Yoking past and future, Tokyo dazzles with its traditional culture and passion for everything new.
More than any one sight, it's the city itself that enchants visitors. It's a sprawling, organic thing, stretching as far as the eye can see. Always changing, and with a diverse collection of neighborhoods, no two experiences of the city are ever the same. Some neighborhoods feel like a vision from the future, with ever taller, sleeker structures popping up each year; others evoke the past with low-slung wooden buildings and glowing lanterns radiating surprising warmth; elsewhere, drab concrete blocks hide art galleries and cocktail bars and every lane hints at possible discoveries.
Art & Culture
In Tokyo you can experience the whole breadth of Japanese arts and culture. Centuries-old forms of performing arts still play on stages and sumo tournaments draw crowds; every spring, Tokyoites head outside to appreciate the cherry blossoms – a tradition older than the city itself. There are museums covering every era of Japanese art history and also ones that focus on the contemporary – challenging the old distinctions between art with a capital A, pop culture and technology. But there's a playful side to all of this, too: Tokyo is, after all, a city whose public artworks include a scale model of an anime robot.
Tokyo's Food Scene
When it comes to Tokyo superlatives, the city's food scene tops the list. But we're not just talking about the famous restaurants and the celebrity chefs: what Tokyo excels at is consistency across the board. Wherever you are, you're far from a good, if not great, restaurant. It's a scene that careens nonchalantly between the highs and lows: it's not unusual for a top-class sushi restaurant to share the same block as an oil-spattered noodle joint, and for both to be equally adored. Tokyoites love dining out; join them, and delight in the sheer variety of tastes and experiences the city has to offer.
Tokyo can seem daunting at first: the subway map – a tangle of intersecting lines – is often compared to a bowl of noodles. But once you get out there, you'll be surprised how easy it is to navigate. That subway can take you everywhere you want to go; trains are frequent (though sometimes uncomfortably crowded) and almost always on time, and stations are well-signposted in English. That's not to say you won't occasionally find yourself frustratingly disorientated, but locals are generally eager to help you get back on track.
The 11 best parks in Tokyo
6 min read — Published March 15th, 2021
Lonely Planet EditorsWriter
Tokyo's beautifully designed parks and gardens take the edge off the concrete jungle of the city. These are the best parks in the Japanese capital.
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Tokyo’s most visited temple enshrines a golden image of Kannon (the Buddhist goddess of mercy), which, according to legend, was miraculously pulled out of…
Tokyo’s grandest Shintō shrine is dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken, whose reign (1868–1912) coincided with Japan's transformation from…
MuseumTokyo National Museum
If you visit only one museum in Tokyo, make it the Tokyo National Museum. Here you'll find the world's largest collection of Japanese art, including…
Digital-art collective teamLab has created 60 artworks for this museum, open in 2018, that tests the border between art and the viewer: many are…
Golden Gai – a Shinjuku institution for over half a century – is a collection of tiny bars, often literally no bigger than a closet and seating maybe a…
Tokyo's history museum documents the city's transformation from tidal flatlands to feudal capital to modern metropolis via detailed scale re-creations of…
This museum is the heart of the Studio Ghibli world, a beloved (even 'adored') film studio responsible for classic, critically-acclaimed animated titles…
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Buddhist TempleFukagawa Fudō-dō
Belonging to the esoteric Shingon sect, at this active temple you can attend one of the city's most spectacular religious rituals. Goma (fire rituals)…
Considered by many to be Tokyo's most elegant garden, Rikugi-en was originally completed in 1702, at the behest of a feudal lord. It is definitely the…
This beautiful garden, one of Tokyo’s finest, is all that remains of a shogunate summer villa next to Tokyo Bay. There's a large pond with an island,…
Established in the mid-17th century as the property of the Tokugawa clan, this formal strolling garden incorporates elements of Chinese and Japanese…
Tokyo's main wholesale market may have moved to Toyosu, but there are many reasons to visit its old home. The tightly packed rows of vendors (which once…
If it’s a sunny and warm weekend afternoon, you can count on there being a crowd lazing around the large grassy expanse that is Yoyogi-kōen. You'll…
ObservatoryTokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Tokyo's city hall – a landmark building designed by Tange Kenzō – has observatories (202m) atop both the south and north towers of Building 1 (the views…
This broad, tree-lined boulevard is lined with boutiques from the top European fashion houses. More interesting are the buildings themselves, designed by…
MuseumUkiyo-e Ōta Memorial Museum of Art
This small museum (where you swap your shoes for slippers) is the best place in Tokyo to see ukiyo-e. Each month it presents a seasonal, thematic…
MuseumAsakura Museum of Sculpture, Taitō
Sculptor Asakura Fumio (artist name Chōso; 1883–1964) built his home studio in the early 20th century and it's very much representative of architecture of…
Dedicated to interdisciplinary experimentation, Intermediatheque cherry-picks from the vast collection of the University of Tokyo to craft a fascinating,…
Nezu Museum offers a striking blend of old and new: a renowned collection of Japanese, Chinese and Korean antiquities in a gallery space designed by…
Whether it’s a guided tour of a historic landmark, private tasting of local delicacies, or an off-road adventure — explore the best experiences in Tokyo.
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