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Things to do in Tokyo

Helicopter Night Cruising gives a bird's eye view of Tokyo and the twinkling lights of Shinjuku, Ginza and Shibuya. Harajuku is a treasure chest of old Tokyo, on display at Meiji Shrine and the Ota Memorial Museum of Art. Youth culture thrives at Yoyogi Park, while Roppongi offers fine art and design spaces like the Mori Art Museum and the National Art Centre Tokyo. Most museums open from 10am to 5pm and close on Mondays.

Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo. © JNTO/Y Shimizu
Ota Memorial Museum of Art, Tokyo. Courtesy of Ota Memorial Museum of Art
1

Ota Memorial Museum of Art

Woodblock prints of Tokyo

Collected by tycoon Seiji Ota, the Ota Memorial Museum of Art in Harajuku exhibits some of Japan's finest ukiyo-e (woodblock prints). They depict life in 17th-19th century Tokyo.



Cost

Varies according to exhibition

Opening Hours

Tue-Sun 10.30am-5.30pm; often closed 27th to last day of each month

Address

1-10-10 Jingumae, Tokyo Shibuya-ku

Telephone

+81 (0) 3 3403 0880

Transport

Harajuku JR or Meiji-jingumae metro

Website

Ota Memorial Museum of Art Website

Edo-Tokyo Museum, Tokyo. © JNTO
2

Edo-Tokyo Museum

History of humanitarians

The Edo-Tokyo Museum in Sumida-ku looks at everyday life in Tokyo from the 17th century onwards. Through the Meiji Restoration period, when its name changed from Edo to Tokyo, and onto the post-WWII period, exhibits trace the development of this metropolis.



Cost

¥600; concessions ¥300-¥480

Opening Hours

Tue-Fri & Sun 9.30am-5.30pm; Sat 9.30am-7.30pm; closed Tue and open Mon if Mon a public holiday

Address

1-4-1, Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 130-0015

Telephone

+81 (0) 3 3626 9974

Transport

Ryogoku JR station and Metro

Website

Edo-Tokyo Museum Website

Beer Museum Yebisu, Tokyo. Courtesy of Marubeni Europe Plc
3

Beer Museum Yebisu

Japanese beer heritage

Located in Ebisu, the Beer Museum Yebisu takes visitors on a virtual tour through the original brewery where Yebisu Beer was first made in 1887. Visitors find out about the processes, Yebisu's history, and sample local brews.



Cost

Free (tastings ¥300-¥500)

Opening Hours

Tue-Sun 10am-6pm

Address

4-20-1, Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0013

Telephone

+81 (0) 3 5423 7255

Transport

Ebisu JR and metro

Website

Beer Museum Yebisu (Sapporo Beer) Website

National Art Centre Tokyo, Tokyo. © JNTO
4

National Art Centre Tokyo

Grand glass-fronted gallery

The National Art Centre Tokyo in Roppongi hosts exhibitions of everything from Vermeer and Modigliani to fashion and architecture, but has no permanent collection. The gallery's energy-saving undulating glass exterior, designed by architect Kishô Kurokawa, is a striking landmark.



Cost

Varies according to exhibition

Opening Hours

Mon, Wed, Thu, Sat & Sun 10am-6pm; Fri 10am-8pm

Address

7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-8858

Telephone

+81 (0) 3 5777 8600

Transport

Nogizaka and Roppongi metro

Website

National Art Centre Tokyo Website

Mori Art Museum, Tokyo. Photo by Tamsin Bradshaw
5

Mori Art Museum

City views and artworks

The Mori Art Museum in Roppongi holds exhibitions ranging from architect Le Corbusier to Japanese Art showcases, as well as performance arts. Visitors get eye-popping views of the city from the Tokyo City View observatory, included in the museum admission.



Cost

Varies according to exhibition

Opening Hours

Mon & Wed-Sun 10am-10pm; Tue 10am-5pm

Address

53F Roppongi Hills, Mori Tower, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-6147

Telephone

+81 (0) 3 5777 8600

Transport

Roppongi metro

Website

Mori Art Museum Website

Imperial Palace, Tokyo. © JNTO
6

Imperial Palace

The Emperor's gardens

The Imperial Palace in central Tokyo is home to Japan's Emperor, and accessed via a series of serene moats. Visitors are limited to the lush park and East Gardens. Walls remain from the original 1888 building, rebuilt in the 1960s.



Cost

Free

Opening Hours

East Gardens and grounds Mar-mid Apr & Sep-Oct Tue-Thu, Sat & Sun 9am-4.30pm; mid Apr-Aug Tue-Thu, Sat & Sun 9am-5pm; Nov-Feb Tue-Thu, Sat & Sun 9am-4pm

Address

Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0005

Telephone

+81 (0) 3 3213 1111

Transport

Tokyo JR station, Nijubashimae and Otemachi metro

Website

The Imperial Household Agency Website

Meiji Shrine, Tokyo. © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau
7

Meiji Shrine

Temple to deified royals

The serene Meiji Shrine sits amid 175 acres of wooded gardens in Yoyogi. Dedicated to the memory of the Meiji Emperor and Empress, visitors come to this 1920s Tokyo building to write prayer cards, requesting help from the deified royals.



