Whether you live in Japan or you're just visiting, you're likely going to step foot in Tokyo at some point. Tokyo is an amazing city with something for everyone, but at times its easy to start to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people and constant background buzz of city noise.
In this post I'm going to introduce three places that I visited in Tokyo that at the time of my visit were calm and quiet, and gave me an opportunity to relax and recharge. All locations were visited on a solo trip to Tokyo in November 2021.
Shibuya Sky is a relatively new viewing platform that opened towards the end of 2019, and can be directly accessed from Shibuya station. The exit you need to take from the station will differ depend on the train line you take to get to Shibuya (there are seven!) so I suggest using Google Maps to help you, otherwise check out this handy guide.
Shibuya Sky is located in a building called Shibuya Scramble Square, which is filled with shops, restaurants and office space. Once you enter the building just follow the signs for Shibuya Sky to reach the ticket counter. I was a little surprised by the price of an adult ticket (2000 yen), but after reaching the rooftop felt the price was completely worth it. I really do think that the rooftop offers the best views of Tokyo.
The rooftop terrace sits at around 230 metres above ground and offers 360 degree views of the city! I'd seen pictures of the rooftop before visiting, but nothing could prepare me for the size and wonderfully thought out design. If you head down the escalator one floor you'll be able to see a similar view from inside, although having the open air rooftop just adds something a little more special to the whole experience. At the time of my visit there was a rooftop bar which was sadly closed on the day, and an indoor cafe that was open on the floor below.
I didn't know this at the when I visited, but if you buy your ticket online you can get a small discount. If you know the time and day you plan to visit, buying online can save you a few dollars. Visit the official ticket site for price and availability.
Important note: This venue may close during bad weather, so be sure to check the weather ahead of time. Handbags and large items are not permitted on the rooftop. The staff will inform you of this and will direct you to a set of lockers should you need to store your items.
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Address in English: 〒150-6145 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Shibuya, 2 Chome−24−12 最上階 スクランブルスクエア
Address in Japanese: 〒150-6145 東京都渋谷区渋谷２丁目２４−12 最上階 スクランブルスクエア
Yayoi Kusama Museum
Many people are no doubt familiar with the work of the famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Yes, she's the artist who painted the polka dot pumpkins! For Kusama fans, you'll be happy to know that she has her own curated museum in the outer suburbs of Tokyo.
On the day I visited there were numerous paintings, in addition to some 3D sculptures available for viewing. The exhibitions change once or twice a year, so big fans of the artist can come back regularly to look at new works. The museum itself is not large, but there is a lot of art crammed (very thoughtfully) into the small space. It is definitely somewhere to visit if you're a fan of Kusama, or just a lover of art.
Tickets can only be purchased online, but please be aware the museum is very strict about entry times. Be sure to doublecheck the day and time selected before checking out, as entry to the museum will only be granted on the day and time shown on the ticket. The official website detailing current exhibitions can be found here, and official museum ticketing page can be found here.
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Address in English: 107 Bentencho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 162-0851
Name in Japanese: 草間彌生美術館
Address in Japanese: 〒162-0851 東京都新宿区弁天町107
Meiji Shrine (Jingu) and Meiji Gingu Gyoen (Inner garden)
If you've visited Tokyo before its highly likely you've visited this shrine. It's certainly no "hidden gem of Tokyo," and I'm sure this place has been featured on thousands of blogs before mine, but I'm including it as a must see if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Once you enter the shrine the noise of the city quickly melts away and you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd somehow been transported into the Japanese countryside. It was certainly a bit of a startle walking back into the heart of Harajuku after spending a couple of hours amongst the serenity.
The shrine was built in 1920 and is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. It was sadly destroyed during World War 2, but was rebuilt soon after. The shrine can be easily accessed from Harajuku station, taking around 10 minutes on foot.
Once you've had a look at the main shrine I suggest visiting Meiji Jingu Gyoen which is a garden within the shrine grounds. The entrance fee of 500 yen goes toward the costs of garden maintenance. Depending on the time of your visit you may be treated to irises at the beginning of summer, azalea in spring, or autumn leaves toward the end of the year.
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Meiji Gingu Gyoen (Inner garden)
Address in English: 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 151-8557
Name in Japanese: 明治神宮御苑
Address in Japanese: 〒151-8557 東京都渋谷区代々木神園町１−1
Where I stayed
During this trip to Tokyo I stayed at JR Kyushu Hotel Blossom Shinjuku, which you can find on Booking.com or Agoda.com. My room was spacious, with a large bed and bathroom that included a full-sized bathtub. I had to take part in an online meeting in my room while I was there, and originally I was a little worried about whether the Wi-Fi would be reliable, but I had no issues at all. My room was quiet and had a great view out over the city of Tokyo. Best of all, it was only a few minutes walk to Shinjuku station and surrounding shopping areas including a great selection of cafes and restaurants, such as Boul'age and 800 Degrees Artisan Pizza. I wouldn't hesitate to stay here on a future trip to Tokyo.
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