Japan's hyperactive capital is fun and dynamic, but it can also be overwhelming and confusing. I've explored its back alleys, cycled its streets and rode its spider's web of subways and trains to discover some amazing places. Here are my top Tokyo picks.
Home to Sensō-ji, Tokyo's most venerable Buddhist temple, this bustling district beside the Sumida River packs in craft shops, markets, traditional lodgings and an retro atmosphere. Visit at night to see the temple precincts illuminated and to seek out intimate places to eat and drink.
Famous for having possibly the busiest pedestrian intersection in the world, this trend-setting district has been undergoing massive redevelopment. A long buried waterway has been uncovered and new retail and entertainment complexes promise to dazzle.
If you only have time to visit one museum, make it this one. Anchoring the northern end of Ueno Park, this august institution contains the world's largest collection of Japanese art. From ancient pottery to exquisite kimonos there's bound to be something to excite your imagination.
Tokyo's geographical and historical heart, the emperor's secluded 1960s residence is surrounded by a moat and lush gardens. Marvel at the massive stone walls, the remains of Edo Castle which once stood here. For a peek beyond the public areas, sign up for an official tour.
Tokyo's main fish and produce market relocated to new premises at Toyosu in 2018, but its former central city neighbourhood remains a fascinating one to explore. Shop for all things culinary from fresh wasabi to kitchen knives and onigiri (rice triangles wrapped in seaweed).
Tokyo's contemporary art scene will blow your mind. Prime eye-candy is this 'museum' of 60 light and animation installations by the digital art collective teamLab. It's located in the futuristic surrounds of Odaiba, a manmade island in Tokyo Bay, and booking ahead is essential.
Slip back in time by spending a day exploring this quaint neighbourhood of wooden houses, temples, shrines and shops. Yanasen is the collective name for the areas of Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi. Don't miss the tranquil shrine Nezu-jinja and the traditional shopping street Yanaka Ginza.
Reserve well ahead to visit this delightful museum celebrating the work of the Ghibli animation studio, makers of enchanting movies including My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away. It's a short train ride west of Shinjuku in Mitaka, near pretty Inokashira Park.
Giant sake barrels, gifts to the nature gods, line the approach to Tokyo's pre-eminent Shinto shrine. Built as a memorial to the Emperor Meiji the shrine is enveloped in wooded grounds and gardens - don't miss the Jingū Naien which blooms with over 100 varieties of irises every June.
It's a tough call on Tokyo's most elegant formal garden, but Rikugi-en, completed in 1702, is a prime candidate. Designed around a central pond, with trickling streams and wooden teahouses, its famous for its display of maple trees in late November which blaze in the colours of autumn.
The National Sumo Stadium in Ryōgoku is the venue for the sumo tournaments held in January, May and September. Line up before 6am at the stadium box office to snag unreserved day seat tickets.
No matter when you visit, there's sure to be a matsuri (a religious festival) happening somewhere in Tokyo. And everyone gets out into parks and gardens in late march or early April for hanami (cherry blossom) parties.
Japanese food (washoku) is so unique and delicious that it has been Unesco World Heritage listed. Join classes to learn how to make everything from curry rice and soba noodles to sushi and tofu.
For an aquatic perspective on the city join Tokyo Great Cycling Tour on their guided kayaking tours of Tokyo's waterways. Too energetic? Then relax aboard a Nihombashi Cruise or hop on a water bus at Asakusa.
Tokyo is a city that treasures traditional artisans. Among the crafts you can learn are woodblock printing at Mokuhankan in Asakusa and sumie (ink brush paining at Toyokuni Atelier Gallery in Jimbōchō.
Soaking in an onsen (a natural hot spring bath) is blissfully relaxing. City bathouses include the colouful Ōedo Onsen Monogatari in Odaiba, but for the best onsen in natural surroundings make a day trip to Hakone.
There are many ways to get around Tokyo but one of the most enjoyable is on a bike. You could join a tour or rent a bike at operations such as the hipster hangout Tokyobike Rentals Yanaka.
Dip into the capital's superlative traditional performing arts scene. Line up for day tickets for colourful kabuki performances at Kabuki-za or check out what's on at the National Theatre.
It's a hoot to get behind the low-slung wheel of a motorised go-kart and drive around Tokyo dressed in a character onesie. Book in advance with MariCAR and make sure you have a valid International Driving Permit.
The Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Centre occasionally holds free geisha dance demonstrations. Alternatively, spend an hour in the company of one of these traditional entertainers at Time To Geisha in Nihonbashi.
Reappraised tofu in the exquisite kaiseki meals served in this gracious restaurant, based in a gorgeous traditional building at the foot of Tokyo Tower.
Based in a charming wooden house in the traditional area of Ningyōchō, this superb sushi restaurant keeps it old school.
Bookings are essential if you want to sample the feather light tempura batter dishes at this intimate Ginza-based restaurant.
Slurp up the delicious ramen noodles served at this sleekly designed joint that subscribes to a 'farm to bowl' cooking ethos.
For eight decades Tonki has rightly been the go-to spot for succulent tonkatsu - breadcrumb-coated, deep-fried pork cutlets.
Get a bird's eye view of Shibuya from this affordable restaurant that showcases regional dishes from Japan's 47 prefectures.
There are many illustrious restaurants in this part of Kanda but this place stands out for the quality of its nutty buckwheat noodles.
Nestled within Ueno Park, this is an idyllic spot to sample kaiseki - multi-course, set menu meals. The lunchtime bentō (boxed meal) is great value.
Based in a charming 1950s wooden shop and specialising in anago (seafaring eel) which is cheaper and less endangered than the freshwater eel unagi.
Be schooled in the delights of sake paried with moreish small dishes at this classic izakaya (a casual pub-like eatery) near Ueno.
This warren of tiny bars in Shinjuku is an attraction in its own right. One of my favourites is Lonely, run by the same master for over 50 years.
Opt for the six-cocktail menu at this teahouse-like bar where the white jacketed master crafts delicious libations using local seasonal fruits and other ingredients.
Learn all about Japan's different varieties of tea at this beautifully designed, contemporary space in Aoyama's striking Spiral Buidling.
Savour bean to bar artisan chocolate in drink form at this barn like space in the trendy crafts district of Kuramae.
A beer lover idea of heaven, Popeye tantalises with over 100 ales on tap including a superior selection of Japanese craft brews.
Opened in 1934, this flagship beerhall for Sapporo Beer, is all gleaming art deco tiles and stained glass murals.
Named after the three wheeled delivery trucks that shuttle around the fish market, this indie coffee shop serves excellent caffeinated drinks.
Soak up the atmosphere of hipster 'hood Tomigaya at this coffee-by-day, cocktail-by-night lounge. There's also a branch in Asakusa.
Herbs grown on the master's family plot in Saitama are used to flavour the cocktails as this sophisticated and darkly seductive bar hidden away in Shinjuku.
Slip back in time to a quieter Tokyo at this beautifully preserved timber merchant's shophouse from 1927 that is now an elegant coffee and tea lounge.
The grand Nihonbashi branch was Japan's first department store. Arrive for the 10am opening to be greeted by lines of staff bowing to customers in co-ordinated fashion.
Some 40 pocket sized art galleries and boutiques can be discovered in this repurposed 1932 apartment block in the heart of Ginza.
Come to this art supplies store, designed by architect Kengo Kuma, in Tennozu Isle for beautiful traditional brushes over 4000 different paint pigments.
Most of Okura's clothing is coloured using the aizome (traditional indigo dyeing) method. It's based in a lovely wooden property in trendy Dainkanyama.
A perfect one-stop shop in Ginza for a range of traditional Japanese crafts from ceramics and basketry to fabrics decorated with Ainu design motifs.
The Japanese love of stationary and all kinds of paper products is embraced at this Ginza institution spread over nine floors and two buildings.
Hundreds of dealers in retro and antique items gather (usually on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month) at this market in courtyard of Tokyo International Forum.
In the basement of the National Art Center Tokyo, is gift shop can be relied on for original souvenirs and gifts, many for a city theme or contemporary art spin.
One of Ginza's latest retail revamps this mall offers up superb art installations and a serene roof garden as well as a choice selection of local brands.
With branches in Ginza and Shinjuku this superbly stocked food and kitchen supplies store will thrill shoppers in search of culinary souvenirs.
Tokyo is a restless metropolis, constantly evolving. I keep an eagle eye on what's new and plan to post updates about the city, as well as expand on my Japan related content, so please check back here in the future! Drop me a line if you have a recommendation to share or a specific query about Japan and/or Tokyo.