One of the largest and most fascinating cities on the planet, Tokyo is very ‘modern’ but very different from Western cities. Not sure I’d agree with Monocle magazine that it is the best city in the world to live (I have a slight bias for Auckland…) but it is a great place to visit.
Some of the best in the country can be found in Tokyo, and many hit my soft spot of beautiful greenery surrounded by high-rise buildings (see also New York’s Central Park). After a while they do start to look rather similar, the Japanese reached perfection and stopped, with their combination of heavily managed trees, koi carp filled lakes, tea houses, and ornamental bridges, but they are beautiful. For more comprehensive guides check out Japan Guide and the Tokyo Park Association, but here are a few suggestions…
Rikugi-en, beautiful place, with a famous view from the Fujishiro-toge Hill over the gardens
Kyu-Furukawa Gardens, built by an Englishman, this features a traditional English house at the top of the hill, then rose beds, and down to a traditional Japanese garden at the bottom of the hill
Tokyo has, as you’d imagine, some pretty interesting architecture, if not a patch on Chicago, New York or London. They were never bombed to the degree that Tokyo was in WW2 or suffered the huge earthquake related fire storms of 1923, though the 1666 Great Fire of London and Great Chicago Fire in 1871 would have been close. To be honest much of the built architecture in Japan is pretty horrific, but Tokyo is a huge city with plenty to see.
Take the Yurikamome Monorail out over the Rainbow Bridge to Odaiba to see some eclectic architecture, including the mildly diverting Museum of Maritime Science, built in the shape of a ship (with great views from the tower, including a capacious station car park!), and the iconic Fuji TV building
Art and culture
As expected from a city of Tokyo’s size and history there are some great museum and art galleries
The Roppoingi area is very funky, with the Mori Art Museum and National Art Centre home to various touring exhibitions. Visiting the Mori Art Museum gives you access to the top of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, with great views across the city