Take in Tokyo's electrifying energy and traditional culture

With its frenetic pace, incessant jingles and flashing neon, Tokyo can have you feeling like you’re being flung around a giant game of pachinko. And if that sounds too frazzling, there are meditative Buddhist temples, soothing bathhouses and enchanting gardens to offset the commotion – you’ll quickly discover Tokyo is a destination of endless surprises.

But ultimately it’s a city of iconic experiences – Shibuya Crossing and sushi restaurants, karaoke bars and salarymen, bullet trains and cosplay – it’s all here, gloriously loud and on show. The city offers a fascinating mix of cutting-edge design, neon-lit cityscapes and traditional Japanese culture. Add to this an exciting culinary scene, unforgettable nightlife and superb shopping, and you'll see why Tokyo truly is one of the world’s great cities.

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Things to do: Tokyo

  • Godzilla model head looks over high-rise buildings in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

    Discover the delights of Tokyo’s subculture

    From Pokemon and Hello Kitty to J-Pop and Godzilla, Tokyo is legendary for everything weird and wonderful. And to get your fix of manga, anime and cutesy pop-culture needs, head straight to quirky Akihabara. Its maid cafes and capsule-toy vending machines are set among a cacophony of J-Pop and video game arcades. For people-watching, Harajuku is your place to catch some memorable cosplay sightings and the latest wacky trends on full, magnificent display.

  • Rollercoasters at Tokyo’s Dome City theme park.

    Treat the kids to Tokyo’s best

    From amusement parks and video games to manga comics and robots, Tokyo’s pretty much a dream destination for kids. Tokyo Disneyland steals the limelight as the city’s most famous big-ticket attraction, but Tokyo Dome City also has its share of white-knuckle rollercoasters and rides. The beloved animation at Studio Ghibli Museum never fails to delight, and for all kinds of futuristic and robotic wonders, drop by Miraikan. For more robot action, check out the 19.7m tall RX-0 Unicorn Gundam, which stands out front of the DiverCity shopping mall and transforms into full destroy mode!

  • Close-up aerial view of assorted sushi on wooden board.

    Feast your way around Tokyo’s dining scene

    Tokyo is among the world’s great food destinations, and eating is one of the undisputed joys of visiting the city. From street-side yakitori (chicken skewers) to a choice of some 220-plus Michelin-star restaurants you’ll be treated to the world’s finest Japanese cuisine. And that of course includes sushi, and you won't find any fresher than inside Toyosu Market, where you can enjoy breakfast at one of the many sushi bars after observing the early morning tuna auctions.

  • Cherry blossoms in bloom at Tokyo’s Koishikawa Korakuen, with high-rise buildings in the background.

    Relax in Tokyo’s beautiful parks and gardens

    Sublime green spaces and meticulously designed gardens offer a wonderful escape from Tokyo's concrete jungle of high-rises. The 17th-century Koishikawa Korakuen is one of the city’s oldest and grandest, while the urban oases Hamarikyu Gardens and Inokashira Park are utterly enchanting. But for something truly memorable, don't miss Yoyogi Park where you can experience the counter-culture vibe as you pass by rockabilly dancers, buskers and cosplay characters. And if you’re lucky enough to be around during spring (March–May) you’ll get to enjoy the boozy festivities of hanami (cherry blossom viewing) where boisterous picnics take place day and night beneath a pink flowery canopy.

  • Woman in traditional dress standing facing Senso-ji temple in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan.

    Immerse yourself in traditional Tokyo

    Kyoto may be more famous for temples and traditional culture, but Tokyo also has its fair share of Shintō shrines and Buddhist temples. You’ll find cultural legacies dating from the 19th-century Edo-era, from traditional kabuki performances and sumo wrestling to the majestic Tokyo Imperial Palace. And if you thought onsen (hot-spring baths) were found only in the countryside, you’d be wrong. Tokyo’s Spa LaQua is a well-known day spa where you can soak in natural hot-spring waters.

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Airport information

Narita International Airport (NRT)

Distance to city centre: 66km

Taxi: Both standard and fixed-fare taxis are available at all terminals. Fixed-fare taxis cost JPY ¥20,000-22,500 for most central Tokyo destinations. There’s a 20% surcharge for late night and early morning rides.

Train: Trains leave from Terminals 1 and 2; there is a free shuttle bus from Terminal 3. The Keisei Skyliner opens in new window runs nonstop to Ueno, taking around 40 minutes, from where you can connect to the subway. Fares are around JPY ¥2520. The Narita Express goes to Tokyo Station (60 minutes) and Shinjuku (80 minutes) among other stops. It costs from JPY ¥3070, depending on your destination. Check online for cheaper ticket deals for both of these options. Keisei Main Line trains follow the same route as the Skyliner but make stops, taking around 70 minutes and costing JPY ¥1030.

Shuttle: Airport Bus TYO-NRT departs to Tokyo Station and Ginza (1–1.25 hours) every 20 minutes (7.30am to 10.45pm) and costs JPY ¥1300 one way.

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When to go

Catch cherry blossoms and cool weather in March and April. A festival-laden summer also coincides with the rainy season in late June and July, with August being hot but less crowded as locals flee the heat. Autumn (September to November) is the most pleasant with blue skies against autumnal colours. Winter is chilly with occasional snow. 

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Getting around

Tokyo's famously efficient public transport system is made up of a mix of Japan Rail trains, Tokyo Metro and Toei subway lines, and a handful of private rail companies. There is also a comprehensive bus network.

Fares are charged based on how far you travel, but save yourself a headache by getting a Suica (JR) or PASMO (Tokyo Metro) prepaid card. These pre-paid cards work across all lines and buses, and automatically deduct a (slightly reduced) fare when you pass through any gate. Any remaining balance can be cashed out when you head home. Both are available from vending machines at the airport and all subway and Japan Rail stations.

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