Where would you find ultramodern neon-lit skyscrapers standing shoulder to shoulder with traditional, cherry-tree lined temples? Tokyo of course. Frequently regarded as one of the most progressive, tech-savvy cities on earth — Tokyo is famed as much for its frenetic pace of life as its timeless, fascinating heritage.
Sprawling for well over 5,000 square miles, Tokyo is the world’s most populous metropolitan area on earth, and boasts a staggering population of 13,185,502 — more than the total population of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne combined
If you want to experience the hustle and bustle of the Japanese capital, a cruise could be the perfect way to do just that. To help you make the most of your shore-time spent exploring this lurid conurbation, here’s our in-depth guide on how best to spend 12 hours in Tokyo.
Meiji Jingu Shrine
Get in touch with your innate spirituality with a stroll around what’s become one of Tokyo’s most celebrated shrines, Meiji Jingu. Located in the Shibuya area of the city, Meiji is dedicated to the spirit of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. Built in 1915, the shrine is by no means Tokyo’s oldest — but it’s certainly one of its prettiest and most charming.
With its colourful pagodas and overarching sense of deep spirituality, the Sensō-ji Temple in Tokyo’s Asakusa region is the ultimate excursion for history fans. Founded in 628, Sensō-ji is Tokyo’s oldest temple by a considerable margin, and contains centuries of fascinating history and heritage. A must-visit destination for cruise passengers young and old.
No trip to Tokyo would be complete without a visit to the city’s mesmerizingly chaotic Shibuya Crossing — perhaps one of the world’s busiest intersections. Connecting Shibuya Station (Tokyo’s busiest train station) with the city’s hippest shopping district, Shibuya Crossing is the epitome of organised chaos and well worth a visit if you want to experience Tokyo’s famous bustle.
Go Shopping in Tsukiji Market
Thought to date back to the 16th century, Tsukiji is Tokyo’s oldest and busiest market, and the perfect place to soak up the real-world atmosphere of the city. With thousands of vendors selling food, goods and handmade crafts, visitors to Tsukiji can sample the local cuisine or pick up a unique souvenir for friends and loved ones back home.
Attend a Traditional Sumo Tournament
Think Japan, think sumo wrestling. Portrayed in just about every film based in Japan, sumo wrestling is without doubt one of the country’s best-loved sports, and one that makes for an excellent visitor spectacle. One of our favourite places to watch a traditional sumo wrestling tournament is at the Kokugikan Stadium is Tokyo’s Ryogoku district.
See the Sights at Tokyo Sky Tree
Standing at 634 metres, Tokyo’s Sky Tree is the world’s tallest freestanding tower, and the second tallest structure in the world behind the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Luckily for you, Sky Tree has three observation decks where it’s possible to enjoy a bird’s eye view across Tokyo. Plus, if you’re feeling peckish, there’s also a restaurant offering panoramic skyline views for diners.
No trip to Tokyo would be complete without sampling a plate of fresh sushi, made right before your eyes by a highly skilled itamae (Japanese chef). One of our favourite spots to chow down on this Japanese staple is Sushitomi — a tiny sushi bar that’s famous for its exquisite fare and affordable prices.
Tapas Molecular Bar
For a culinary experience that embodies Tokyo’s love for all things tech, pay a visit to the Tapas Molecular Bar, where you’ll be taken on a sixteen course culinary journey. From appetiser to dessert, you’ll taste dishes that meld science and art with top-notch ingredients — perfect for those looking to put their taste buds to the test.
If you’re too busy exploring the city to find time for a lengthy sit down meal, good news — Tokyo benefits from some of the finest street food on the planet. Wherever you tread across the city, you’ll be met with a deluge of delicious smelling street vendors. Our favourite place to tuck into a bowl of proper Japanese grub is Fu-unji, whose ramen noodles attract large queues at certain times of the day.
If you’re interested in calling at Tokyo on your next cruise break, visit the Cruise1st Australia website where you’ll find a complete range of upcoming cruise breaks to Japan and the rest of the captivating continent. Alternatively, if you need any further help, feel free to give us a call on 1300 857 345.
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: Change’r, Nelo Hotsuma, 22n, Moyan Brenn.
The footage used in these videos is licensed via Creative Commons and has been modified from the original. Credits: Tokyo Cuisine Komakata, Folla in metro Tokyo, Maniglie metro Tokyo handles bearing the Tokyo subway, TOKYO SKYTREE time lapse 2013, SONY RX100 and PENTAX Q:Tokyo Time Lapse, Clouds Above Tokyo