A Very Brief Engineer's Tourist Guide to Tokyo

Tokyo is a great choice for anyone who fancies something a little different.

Tokyo, the current capital of Japan, has held that honor since it was renamed from Edo in 1868. Since then it has become one of the world's foremost tech hotspots.

If you want a city break like nowhere else on the planet, you might want to consider booking a trip to Tokyo.

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What is Tokyo best known for?

Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, is known for quite a few things. For example, the city "is famous for Anime, electronics, manga, and video games. Akihabara is the epicenter [of] it all. It becomes a jungle of electric lights and colors at night, providing a sensory overload for visitors.

Getting lost, window shopping, and photography are top activities here." - Cookingsun.com

What can you do in Tokyo in 3 days?

There are a few things you simply must do in Tokyo if your time is limited. Opinions will vary widely, but according to sites like departmentofwandering.com. you really should try to do the following things: -

  • Walk around Kyoto's many temples and shrines.

  • Cross the crazy Shibuya Crossing.

  • Eat ramen (and indulge in all of Japan's other delicious food).

  • Enjoy Mt. Fuji.

  • Take Japan's high-speed train. 

  • Welcome spring with the cherry blossoms.

  • Stay in a ryokan. 

  • Buy something from a vending machine.

  • Try to check out Tokyo's many districts (if you can fit it in).

  • Visit one of Japan's beautiful islands.

Where is the best area to stay in Tokyo for tourists?

Opinions do vary, but most tend to suggest that you should try to stay in either the Shinjuku or Ginza districts of Tokyo. Yet others tend to recommend that you consider staying in Tokyo Station, Shibuya, and Asakusa.

There are plenty of hotels to choose from but to really experience Tokyo life you should consider booking a stay in a ryokan.

According to sites like asiatravelbug.com, of the main Tokyo hotels, some are better than others.  Each one is located in the Shinjuku and Ginza districts of the city: - 

How many days should I spend in Tokyo?

In order to get the most of your visit to the city, you really should consider a couple of days to a few weeks. But, of course, this will depend on your responsibilities, visa allowances, and, more importantly, budget. 

"Generally speaking, two weeks is usually the recommended days that foreigners usually spend in Japan if their only goal is just for sightseeing and traveling purposes. From those two weeks, visitors usually spend around 3 to 5 days in Tokyo and spend the rest in other destinations." - triplelights.com

Great places to see in Tokyo

Here are some great places to visit in Tokyo. This list is far from exhaustive and in no particular order.

1. Check out the Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo tour guide Skytree
Source: Kakidai/Wikimedia Commons

The Tokyo Skytree is one of Tokyo's major landmarks. It is a 634-meter tall television broadcasting tower and is the tallest structure in Japan.

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At the time of completion in 2011, it became the tallest structure of its kind in the world. It is also the second-tallest structure in the world after the Burj Khalifa. 

The tower is impressive to look at but you can take a trip to the top and view the city from one of its two amazing observation decks. These offer 360-degree views from its 350- and 450-meter levels respectively. 

The Skytree is earthquake resistance owing to its cutting edge seismic proofing that includes a central shaft of reinforced concrete. 

2. Blow your mind at the Tsukuba

Just a little bit outside of Tokyo is one of Japan's best science and technology hubs - Tsukuba ("Science City"). Roughly half of Japan's R and D budget is spent here and the results are, frankly, extraordinary.

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One of the area's best features is the Tsukuba Space Centre. Here you are rewarded with exhibitions and tours of recent astronomical research and Japan's role in the ISS.

The city's Expo Centre is also great and focusses on rockets, robotics and submersible vehicles. Space Square is also great and focusses on industrial technology and offers some glimpses of the possible future based on current rates of development. 

3. Akihabara Electric Town is amazing!

tokyo tour guide akihabara
Source: Steve Cadman/Flickr

If there is one thing that springs to mind when you think of Japan its technology. So, since your in town, check out the technology district of the city - Akihabara

This place really does feel like something out of Blade Runner and has a huge reputation for its amazing gadgets and blinding lights. 

There are plenty of great outlets to check out, but Yodobashi Megastore is widely considered one of the best. It stocks pretty much anything you can think of.

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SEGA is another great place to visit with level upon level of amazing arcade games, old and new, that will keep you entertained for hours on end.

Be sure to check out any of the alleys with electronic stalls and hawkers filled with obscure, specialized products, some of which you might not find anywhere else.

4. The Tokyo Tower is worth a visit

tokyo tour guide tower
Source: picdrops/Flickr

Officially named Nippon denpatō  "Japan Radio Tower", Tokyo Tower is the second tallest structure in Japan. This communications and observation tower is another of Tokyo's most popular tourist attractions. 

It stands at around 333 meters tall and was inspired by the design of the Eiffel Tower. It was built in 1958 and regularly attracts around 150 million visitors a year.

Its main attraction is the 150-meter observation deck halfway up the structure. There is also a smaller observatory at around 250 meters up the tower for those who are feeling a little braver.

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But FootTown, at the tower's base, has museums, restaurants, and shops that are also of interest. 

The tower, with its vibrant red and white paint scheme, is another of Tokyo's most prominent landmarks. It is repainted every five years or so and works take around 1 year to complete. 

5. The Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo might be worth a punt

Indulge us here and feel free to dismiss this suggestion for places to visit in Tokyo. But if you love Pokemon, or just want a dose of nostalgia from your childhood, this is one place you must visit.

This specialist store is all about Pokemon and Pokemon goods. It has a wide range of original Pokemon merchandise and other goods.

While there are other Pokemon Centers around Tokyo this is by far one of the largest and best.

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If you have kids in tow this is also a great choice to keep them occupied for a few hours (at least). It has plenty of fun games and many items you won't find anywhere else in the world.

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