2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo-to
Senso-ji is the oldest and most revered Buddhist temple in Tokyo, bookended by imposing shrine gates with mammoth crimson lanterns adorning the Kaminari-mon entrance. An oasis of tradition in an endless sea of modernity, the Senso-ji is devoted to the goddess of mercy Kannon and features the temple’s main hall and a five-story pagoda. Nearby is the Asakusa Shinto Shrine - though it was destroyed in World War II, the buildings’ original construction dates as far back as 1649. The Senso-ji Temple area hosts a number of activities all year long. The largest of these is the Sanja Matsuri, an Asakusa Shrine yearly celebration that takes place in May. The Asakusa Samba Carnival in August and the Hagoita-ichi (Hagoita Market), where you can buy decorated wooden paddles and play the age-old game of hanetsuki.
Shinjuku Gyoen – National Imperial Garden
11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo
The former residence of a feudal lord in the Edo era (1603-1867), the Shinjuky Gyoen is the premier botanical garden in Tokyo – and Japan itself. It features three distinct areas, dedicated to three styles of gardening: a Traditional Japanese garden with abundant chrysanthemums, a French style garden featuring roses, modelled on the Palace of Versailles; and the English style landscape garden, reminiscent of lordly National Trust manors. Architect buffs will revel in the Taiwan Pavilion, Kyû-Goryôtei, which was built in 1927 to commemorate the Showa Emperor’s wedding; and one of the few examples of Chinese style architecture in Japan. It’s free to enter, though guided walking tours are on offer for a small fee.
Kappabashi-dogu-gai (Kappabashi Street)