Welcome to Tokyo
Neon lights and cherry blossoms. Sacred tea ceremonies and robot cabaret shows. Buddhist temples and high-octane sumo matches. The Japanese capital of Tokyo is a city of contradictions, where ancient traditions coincide with modern culture. Sightseeing tours help travelers get oriented with the sprawling metropolis and visit sights such as Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Meiji Jingu Shrine, and Senso-ji Temple. Dinner at a robot cabaret and a tour of Kabukicho offer a taste of the city’s eclectic nature. And food and market tours show off the best of Tokyo’s cuisine. Tokyo is also home base for day trips to Lake Ashi, Mt. Fuji, and Kyoto.
When to visit
Sakura (cherry blossom season) is indisputably the best, albeit busiest, time to visit Tokyo. The peak of the season varies each year according to the weather, but blooms are generally at their brightest from late March to early April. If you want to avoid the crowds, fall (September to November) is a great time to see Japan’s natural landscapes drenched in autumn colors.
Due to its status as the world’s largest city, Tokyo doesn’t lend itself well to walking. The best method of getting around is the metro, an efficient yet mind-boggling transport system of multiple branches. Make your life infinitely easier by getting a PASMO, a prepaid travel card that will save you from lining up at ticket machines and trying to decipher Japanese characters to determine ticket costs.
For a unique cultural experience, don’t miss an early-morning tuna auction at Tsukiji Fish Market, where colossal tuna fish are snapped up for sushi in seconds. Viewing the free public auction is on a strict first-come, first-serve basis, so ensure you arrive at least two hours early to register.
In Tokyo, tipping is not customary, even though excellent service comes as standard. In restaurants, bars, and taxis, don’t be offended if your tip is refused—profuse thanks receive much more of a warm welcome.