Days 1 to 2
Departing from the TOKYO SKYTREE® and Visiting Historic Tokyo Buildings
Tokyo, with both its state-of-the-art skyscrapers and brick retro buildings, is a perfect city for exploring architecture.
You journey starts from Tokyo's new symbol, the TOKYO SKYTREE®, where you can look out over the Tokyo metropolis as it spreads across the Kanto plain and you can truly feel Tokyo's size!
Strolling through Asakusa, which still retains its unique downtown atmosphere, is also something you cannot miss. The modern Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center, which stands in front of Senso-ji temple, was designed by the famous architect Kengo Kuma.
The highlight of Tokyo's Marunouchi area is the retro architecture that remains in the office district.
The Tokyo Station Building and the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, which have been restored to their original appearance from more than 100 years ago, have classic Western-style designs on both their exteriors and interiors, which still give us a fresh impression.
Your journey through Tokyo's architecture begins with the 634m high TOKYO SKYTREE® broadcasting tower, which was completed in 2012 and is the tallest tower in the world. The TOKYO Solamachi commercial facilities at the base of the tower have approximately 300 stores, such as restaurants and stores for miscellaneous goods, and are brimming with the vibrancy of downtown Tokyo. TOKYO SKYTREE® has a vibration control system called the Shinbashira-seishin
(Center Column Vibration Control), inspired by five-storied pagodas, that makes it less susceptible to the shaking damage from an earthquake. From the observation deck you can gaze out over the entire Tokyo metropolitan area and experience Tokyo's size. You will be able to see iconic Tokyo architecture, such as Senso-ji temple and the Japan National Stadium, and on sunny days you can also see Mt. Fuji.
15 minutes by foot
Asakusa is one of Tokyo's leading tourist destinations and it still retains its unique downtown atmosphere, with Tokyo's history and culture being conveyed to the present through facilities such as Senso-ji temple, the oldest temple in Japan, and Asakusa Hanayashiki, the oldest amusement park in Japan. On the other hand, there are also modern buildings such as the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center, designed by Kengo Kuma, and one of the area's charms is that visitors can enjoy both Tokyo's past and present at the same time. For shopping, stepping over to Kappabashi Kitchenware Town is recommended, a wholesale district where you can buy all sorts of professional cooking utensils and tableware. If you take the TOKYO CRUISE water taxi that navigates along the Sumida River, then you can also leisurely enjoy sightseeing from the water.
10 minutes by train (non-JR lines)
5 minutes by train (JR)
Built over 100 years ago, Tokyo Station has welcomed innumerable tourists as the gateway to Tokyo. The Tokyo Station Building, with its impressive red brick exterior, was restored to its original appearance in 2012, and the building's dome and interior relief decorations, which had disappeared due to war damage, were also brought back. There are plenty of commercial facilities inside the building, such as GRANSTA TOKYO and ecute TOKYO, where restaurants offering Tokyo specialty dishes and souvenir shops are lined up one after another. Tokyo Station Building has also become one of the latest fashionable place in Tokyo. If you are interested in buying an ekiben
, train station lunchbox, then the Ekibenya Matsuri specialty store is recommended -- it has more than 200 types of ekiben
from all over Japan.
2 minutes by foot
Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum
The Marunouchi district, where the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum is located, is one of Tokyo's premier office districts. In 1894, Mitsubishi Ichigokan was built here as the first office building in the Marunouchi district, and became the address of major companies and banks. Centered around Mitsubishi Ichigokan's modern red brick construction, the surrounding area was unified to a Western-style cityscape, and at the time it was likened to the cityscapes of London and is said to have been called "Iccho
London" (a block of London). After Mitsubishi Ichigokan was restored, it was reborn as the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum. Café 1894, the museum's café and bar, utilizes a space that was once a banking office, and the interior has been faithfully reproduced from materials, etc. at the time, making it feel as if you have stepped into the past.
20 minutes by train (JR)
Days 3 to 5
Taking a Look at the Modern Cityscapes of Shibuya and Shinjuku
Shinjuku and Shibuya are Tokyo's premier shopping districts, with rows of high-rise office and shopping buildings, which provides a very different view from Marunouchi.
In Shinjuku it is fun to walk around and observe Hanazono-jinja Shrine, which stands alone amongst the other buildings, as well as the bar streets that still have their old-fashioned atmosphere.
Shibuya is just a short train ride away from Shinjuku, and the Shibuya Scramble Crossing, one of the most famous worldwide images of Japan, is worth seeing when you come to Japan. Why not aim to visit some of the latest spots that have popped up in the area around the station, such as MIYASHITA PARK and the SHIBUYA SCRAMBLE SQUARE?
If you go from Shibuya to Omotesando you will also find the Nezu Museum, whose sharp, eye-catching design was created by Kengo Kuma. The Nezu Museum is also a location where you can feel harmony between the building and its Japanese garden.
Shinjuku is known as Tokyo's premier high-rise district, and is crowded not just with office buildings, but also department stores, the latest gourmet restaurants, and large electronics retailers. Even though both are high-rise districts, the quiet of Marunouchi and the bustle of Shinjuku's shopping district give completely different impressions. However, even in Shinjuku there are numerous spots surrounded by greenery, with Hanazono-jinja Shrine and Shinjuku Chuo Park being popular places to refresh amidst nature. If you are looking to enjoy the night and have a drink, then the Shinjuku Golden Gai and Omoide Yokocho neighborhoods are recommended -- their array of unique bars and old fashioned izakaya
bars welcome guests with a friendly atmosphere.
