Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Tue August 18 2015

Opinion Home | Suitcase Stories' Luxe Life Travel Tales and Tips

  • Nicole Connolly | August 18, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    Essential Sights to See in Tokyo

    Essential Sights to See in Tokyo

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

    Tokyo is a megapolis on steroids. It’s a real “Back to the Future” experience that can be a bit overwhelming at first. But once you have found your Tokyo legs, there are layers to this complex city, which are tourist-accessible and fun.

    The modern aspects of this urban center are bright and bold for sure, but people have lived here since the 15th century and it has retained elements of the past in the most unexpected places.

    To get above it all, head to the top of Tokyo Skytree, Earth’s second largest sky tower. From a height of nearly 2,100 feet, you can look out over this port city of eight million inhabitants to get your bearings.

    Then go underground and master the metro. This is an extremely efficient transport system, a tourist attraction in its own right, which makes getting around the city very easy and economic.

    If train travel is your thing, then the last of the old aboveground “ding ding” trains gives you a different perspective on this city. It travels the seven-and-a-half mile route from Koshinzuka Station to Ikebukura, giving you glimpses into the gritty old-school sections of north Tokyo.

    For lovers of Japanese design and art, the Tokyo National Museum is a standout. In the northern section of the city at Ueno close by the metro station, it sits among beautiful established parklands with its own tea garden. Take a picnic and spend the day here.

    There are three main galleries with exhibits from the earliest period of Japanese history. It houses stunning displays of Japanese decorative arts over the centuries. With your aesthetic senses whetted, check out the Museum Gift Shop. Located in Honkan, which is the main building, it has a wide selection of replicas of lacquerware, fans and prints at reasonable prices.

    Regarding shopping, no Tokyo experience would be truly fulfilled without a visit to a famous Japanese department store. These monsters could absorb a day of your time quite easily.

    There are many to choose from, each with their own style and attractions but one of the oldest and most venerable is the Mitsukoshi flagship store in Nihonbashi. This company has been supplying kimono to Tokyo citizens for nearly 400 years. It occupies a grand old building with floors of western and Japanese labels and goods.

    There are English shopping assistants on hand if you want to buy, but browsing is endless pleasure. For a reviving break, there’s two floors filled with dining options.

    Head to the DIY store Tokyu Hands for a mind-boggling number of cheap, cheerful dinky and cute items on sale. These stores have everything you could ever conceive of wanting, in other words — gift buying heaven. They dot the city and people have their own favourite, but the Ikebukuro branch has the added attraction of 20 live-in shop cats.

    Hello Kitty! A Japanese fondness for the small and fluffy has meant that cat cafes have taken off here. Try a Cat Cafe such as Calico in Shinjuku where pet deprived apartment dwellers can dine among crowds of pampered felines.

    Japanese cuisine is so varied that eating becomes a daily adventure. If money is no object, try Kozue high up in the Park Hyatt. The presentation and perfect food with a view over Tokyo make it an unforgettable experience.

    For early birds there is Tsukiji, the fish market down at the port that is an old tourist favorite. This real life slice of Japanese fish wheeling and dealing is quite something. You are currently able to access the floor where workers go samurai with feet-long blades slicing and dicing tuna with tremendous flair. The market has its own selection of excellent small food stalls serving fresh produce to workers and visitors.

    The bathhouse is a Tokyo institution. There are numerous onsen around the city, fed from natural therapeutic volcanic springs. A popular bathhouse is Niwa No Yu in Nerima, which has a more traditional feel, set in a tranquil landscaped garden. For the mega onsen try Oedo Onsen Monogatari in central Tokyo. This theme park approach means you can eat, catch some entertainment and then stay overnight at the baths.

    They also have “the fish doctor,” a treatment wherein a bunch of hungry fish nibble away at your dead skin cells, leaving you smooth as can be.

    Before leaving Tokyo, visit one of the many temples hidden away around the city. The oldest is the Shinto and Buddhist temple Senso-Ji in Asukusa, to the east of central Tokyo. This area has enclaves of older buildings, inns and restaurants which make it a fascinating place to stay.

More Tokyo


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.

Nicole Connolly Suitcase Stories' Luxe Life Travel Tales and Tips

Nicole Connolly Nicole, along with her husband Michael, left her ordinary life behind for a life of extraordinary travel. The couple left Australia in March 2012 and have been traveling ever since. Nicole has a penchant for all things luxury and this shows in their lifestyle. They may live the life of a gypsy but they certainly know how to do it in style. Their goal is to share their experiences and show others how a life of luxury is possible without the big bank account. Follow their adventures at
Experience Alaska With Holland America Line

Cruise Lines & Cruise Ships