Tokyo travel guide and things to do: Nine highlights


Unlikely as it is that any of us will experience this year's troubled Tokyo Olympics in person, factor in a visit to the unique 60,000-seat National Stadium if you do eventually travel to the Japanese capital. The eco-stadium, where the main track and field, football finals and the opening and closing ceremonies will be staged, was designed by Japanese "starchitect" Kengo Kumo. The building's generous cedar cladding draws a link to nature, tempering its mostly concealed steel structure. Post-Games, locals and visitors will be able to stroll around the stadium's plant-draped elevated outer walkways. See


2APG6W7 Women take a selfie in front of the Tokyo Olympic rings near the new National Stadium in Tokyo on Jan. 23, 2020. (Kyodo)==Kyodo Photo via Credit: Newscom/Alamy Live News 

Photos: Tokyo

Photo: Alamy

Today one of Tokyo's most photographed sights is not the stadium itself but the multi-coloured Games rings sculpture opposite it. It's outside the new Japan Olympic Museum, a small though involving attraction operated by the Japan Olympic Committee. It traces the history of the Olympic Games, including Japan's participation. Should the latest Games foray be cancelled, the 2020 (now 2021) Tokyo instalment will itself become a museum item of sorts, becoming the first host city to have two Olympics struck out. Tokyo also lost its 1940 hosting duties due to World War II. See


One of the chief reasons for visiting Tokyo Skytree, a broadcasting and observation tower that is Japan's tallest structure, is the potential to view 3776-metre Mount Fuji. The tower, at 634 metres, is the world's tallest but not its tallest structure with that title still belonging to Dubai's 830 metre Burj Khalifa, which is classed as a skyscraper. Even if the weather conditions deny you a Fuji-san panorama, Skytree offers the opportunity to be staggered by the sight of a true mega-city below. See


The 251-room five-star Capitol Toky is built on the site of one of the city's most famous hotels where the Beatles stayed during their 1963 Japan tour. The original property was demolished to make way for this elegant contemporary establishment, tucked away in Tokyo's governmental district. It's distinguished by Japanese restaurant Surien, reached from the hotel lobby by a footbridge and set in a separate pavilion surrounded by a traditional garden. Below the hotel is direct station access to the Tokyo Metro. See


2D0NK37 Digital art by teamLab Borderless in Tokyo 

Photos: Tokyo

Photo: Alamy

The gang from cutting-edge teamLab has revolutionised the concept of the art gallery by creating darkened spaces infused with kinetic digital art where visitors become participants. In doing so, it has attracted a whole new audience of art lovers with teamLab Borderless. The main gallery or museum operates from a cavernous space at the rather utilitarian Mori Building at Odaiba, an artificial island in Tokyo Bay. It is full of separate rooms where the immersive digital masterpieces can be enjoyed. See


CP650F Japan - Honshu - western Tokyo, Minami-Aoyama district. Nezu Art Museum, garden. 

Photos: Tokyo

Photo: Alamy

Most neophyte Tokyo visitors rightly prioritise a visit to the capital's exquisite Imperial Gardens. But at the privately-owned Nezu Museum, patrons are not only able to enjoy its ancient Japanese and Asian art collection that once belonged to a railway magnate but also its discreet Japanese garden. Concealed from street level, this tranquil garden is set on a small hillside and features a teahouse and cafe from which meticulously-maintained foliage and stone-paved paths can be quietly contemplated. See



Take a train to Nakameguro to escape the frenetic main parts of Tokyo. From the station, head beyond prosaic grey office buildings to the area's backstreets where you'll encounter the cherry blossom-lined Meguro River. On either side of the watercourse are chic boutiques and cool cafes and restaurants. It's a touch of Kyoto in the middle of Tokyo combined with Japanese retail therapy on a more human scale than that offered in the city's giant malls. See


There are few genuine bargains in Tokyo and hotels don't tend to be among them. But the foreigner-friendly, 1450-room Keio Plaza Hotel is an excellent choice, particularly for first-time visitors. Set opposite the imposing Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which has a free observation deck for visitors, the Keio Plaza's Shinjuku location couldn't be more central or convenient. The hotel hosts fine restaurants, including a variety specialising in different schools of Japanese cuisine such as tempura, teppanyaki and kaiseki. See


While in Nakameguro, suspend any disdain for mass-produced Starbucks beverages and visit its coffee temple-cum-roastery, even if only for the architecture and design. This four-level show-stopper is another Tokyo work of Kengo Kuma and, pre-pandemic, this Starbucks proved so popular that patrons had to be allocated tickets to enter. Aside from the dubious allure of Starbucks OTT "whiskey barrel-aged cold brew," there are good eating options around the clock. See


Fly in and out from the more convenient Haneda Airport, which is closer to Tokyo, rather than the much more distant Narita Airport.

Anthony Dennis travelled to Japan as a guest of the Japan National Tourism Organisation. See and