JAPAN Tokyo is the world’s most populated metropolis and it is fun, crazy, exciting, and fascinating. It offers an overwhelming amount of opportunities to enjoy shopping, entertainment, culture, and fine cuisine.
The city’s history can be discovered through its excellent range of museums, beautifully kept gardens, bars and restaurants, and districts such as Asakusa, Shibuya, and Ginza. As there is so much to see, it can be hard to decide which bits to see, especially if you only have a couple of days.
Another important consideration for travelers is whether they need a visa for Japan or not. This handy guide will not only explain the best things to see and do in Tokyo, it will also explain if you need an entry authorization to visit Japan.
Do you need a Japan visa for Tokyo?
Travelers from 68 countries can travel to Japan for tourism or business purposes with only their passport, without the need to obtain a visa. The maximum permitted time depends on the nationality of the visitor.
Citizens from 66 countries including the US, Canada, Australia, all EU countries, Mexico, Argentina, can enter for a maximum period of 90 days. Travelers from Indonesia or the United Arab Emirates can enter without a Japan visa for periods of up to 15 days.
Nationalities who cannot enter visa-free can apply for a tourist visa for Tokyo from any Japanese embassy or consulate. There are various other types of visas for Japan including work and study visas.
The Japan Tourist eVisa will launch in 2020
The tourist eVisa for Japan will be available from April 2020 and it will make it easier for travelers to visit Japan. Eligible nationalities will no longer need to go to embassies or consulates as travelers will complete the Japan visa application online.
Travelers will just need to fill out the online form and pay a fee using a credit or debit card (as long as they meet the entry visa requirements for Japan). Tourists will receive the eVisa by email once the application has been processed.
Top things to see and do in Tokyo
The monument is Tokyo’s most elaborate and celebrated Shinto shrine. It’s dedicated to the glorified spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken who reigned from 1868 to 1912 and embody Japan’s transition from a feudal to a modern country. Visitors can take part in typical Shinto activities such as making offerings, making wishes, and buying charms. The shrine is currently being renovated for its 100th anniversary but is still worth the visit.
Tokyo National Museum
The Tokyo National Museum is not only the largest art museum in Japan, it is also one of the biggest in the world. It contains over 110,000 items focused on Japanese culture including Buddhist sculptures, ancient pottery, samurai swords, and traditional kimonos. It is impossible to see everything in a single day as the collection is so vast. If you have limited time, the Japanese Gallery on the 2nd floor is a particular highlight.
Rikugi-en is considered Tokyo’s most elegant garden. It was completed in 1702 and portrays scenes from classical literature and mythology. The wooden walkways, stone bridges, trickling streams, and charming teahouses make for a fantastic day out. There are regular events held at Rikugi-en as well as free guided tours in English. One of the highlights is a huge cherry tree which is spectacular during spring.
The district is a popular spot for artists, writers, and musicians. It is a collection of micro-bars which are atmospheric and visually stunning. Each bar is totally unique and run by an eccentric ‘master’ or ‘mama’ who are generally very welcoming and charming. Some of the bars prefer to only serve local customers but there are more and more lively bars, designed for international bar hoppers. They are easy to identify as they display information in English.
The perfect place to discover the more modern, edgier side of Japanese art. The new museum features 60 artworks which blur the distinction between art and the viewer. Exploration is one of the central themes and many of the pieces are interactive. Moving between the rooms, such as the Forest of Lamps and the Crystal World, gives you the sensation of moving through a fantasy role-playing game. The Athletics Forest is designed especially for children and allows them to design animated creatures.
Shinjuku Gyoenis is one of the capital’s largest and most-loved parks. Beautifully-kept lawns, landscape gardens, huge ponds, and spectacular trees and flowers, make the park the perfect escape from urban Tokyo. Visitors can also visit the pavilions, including the Taiwan Pavilion (Kyu Goryotei), a greenhouse featuring tropical plants, an art gallery, and a fantastic restaurant. During the spring it is one of the best places in Tokyo to see the cherry blossom.
Asakusa was Tokyo’s most important entertainment district during the Edo Period. It was known for its large red light district and ‘kabuki’ theatres. The buzzing atmosphere evolved over the centuries as cinemas, bars, and restaurants began popping up. Today, the main attraction is a Buddhist temple built in the 7th century, which leads on to a shopping street with a variety of traditional cafes and souvenir shops. Rickshaw tours are available but the area can easily be explored on foot.