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Markets, Shopping, Art Centers in Tokyo

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Sensoji Temple
Sensoji (浅草寺, Sensōji, also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple) is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa. It is one of Tokyo's most colorful and popular temples. The legend says that in the year 628, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them. Consequently, Sensoji was built nearby for the goddess of Kannon. The temple was completed in 645, making it Tokyo's oldest temple. When approaching the temple, visitors first enter through the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), the outer gate of Sensoji Temple and the symbol of Asakusa and the entire city of Tokyo. Various events are held throughout the year in the Sensoji Temple area. The biggest of them is the Sanja Matsuri, the annual festival of the Asakusa Shrine, held in May. Other events are the Asakusa Samba Carnival in August and the Hagoita-ichi (Hagoita Market) at which decorated wooden paddles used in the traditional game of hanetsuki are sold.
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Akihabara
Akihabara (秋葉原), also called Akiba after a former local shrine, is a district in central Tokyo that is famous for its many electronics shops. In more recent years, Akihabara has gained recognition as the center of Japan's otaku (diehard fan) culture, and many shops and establishments devoted to anime and manga are now dispersed among the electronic stores in the district. On Sundays, Chuo Dori, the main street through the district, is closed to car traffic from 13:00 to 18:00 (until 17:00 from October through March). Akihabara has been undergoing major redevelopment over the years, including the renovation and expansion of Akihabara Station and the construction of new buildings in its proximity. Among these newly opened buildings were a huge Yodobashi electronics store and the Akihabara Crossfield, a business complex with the aim of promoting Akihabara as a center for global electronics technology and trade.
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Odaiba
Odaiba is a popular shopping and entertainment district on a man made island in Tokyo Bay. It originated as a set of small man made fort islands (daiba literally means "fort"), which were built towards the end of the Edo Period (1603-1868) to protect Tokyo against possible attacks from the sea and specifically in response to the gunboat diplomacy of Commodore Perry. More than a century later, the small islands were joined into larger islands by massive landfills, and Tokyo began a spectacular development project aimed to turn the islands into a futuristic residential and business district during the extravagant 1980s. But development was critically slowed after the burst of the "bubble economy" in the early 1990s, leaving Odaiba nearly vacant. It was not until the second half of the 1990s, when several hotels, shopping malls and the Yurikamome elevated train line were opened, that Odaiba developed into one of Tokyo's most popular tourist attractions and date spots with a wide selection of shopping, dining and leisure options. Despite the initial setbacks, several lavish development projects did materialize, including some of Tokyo's boldest architectural creations, such as the Fuji TV Building, Telecom Center and Tokyo Big Sight. Modern city planning furthermore provides Odaiba with plenty of green space and a pleasant division of motorized and pedestrian traffic using elevated walkways and the like.
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Tokyo Fish Market
Tsukiji Outer Market is a district adjacent to the site of the former Tsukiji Wholesale Market. It consists of a few blocks of wholesale and retail shops, as well as restaurants crowded along narrow lanes. Here you can find fresh and processed seafood and produce alongside food-related goods such as knives. A visit to Tsukiji Outer Market is best combined with a fresh sushi breakfast or lunch at one of the local restaurants. The restaurants are typically open from 5:00 in the morning to around noon or early afternoon. Because most of the fish served and sold at Tsukiji Outer Market is delivered directly from Toyosu Market, this is one of the best places in Tokyo to enjoy fresh seafood.
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Chiba Zoological Park
The Chiba Zoological Park, first opened in April 1985, is located about halfway between Tokyo and Narita, just outside of the city of Chiba. The zoo is divided into seven sections: the Zoological Hall, the Small Animal Zone, the Steppe Zone, the Monkey Zone, the Avian and Aquatic Zone, the Ancestors of Domestic Animals Zone, and the Children’s Zoo. The Small Animal Zone houses Futa, the red panda who in 2005 became a television celebrity because of his ability to stand on his hind legs. His son, Kuta, now has the same ability, so you have twice the chance to see the spectacle when you stop by! The park map has pictures of the animals (at their locations), so there is no need to worry if you cannot get ahold of an English map. If you can, it is extra special to visit the zoo between mid-March and mid-April, when the many cherry blossom trees onsite are in full bloom!
