 Apr 2014) - Sakura Matsuri is very popular festival held during March and April when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Visitors can anticipate "hanami" (blossom viewing) parties, dancing, music, and many different kinds of food vendors. Some popular viewing locations are the Chidori-ga-fuchi Moat, Aoyama Cemetary, Sumida Park, Kaomonyama Park, Yoyogi Park, Ueno Park, and the Yasukuni Shrine.
  • Tokyo International Anime Fair - The Tokyo International Anime Fair is one of the largest animation-related events in the world. It is attended by over 250 Japanese and foreign tv and film production companies, as well as toy, game and software developers.
  • Sanja Festival - Sanja Festival is held the third weekend every May and is one of Tokyo's most important festivals, dating back to the the Edo period (1603-1868). During the festival, more than a hundred portable shrines (mikoshi) are paraded around the streets by residents near the Asakusa Shrine.
  • Fuji Matsuri or "Wisteria Festival" - Fuji Matsuri is held every April and located at the Kameido-tenjin shrine in Koto-ku, when the wisterias bloom in late April- beginning of May.
  • Kurayami Matsuri - Kurayami Matsuri or "Midnight darkness festival" is held every May in Okunitama Jinja. During this four-day festival, the city illuminates with evening events including horse races, lantern parades, and fireworks.
  • Sanno Matsuri - Sanno Matsuri is held every other June and is organized by Hie Jinja in Chiyoda-ku. About 300 people dressed in ancient costumes parade through the heart of Tokyo. The procession departs from Hie-jinja Shrine at 8 o'clock in the morning does not return to the shrine until early in the evening.
  • Tokyo International Film Festival - Tokyo International Film Festival is held every October. This star-studded event is one of Asia's most competitive film festivals.
  • Tokyo Bay Fireworks - The Tokyo Bay Fireworks show is held the second Saturday of every August. It's an extravagant display of fireworks that launch just north of the Rainbow Bridge.
  • Awaodori Koenji (31 Aug 2013 - 01 Sep 2013) - One of the most famous summer festivals in Japan, the Awaodori main event happens on the Shikoku isle in the south of Japan but during the last weekend of August it happens in Koenji center of Tokyo. It is a vivid festival with dance and songs. About 188 groups (ren), 12,000 dancers perform Awa dance to lively music and parades even if it's raining. The atmosphere is very festive and after the parade it continues around the streets where people eat Yakitori. Address: Tran station: Koenji it just beside., Hours: From 5:00pm




Tokyo lies in the temperate zone, with hot humid summers, chilly winters and mild springs and falls. Summers are wetter than winters. Snowfall is only sporadic, but does occur each year. Average temperatures are between 25 °C and 30 °C from June to September with warm nights, around 20 °C. Winters from December to February are around 10 degrees during the day, and slightly above zero at night, but sometimes daytime temperatures can stay around zero and snow stays on the ground for some days. In general, March-May and October-November are good times for a visit, but also busy as this is when all the flowers bloom (Spring) or the trees show their beautiful foliage (Autumn).

Avg Max9.9 °C10.4 °C13.3 °C18.8 °C22.8 °C25.5 °C29.4 °C31.1 °C27.2 °C21.8 °C16.9 °C12.4 °C
Avg Min2.5 °C2.9 °C5.6 °C10.7 °C15.4 °C19.1 °C23 °C24.5 °C21.1 °C15.4 °C9.9 °C5.1 °C
Rainfall52.3 mm56.1 mm117.5 mm124.5 mm137.8 mm167.7 mm153.5 mm168.2 mm209.9 mm197.8 mm92.5 mm51 mm
Rain Days4.



Getting There

By Plane

There are two main airports: Narita International Airport (code NRT) and Haneda Airport (code: HND). Haneda (officially Tokyo International Airport) offers mainly domestic flights but a growing number of international routes are added. Narita International Airport, in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, is the major gateway for international travelers. Some of the main links with Tokyo Narita include those to/from London, Los Angeles, New York City, Sydney, Paris, Amsterdam, Auckland, Kuala Lumpur, Mexico City, Moscow, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Mumbai, Bangkok, Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Dubai, Frankfurt, Cairo, Istanbul, Perth, Copenhagen, Zürich and Hanoi.

To/from Narita

Tokyo Starfish

Tokyo Starfish

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  • Rail: From Narita, there are two train lines to Tokyo.

