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The Best Things to Do in Tokyo

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Tokyo has a dizzying number of things to do. Don't think of that as a problem. Look at a visit to Tokyo—whether your first or your fifth—as an opportunity to go a bit deeper, to peel off layers, to write a list of things you need to visit on your next trip. Ponder that list while at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building, where you can take in views of Tokyo from the 54th floor observation decks. Make sure it includes visits to Toyosu Market (formerly part of the Tsukiji fish market) for the tuna auctions, the Ghibli Museum (animation fan or not), and Shibuya Crossing. In season, take in the scent of cherry blossoms before heading to a cat cafe for a cup of tea and a cat cuddle. Or just go do all of those things now and create your own deep cuts list for your next visit.
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1-1 Yoyogikamizonochō, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 151-8557, Japan
The serenity of the Meiji Jingu Shrine is a notable contrast to the crowds of Harajuku hipsters just beyond the giant torii gates. The Shinto shrine complex, which was dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken in 1920, is inside a forest that...
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11 Naitōmachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to 160-0014, Japan
The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is a gorgeous park that's just a short walk from Shinjuku Station. There are several gardens within the space, including a formal French one, an English landscape garden, and a traditional Japanese design. While...
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1 Chome-3-61 Kōraku, Bunkyō-ku, Tōkyō-to 112-0004, Japan
A baseball game in Japan is unlike one anywhere else in the world. The fans work almost as hard as the players, taking their role of supporting their team very seriously. Each player has his own individual cheer, which fans call out with great...
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6-chōme-5-1 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 107-0062, Japan
Just down the street from fashionable Omotesando is the Nezu Museum, with an exquisite Japanese garden. Architect Kengo Kuma's touches include a warm welcome with a bamboo wall at the entrance and rooms with picturesque views of the garden. The...
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Japan, 〒106-6108 Tokyo, Minato, Roppongi, 6 Chome−10−1 六本木ヒルズ森タワー52階、53階
Far above the city streets on the 52nd and 53rd floors of the Roppongi Hills building, the Mori Art Museum houses contemporary works by primarily Japanese and East Asian artists in a range of mediums, including photography, design, fashion,...
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13-9 Uenokōen, Taitō-ku, Tōkyō-to 110-8712, Japan
Located in Ueno Park, the Tokyo National Museum is Japan's oldest museum, featuring an impressive collection of national treasures and important cultural properties. Aside from the permanent collection, there are special exhibitions with themes...
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2 Chome-6-3 Aomi, Kōtō-ku, Tōkyō-to 135-0064, Japan
A visit to Japan would not be complete without a soak in an onsen hot spring. A fun choice in Tokyo is the Oedo Monogatari Onsen on Odaiba island in Tokyo Bay. This is not a small, traditional onsen but a "super onsen," with a variety of tubs for...
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2-1-1, 2丁目-1 日本橋室町 中央区 東京都 103-8328, Japan
The views from the 37th-floor private spa suites at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Nihonbashi are unrivaled when it comes to a city spa. The menu is extensive, offering a wide range of treatments, including Japanese shiatsu, Thai massage, and...
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Japan, 〒107-6290 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Akasaka, 9丁目7−6 東京ミッドタウン・ガーデン内
21_21 Design Sight is a museum designed by one of Japan's most famous contemporary architects, Tadao Ando. The naturally lit space, of which some 80 percent is underground, is home to Japan's first design museum. The simple lines of the building's...
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4 Chome-12-15 Ginza, Chūō-ku, Tōkyō-to 104-0061, Japan
This theater, which stages traditional kabuki works performed by men playing both male and female roles, is in the heart of Ginza. The plays are a mix of historical and modern dramas, with the stylized staging, costumes, and make-up that...
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7 Chome-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 106-8558, Japan
For some travelers, what comes to mind first when they think of Japan is tales of samurai and shoguns, centuries-old temples, and the tea ceremony and kabuki. For others, however, what makes the country most exciting is its contemporary art,...
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1 Chome-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tōkyō-to 130-0015, Japan
An impressive dichotomy of massive modern architecture on the outside and a subdued, scholarly-yet-approachable atmosphere on the inside, this tribute to the history of Tokyo houses a large number of life-sized dioramas and recreations of what...
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2-chōme-8-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to 163-8001, Japan
View of Tokyo at dusk as seen from the 54th floor observation deck of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Nishi-shinjuku. Admission to the observatory is free and well worth it for a fantastic, sweeping view of the Tokyo skyline.
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4丁目-7-35 Shibakōen, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 105-0011, Japan
Zojoji Temple is the main temple of the Jodo (Pure Land) sect of Buddhism, built on its current site in 1598 as the shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa’s family temple. Adjacent to the iconic Tokyo Tower, the temple’s main areas consist of the...
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1-chōme-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka-shi, Tōkyō-to 181-0013, Japan
Since its founding in 1985, Studio Ghibli has become one of the world's preeminent masters of film animation. The Ghibli Museum, opened in 2001, is nested within one of Tokyo's most beloved parks, Inokashira Park—just 20 minutes by train...
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5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chūō-ku, Tōkyō-to 104-0045, Japan
The Toyosu Market (formerly the inner market at Tsukiji) is the world's largest wholesale seafood market, with more than 2,000 tons of seafood moving through it daily. At its new (and far more modern) location, there's also a separate building for...