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Tsunan Sunflower Field
500 thousand sunflowers bloom broadly in this 4-hectare field. The children's sunflower maze inside the field is one popular attraction. Guests can get a panoramic view of the sunflower field from the observation platform, where they can surely take photos that they will like. Outdoor stalls line the plaza area, energizing the entire venue.
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Joetsu Aquarium Umigatari
Renovated in June 2018, its nickname is "Umigatari." The aquarium has more Magellanic penguins than any other in Japan, and you can see them up close! You can also watch the dolphins' exciting jumps against the backdrop of the great Sea of Japan. It's full of attractions to see.
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Takayama Historic District
Located at the center of the castle town, the three main streets that make up the most popular part of Takayama's Historic District served as a bustling merchant town in times past. This area is referred to as "Sanmachi-dori," and it is distinguishable by the distinctive, old architecture and shops that remain to this day.
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Niigata Furusato Village
Niigata boasts sake, rice, and fish that can compete with the best in the nation as well as specialty products and traditional crafts. You can find all of these for sale at Niigata Furusato Village. What’s more, there are a whopping 10,000 products available!
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Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum
Explore the museum that exhibits an extensive number of aircraft, aircraft-related materials, and materials related to the development of space technology. Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum is the museum representing Japan in both air and space. It re-opened on March 24th, 2018, with an exhibition area of 9,400 square meters—1.7 times larger than its original size. The museum has been rebuilt into an educational environment that tells stories of our ancestors’ aspirations to fly in air and space; it also holds the power to inspire children to take on unthinkable challenges. The ”Aviation Area” of the museum is filled with the history and stories concerning humans’ development of aviation technology, while the "Space Area" contains stories about humanity’s challenges into space and information on the latest space technology. In addition to the above exhibition areas, the museum café and gift shop were also renovated allowing for an even greater experience than ever before. Educational programs and tours are planned to be held on a regular basis.
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Nagoya City Science Museum
A new building housing "Brother Earth", a 35-meter-diameter dome planetarium, was opened in March 2011. The planetarium is the largest in the world. Also, be sure to check out our four large-scale exhibitions featuring an aurora film shown in a -30°C and a 9-meter tall manmade tornado! These attractions are highly entertaining and allow museum visitors to experience the power of nature. Additionally, the building itself acts as an exhibit through the use of solar power, green walls, visible earthquake-resistant structures and elevator mechanisms.
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SCMAGLEV and Railway Park
Opened in 2011, the SCMAGLEV and Railway Park is the railway museum of Central Japan Railways (JR Central). The museum seeks to educate visitors on the advances in high speed rail in Japan and displays a number of actual trains including historic steam locomotives, world record setting experimental shinkansen (bullet train) and the latest magnetic levitating trains (maglev). A collection of 39 retired train cars are displayed in the museum. Many of these can be entered or viewed from underneath, and are accompanied by a host of exhibits explaining the different parts of the trains and all aspects of their operation and maintenance. Another section of the museum is dedicated to maglev trains and JR Central's plans to construct a maglev high speed link between Tokyo and Osaka. The second floor of the museum also has lots of learning experiences, which are specifically geared toward young children.
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Legoland Japan
Legoland Japan opened in April 2017 in Nagoya. The outdoor amusement park has many attractions aimed at young children and some attractions of interest to accompanying adults. Visitors can expect large Lego models, rides, building stations and dining areas. The amusement park is separated into seven themed areas, matching the different universes in the Lego world. Right in the middle of the park is "Miniland Japan" which highlights the iconic attractions across the entire country and is constructed out of millions of Lego bricks. Here you can find Kyoto, Tokyo and Mount Fuji just a few steps away from one another. The rotating Observation Tower not far from Miniland offers a bird's eye view of the park and its surroundings.
