Taking Tokyo: A Summer Guide To Japan’s Capital

Visit any capital city around the world in summer and again in winter and you will be more than likely bowled over by the stark differences that are apparent between the seasons. While winter might be all about burrowing behind the city walls, finding comfort and solace in any number of indoor spots, summer sees our international cities open wide their doors and let the floodgates of locals pass through the streets freely. If you’re looking for the ultimate city in which to do a little exploring this summer, no place lends itself to the sun quite as well as Tokyo. While not a traditional summer spot, the Japanese capital is one of the best places to get reacquainted with the sun and, thanks to its various bars and hangouts, you might just find yourself falling in love with the place.

While rail links in the country’s capital have always been some of the best in the world, they have recently gotten even better. The opening of the direct bullet train between Tokyo and Hokkaido in March meant that, for the first time, visitors and locals have quick and easy access to one of the country’s most popular islands, getting the chance to explore a brand new place while enjoying the city. If you’re looking for a place in which to take a day trip, then this is surely it. Brimming with natural beauty spots, Hokkaido makes for the perfect place to go walking, climbing, and exploring — and you might just stumble across a hot spring or two along the way.

If you prefer the thought of staying within the city limits, however, there is a great deal at your disposal. With the summer sun setting later in the sky, you can make the most of the late sunsets and head to one of the city’s many high points. The very best has to be the Tokyo Sky Tree, the world’s tallest freestanding tower. You can whisk yourself up the tower’s 634 metres to the very top just before dusk settles in. Prepare for serious beauty; the tower takes in all of the city sights and it’s well worth a look.

Back on the ground, the city is renowned for its exceptional food and drink scene. If you want to get a glimpse of where it all comes from, you might want to take a trip to the Tsukiji Fish Market. The world’s largest and busiest fish market, Tsukiji is the place where the very best local restaurants get their produce before it is transformed into the dishes for which they’re known. Try watching the world-famous tuna bidding war that takes place first thing in the morning. Things really heat up, so settle in for the show.

The city of Tokyo is a real melting pot of modern and ancient cultures; once you’re there, it pays to take advantage of the stark contrast at your fingertips. Taking a visit to the Meiji Shrine might already be high up on your agenda and for good reason. The most famous shrine in the city, Meiji pays homage to the late 19th century emperor who opened Japan to the west. Inside, it’s a much more pared-back affair than you might have expected, and if you’re looking for a little respite from the city, this is the perfect place to come.

When the city heats up, taking a stroll in an open space might be the only thing on your mind. When you want a breath of fresh air, Yoyogi Park is by far the best place to be. Parks in Tokyo are some of the most popular meeting grounds, and from club meetings or play rehearsals, you’re bound to get a glimpse of something really interesting. Hiring a bike is one of the best ways to take in the natural sights, allowing you to flex your adventure muscles while feeling the wind through your hair. What could be better than that?

Tokyo is one of the most vibrant and diverse cities out there, and viewing it under the summer sun is well worth doing. With tons of outdoor activities at your disposal during the hot season, you might just want to come back again and again.

Hannah Lamarque
Hannah is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Europe. She writes about travel, art, design and culture and loves discovering hidden places in the cities that she visits.