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Tokyo see + do

Tokyo is so sprawling, so huge in its dimensions, so confusing in its maze of subway lines that it's difficult to pinpoint exactly where the city begins and ends, let alone where to begin a day's exploration. Most visitors tend to spend the bulk of their time in the central commercial neighborhoods, such as Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ginza, Aoyama-Omotesando, and Roppongi. The real pleasure in Tokyo, though, is not so much in the specific sights (among them the Tokyo Sky Tree, due to be the tallest tower in the world when it officially opens in 2012), but in wandering the urban landscape itself, with its clash of the traditional and modern—discovering hidden enclaves that seem forgotten by time, eating at tiny noodle shops and drinking in cubbyhole bars, shopping for one-offs at quirky boutiques, and paying tribute to Tokyo's ancient cultural roots at its many museums and Buddhist temples. Don't hesitate to take a subway or commuter train out to the residential neighborhoods and explore. A one- or two-stop ride away from Shinjuku or Shibuya stations (both commuter-rail terminals) on any line is worth the trip. Many expatriates live on the charming, hilly streets of Yoyogi near the park of the same name. In Shimokitazawa, the narrow lanes near the station are jammed with funky shops and eateries and crowds of young people. The free weekly magazine Metropolis is a good English-language resource for art, music, cinema, and nightlife listings.

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Harajuku Neighborhood, Harajuku

On weekends, this district of street fashion is crowded with wildly dressed kids who congregate near the entrance to the beautiful Meiji Shrine. Expect goths,...more

Editors' Pick
Hamarikyu Gardens, Shiodome

If the relentless concrete and expressways get to be too much, take a short walk from Shiodome station to historic Hamarikyu Garden. Originally built in the...more

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Ginza Neighborhood, Ginza

Long the haunt of ladies who lunch, take in a show at the Kabuki theater, and shop in the big department stores and genteel backstreets, Ginza has suddenly...more

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Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum, Kogamei City

This complex is less a museum than a whole day out. Earthquakes, firebombing, and rampant development have left few examples of old architecture in Tokyo, but...more

Editors' Pick
Daikanyama Neighborhood, Daikanyama

The celebrated Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki has been adding to his Hillside Terrace development here for more than three decades. Today, this smart...more

Editors' Pick
Art Galleries, Tokyo

Tokyo's art scene is scattered throughout the city, and the galleries come in all shapes and sizes, from the colossal Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park to the...more

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Aoyama + Omotesando Neighborhood, Aoyama-Omotesando

All the big-name Japanese designers are clustered together in this district on the tree-lined Omotesando Boulevard: Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons, and...more

Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
21_21 Design Sight, Roppongi

Visitors could be forgiven for walking past this design museum, tucked away behind Tokyo Midtown; from the outside, the Tadao Ando–designed space barely...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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