No city on Earth blends modern and traditional culture as harmoniously or as vibrantly as Tokyo. Home to Geishas and Harajukus, skyscrapers and cherry blossoms, karaoke bars and Buddhist temples, ancient ceremonies and the latest technology, the Japanese capital is as innovative as it is reverential, and as foreign as it is familiar.
As one of the world’s most populous cities, and Asia's premier metropolis, Tokyo offers endless shopping, entertainment, cultural, historical and dining opportunities – many of which are touted to be among the world’s best.
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Tokyo is a true foodie’s paradise. Home more Michelin stars than any other city on Earth, the Japanese capital showcases an ultra-diverse and dynamic food scene. As one of the world’s most innovative culinary hotspots, Tokyo dishes up a huge array of dining options, covering everything from traditional favourites like miso soup, tempura and udon, to avant-garde cuisine.
Japan consumes more seafood than western countries. Seafood is eaten in just about every form imaginable, from raw sashimi to grilled sweetfish. Japan’s love of seafood is most evident at Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market – the world's largest fish market. Today, the market is as much a tourist attraction as it is a seafood connoisseur’s wonderland; with pre-dawn tuna auctions and fish mongering proving lively and popular spectacles.
Japan’s love for seafood has been most notably introduced to the world in the form of sushi. Sushi experiences abound in Tokyo, and come in many different settings and at a range of costs. For the best sushi in Tokyo eat where the locals eat, and keep an open mind – the reality of filling up on California and spicy tuna rolls is slim to none.
When it comes to food, Ramen is a dish synonymous with Tokyo. For locals, ramen – a simple bowl of noodles – is a cheap dish that be slurped down in a matter of minutes at any time of the day. Ramen shops appear all over the city in ad hoc fashion, often with artisan and specialist appeal. Like sushi eateries, Tokyo features countless ramen establishments, so again eat where the locals eat.
Japanese-style pubs known as Izakayas are also very popular in Tokyo; offering a fun and playful atmosphere in which to enjoy a variety of casual fare with a tipple of sake, or a Japanese beer like a Kirin or Sapporo. Izakayas are generally identified by a red lantern hanging outside.
Unlike other major Asian cities, Tokyo’s dining scene isn’t split across various distinct districts. While a high concentration of cafes, restaurants and eateries can be found in shopping and entertainment zones like Odaiba, Ginza and Roppongi, endless food choices abound throughout the city and surrounding wards.
Shopping in Tokyo can be an overwhelming experience. As a thriving Asian metropolis, home to one of the world’s largest populations, Tokyo fosters a myriad of shopping districts, each with their own distinct character.
The Shinjuku district is one of Japan’s most well-known shopping and entertainment areas; jam-packed with streets and arcades abuzz with major department stores, flagship boutiques and electronics retailers.
The district of Shibuya is known as the birthplace of Japan's youth fashion trends, hosting hip clothing stores and small boutiques selling high fashion and designer brands.
The man-made island of Odaiba is another favourite among young shoppers, in particular women, boasting the Palette Town shopping complex and its Venice-themed Venus Fort shopping mall.
The Harajuku district is Tokyo’s most famous shopping zone. Catering for two very different shoppers, the area is split over parallel shopping streets. On one side, Tokyo's version of the Champs-Elysees, Omotesando features upscale boutiques and leading designer brands. While the other side, Takeshita Dori holds claims as Japan’s counter culture epicentre – a narrow street brimming with shops, cafes and a teenage crowd.
The Ginza district is Tokyo's premier upmarket shopping district; a hub for international and Japanese high-end fashion, boutiques and art galleries, as well as major electronics brands. Located in the middle of the city, Roppongi is also known for its upscale shopping, as the home of complexes like Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown.
At the forefront of the world’s technology industry, legendary shopping districts Ikebukuro and Akihabara are dotted with the biggest and best in international electronics retailers.
Throughout the city tourist attractions also double as shopping zones, and provide ample opportunity to pick up traditional Japanese souvenirs like maneki neko, ukiyo-e prints and paper lanterns.