Tokyo, Japan – the city of culture, history, and intrigue. While it maintains a national presence on the world map, there are plenty of hidden gems within the hustle, bustle, and bright lights that permeate the city landscape. As the main city of The Land of the Rising Sun, a visit to some of its unique attractions is sure to spark your imagination.
1. Shibuya Sky Observatory
If heights don’t bother you, then Shibuya Sky Observatory is the place to go for panoramic views. The 47-story building resides atop the largest skyscraper, so you can be sure the views are uninterrupted and spectacular. The rooftop platform is the largest for viewing that you’ll find in Japan, and to make it extra special, it is fitted with hammocks for visitors who want to relax at night and gaze at the stars.
The 46th floor features the Sky Gallery for visitors who might get a little off-balance and experience vertigo on the 47th floor. Either way, the views are unforgettable, as Tokyo’s landmarks are visible on clear days, which includes Mt. Fuji.
2. Gotoku-ji Temple
This unusual temple is dedicated to felines. Legend has it a cat beckoned to a feudal lord with his right paw to come to his shelter during a rainstorm. As the lord approached the shelter, lightning struck the exact spot where the man had sat beneath a tree. This is the reason felines are referred to as "fortune" or "beckoning" cats and why you’ll see cat statues, paintings, jewelry, and trinkets displayed in stores and restaurants.
The belief is that Gotoku-ji is where the lucky kitties originated from. The "cat temple" is open to the public.
There are many temples and shrines to visit and learn about while visiting Tokyo. The oldest is the five-story Senjo-ji Buddhist temple. Right next door to the temple is the often-overlooked Asakusa-jinja shrine that has been part of the landscape since the 17th century.
The shrine was constructed in honor of those who founded Senso-ji. The shrine features a large traditional Japanese torii gated entrance and two unusual dog-lion statues standing beneath a red parasol. The couple supposedly represents those couples in happy marriages.
4. Hamarikyu Gardens
If you’ve been out and about sightseeing and want to take a break and sit amid a wondrous landscape of greenery, ponds, and serene water moving to its own beat beneath bridges, head to Hamarikyu Gardens, where a 300-year-old pine tree stands as a sentinel.
While experiencing the beauty of the gardens, take a relaxing break at the Nakajima no Ochaya teahouse. The location of the thatched-roof teahouse is unusual, as it resides on a floating platform.
5. Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park
By far, one of the most unique vistas to set your eyes upon is Mount Fuji, standing tall at 12,389 feet. The park offers numerous walking trails that provide views of the mountain. When visiting the park, this is the main attraction. A close second is visiting during the spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Enjoy the view