Welcome to Tokyo, one of the world’s most popular metropolises. As a tech-savvy economic superpower fueled by technology, innovation, and efficiency, it has a strong infrastructure with a cityscape of epic proportions. Formed by soaring skyscrapers, green parks, winding streets and glittery lights, it’s fair to say that Japan’s capital has a lot going on. If you’re heading to Tokyo, leave no angle untouched – here’s how to see it all from the land, sky, and sea.
Tokyo From Above
No trip to Tokyo is complete without taking to the skies to witness the dazzling sea of lights and seemingly infinite waves of buildings that lay beneath you. To say that Tokyo is a big city is an understatement. It’s only once you gain some perspective that you truly begin to understand just how large this sprawling metropolis really is. Capable of raising the hairs on your neck and catapulting the heart rates of those afraid of heights into overdrive, the Tokyo skyline is one of the planet’s man-made masterpieces. For fine views away from the crowds, the Tokyo Government Tower is beautiful.
With panoramic views across the city from the 45th floor above Shinjuku, the tower is more than elevated enough to revel in the skyline’s magnificence, but best of all – it’s free to enter. Yet, that’s not even the crème de la crème. Far eclipsing the already dizzying heights of the Government Building is Tokyo Sky Tree, the world’s tallest tower. The city’s most recognizable radio and broadcasting tower soars 634 meters into the air and soaks up views of the entire cityscape and beyond to include the likes of majestic Mount Fuji. Popular with budding photographers, the sunset views across the city are a bucket list essential. Always reserve a ticket in advance, especially on a clear day, or better yet, purchase the ‘fast ticket’ to skip the lines, or you could find yourself queuing for the best part of the morning. Tailor your trip to arrive at Haneda Airport when darkness has fallen for an extra dose of Tokyo from above.
Tokyo From the Streets
There’s no better way to get to know a city than by walking around the streets. Prepare to rub shoulders and tread on toes though, because Tokyo is a busy place. All part of the charm, the ebbs and waves of people hurrying is an activity in itself, as people take to the cafes surrounding the likes of Shibuya Crossing where they unashamedly queue for a window seat in order to watch the world go by. Ambling the streets of Tokyo at night will give you a whole new perspective on the city, as the memories of being up above surrounded by the calming twinkle of lights are replaced by an assault on the senses formed of neon lights and an overwhelming amount of advertising shouting at you from all angles, mostly in Japanese.
If you live outside a major city, hours could be lost meandering the streets simply gazing at the aesthetics and soaking up the atmosphere. Put quite simply; the streets are vibrant, exhilarating and enticing. Not only is Tokyo home to an incredible underground fashion scene that proudly shapes the bubble-pop vibes of Harajuku – the city’s boutique shopping mecca – but it’s also where you’ll find mouth-watering street food, hidden izakaya, and more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city on the planet. It’s a foodie’s dream. Whether you want to spend the afternoon becoming equated with an entourage of felines in a cat cafe, fish for your own dinner at a themed restaurant or get up close and personal with sumo wrestlers in a local stable, the streets of Tokyo bear no shortage of things to do. Home to a magic like no other city in the world, the streets are the place to embrace it. When you’re booking a place to stay down at ground level, remember that those accommodations truly considered the best hotels in Tokyo will not only offer a memorable guest experience and the impeccable Asian service the city is famed for, but also majestic views of the surrounding neighborhoods. Keep an eye out in Rapongi and Marunouchi.
Find your Sea Legs
After touring the land and skies, our last stop is the great, wide ocean. Tokyo bay is an impressive body of water lapping the southern shores of the city, bridging the gaps in geography between the capital and the Chiba region. When traveling to Asian cities like Singapore or Hong Kong, I often like to take a step back to gain a bit of perspective. This is where you’ll see Tokyo’s mesmerizing skyline at its very best, as you gain perspective not only on the sheer size of it all but also on the city’s impressive height, which otherwise can’t be achieved on the streets or from the air.
Skyscrapers cushion the sky in all directions, creating a jagged, concrete jungle of epic proportions. Best viewed at night, visitors looking to capture the views from afar can hop on board the Tokyowan Ferry towards Chiba, which takes just 40 minutes to cross the bay, or simply take the Tokyo Water Bus – a convenient alternative to the subway when reaching destinations near the water. For those who are looking to make an evening of it, tour companies offer everything from cocktail cruises to traditional Yakatabune boats and three-course meals on-board extravagant vessels. You’ll pass many of the major Tokyo landmarks, such as the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Skytree, whilst gliding alongside Tokyo’s dazzling skyline away from the crowds.