As there's so much to see and do in Tokyo, new expats should prepare for a sensory overload. The visual landscape is animated by flashing billboards, the hum and buzz of a densely packed population, and gleaming buildings that compete for attention. The good news is that no matter how much leisure time they have, expats will never get bored.
Using public transport is an easy way to see the sights. The transport system is excellent, cheap and relatively easy to master, even for the newly arrived expat. That being said, if expats don’t mind the walk, feeling out Tokyo on foot is highly recommended.
Recommended sightseeing in Tokyo
There is nowhere better for expats to get a sense of perspective than from atop the soaring Tokyo Tower, rising 1,091 feet (333m) into the sky. This architectural masterpiece was modelled on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, although Tokyo’s version also has a four-storey-high Foot Town at the base.
The heart and soul of traditional Tokyo, this magnificent royal palace is home to the current emperor, and has wonderful gardens that are open to the public.
Built to honour the 2.5 million Japanese who perished in conflict, mostly in World War II, the Worship Hall itself is a simple Shinto-style building. To the north of the shrine is the Yushukan Museum, which features interesting artefacts like the human torpedo and a kamikaze suicide attack plane.
This museum is devoted to celebrating Tokyo’s history, art, culture and architecture using inventive displays, including a replica of an ancient Kabuki theatre, as well as various maps and old photographs.
Looking for electronics and gadgets? Well, look no further than Akihabara, renowned electronic wonderland with all the bargains, cutting-edge innovation and expert advice an expat could ever want. An essential attraction even if expats are just window shopping.
An ancient Buddhist temple, Senso-ji was built in 628 AD and still attracts many devotees, especially when one of the numerous associated festivals is running. The summer fireworks display held here is widely known. The nearby Demboin Garden is a tranquil retreat from the city.
Tokyo Disney Resort
This is a mega theme park that directly mimics the original version in California. Apart from the usual fun rides and characters, there is Disney Sea Park as well as several hotels.
Tokyo National Museum
Home to the world’s largest collection of Japanese art, this outstanding museum has exhibits including antique kimonos, paper-thin pottery and classical woodblock prints.
Meiji Jingu is a pleasant and calming shrine close to Harajuku Station. Originally built as a tribute to the Emperor Meiji and his wife, the shrine is located in a breathtaking evergreen forest environment.
Expats in Tokyo can also explore the traditional Japanese Kabuki theatre. This is an attraction that may be more suited for the more culturally adventurous expats. The Kabuki-za is the main venue for such performances and is set in a beautiful building.
Are you an expat living in Tokyo?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Tokyo. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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