If you’re traveling to Tokyo, one of the main challenges that you’re going to face (besides jet lag, perhaps a language barrier, etc.) will be trying to see all that you can. You’ll be walking a lot, but fear not; Tokyo has a fast, immaculate subway system that’s not difficult to navigate (if I can do it, so can you).
Instead of thumbing through paper brochures and scrolling through #Japan on Instagram, I’ve made a guide of the 10 most Instagrammable spots that you must see in Tokyo.
1. Tokyo Tower
France may have the Eiffel Tower, but Japan has the Tokyo Tower, and it is just as picture worthy! The structure was built in 1957 and its top level is 250 meters above sea level. You can take a picture from the bottom of the tower to capture the jaw-dropping height and the eye-capturing colors or you can snap photos from the inside of the main deck or the top deck. Inside, you can see for miles into the beautiful sites of Tokyo. For admission pricing, click here.
2. The Giant Sky Wheel – Palette Town
Forget about the London Eye because for only $10, you can take a ride with your pals on a gigantic sky wheel. This attraction was Japan’s largest Ferris wheel when it was first built. Here, you can capture a beautiful view of Tokyo from one of the multicolored carts. If you’re wanting your Instagram trip pictures to give off a fun and carefree vibe, come here. Also in this area. there is a live music venue and a go-kart track — not to mention a lot of shops!
Akihabara is pretty much the anime capital of the world. Not to mention, there’s so much technology and arcades around. You will be able to find all of your favorite anime, video game and superhero characters in this location. You could get lost in this buzzing hub of electronics and anime culture for hours. It truly is a fun place. Walk the colorful streets or adventure into the neon lights of the arcades.
Tip: Whatever you do, do not spend too much money on the “claw machines” in the arcades, because no matter how many times you try, you will not win the Pikachu plushie. Trust me.
4. Tsukiji Outer Market
Tsukiji Outer Market is a big market featuring various vendors from food to souvenirs to more food. There is a lot of raw fish in this area. Locals come here for fresh meat and produce. Take a stroll through the market and try some tender wagyu beef. It is a special type of Japanese beef that will immediately melt in your mouth!
5. Meiji Shrine
The Meiji Shrine is perfect for a beautiful, peaceful walk. This shrine dedicates itself to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken. From the entrances, it will be about a 10-minute walk to get to the main complex of the shrine. On the short walk, enjoy the birds chirping in the tranquil forest trees and stop to take a picture of the historical, magical entrance gates.
Tip: Be respectful and do not take pictures in the part of the shrine where people are praying. If you would like to make a prayer, there is a special ritual you have to do which involves throwing a coin into the donation box, bowing twice, clapping twice, praying and bowing when you have finished.
6. Takeshita Street
For the full experience of the kawaii (cute) culture of Japan, Takeshita Street is a must-see experience. Shop along this street for the cutest stuffed animals and Japanese fashion. You can knock out most of your souvenir shopping here, too, since this street has so many places with small gifts. Along the street sides, you will find colorful boutiques, restaurants and vendors. All of the quirky businesses make for great photo opportunities.
Tip: This is a very crowded place. Try to avoid going on weekends.
This part of Tokyo is perfect for experiencing night life in the city. This ward in Tokyo is often compared to New York City’s Times Square because of the buzzing neon lights of commercial advertisements and the amount of people in the area. Go here at night and karaoke with your best buds– you won’t regret it!
Tip: Most bars close at midnight. The subways also close at this time. So, plan accordingly.
8. Animal Cafés
Missing your furry friend back at home? No worries! Japan has many animal cafes you can visit that feature dogs, cats and owls — oh my! Tokyo has an overwhelming population, and because of limited space in apartments and lack of parks for animals, there are not a lot of pet owners. However, this culture does love animals so they have many animal cafes. For example, you pay a small fee such as ¥800 yen (about $8 USD), and you can hang out with the animals of your choice for 30 minutes.
If you love to shop, stop by the Ginza district of Tokyo. This is a great location for upscale shopping and fine dining. You could capture a perfect #foodie picture for your Instagram here. Definitely bring your walking shoes. It seems like the shops never end!
Tip: Many department stores offer tax exemption for tourists. Make sure to bring your passport just in case!
10. Ryogoku in Sumida
Ryogoku is the spot to go to if you have ever wanted to see a real-life sumo wrestler. If you linger long enough outside of the Ryōgoku Kokugikan, you’ll see many of these tall, broad men decked out in kimonos as they casually walk inside the sporting arena. Luckily enough, when I went with a group of my friends, we got to see at least five wrestlers.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to approach one because they are usually very nice. However, be very respectful when you want to talk to sumos. These are busy men, and if they take time out of their day to greet you, that’s truly special. Make sure to say doomo arigato and bow.