Scale Tokyo Skytree
Since it edged out Tokyo Tower as the city’s favorite observatory in 2012, Tokyo Skytree has become a favorite weekend destination for locals and visitors alike. It’s not only home to a multi-level shopping center, the Sora-machi, at its feet, but the Sumida Aquarium and Observation Deck ensure there’s something here for everyone to enjoy. Can’t stand the crowds? Try the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building observatories instead.
Watch a Sumo Match
The ancient sport of sumo has been practiced in Japan for centuries. It also has yet to catch on overseas, making it a uniquely Japanese experience. Buy grand tournament tickets on the official Japanese Sumo Association website. Or, if the timing is off, hang out at a stable like Arashio in the early morning to see the greats practicing to stay in top form.
Have A Drink In The Golden Gai
After wandering around Kabukicho for a while, one might find themselves strolling down a cobbled street lined with two-story structures so incongruous with the skyscrapers of Shinjuku. This is the district’s Golden Gai, a network of bars that take visitors back in time to pre-war Japan. The barkeeps should be friendly enough, but be prepared to at least order a drink in Japanese, since very few establishments will have English speakers on staff.
Dine With Geisha
Arrange a dinner party – known as ozashiki – for your guests, and they’ll never forget you for it. Many Tokyo geisha houses (okiya) like Yoshinoya are very forward-thinking and can even arrange for English-speaking geisha to entertain at your party. What exactly goes on at an ozashiki? Dinner and conversation before being treated to traditional geisha dances. Check Yoshinoya’s official homepage for inquiries or book directly on GoVoyagin.
Go Shopping In Shibuya
Shibuya is the epicenter of Tokyo’s youth culture. Merge with pedestrians at the iconic Shibuya Crossing and explore the malls where the young and fashionable like to spend their weekends. Harajuku is one of Shibuya’s most famous neighborhoods, so a visit to Takeshita Street might be a must – visitors can then decide for themselves whether it lives up to the hype or not.
Visit Meiji Shrine
Due to its close proximity to Shibuya, Harajuku, and Yoyogi Park, Meiji Shrine is one of the most-visited shrines in Tokyo. The huge torii gate frames an exceptionally wide road, and the approach to the shrine is extremely long; this means that on an ordinary day, Meiji Shrine remains very, very peaceful. Stop by to make your prayers heard, and pick up an omamori (good luck charm) from the small shrine shop.
Hike Mt. Mitake
Show off a different side of Tokyo and plan a hike into one of the surrounding mountains. Mount Mitake is famous for its varied scenery, welcoming mountain village, and ancient Shinto shrines. Take the cable car to the summit and begin exploring from there, where an hour’s trek will take you into the scenic valley.
Cruise The Sumida-gawa
Cruising the Sumida River is an unconventional way to see the city. It’s especially popular – and beautiful – during the spring cherry blossom season, but is still enjoyable at any time of the year. Take the waterbus cruise from Asakusa to Hamarikyu, and end the afternoon with a stroll through the famed Hamarikyu Gardens.
Have A Picnic in the Park
Tokyo is home to countless beautiful parks, from the enormous Ueno Park to modest Inokashira in Kichijoji. Choose a favorite and pick up a couple of bento from the grocery, bento shop or even the closest Don Quixote to have a picnic under the canopies. Thanks to the huge boughs of Tokyo’s ancient trees, don’t count on having somewhere dry and sunny to sit – bringing your own picnic blanket is a must.