The Once and Future City

A city both age-old and on the cutting edge, Tokyo is a study in contrast. Hushed, mist-shrouded Shinto shines and meticulously manicured classical gardens sit within arms’ reach of psychedelic neon alleys, futuristic skyscrapers, and squeaky clean transit stations featuring the fastest and sleekest trains ever built.

It’s also a city of immense civility and quiet calm. The Japanese obsession with perfection and mastery of skill infuses everything here, from humble street food to high-end fashion, so be prepared when ordering a simple bowl of soba noodles or taking an afternoon shopping excursion: these could well become rich experiences you’ll remember for years.

To get a feel for Tokyo’s diversity and its many layers, divide and conquer: plan your itinerary so you can make stops across the city’s various neighborhoods, gaining an opportunity to take in the wide range of colors and styles that infuse this vibrant city. There’s so much to explore, you’ll never be left wondering what to do in Tokyo.

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At a crossroads

To start, head to one of the most popular attractions in all of Tokyo: Shibuya Crossing. Of all the things to do in Tokyo to give you a taste of the city’s boundless contradictions, Shibuya — where, like clockwork, hundreds of pedestrians swarm a massive intersection at each light change and glide through the street in a graceful throng — is a perfect encapsulation.

For the best view of this sight, one of the most iconic things to see in Tokyo, get some height: head to the Starbucks at the Q building across the street and aim for a seat in front of the window, or at least a place to stand with a view of the road below. Then wait for the lights to change and the pedestrian dance to begin.

At nearby Shibuya station, you’ll find Hachiko, a brass statue of a beloved dog who waited at the station for his owner, a local professor, every day after work. After the professor died, Hachiko would still return daily to the station and sit in wait, earning him a beloved following among locals and eventually the brass statue, which commemorates his loyalty to this day.

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