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Nights in Japan - Tokyo

Updated on August 26, 2016
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Japanophile Cedric survived 10 solo trips to Japan. His visits now focus on discovering the country’s lesser known attractions.

Aerial shot of Night Time Tokyo, taken from Tokyo Skytree

An ocean of building and lights.
An ocean of building and lights. | Source

Let me begin this tour of night time Tokyo with an overview. This immense city, considered the largest in the world by some measurements, is a ocean of buildings home to some thirteen million people. It is at the same time a financial powerhouse, a trend setter, a culinary haven, and a political bellwether. In the picture above, one of the symbols of modern Tokyo i.e Tokyo Tower, glitters in the distance. The tallest structure in Japan for over half a century, Tokyo Tower has since 2012 been surpassed by Tokyo Skytree. Despite that, it's remains a tourist hot spot. It is also frequently featured in Japanese romance dramas and novels.

Another aerial shot of night time Tokyo

Another aerial view of night time Tokyo.
Another aerial view of night time Tokyo. | Source

Another view of Tokyo from up above. What makes such a view breathtaking, other than the lights, is the fact that Tokyo was just a provincial town before 1603. It is considered very young, when compared to Japanese cities like Kyoto, Nara or Kamakura. Nowadays, it has far surpassed its older cousins be it physically, economically or culturally. In this sense, the metropolis does deserve its modern name. Which translates to "Capital of the East."

A symbol of historical Tokyo

Hozomon at night
Hozomon at night | Source

Tokyo's most famous temple is Sensō-ji (浅草寺), which lies at the heart of the Asakusa (浅草) district. Everyday, tourists and worshipers flock to it, and to reach the temple, all have to pass through two magnificent gates. Shown above is the larger inner gate, Hozōmon (宝蔵門), or the Treasure House Gate. Rebuilt in the 1960s after the original was destroyed during WWII, it currently houses many treasures of the temple. This includes a copy of the Lotus Sutra that is designated a Japanese national treasure.

Asakusa Nakamise-Dori at night

The deserted Nakamise of Senso-ji at night.
The deserted Nakamise of Senso-ji at night. | Source

Sensō-ji is a must for many visitors to Tokyo. Most spend perhaps a quarter of an hour admiring the temple and its gates, and then thrice that amount of time in the street between the two vermilion gates. Known as the Nakamise-dōri (仲見世通り), this famous shopping street is flanked by numerous stores selling all varieties of traditional Japanese handicrafts and snacks. It is a wondering location for souvenir hunting, or just photo taking. at night, it exudes a different sort of atmospheric beauty, with its traditionally painted shutters.

The world famous Sensō-ji

Senso-ji temple iteself.
Senso-ji temple iteself. | Source

After much mention, Sensō-ji itself. In this picture, closed for the night.

Modern Tokyo

Shinjuku. The Studio Alta Building. A popular meeting place.
Shinjuku. The Studio Alta Building. A popular meeting place. | Source
Akihabara. Capital of "Otaku" culture.
Akihabara. Capital of "Otaku" culture. | Source
The famous Wako Building, with it's clock, at the heart of the Ginza district.
The famous Wako Building, with it's clock, at the heart of the Ginza district. | Source

When seeking the traditional side of Tokyo, head to Asakusa. If looking for the modern side of Tokyo, head to ... ... There are so manyTokyo districts for shopping, entertainment, fun, anime, nightlife and so on. Some of these are so renowned they could be considered as towns themselves. For example Akihabara, the "electrical town." Exploring any of these areas, with their hundreds of shops, could easily fill up an entire evening. Wait. No. It would need a few nights.

Odaiba Seafront, with Rainbow Bridge in the distance

Odaiba seafront, with Tokyo Tower and Rainbow bridge.
Odaiba seafront, with Tokyo Tower and Rainbow bridge. | Source
Statue of Liberty at Odaiba.
Statue of Liberty at Odaiba. | Source

These two pictures were taken at my favourite place in Tokyo. Odaiba (お台場). An artificial island connected to the mainland by the famous Rainbow Bridge, Odaiba is a major commercial and recreational area with several malls, museums, theme parks, hotels, and even an onsen park. Especially popular is the seafront facing the mainland, for you not only get a full view of Rainbow Bridge here, but also Tokyo Tower in the distance. The whole area has a cheery, festive kind of atmosphere to it all year long. Just try not to mind the quirkiness. There is a perpetual Christmas tree. There is also a replica Statue of Liberty. There's also a lot of giggling and excited tourists.

Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree.
Tokyo Skytree. | Source

I started this photo tour at with a photo taken from Tokyo Skytree, so let's end there. Tokyo's latest tourism magnet shoots a breathtaking 634.0 meters into the sky, making it the tallest structure in Japan, as well as the second tallest worldwide. In the night, it glows in different colours, and it's not an exaggeration to say the Skytree resembles a shining beacon that watches over the entire metropolis. A visit to the viewing platform of the Skytree is the perfect pinnacle for any Tokyo visit, literally speaking. It is quite the rejuvenating experience watching this great capital of the east spread before you in a sea of lights. You do feel the best of Japan presenting itself to you.

show route and directions
A markerTokyo Skytree -
Tokyo Skytree Station, 1 Chome-1 Oshiage, Sumida-ku, Tōkyō-to 131-0045, Japan
get directions

B markerAsakusa -
Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
get directions

C markerShinjuku -
Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
get directions

D markerAkihabara -
Akihabara, Taito, Tokyo 110-0006, Japan
get directions

E markerGinza -
Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0061, Japan
get directions

F markerOdaiba -
Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan
get directions

What would you like to visit Tokyo for?

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