Cost

Free; inner garden & treasure museum ¥500

Opening Hours

Sunrise to sunset; inner garden & treasure museum daily 9am-4.30pm

Address

1-1, Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-8557

Telephone

+81 (0) 3 3320 5700

Transport

Harajuku JR station or Meiji-jingumae metro station

Website

Meiji Shrine Website

Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo. © JNTO/Y Shimizu
8

Senso-ji Temple

Pagoda and reconstructed shrine

Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa is Tokyo's oldest temple, originally completed in 645AD in honour of the goddess of Kannon. Visitors pass through the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), down Nakamise shopping street to the five-storey pagoda and shrine, rebuilt by Tokugawa Iemitsu.



Cost

Free

Opening Hours

Daily 6.30am-5pm

Address

2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0032

Telephone

+81 (0) 3 3842 0181

Transport

Asakusa metro

Website

Senso-ji Temple Website

Ueno Park, Tokyo. © JNTO
9

Ueno Park

Cherry trees and museums

Ueno Park opened in 1873. Set in Tokyo's Ueno district, the park is dotted with museums, temples and the zoo. Visitors head for the Tokyo National Museum and statue of Meiji samurai Takamori Saigo. The springtime cherry blossom is exquisite.



Cost

Free

Opening Hours

24 hours daily

Address

Ikenohata 3-chome, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0007

Telephone

+81 (0) 3 828 5644

Transport

Ueno JR and metro

Website

Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association Website

Yoyogi Park, Tokyo. Photo by Hilary Peterson
10

Yoyogi Park

Street performers' hangout

Yoyogi Park is a tree-filled stretch where jugglers, acrobats and bongo players gather. It was the site for the 1964 Olympic Games. On Sunday afternoons, the dancing Elvises and baby-doll goths gather on the bridge next to Harajuku station.



Cost

Free

Opening Hours

Daily 5am-8pm; mid-Oct-April daily 5am-5pm

Address

Yoyogi Kamisonocho, Jinnan 2-chome, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0052

Telephone

+81 (0) 3 3469 6081

Transport

Harajuku JR or Yoyogi-koen metro

Website

Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association Website

Yanaka Cemetery Park, Tokyo. Photo by Julie Murphy
11

Yanaka Cemetery Park

Shogun grave and blossom

Yanaka Cemetery Park, in quaint Yanaka, houses the 1913 grave of shogun, or military general, Tokugawa Yoshinobu. There are also tombs of famed actors, but the cemetery is best known for Sakura dori, a path famous for its cherry blossom.



Cost

Free admission

Opening Hours

Daily 24 hours

Address

7-5-24 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0001

Telephone

+81 (0) 3 3821 4456

Transport

Nippori JR and metro, or Nezu metro

Sumo Wrestling, Tokyo. Photo by Tamsin Bradshaw
12

Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Wrestling

Crowd-pleasing rituals

Sumo wrestling, still practised competitively, dates back to the 16th century. At the Grand Tournaments at Ryogoku Kokugikan, fascinating ring-entering rituals precede the wrestlers trying to push each other out of the ring to the cheering of crowds. Book in advance.



Cost

From ¥2,000; children from ¥200

Opening Hours

Tournaments run several times a year

Address

1-3-28 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 130-0015

Telephone

+81 (0) 3 3622 1100

Transport

Ryogoku JR station

Website

Nihon Sumo Kyokai Official Grand Sumo Website

KWF ShotoKan, Tokyo. Photo by Paul Kallender-Umezu
13

KWF ShotoKan

Karate with the masters

KWF ShotoKan in Shoto is a high-end karate club. Members and visitors take classes with masters, such as world champion Mikio Yahara. Experience is not important, but booking at least two weeks in advance is.



Cost

One class: non-members ¥3,500

Opening Hours

Classes run Mon-Sat

Address

1-9-22 Shoto, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0046

Telephone

+81 (0) 3 5465 2515

Transport

Shibuya JR and metro

Website

Karatenomichi World Federation Website

EXAS Helicopter Cruising, Tokyo. © JNTO
14

EXAS Helicopter Cruising

Bird's eye Tokyo views

There is no better way to see the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo than from a helicopter. EXAS Helicopter Cruising departs from Chiba, zooming over the Tokyo Tower, Shinjuku, Akihabara and more. Choose between day, sunset and night flights.



Cost

¥8,500-¥18,000; children ¥4,200-¥9,000

Opening Hours

Daily 2pm-9pm

Address

Urayasu Heliport, Chidori 14 Banchi, Urayasu City, Chiba Ken, Tokyo 279-0032

Telephone

+81 (0) 4 7380 5555

Transport

Maihama JR then a 10-minute taxi ride

Website

Excel Air Service Inc Website

Centre for Arts and Wellness, Tokyo. Courtesy of Centre for Arts and Wellness
15

Centre for Arts and Wellness

Traditional Japanese arts

The Centre for Arts and Wellness in Tsurumaki offers firsthand experience of traditional Japanese arts, including calligraphy and incense ceremonies. Incense ceremonies involve breathing in scents passed around a group. The centre takes group and individual bookings.



Cost

¥4,000-¥10,000

Opening Hours

By reservation

Address

301, 3-20-15 Tsurumaki, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 154-0016

Telephone

+81 (0) 3 5450 8522

Transport

Sakurashinmachi station

Website

Centre for Arts and Wellness Website

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