- JR: The Narita Express offers service between the airport and central Tokyo area vary from as little as 53 minutes to 70 minutes depending on the time of departure. The price from the airport to Tokyo station is 3,140 yen in ordinary class.
There're also commuter trains which is a cheaper option. Remember that a JR pass covers the cost of this train.
- Keisei: Keisei's Skyliner limited express travels to Nippori Station in 51 minutes and Keisei Ueno Station in 56 minutes. The price of the Skyliner from Narita Airport to Keisei Ueno Station is 1,920 yen. They're not frequent but there are commuter train services directly between Narita airport and Haneda airport

  • Bus There're limousine bus services from Narita Airport to many places in Tokyo vicinity. Many lines directly goes to big hotels.

Cost is about 3000yen per person. In recent years there are cheap bus services from Narita to Tokyo station whose cost is about 1000yen.

  • taxi service also exists between the airport and Tokyo. However, they are much more expensive. Depending on where you're going, it will cost about 20000-30000yen.

To/from Haneda

  • Rail: Haneda Airport is served by the Keihin Kyuko Railway (Keikyū) and Tokyo Monorail. The monorail has three stations (Haneda Airport Terminal 1 Station, Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station, and Haneda Airport International Terminal Station); Keikyū operates a single station between the two domestic terminals (Haneda Airport Station) and another station for International Terminal (Haneda Airport International Terminal Station).
  • Keikyū offers trains to Shinagawa Station and Yokohama Station and through service to the Toei Asakusa Line, which makes several stops in eastern Tokyo. Some Keikyū trains also run through to the Keisei Oshiage Line and Keisei Main Line, making it possible to reach Narita International Airport by train. Although a few direct trains run in the morning, a transfer along the Keisei Line is generally necessary to reach Narita.
  • Tokyo Monorail trains run between the airport and Hamamatsuchō Station, where passengers can connect to the Yamanote Line to reach other points in Tokyo, or Keihin Tohoku Line to Saitama, and have a second access option to Narita Airport via Narita Express, Airport Narita, or Sōbu Line (Rapid) Trains at Tokyo Station. Express trains make the nonstop run from Haneda Airport to Hamamatsuchō in 16 minutes. Hamamatsuchō Station is also located adjacent to the Toei Oedo Line Daimon station.
  • The airport can be reached by a the Bayshore Route of the Shuto Expressway and is also accessible from Route 1. Scheduled bus service to various points in the Kanto region is provided by Airport Transport Service and Keihin Express Bus.

By Train

Shinkansen bullet train

Shinkansen bullet train

© All Rights Reserved GregW

Shinkansen service arrives at Tokyo station, located near the Imperial Palace grounds and the Ginza commercial district. From this station, Central Japan Railway Company operates the Tōkaidō Shinkansen service to Osaka, and East Japan Railway Company operates Shinkansen services to Akita, Nagano, Niigata, Hachinohe and Shinjo.

In addition to JR Rail, the following companies operate services in Tokyo: Keikyu operates 5 lines, Keio 6, Keisei 7, Odakyu 3, Seibu 13, Tobu 12, Tokyu 8, and 5 additional companies operate one line.

Check Hyperdia for more details about schedules and prices to many cities in the country



Getting Around

By Public Transport

Tokyo has one of the best train systems in the world. Looking at a metro map can be a bit daunting at first because of the number of lines but after while it is quite easy to navigate the city by it. Remember that on JR lines you can actually use a Japan Rail card for free rides! One thing that is a bit confusing is that most train stops will only have one, maybe two signs in Romanize text, making it difficult to spot your stops. So pay very close attention or count the number of stops you need to go.

By Foot

Tokyo is massive therefore walking one part to another is a bit time consuming. It is best to take the train to one area then walk around.




A resturant in Ginza, Tokyo

A resturant in Ginza, Tokyo

© All Rights Reserved kenx

Though you can easily run up tabs of ¥10,000 per person in the nicer restaurants, it’s possible to eat really well for a decent price. There are many places offering really good meals with lots of variety for ¥500 and ¥1,000 a meal, often with quite large portions.

The Tsukiji fish market is a great place to get a cheap breakfast. As the workers are winding up their work day in the early morning, there are numerous stales selling either fresh sushi or soba noodles. The Tsukiji fish market is located near the Tsukiji Shijou Station on the Oedo subway line and Tsukiji Station on the Hibiya subway line.

