A vast chunk of central Tokyo is occupied by the Imperial Palace or Kōkyo (皇居), home to the emperor and his family, and the city’s geographical and spiritual heart. The surrounding public gardens provide a gentle introduction to the city, with a glance back to its origins as a castle town.

East of the palace, the city really gets into its stride. The districts of Marunouchi, Ginza and Nihombashi form the heart of downtown Tokyo, with the city’s most chic shopping street, its financial centre and major train station, plus enough bars and restaurants to last a lifetime. The best approach is simply to wander, but there are several specific sights, notably a clutch of art museums and the Tokyo International Forum, with its soaring glass atrium.

Northeast of the palace is lively Akihabara, crammed with cut-price electronic goodies and multistorey manga stores, while to southwest are Akasaka and Roppongi. In the former you’ll find Hie-jinja, one of Tokyo’s most historic shrines, while in the latter an “Art Triangle” has been formed by the National Art Center Tokyo, the Suntory Museum of Art in the huge Tokyo Midtown complex and the Mori Art Museum in the equally enormous Roppongi Hills development. Tokyo Tower remains the area’s retro landmark and nearby is the venerable temple Zōjō-ji.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Tokyo features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Where to stay in Tokyo: an area by area guide

Where to stay in Tokyo: an area by area guide

As the biggest city in the world, it’s unsurprising that Tokyo is crammed full of different places to stay – and with each district boasting its own charact…

11 Nov 2016 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
Tokyo or Kyoto: where to visit first

Tokyo or Kyoto: where to visit first

Where first, Tokyo or Kyoto – it should be an easy choice, right? They’re polar opposites, after all: Tokyo is a land of neon and skyscrapers, the archetyp…

26 Sep 2016 • Rebecca Hallett insert_drive_file Article
15 gorgeous photos of Japan

15 gorgeous photos of Japan

Professional landscape & wildlife photographer Nick Jackson shares some of his most beautiful pictures of Japan.  "Japan is a country I always wanted to…

10 Jul 2015 • Nick Jackson insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month