The Tokyo metropolis is home to some of the world's most ambitious architecture, stylish shops, and internationally celebrated restaurants and bars - as well as glimpses of traditional Japan at scores temples, shrine, and the Imperial Palace gardens. Start your day early with a trip to Tsukiji Market, then walk off your sushi breakfast at the manicured Imperial Palace grounds. Scout out the latest designer trends in Harajuku and be overwhelmed by the luxury boutique monuments on Omote-sando-dori, but don't forget a side trip the the tranquil Meiji-jingu (shrine) while you're in the area.
Musicians dressed up in Harajuku
Every tourist in Tokyo seems to gravitate towards Asakusa, where the grand old temple Senso-ji is still very much a common destination for the local people. However, the atmosphere of old-world Tokyo can be better realized in the Edo-Tokyo Museum, which exhibits the humble riverside origins of Edo (Tokyo's former name) to today's futuristic megalopolis. If it's sakura season, head over to Ueno-koen or Shinjuku-gyoen to enjoy the time-honored tradition of hanami, or cherry blossom viewing.
Akihabara, Tokyo's Electric Town, is now also the unquestioned center of its otaku community, and the stores along Chuo-dori are packed to the rafters with anime (animation) and manga (comics). Another popular district for all things manga/anime is the Nakano ward and its Broadway Shopping Arcade.
The sheer size and frenetic pace of Tokyo can intimidate the first-time visitor. Much of the city is a jungle of concrete and wires, with a mass of neon and blaring loudspeakers. Don't get too hung up on ticking tourist sights off your list: for most visitors, the biggest part of the Tokyo experience is just wandering around at random and absorbing the city's vibe, poking your head into shops selling unique and odd merchandise, and finding unexpected oases of calm in the tranquil grounds of a neighborhood Shinto shrine.