10 minutes by train (JR)
Shibuya is the center of youth culture in Tokyo, with the 109 fashion building and MIYASHITA PARK, which just opened in 2020, being recommended sightseeing locations. Along the Shibuya Yokocho restaurant street in MIYASHITA PARK, you will find 19 restaurants over a total length of 100m, so in this one spot you can enjoy local cuisine and soul food from all over Japan. In front of Shibuya Station is the Shibuya Scramble Crossing. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is the most famous intersection in the world, and, with it being said that 1,000 people cross all at once, Shibuya Scramble Crossing is definitely worth a visit.
1 minute by foot
SHIBUYA SCRAMBLE SQUARE
Shibuya is currently undergoing redevelopment, and the construction of new office buildings and shopping buildings is underway. Opened in 2019, the SHIBUYA SCRAMBLE SQUARE is a new landmark tower in Shibuya that has gathered together the most trendy shops and restaurants. From the outdoor observation deck on the top floor, which is 229m high, you can view Tokyo's night scenery and the Tokyo Tower. The grassy areas on the observation deck have a freeing, open layout, and there are even sofas and hammocks. Relaxing on one of the sofas or lying in one of the hammocks and looking up at Tokyo's night sky is very romantic.
2 minutes by train (non-JR lines)
Omotesando, within walking distance from Shibuya, has the Kengo Kuma-designed Nezu Museum, which exhibits approximately 7,400 works of Japanese and Oriental antiquities. The museum building itself is worth seeing because it incorporates traditional Japanese architectural materials such as bamboo, roof tiles, and ball gravel (small round stones for laying in gardens) into the kind of sharp design that is typical of the famous architect Kengo Kuma. The museum was originally the residence of Kaichiro Nezu, who was called the King of Railways, and the grounds have a Japanese garden with abundant nature. After appreciating the building, take a break at the NEZUCAFÉ that is attached to the museum. The museum shop also has a full selection of fashionable original goods with motifs from the museum's collection.
30 minutes by train (non-JR lines)
JR Joetsu Shinkansen
15 minutes by bus
Days 6 to 11
Touring Beautiful Hokuriku Buildings Designed by Famous Architects
The highlights of this architectural journey around the three prefectures of Hokuriku -- Niigata Prefecture, Ishikawa Prefecture, and Fukui Prefecture -- are the public buildings designed by leading Japanese architects.
This journey will introduce four buildings: (1) the Ryutopia Niigata City Performing Arts Center by Itsuko Hasegawa, (2)the Museum on Echigo-Tsumari (MonET) by Hiroshi Hara, (3) the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa by SANAA, an architectural unit by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, and (4) the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum by Kisho Kurokawa.
Each architect used their own ingenuity to design what the building will look like in the city and in nature.
While walking around the actual grounds of the buildings, it is also fun to think about the thoughts and design concepts that the architects had.
This journey to Hokuriku will be a fulfilling journey to experience the aesthetic sense of Japanese architecture!
Ryutopia Niigata City Performing Arts Center
The Ryutopia Niigata City Performing Arts Center is one of the most popular city landmarks where everyone can experience culture and the arts, and includes a concert hall, a theatre, a Noh theatre, and rental studios. The facility was designed by Itsuko Hasegawa, who has worked on numerous public buildings with the theme of "integrating architecture and the surrounding environment." There are six outdoor aerial gardens that are full of greenery, and the promenade is designed to connect them with the facility. It is not just a place where culture and the arts originate, but is also a base for creating once-in-a-lifetime meetings between people.
15 minutes by bus
JR Joetsu Shinkansen
10 minutes by train (JR)
15 minutes by train (non-JR lines)
Museum on Echigo-Tsumari (MonET)
Idyllic semi-rural scenery remains in the Echigo-Tsumari area of Niigata Prefecture, where an art event, the “Echigo-Tsumari” Art Field, has been held since 2000. The Museum on Echigo-Tsumari (MonET), located in the area, is an eye-catching, corridor-style building that surrounds a pond in its courtyard. It was designed by Hiroshi Hara, who also designed the Kyoto Station Building. The museum's design makes heavy use of both concrete and glass, and visitors will feel the sacredness that is cut off and separated from reality.
55 minutes by train (non-JR lines)
JR Hokuriku Shinkansen
15 minutes by bus
21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa is one of Japan's leading museums of contemporary art, permanently exhibiting works of famous modern artists such as James Turrell and Leandro Erlich. The building features a 360-degree all-glass circular building and was designed by Japanese architectural unit SANAA, composed of Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, who won the Pritzker Prize, which is said to the Nobel Prize of the architectural world. The grass-covered areas of the ground are open like a park, and anyone can freely walk in to enjoy the objects and hands-on art that are exhibited outdoors.
15 minutes by bus
45 minutes by train (JR)
60 minutes by train (non-JR lines)
15 minutes by bus
Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum
As one of the largest museum in the world that specializes in dinosaurs, the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum was built in Fukui Prefecture, where Japan's greatest dinosaur fossils were discovered. The building was designed by Kisho Kurokawa, a world-famous architectural master who is also known for designing the National Art Center, Tokyo. The museum's exterior is a silver dome, reminiscent of a dinosaur egg, and, by greening the rooftops of the surrounding facilities, it gives the appearance that the huge egg is buried in the ground. In addition to the 44 whole-body dinosaur skeletons housed at the museum, there is also an experience corner where visitors can touch real fossils, as well as a very popular outdoor tour where visitors can enjoy an actual fossil excavation experience.
This journey takes you on a tour of modern architecture in Tokyo and Hokuriku across 11 days and 10 nights.
Example transportation have been provided for reference, but walking around and exploring in the areas near the spots introduced in this journey as the mood takes you is also recommended.
*The information provided here is as of March 2022.
*Transportation information does not include the number of transfers or transfer time.
*Admission fees may be charged depending on the spot/facility. For the latest information on business hours, days when spots/facilities are regularly closed, and prices, etc., please check the official website for each spot/facility or check directly with the spot/facility.