It’s sometimes difficult to get around such a big city. This is why we’ve teamed up with Tokyo Metro: to help you out. Aside from their free Wi-Fi services, welcome boards, tourist information desks, app and rail services; all of which we’ve covered in our past two articles about the city, they provide a free brochure for anyone who needs it.
It contains basic information on riding the train, sightseeing spots, a guide to airport access, convenient discount tickets, and a Tokyo subway map with index for easier identification of each station.
This brochure is extremely useful, because it breaks down navigating the city, depending on your interests.
I especially like the fact that they have suggested daily itineraries for people who are not sure what to do in a day in Tokyo.
Tokyo seems to be all about the glitz and glamour. Upscale shopping malls, futuristic technology, quirky fashion, and skyscrapers decorate the city. This is what makes up Tokyo’s charm, after all. Many people then end up saving more cultural and nature-type activities like visits to temples and deer parks for other cities in Japan, like Osaka or Kyoto. But you could easily get a dose of both nature and history right in the bustling city of Tokyo. Here are the must-see spots for culture and nature lovers while visiting the city.
- Tokyo National Museum
The Tokyo National Museum is the oldest and biggest museum in Japan. This museum complex houses vast collections of artifacts and art pieces from Japan and neighboring Asian countries and exhibits around 3000 items in five buildings. The sheer size of the museum is a wonder, so make sure to dedicate quite some time to see all the exhibits. Admission fee for adults is 620 yen, tickets to special exhibits may cost up to 1600 yen.
- National Museum of Modern Art
Dive into surreal art pieces, sculptures, photographs, and installations at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (MOMAT). This museum showcases 20th-century art by Japanese or Western artists. Walk five minutes from the MOMAT to visit the Crafts Gallery, where they hold various exhibits on ceramics, textiles and other crafts from the 19th century onwards. If you fancy a film screening, you can head over to the National Film Center in Kyobashi.
- Nezu Museum
This museum is a harmonious blend of nature, art, and architecture. It houses a collection of Japanese and East Asian premodern art works collected mostly by Nezu Kaichiro Sr., and is famous for exhibitions with distinctive themes as well as its large Japanese garden. The picturesque garden features four tea houses, as well as a café where you can relax and enjoy the garden view with a hot drink.
- Shinjuku Gyoen
This is a prime spot for garden and nature lovers. Known as the prettiest garden in Japan, Shinjuku Gyoen is brimming with sprawling lawns, ponds, and flowering trees. The garden is also one of the best places to view cherry blossoms blooming come April. Despite the openness of the area, and as with most areas in Japan, it’s wise to be on your best behavior. Keep in mind that alcohol and play equipment are prohibited in the park.
- Ghibli Museum
If you’re one who loves the animated Ghibli films and planning ahead, then the Ghibli Museum should not be missed. It’s home to all things Ghibli and takes you through the inner workings of the award-winning production studio. You’d need to book your tickets way in advance (about a month) and they sell out pretty quickly, so plan wisely.
- Samurai Museum
Immerse yourself in everything samurai at the Samurai Museum, located in the Kabukicho area of Shinjuku. This museum may be on the smaller side, but it’s got everything you need for a basic foundation on samurai history. It’s directed to foreigners and casual learners, with calligraphy workshops and photo taking with samurai swords, armor, and hats.
- Shitamachi Museum
To explore the streets and daily life of shitamachi (the area that commom people lived), head to this museum. It showcases the traditional history of old Japan, with
reproductions of a storeowner’s house and rows of apartments. On the second floor, visitors to this museum can play with old toys and learn more about shitamachi history.
- 21_21 Design Sight
One of Japan’ s best innovations lies in design. The building is designed by world-renowned architect Tadao Ando and inspired by “A Piece of Cloth” which is the underlying concept of Issey Miyake’s clothes-making.The place is a modern structure with exhibitions and workshops on architecture, art, and design. It’s located in Midtown Garden, Tokyo Midtown allowing guests to naturally enter the place from the garden.
- Mori Art Museum
Located in the Roppongi Hills Mall Complex, this popular museum is home to more contemporary art from both local and international artists. After viewing the art, be sure to check out spectacular views of the city by visiting the Tokyo City View and the Sky Deck.
- Ueno Park
Established in 1873, Ueno Park is one of the first official parks in Tokyo. This vast area of greenery is flanked by several museums, making it a good spot to take a break from museum hopping. Enjoy the open air before heading to the surrounding museums: Tokyo National Museum, the National Science Museum, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, and the National Museum of Western Art, and Ueno Royal Museum.