Yoking past and future, Tokyo dazzles with its traditional culture and passion for everything new.
Why I Love Tokyo
By Timothy Hornyak
I’ve spent over 10 years in Tokyo, but this capital of the shōgun always renews its spell. I love walking in a random direction and finding something unusual like a museum of musical boxes or an eye-popping glimpse of Mt Fuji over Shinjuku at sunset.
In a way, Tokyo has an infinite quality. It’s always under construction, always crackling with new fads, and always swirling with people who are passionate about everything from anime to Zen. As Dr Johnson said of London, to be tired of Tokyo is to be tired of life.
You’ve Never Had Sushi Like This
Tokyo brims with astonishing cuisine. It out-Michelins every city in the world, and for good reason: Tokyoites take fresh ingredients, dining and service very seriously. Whether you’re inhaling a thick bowl of miso rāmen noodles, sinking your teeth into some creamy tuna from the Tsukiji Central Fish Market or splashing out with a multi-course kaiseki meal of seasonal delicacies, you’ll often be struck by the care that goes into the humble art of eating here.
The Japanese workaholic stereotype is very true, but stroll through a neon-lined row of Shinjuku yakitori joints on a Friday or any cherry grove in spring, and you’ll see that people take pleasure very seriously here. There is ever-flowing sake, deep respect for heartfelt karaoke, and constant curiosity about how outsiders view this archipelago at the end of the world. From picnics to shot bars, Tokyo’s nightlife is a drinker’s delight. Kampai!
Blade Runner City
This ever-changing metropolis of over 12 million is perhaps the most gorgeous ugly city in the world. It’s a superdense riot of mismatched buildings, overhead wiring and garish neon. Yet it has the moxie to build the tallest tower in the world on a foundation of reclaimed land and several bucking tectonic plates. Add one of the planet’s best mass transit sytems and you have the perfect sci-fi cityscape.
Shop Till You Drop
From the superdeluxe shops of Ginza to the electronics stores of Akihabara to Harajuku hipster boutiques, Tokyo is a universe of beautifully designed clothing, antique prints and bizarre only-in-Japan gems like Pocari Sweat (a soft drink). Craftsmen, meanwhile, continue to produce finely wrought treasures such as kimono-clad dolls and samurai swords that make excellent souvenirs.
Best places to stay in Tokyo
These adventures will keep kids and grown-ups smiling while exploring the world. This article is adapted from Lonely Planet's 1000 Ultimate Adventures. Step into a fairy tale in Prague, Czech Republic Prague Castle. Image by Fandrade / Flickr / Getty Images.
Good-value hotels in Tokyo
Shopping in Tokyo
Tokyo destination guides
Revamped: 10 neighbourhoods that have had incredible makeovers
Some neighbourhoods are effortlessly charming while others bring new meaning to the phrase 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. From gritty to glossy, these 10 neighbourhoods around the world have been completely revamped into coveted places to live, work and play. Grünerløkka cafe.
Tokyo's best sushi and Japanese restaurants
Mt Fuji, Lake Ashi and Bullet Train Day Trip from Tokyo
Visit Japan's iconic Mount Fuji on Tokyo's most popular day tour, then return to Tokyo by famous Shinkansen Bullet train. You'll enjoy lunch on Mt Fuji, cruise Lake Ashi and ride the aerial cableway at Mount Komagatake for sweeping views of the celebrated Hakone National Park.
Mt Fuji Day Trip including Lake Ashi Sightseeing Cruise from Tokyo
Visit Japan's iconic Mount Fuji, cruise Lake Ashi and ride the aerial cableway at Mount Komagatake on this popular day trip from Tokyo. You'll enjoy lunch on Mt Fuji and have sweeping views of celebrated Hakone National Park from Mt Komagatake.
The world's best alternative theme parks
Yes, you might have visited Six Flags and Disneyland in all its iterations (in Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong and come 2015, Shanghai). But what about all the other weird and wonderful theme parks out there? Here's a small selection of delightfully different theme parks, to give your travels an offbeat flavour.