Whether you want to see cherry blossoms in spring, the 2020 Summer Olympics or amazing fall colors, this is a great year to visit Japan! With its two international airports, Tokyo is a popular city for kicking off your adventures. Combining old and new, this bustling city of over 9 million residents features beautiful gardens, bright lights, renowned sushi, rich culture and world-class art. Whether you’re looking to begin a multiday tour or enjoy day-long activities, our guide to Tokyo will help you get started.
Must-See Tokyo Attractions
One of the best ways to experience Tokyo is on a half-day or full-day bus tour that takes you to the old and new parts of the city. See the Imperial Palace, formerly known as Edo Castle, which serves as the residence of the Emperor of Japan. The grounds are lush with green foliage and provide a relaxing spot for locals and visitors alike. Next, experience delicious food at Tusujiki Outer Fish Market, Japan’s No.1 place for seafood with over 400 stalls and restaurants. Visit Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest temple, which features the classic bright red Kaminarimon Gate, a statue of the god of thunder, and a five-story pagoda.
Nearby, enjoy strolling on Nakamise Shopping Street which stretches for about 250 meters from Kaminarimon Gate to Senso-ji Temple and is filled with a wide variety of shops. Then, enjoy a relaxing cruise on the Sumida River to discover beautiful bridges and modern buildings (along with stunning cherry blossom blooms if you are traveling in spring). Finally, be sure to visit teamLab Borderless, an immersive 10,000 square meter three-dimensional world with amazing digital art environments and experiences.
Helicopter Tours from Tokyo
See Tokyo’s amazing skyline from the air! Enjoy a day or night helicopter tour of the city that covers all of the major sites including the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest structure in Japan, and other impressive skyscrapers.
For a longer adventure, try a two-hour helicopter tour that continues on to Mount Fuji. Soar over emerald hills and ancient temples to Japan’s most revered mountain to gaze at Mount Fuji’s snow-capped peak. Enjoy the sweeping serenity of Hakone, with the Pacific Ocean in the distance and coastline as you fly back towards the city—an experience you won’t forget!
Japanese Culture Tours in Tokyo
One of the best ways to experience Japan’s many rich customs and cultural offerings is with a guided demonstration. From tea ceremonies to martial arts, don’t miss these fun activities.
Authentic Tea Ceremony in Tokyo
No trip to Japan would be complete without attending a traditional tea ceremony. Learn about the artistic and spiritual side of this ancient practice. This popular tea ceremony demonstration includes Japanese sweets, tea tasting and the chance to wear kimonos for the ultimate vacation photo op.
Learn the Samurai Way of the Sword
Travel to the Shubukan dojo, established in 1786, for a martial arts training in Kendo. Popular with samurai, Kendo literally means “the Way of the Sword,” and integrates the use of bamboo swords. Enjoy a Kendo class with experienced instructors and learn how to gain control over your body and mind, much like the samurai of historical Japan. You’ll also get to wear dougi, the uniform of kendo, and have a chance to take keepsake photographs while dressed as a samurai.
Ninja Experience at a Bukeyashiki
Enjoy an authentic Ninja experience at a bukeyashiki, a historical samurai house. Ninjas have a long history in Japan, yet a lot of things about them are unknown. Head to a dojo on this day trip and learn the essence of being a ninja. You’ll have the opportunity to wear a historical ninja outfit and have a hands-on training on how to draw and sheath swords, blowguns, and shuriken or Ninja stars.
The Colorful Art of Somemono
If you’re an admirer of beautiful Japanese fabrics, try your hand at a two-hour class in the art of making Somemono. Often adorned in nature motifs of flowers and leaves, these traditional wrapping cloths are popular throughout Japan. They are also eco-friendly and died with natural colors.
Popular Day Trips from Tokyo
Centrally located, Tokyo is a great spot for unforgettable day trips. Whether you want to get away to nature, see an UNESCO heritage site or spend time with famous animation characters, try one or all of these tours.
Mt. Fuji Tour
One of Japan’s most iconic symbols, Mount Fuji is a must-see destination for ever traveler. Enjoy a one-day tour that includes stops at the mountain’s famous lakes, including Lake Kawaguchiko, where you can grab a photo of the mountain’s reflection in its mirror-like water. Discover the beautiful Oshino Eight Ponds, full of fresh spring water and beautiful rural scenery. Then, head to Oshino Shinobi no Sato, also known as Ninja Village.
Zao Fox Village and Forrest
See Japan’s adorable foxes on a scenic day trip to a Zao where you watch over 100 foxes roaming free. The Fox Village is also home to miniature ponies, goats, birds and a petting zoo of bunnies. If you visit in spring, you can even get your picture taken with a fox cub.
Nikko World Heritage Tour
Visit the 400-year-old Nikko Toshogu Shrine, an UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its lavish decorations and ornate details. Enjoy a day trip that includes a Japanese-style lunch and a stop at Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls, one of Japan’s most magnificent waterfalls.
Studio Ghibli Museum and Film Tour
From My Neighbor Totoro to Howl’s Moving Castle,Studio Ghibli has created some of the most beloved animation movies of the past 30 years. Fans will enjoy a day trip that includes the Ghibli Museum and Hotel Gajoen Tokyo, an exquisite place used as the inspiration for the film Spirited Away.
Located just outside Tokyo in Maihama, this Disney theme park is modeled after Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida. Explore seven themed lands including World Bazaar, Tomorrowland, Toontown, Fantasyland, Critter Country, Westernland and Adventureland. Enjoy a Tokyo Disneyland day trip which includes roundtrip transportation to and from your hotel with early morning/late night options so you can enjoy a full day at the park.
For more suggestions on things to do in Japan, click here.