Things to Do in Kanto
At 1,092 feet (333 meters) tall, Tokyo Tower is an impressive Japanese landmark offering 360-degree views of the city from its two observation decks. Built in 1958 from red and white latticed steel, the Eiffel Tower-inspired structure houses a wax museum, a Shinto Shrine, an aquarium, restaurants, and other entertainment spots.
The must-see Senso-ji Temple (also known as Asakusa Temple or Asakusa Kannon Temple) combines architecture, centers of worship, Japanese gardens, and traditional markets to offer visitors a modern-day look at Japan’s rich history and culture. Erected in AD 645 in what was once an old fishing village, Senso-ji Temple was dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. Stone statues of Fujin (the Shinto wind god) and Raijin (the Shinto thunder god) guard the entrance, known as Kaminarimon or the Thunder Gate. Next is Hozomon Gate, which leads to Nakamise’s shopping streets, filled with vendors selling handicrafts and Japanese snacks. Don’t miss the Asakusa Shrine or Kannon-do Hall.
The area surrounding Shibuya Station—famous for its busy streets, flashing neon advertisements, trendy boutiques, and teeming malls—ranks among Tokyo’s most energetic neighborhoods. Shibuya Crossing, one of the world’s busiest pedestrian intersections, has become somewhat of a tourist attraction in its own right.
A decade ago, going to Roppongi meant you were either visiting an embassy or out to party with the expat community. While Roppongi remains one of Tokyo’s best nightlife districts, it has successfully broadened its appeal with a wider variety of cultural and entertainment options.
The Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingu) is the most important and popular Shinto shrine in Tokyo. Dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken, in 1926, the shrine comprises buildings of worship, gardens, and a forest where each tree was planted by a different citizen of Japan wanting to pay respects to the emperor. A highlight of the shrine is the Meiji Memorial Hall, where visitors find more than 80 murals dedicated to the emperor.
Home to Japan’s Emperor, the Tokyo Imperial Palace occupies the site of the original Edo Castle (Edo-jō), the Tokugawa shogunate's castle, which was once the largest fortress in the world. Located in the center of Tokyo, the palace is surrounded by moats and serene gardens.
As Japan's highest mountain, the legendary Mt. Fuji (Fuji-san) stands 12,388 feet (3,776 meters) tall. Travelers from around the world head to Hakone National Park to see the mountain, and over 1 million of them hike all the way to the top each year for the 360-degree views of Lake Ashi, the Hakone mountains, and the Owakudani Valley.
At Zoorasia, a zoo in Yokohama with minimal fencing, animals live in an environment as close to nature as possible. The zoo is divided into seven different geographic and climatic zones, including Asian Tropical Forest, Japanese Countryside, and Subarctic Forest, that house animals belonging to more than 100 species.
With its neon lights, towering department stores, and trendy nightclubs, Tokyo’s upscale shopping district of Ginza is a chic, cosmopolitan adventure. You can catch a Kabuki performance, check out the latest Japanese film or art exhibition, and dine at some of Tokyo’s best restaurants. And, then, of course, there’s the shopping.
Since opening in 2012, the Tokyo Skytree has taken the title of Japan’s tallest building—and one of the tallest in the world—measuring an incredible 2,080 feet (634 meters) high. In addition to serving as a TV and radio broadcast tower, it has two observation decks affording spectacular views across Tokyo and the distant Mount Fuji.
More Things to Do in Kanto
With a long history dating back to 1063, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is the most important Shinto shrine in Kamakura, and the spiritual and cultural heart of the city. Dedicated to Hachiman, the patron saint of samurais, the complex contains several shrines and museums, and is a popular venue for festivals, weddings, and other events.
The Tsukiji Fish Market was once the largest seafood market in the world, handling more than 2,000 tons of marine products a day. Although the market wasn't originally intended to be a major tourist attraction when it opened in 1935, Tsukiji now regularly shows up on visitors’ lists of must-see destinations in Tokyo for its lively atmosphere and incredible sushi.
Please note: The Inner Market and tuna auction relocated to the nearby Toyosu Fish Market in 2020.
One of the largest parks in Tokyo, Yoyogi Park(Yoyogi Koen) is a convenient place to relax before or after a stop at top city attractions, and it's got plenty of space for kids to run around. Unwind on the walking paths, or watch weekend street performers and cos-play performances at Yoyogi Park in the Japanese capital.
At 7,546 feet (2,300 meters), Mt. Fuji’s 5th Station affords incredible views over Fuji Five Lakes and Hakone National Park. Easily accessible by road, 5th Station lies at the midpoint of the Yoshida Trail to Mount Fuji’s summit; many hikers begin their ascent here.
In the shadow of Mount Fuji, Lake Ashi (Ashi-no-ko), is a scenic spot in Hakone National Park. Considered sacred by the Japanese, it is home to the famous Hakone Shinto shrine. Visitors come to see the shrine, take a boat out on the lake, or enjoy the many hiking trails in the area.
In Shinjuku's Kabukicho district (entertainment and red light district), the surreal Robot Restaurant may be unlike anything you've ever seen. Its sci-fi Japanese cabaret show starring giant robots is loud and proud, both visually and audibly—taiko drums and techno music accompany flashing lights, multiple mirrors, and huge video screens. A sensorial extravaganza, the restaurant is no quiet night out.
Akihabara, also commonly known as “Electric Town,” is the go-to district in Tokyo for electronics—and a popular spot to immerse in anime and manga culture. The area’s hundreds of stores sell everything from computer parts to home goods, and north of Akihabara Station, you’ll also find video games and popular manga-related items.
The Edo-Tokyo Museum chronicles the development of Japan’s capital city, from its early days as a sleepy fishing village through the years of expansion and foreign trade wars to its transformation into a major metropolis. The museum building itself also draws visitors as a fine example of postmodern architecture.
Set on the banks of Tokyo Bay, with great views of the city skyline, Odaiba Seaside Park is a man-made landscaped park and beach. It’s popular with locals and tourists who come to paddleboard, picnic, and relax in the peaceful surroundings.
The National Diet Building is the center of Japanese politics, as it houses both chambers of the Diet, or legislative arm: the House of Representatives, which meets in the left wing, and the House of Councillors, which meets in the right wing. Built in 1936, the building is constructed almost entirely of Japanese materials.
The building is iconic for its pyramid-shaped dome in the center of the complex, which made it the tallest building in Japan at completion. The interior is decorated with cultural artifacts and art pieces, such as bronze statues of the men who are credited with formulating Japan's first modern constitution. The building sits on land once inhabited by feudal lords, giving the spot even more historical significance. It is sometimes referred to as the House of Parliament or the Government building in Tokyo.
Known for its impressive botanical garden, intricate Iemitsu mausoleum, and ornate Toshogu Shrine (a UNESCO World Heritage site), Nikko National Park is an area of incredible natural beauty with plenty to see and do. In addition to shrines and temples, the park is home to numerous lakes, elaborate bridges, excellent hiking trails, and two stunning waterfalls—all set against a backdrop of dramatic mountain scenery.
Omotesando is an attractive, well-groomed, tree-lined street between Shibuya and Minato in Tokyo. Designed as an entranceway to Meiji Shrine, the street pays homage to the deified spirits of Emperor Maiji and his wife, Empress Shoken.
In modern years, Omotesando has earned a reputation as one of the most fashion-forward neighborhoods in the world, with high-end shops all within close range of one another. Some of the brands featured in this area include Louis Vuitton, Prada and Dior. Due to its chic style, Omotesando is also a prime location for people-watching. Many of Tokyo's elite can be found shopping and dining here.
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