Near Tokyo Station are a number of yakitori restaurants, offering numerous small dishes, usually on skewers and cooked over an open fire, and big beers.

In summer, many department stores host “beer gardens” on their roof tops. They often have “all you can drink and eat” specials (timed for 60 or 90 minutes), and provide you with good beer and a do it yourself grill to cook your food on a hot plate.





To the east of Shinjuku is some great discount shopping, as well as the red light district and the area called the Golden Gai. The Golden Gai is a number of really small alleys filled with bars that many Japanese hit after work. However, a number of places are private clubs or don’t allow foreigners inside. Those that do allow foreigners usually charge a cover charge and pricey drinks.




Accommodation in Tokyo is expensive! Even budget hostels can cost upwards of 4,000 yen a night for a dorm room and is most likely located far from everything. That being said a trip to Japan is not complete without a day or two in Tokyo, so budget wisely. One option is to sleep at internet cafe. They have shower rooms for guests to use. Another cheap option is a capsule hotel.


View our map of accommodation in Tokyo or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)



Keep Connected


Manga cafes are dotted along the streets of almost every city in Japan. For a very reasonable price (about ¥100 per 15 minutes), you receive a private cubicle with a PC with internet access at blistering Japanese internet speeds. The chairs are incredibly comfortable (making them an excellent place to sleep for the cash-deprived), and you can even order snacks and drinks from the staff.

A number of business hotels have Internet access available if you have your own device, sometimes for free. It is also possible to find Wi-Fi "hot spots" around many large cities in Japan, especially near tech-related businesses and large corporate buildings with unsecured wireless networks. 3G Wireless Data and Pocket Wifi are other options.


See also: International Telephone Calls

Payphones (公衆電話 kōshū denwa) are easily found, particularly near train stations, although with the popularity of mobile phones, public pay phones are not quite as numerous as they once were. Gray and green pay phones accept ¥10 and ¥100 coins and prepaid cards. Be aware that not all places with public telephones have phones that accept coins, so it may be worthwhile to buy a phone card for emergency use. Some of the gray phones, as indicated on the display, can make international calls. Pre-paid cards can be purchased at convenience stores, train station kiosk stores and sometimes in vending machines next to the phone.

Modern Japanese mobile phones (携帯電話 keitai denwa or just keitai) tend to operate on unique cellular standards not always compatible with the rest of the world. 3G phones using the UMTS/WCDMA2100 standard and equipped with a 3G SIM card will most likely work. If your phone is up to spec, double-check with your carrier if they have a roaming agreement with either SoftBank or NTT DoCoMo. Coverage is generally excellent, unless you are heading to some remote mountainous areas. If you have no 3G phone but still have a 3G-compatible SIM card, you can rent a 3G phone in Japan and slot in your card, allowing you to keep your home phone number in Japan. For a longer trip, you can also purchase a phone, but doing this legally requires an Alien Registration Card (or an obliging Japanese friend willing to front for you).

The easier way is to get a prepaid phone. Prepaid phones are sold in most SoftBank and AU stores. If you already have a 3G phone, go with Softbank as it can sell SIMs as opposed to au whose prepaid service is phone-based like most CDMA carriers. Prepaid phones use a "card" with a pass key to "charge" a phone with minutes. These prepaid calling cards, unlike the phone itself, can be found in most convenience stores. A prepaid cell phone is available for as little as ¥5000 plus ¥3000 for a 60-90 day call time package, which will get drained at a rate of ¥100 per minute (¥10 per 6 seconds for AU's prepaid service). Both SoftBank and AU offer prepaid phones.


The Japanese postal service is excellent! Domestic and international mail service is very quick and reliable. The prices for sending letters, postcards and parcels vary depending on where you send if from and to which country you send it too, and of course depends on weight as well, so check this calculation page of Japan Post for more details. Post offices generally are open from 9:00am to 5:00pm on weekdays, closing at weekends and also on national holidays, though a few open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Central post offices are sometimes open until 7:00pm, open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 5:00pm and on Sundays and holidays from 9:00am to 12:30pm. There are post offices in every major city and minor town. Another thing to remember is that the post office is one of the few places in Japan that is guaranteed to have ATMs that take international cards.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 35.670479
  • Longitude: 139.740921

Accommodation in Tokyo

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Tokyo searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Tokyo and areas nearby.


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Tokyo Travel Helpers

This is version 78. Last edited at 4:45 on May 9, 18 by cecilecutblues. 152 articles link to this page.

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