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Go on a (virtual) tour of Tokyo with these gorgeous photos

10Best logo 10Best 7/7/2020 Lydia Schrandt, Special to USA TODAY 10Best
a view of a city: Tokyo skyline © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau Tokyo skyline

Welcome to Tokyo

Old and new collide in Tokyo, Japan’s dazzling metropolis and capital city that spreads out in seemingly endless sprawl in all directions. Take a look at some of the city’s cultural icons and hidden gems through this photo tour.

a view of a city at sunset: Shinjuku © Y.Shimizu/©JNTO Shinjuku

In the shadow of the mountain

On clear days, it’s possible to see Mount Fuji, Japan’s tallest peak, from many an observation deck throughout Tokyo. Here, the mountain is visible at sunset, with the Shinjuku ward in the foreground.

a room with a book shelf: Kanda Used Book Street © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau Kanda Used Book Street

Literary paradise

Tokyo’s Jimbocho ward is home to a cluster of universities and, therefore, a healthy demand for books. The neighborhood is now one of the largest bookshop districts on the planet, with some 200 bookstores, giving it the name Book Town. Antique books are a specialty, but you’ll find plenty of newer offerings as well.

a store in a city: Shibuya Crossing © iStock / Eloi_Omella Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Scramble

As many as 2,500 people make their way across Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo every two minutes at its busiest times, making it one of the world’s busiest intersections. People cross from all directions, giving the crosswalk the nickname "Shibuya Scramble."

a view of a city: Shibuya Scramble Square © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau Shibuya Scramble Square

Tokyo from above

For the best views and photo ops of the busy Shibuya Crossing, head to the observation deck of Shibuya Scramble Square. Visitors enjoy 360-degree views of the surrounding city, including the busy pedestrian crossing.

a person preparing food in a kitchen: Yakitori restaurant © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau Yakitori restaurant

Eat your heart out

No trip to Tokyo would be complete without a meal of yakitori, grilled chicken skewers cooked to order over charcoal. This inexpensive dish is typically served alongside a glass of cold beer, and while many restaurants have it on the menu, it’s best to get it from a specialty shop, called a yakitori-ya.

a store front at night: Harmonica Alley © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau Harmonica Alley

A taste of Old Tokyo

Step back in time in Tokyo with a stroll down Harmonica Alley. This narrow warren of alleys and covered streets, illuminated by red lanterns at night, is a popular spot for after-work drinks and snacks from standing-room-only eateries.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Takeshita-dori © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau Takeshita-dori

Harajuku fashion

Spend some time wandering around Harajuku Station, and you’ll likely come face to face with Japan’s teenage fashion culture. Takeshita Street is a hub for trend-setting youth, with shops specializing in kawaii, grunge and goth fashion. Lady Gaga has even been known to shop here.

a large ship in a body of water: Rainbow Bridge © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau Rainbow Bridge

Colorful crossing

Like many of the world’s great cities, Tokyo has its own iconic bridge, the Rainbow Bridge linking Odaiba and Shibaura Pier. Once the sun goes down, the bridge lights up with solar-powered, multi-hued lights. Both cars and pedestrians can cross the bridge; it takes about 30 minutes on foot.

a large tower that has a bridge over a body of water: Statue of Liberty © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau Statue of Liberty

Japan's Statue of Liberty

Visitors to Tokyo might be surprised to see an icon much more closely associated with the United States. A smaller replica of the Statue of Liberty sits along the waterfront in Odaiba. It’s only 40 feet tall — about a seventh the size of its U.S. counterpart — but can appear larger due to the suspension bridge in the background.

a small boat in a body of water: Inokashira Park © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau Inokashira Park

Green Tokyo

For a modern metropolis, Tokyo has quite a number of appealing green spaces. Inokashira Park ranks among the best, with a pond, row boats for rent, wooded walking paths and a shrine to one of Japan’s lucky gods.

a stone bench sitting next to a window: Japanese onsen © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau Japanese onsen

Say "ahhh"

The Japanese archipelago remains volcanically active, and that activity has created mineral hot springs throughout the country. You don’t have to stray far from Tokyo to enjoy a rejuvenating soak in one of these traditional onsen.

a group of people sitting at a crowded street: Ameyoko © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau Ameyoko

Shop 'til you drop

People looking for some retail therapy won’t have to look far in Tokyo. There’s a shopping district for just about every taste, from the high-end stores of Ginza to the electronics of Shinjuku. For some one-stop shopping, head to the open-air Ameyoko market, where you’ll find clothing, cosmetics and food, all at famously cheap prices.

a vase of flowers on a table: Bonsai tree © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau Bonsai tree

The art of bonsai

Bonsai, potted miniature trees, have garnered popularity around the world, but they originated in Japan. Keep an eye out for them as you wander around town, learn about the living art at Omiya Bonsai Village just north of Tokyo or do some window shopping at the Morimae Ginza Bonsai Shop in the Ginza district.

a group of people in a small boat in a body of water: Shinjuku © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau Shinjuku

Springtime sakura

Springtime means one thing in Japan: cherry blossoms. Chidorigafuchi ranks among the best viewing spots in Tokyo, with more than 260 sakura trees of several varieties. Enjoy the view from the pedestrian path alongside the moat, or from a row boat on the water.

a group of people in a garden: Nezu-jinja Shrine © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau Nezu-jinja Shrine

Azalea Festival

Cherry blossoms aren’t the only thing blooming in Tokyo. Nezu Shrine hosts the Azalea Festival each spring, when the shrine’s 3,000 azalea plants are in full bloom.

a group of people standing next to a tree: Ginkgo trees © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau Ginkgo trees

Tunnel of trees

Come autumn, Tokyo’s ginkgo trees turn a bright golden color. Many Tokyo streets have the trees growing on either side, creating tunnels of fall foliage. Some of the best places to see them include Meiji Jingu Gaien, Showa Memorial Park and Yoyogi Park.

a store in a city: Akihabara © Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau Akihabara

Otaku culture

Tokyo’s bustling Akihabara district is ground zero for otaku culture. Shoppers will find numerous shops and boutiques dedicated to anime and manga, as well as electronics. Visit Mandarake, one of the largest manga and anime shops in the world; eat Gundam-themed dishes at Gundam Cafe; or pick up some manga gear to take home.

10Best is a part of the USA TODAY Network, providing an authentically local point of view on destinations around the world, in addition to travel and lifestyle advice.

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