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Nagashima Resort
Nagashima Resort is a major vacation destination just outside Nagoya. It is comprised of five main leisure facilities: the Nagashima Spaland amusement park, a water park, a hot spring complex, an outlet shopping mall and a flower park named Nabana no Sato. The resort is located on a long piece of land that is surrounded by rivers and the sea; fittingly, it is called Nagashima or "long island". Nagashima Spaland, reputed to be the best amusement park for roller coasters in western Japan, is the main attraction of the resort. The park is filled with over forty rides, ranging from gentle ones suitable for children to outrageous ones for those looking to spend some exhilarating moments. Immediately noticeable even before entering the main gate is the Steel Dragon 2000, a gigantic roller coaster ride which spans the entire length of the park.
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Kurama Hot Springs
Kurama (鞍馬) is a rural town in the northern mountains of Kyoto City, less than one hour from the city center. Kurama is best known for its temple Kurama-dera and its hot spring, one of the most easily accessible hot springs from Kyoto. Outdoor and indoor baths can be enjoyed at Kurama Onsen, a ryokan located at the upper end of the town of Kurama. It can be reached in a 10 minute walk from the train station along the town's only road or along a nature trail following the river. Staying guests can use the baths for free, while daytrippers pay 2500 yen to use all of the baths or 1000 yen for just the outdoor bath (rotemburo).
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Gion
Gion (祇園) is Kyoto's most famous geisha district, located around Shijo Avenue between Yasaka Shrine in the east and the Kamo River in the west. It is filled with shops, restaurants and ochaya (teahouses), where geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) and maiko (geiko apprentices) entertain. Gion attracts tourists with its high concentration of traditional wooden machiya merchant houses. Due to the fact that property taxes were formerly based upon street frontage, the houses were built with narrow facades only five to six meters wide, but extend up to twenty meters in from the street. The most popular area of Gion is Hanami-koji Street from Shijo Avenue to Kenninji Temple. A nice (and expensive) place to dine, the street and its side alleys are lined with preserved machiya houses many of which now function as restaurants, serving Kyoto style kaiseki ryori (Japanese haute cuisine) and other types of local and international meals.
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Higashiyama District
The Higashiyama District (東山) along the lower slopes of Kyoto's eastern mountains is one of the city's best preserved historic districts. It is a great place to experience traditional old Kyoto, especially between Kiyomizudera and Yasaka Shrine, where the narrow lanes, wooden buildings and traditional merchant shops invoke a feeling of the old capital city. Recent renovations to remove telephone poles and repave the streets have further improved the traditional feel of the district. The streets in Higashiyama are lined by small shops, cafes and restaurants which have been catering to tourists and pilgrims for centuries. These businesses retain their traditional design, although many have been renovated through the years, and they continue to serve customers today, selling local specialties such as Kiyomizu-yaki pottery, sweets, pickles, crafts and other souvenirs. The shops and restaurants in the area typically open around nine or ten in the morning and close relatively early around five or six in the evening, except during the ten day long Hanatoro in March when the streets of Higashiyama are lined by thousands of lanterns and many of the area's temples, shrines and businesses have extended hours and special illuminations.
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Pontocho
Pontocho (先斗町, Pontochō) is one of Kyoto's most atmospheric dining areas. It is a narrow alley running from Shijo-dori to Sanjo-dori, one block west of Kamogawa River. The alley is packed with restaurants on both sides offering a wide range of dining options from inexpensive yakitori to traditional and modern Kyoto cuisine, foreign cuisine and highly exclusive establishments that require the right connections and a fat wallet. Most of the restaurants along the eastern side of the alley overlook Kamogawa River. From May to September, many of them build temporary platforms over the flowing water where patrons can dine out in the open air. Known as kawayuka, this type of dining was developed as a way to beat the summer heat and is a great way to try some traditional Kyoto cuisine while taking in the cooling effects of the flowing water and the lively summer atmosphere.
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Kyoto Tower
Standing 131 meters tall just across from Kyoto Station, Kyoto Tower (京都タワー) is Kyoto's tallest structure and a rare modern iconic landmark in the city famous for its ancient temples and shrines. The tower was completed in 1964, the same year as the opening of the shinkansen and the Tokyo Olympics. A viewing platform is located 100 meters above ground and affords a 360 degree view of Kyoto and as far as Osaka on clear days. Kyoto Tower stands on top of a typical commercial building, which contains souvenir shops, restaurants and a hotel, as well as a public bath in the basement.
