Tokyo cultural attractions

The old and the new collide in Tokyo and no time spent in the fast-paced city is complete without taking in both the contemporary and the traditional elements of the city.

Saunter through the neon-soaked streets of gaming-obsessed Akihabara, experience the vibrancy of Japan's youth in Harajuku and escape the futuristic and turn back time while exploring one of Tokyo's many Buddhist temples.

Cyclist at crossroad, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan.

Culture Shock

Hopping on the subway at peak hour in Tokyo isn't for the faint-hearted, but those looking to witness the city at its busiest should head for Shinjuku Station which has over 3 million passengers passing through it every day. While not quite as swarming as Shinjuku, over 2 million daily commuters pass through Shibuya station, too. Nearby at Shibuya crossing, up to two thousand commuters artfully dodge and zigzag across what is rumoured to be the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. Home to some of the world's most impressive tech giants, it's no surprise that many newfangled innovations are born in Japan. The district of Akihabara has built a reputation as the best place to pick up electronics, manga and anime ephemera. SEGA fans can try their hands at Japan's best retro games at one of the many arcades.

 
Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan.

The Old

Nestled in the pristine business district of Marunouchi is one of Tokyo's most-visited sights and home to Emperor Akhito, the Imperial Palace. Although there's not much of the palace itself left to see, take a stroll through the greenery-shrouded gardens and you'll instantly feel like you're miles away from the hustle and bustle. Tokyo's famous double bridges, the Nijubashi, lead into the palace ground and are well worth a photo or two. Harajuku isn't all quirky fashion - take some time out from the ever-popular Takeshita Street and wander up to sprawling Yoyogi park, home to Meiji Shrine, practicing artists and musicians, and hundreds of cherry blossoms throughout the months of March and April.

 
Fish market, Japan.

To Market

Set your alarm: one of Tokyo's not-to-be-missed attractions comes with an extremely early start time. Insiders recommend queuing for tickets from around 3am but the famed Tsukiji Fish Market's tuna auction will be worth the bleary eyes. It'll be time for breakfast once the auction is over and you'll already be in the right place: the sushi and sashimi being served up by vendors surrounding the inner market is some of Tokyo's best. Peruse the outer markets for traditional sweets, snacks and souvenirs. Less than a ten-minute walk away is the historical home of Japanese theatre, Kabuki-za. Kabuki shows run throughout the day and into the evening: rent a headset when you get to the theatre so you can follow along in English.

 
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