Ueno Zoo (9-83 Ueno Park, Taito, Tokyo) — Ueno Zoological Gardens is the oldest zoo in Japan. Founded in 1882, it has grown over the years, expanded its area to 14.3 ha (35.2 acres) and been the flagship of the Japanese zoo world. Now it’s home to over 2,600 animals from 464 different species and provides visitors with learning experience about the diversity of animals as well as fun and enjoyment. In its long history, Ueno Zoo has received numerous animals from abroad. In 1972, the first giant pandas arrived from China to Ueno Zoo. Ueno Zoo has been cooperating with Beijing Zoo (China), and San Diego Zoo (USA) in the breeding of wild giant pandas.
Along with its Tama Zoological Park (which has animals from all over the world – from African elephants to Indian rhinos and Japanese Yezo brown bears), there’s also a 2,200-ton tank that acts as a “sea life park” (displaying tuna and other freshwater & marine life).
Hours: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm daily (closed on Monday). Admission: ¥600 (adult from age 16), ¥300 (seniors), ¥200 (students ages 13-15), free for children up to 12 years old.
Tsukiji Fish Market (5-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo) – foreigners with pre-dawn hours to spare tend to visit this unusual destination. Located close to the city center, this is the largest and most hectic fish market in the world, complete with live tuna auctions (which are held at 5:00 am)(tour groups of no more than 120 persons at a time can visit the market). Such early hours are essential for those wanting to visit, since the market winds down around 9:00 am. Aside from the tuna auction area, there is also an outer market (open typically from 5:00 am to 2:00 pm).
Open daily, except for Sundays and some Wednesdays. Also – the tuna auction area is closed from early December to early January (its busiest time of the year). Admission: free. Visitors are advised to check the Tsukiji website to confirm that it’s open on a given day:
Tokyo Tower (4-2-8 Shiba-koen, Minato, Tokyo) – this 333 meter radio tower (built in 1958) bears some resemblance to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. There’s an observation platform at 150 meters, along with a special observation platform at 250 meters. At the tower’s ground level (known as “Foot Town”), visitors can find a wax museum, an aquarium, souvenir shops and restaurants.
Hours: 9:00 am – 10:00 pm (daily). Admission: ¥900 (adult)(main observatory), ¥700 (special observatory), ¥500 (junior high school & primary school students)(main & special observatory), ¥400 (children 4 years and over) (main & special observatory). See website for more details: www.tokyotower.co.jp/english/
Tokyo Skytree (1 Chome-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida, Tokyo) – despite its name, this is actually a broadcasting, restaurant and observation tower that dominates the city skyline. As of 2010, it became the country’s tallest structure (at 634 meters in height), and has become a popular spot for tourists since its opening (which provides panoramic views of the entire city and outer lying areas). Hours: 8:00 am – 10:00 pm daily. Ticket prices vary (according to when they’re purchased). Check with the Skytree’s website for details: http://www.tokyo-skytree.jp/en/reservation/
Tokyo Dome (3,Koraku 1-chome, Bunkyo, Tokyo) – this is a 55,000-seat arena that holds a variety events – ranging from baseball games (Tokyo Dome being the home field of the Yomiuri Giants – Nippon Professional Baseball team), to other sports like football, wrestling, martial arts and kickboxing events. The stadium’s size also attracts national & international musical events. Acts such as the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, and Britney Spears, as well as Japanese pop groups like AKB48 have performed there. See its website for info on upcoming events: www.tokyo-dome.co.jp/e/
Tokyo Disneyland (1-1 Maihama, Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture) – this is the Japanese outpost of Disneyland, taking up a 115-acre space outside of Tokyo. This Disneyland has seven sections: Adventureland, Westernland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland (four classical Disney areas), Critter Country, Mickey’s Toontown, and the World Bazaar. There’s even a Disney monorail line that connects Disneyland to the Disney resorts located within the grounds. Schedules and admission prices vary. See its website for details: www.tokyodisneyresort.jp/en/
Tokyo City View (52nd floor Mori Tower, Roppongi Hills, 6-10-1 Roopingi, Minato-ku, Tokyo) — this is an observation post located on the 52nd floor of the same building where the Mori Art Museum is located. Visitors come here to get a panoramic, photogenic view of the Japanese capital.
Hours: 10:00 am – 11:00 pm (Sunday to Thursday), 10:00 am – 1:00 am (Friday & Saturday). Admission: ¥1,500 (adult), ¥1,000 (high school & university students), ¥500 (ages 4 to junior high school students). There is also a sky deck – on the building’s 54th floor (with access for an additional charge of ¥500/adults (and high school & university students), ¥300 (ages 4 to junior high school students).
Tokyo Big Sight/ Tokyo International Exhibition Center – opened in 1996, this is one of the largest convention venues in Japan. Various trade shows are held there, such as Tokyo’s coolest design event, Design Festa, and the popular Tokyo Motor Show – where Japanese and other automakers showcase their latest prototypes. 12 million people visit this convention center every year, and there are 16 restaurants on the premises.
Many are impressed by its architectural style (the glass and titanium-panelled Conference Tower, which consists of four inverted pyramids mounted upon large supports). Outside the building is a sculpture of a giant saw that seemingly hacked onto the grassy grounds (designed by Swedish-born American sculptor Claes Oldenburg). Tokyo Big Sight will be one of the venues for the 2020 Summer Olympics. See its website for upcoming events: www.bigsight.jp/english/
Sunshine 60 Observatory (60th Floor Observatory, Sunshine 60 Bldg., 3-1-1 Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo) — Sunshine 60 Observatory is located on the top floor of Sunshine 60, the 4th tallest building in Tokyo. At 251 meters above sea level, the observatory offers an incredible view with Mt. Fuji and Tokyo Bay visible during the day and the vibrant city lights of Tokyo on display at night.
Hours: 10:00 am – 9:30 pm. Admission: ¥620 (adults ages 16 and above), ¥500 (seniors), ¥460 (students ages 7-15), ¥310 (children ages 4 to 6).
Sunshine Aquarium (Rooftop Sunshine City World Import Mart Bldg., 3-1 Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo) — Sunshine Aquarium was reopened in 2011 as a state-of-the-art metropolitan aquarium. Designed as an “Oasis in the Sky,” the aquarium features popular attractions such as the “Sunshine Aqua Ring” with its view of sea lions swimming overhead and the dreamlike “Jellyfish Tunnel.” You can also enjoy performances by sea lions and underwater divers, as well as sea otter and penguin feeding shows.
Hours: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm (April – October), 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (November – March). Admission: ¥2,000 (adults ages 16 and above), ¥1,700 (seniors), ¥1,000 (students ages 7-15), ¥700 (children ages 4 to 6).