There is so much to see in Japan’s capital! We had three days to explore, and a long list of places to check out, so we spent more time visiting some attractions than others. I’ve written separate posts about places like Tsukiji Market, Ueno Park, and Senso-ji Temple. Now is the time for the other unmissable spots in Tokyo!
The Tokyo Imperial Palace is the official residence of the Emperor and Empress of Japan. This large, park-like complex consists of a moat, several gardens, and even some museums.
Our main goal at the Palace was to check out the East Garden, a famous spot for cherry blossom viewing. However, the day of our visit was badly timed–there was a spring celebration and the inner grounds to the Imperial Palace, generally closed to the public, was open to visitors that day. The lines to get in were incredible!
So we just hung out by the Nijubashi Bridge before returning to the Tokyo Station and continuing on.
Japan is known for its cutting-edge technology. At the Akihabara district in the nortehastern part of Tokyo, there are department stores dedicated to all things tech. It’s also heaven for the anime (Japanese animation) fan.
Akihabara is bright, lively, and an easy place to spend a few dollars! I bought a Hello Kitty Polaroid camera here for my little sister for a really good deal. Bring your passport if you want to shop–showing you’re a tourist will help you save on taxes.
Also, this was our first experience with “vending machine” restaurants (more on that in another post) and also where we spotted the most number of Lolita girls. You’d expect them more at Harajuku, below… not sure what was up with that.
The area around Harajuku Station is well known as the mecca of Japanese street fashion and subculture. One of the most populat streets is Takeshita.
It’s a narrow street lined with shops and small eating boutiques. One of the biggest Daiso (100-yen) shops can be found here as well. It’s incredibly crowded, and there are so many people that you sometimes just get carried by the flow of visitors shuffling down the road. Pop into an ice cream shop or cotton candy store for a little relief… or head to the nearby Meiji Shrine to take in some serenity after the chaos here!
Also near Harajuku is the famous Shibuya district, centered around Shibuya Station. This is typical Tokyo: bright, busy, lively. Shibuya is a huge shopping district, with large department stores clustered in a small area. The malls and stores are open until very late at night–we were inside a 5-level Forever 21 until 11 PM!
Shibuya Crossing is probably the most famous scramble crossing in the world, with all vehicle traffic stopping to allow pedestrians to cross in any direction, including diagonally. The huge amount of both pedestrian and vehicular traffic makes this crossing somewhat incredible to witness.
Here too is the famous Hachiko Square, containing a statue of the dog Hachiko, who waited faithfully for his master at Shibuya station every day for 9 years, despite the man’s death. It’s a heartbreaking story and I love that the Japanese people honored such a loyal dog in this way!