Japanese history buff? Visiting Tokyo, particularly for the first time? In that case, take it from us – you won't want to miss these five things to do!
Japan is well known for its fascinating, long and varied history. The country is peppered with thousands of historical, sacred and religious sites, as well as landmarks, historic walking areas and further places of cultural and historical significance and interest.
What's more, you can visit a number of these places even without having to leave the confines of the Tokyo Metropolis. Here we take a look at five must-see historical sites and things to do, in and around Tokyo.
2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito 111-0032, Tokyo Prefecture
A list of must-see attractions for history buffs wouldn't be complete without a Japanese temple, and as far as Tokyo goes, Senso-ji has to make the list. Tokyo's oldest example, Senso-ji Temple, is located in the city's historic center – Asakusa. A piece of beautiful and deservedly treasured Japanese history, the temple is a sight to behold amid the wider modern metropolis of Tokyo. Furthermore, Asakusa is known for its long-established collection of traditional Japanese restaurants offering genuinely authentic cuisine, which is something else to try while in the area. The temple is in close proximity to the Tokyo Skytree, too, offering a chance to visit another great attraction at quite the opposite end of the historical spectrum!
Tokyo National Museum
13-9 Ueno Park, Taito 110-8712, Tokyo Prefecture
This one might seem like a given, considering it's the world's largest collection of Japanese artifacts, but this list wouldn't be complete without it. The museum holds over 100,000 pieces and rising, however the display areas, while vast, only have room for 4,000 at a time. As a result, exhibits are rotated continuously, so you're almost guaranteed to see something different or new each time you visit. Conveniently located in Ueno Park, the Tokyo National Museum provides a near-perfect cross-section look at Japan's rich cultural history.
Tokyo Imperial Palace
1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda 100-8111, Tokyo Prefecture
Much like Senso-ji Temple, a look at Tokyo's main historical attractions would not be complete without the inclusion of the Imperial Palace. Touristy? Yes. A piece of unmissable Japanese history? Also, yes. While entrance to both the palace itself and the surrounding gardens are by admission only and often restricted, even from a distance, it's a sight to behold when visiting Tokyo. One to check off the list, especially if you're already planning to be in the area.
2-25-6 Kabukicho, Eiwa Dairoku Bldg, Shinjuku 160-0021, Tokyo Prefecture
The second of two museums on this list, Tokyo's Samurai Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in Samurai history or culture. Comparatively diminutive, size-wise, from the outside, and well tucked away, appearances can be deceiving. Atmospheric and beautifully lit, based in Shinjuku the museum houses a perfectly curated collection of Samurai armor, helmets, weapons and more, collected from across Japan.
2-11-1 Takanawa, Minato 108-0074, Tokyo Prefecture
Another Tokyo temple, Sengaku-ji is rather smaller than Senso-ji but especially noteworthy as it's the final resting place of the 47 Ronin, or Akoroshi. The true story of the 47 Ronin is widely popularized in Japanese culture and one of the most popular themes in Japanese art. As such, Sengaku-ji Temple is a favorite attraction among Japanese visitors—who pay their respects to the Akoroshi by burning incense sticks—and overseas travelers alike, although it's much less touristy than many larger temples. An accompanying museum at the site tells the 300-year-old story of the 47 Ronin and is also very much worth a visit.