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Asahi Beer Suita Brewery
Asahi is one of Japan's top four beer producers and has its roots in Osaka. Its most well-known and internationally recognized product is Asahi Super Dry, a very light, crisp lager, which was launched in 1987. The Suita Factory (アサヒビール吹田工場, Asahi Beer Suita Kōjō) in Osaka is the company's first brewery, built in 1891. Free brewery tours are offered at the Suita Factory which lasts about 90 minutes and includes a tasting session. Most tours are conducted in Japanese, while multilingual audio guides are available for download to one's mobile device. English tours are held only on a few selected days. A typical tour starts with a video presentation of the Asahi products and continues to galleries with displays about the history of the company and the production process of beer. It then moves on to observation decks from where the brewery's canning, bottling and packing areas can be viewed from behind windows. Along the way, there are also promotional posters from past decades and a section showcasing the factory's collection of international beers.
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Osaka Museum of History
The Osaka Museum of History opened in 2003 in a tall building next to NHK Osaka and just across the street from Osaka Castle. The building offers excellent views of the castle from its top floors. The museum exhibits are visually oriented with several large models. They chronicle the city's history, beginning in ancient times when Osaka served as Japan's first capital and site of the Naniwa Palace and ending with exhibits on the city's bustling shopping arcades of the early Showa Period. The museum's collection is set up on the upper floors of the building while the lower floors are occupied by a restaurant, shop and spacious lobby. Museum visitors first take the elevator to the top floor and then follow the exhibition route down.
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Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Japan (USJ) was the first theme park under the Universal Studios brand to be built in Asia. Opened in March 2001 in the Osaka Bay Area, the theme park occupies an area of 39 hectares and is the most visited amusement park in Japan after Tokyo Disney Resort. Universal Studios Japan currently has eight sections: Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, Jurassic Park, Waterworld, Amity Village, Universal Wonderland and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Visitors are able to enjoy many amusement rides, ranging from child-friendly carousels to thrilling roller coasters and simulators based on popular movies such as Spiderman, Back to the Future, Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park.
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Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is located in the Tempozan Harbor Village of Osaka's bay area and is one of Japan's most spectacular aquariums. It introduces various forms of life inhabiting the Pacific Rim in a well organized and impressive way. Marine life is displayed in 15 tanks, each representing a specific region of the Pacific Rim. The central tank, representing the Pacific Ocean, is nine meters deep and home to a whale shark, the aquarium's main attraction. Visitors start their tour of the aquarium on the 8th floor and slowly spiral down floor by floor around the central tank. Some of the tanks stretch over several floors, making it possible to observe the animals from different depths and perspectives.
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Saidaiji Kannon-in Temple
The ancient temple of Saidaiji Kannon-in was built around 1,200 years ago. Walking along the approach, visitors will pass by rows of traditional shops before entering the shrine’s gate and arriving at the main hall.
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Okutsu Onsen
With its riverside rotenburo (outdoor bath), Okutsu Onsen features numerous elegant inns and accommodations. Because soaking in the hot spring’s waters is said to make one’s skin white and smooth, this onsen is famously known as “Bijin no Yu” (Onsen of Beauty). “Ashibumi Sentaku,” also known as the “Washing Dance,” is performed by women in kimonos holding pails while stamping on garments and making washing motions with their toes. This “dance,” a noted attraction at Okutsu Onsen, is performed in the rotenburo on Sundays and public holidays from late March to early December. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the “Ashibumi Sentaku” at no charge as well as the area’s beautiful seasonal landscapes including fall foliage in autumn and snowfall in winter.
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Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
The museum continues to spearhead the global movement towards nuclear disarmament and lasting world peace. The museum is divided into the East Building and the Main Building. In the museum, the history of Hiroshima before and after the bombing is exhibited with pictures, movies and displays. Also, there are some items that convey the devastation caused by the atomic bomb. In spring, the Peace Park is covered with cherry blossoms.
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Takasakiyama Monkey Park
Takasakiyama Monkey Park (高崎山自然動物園, Takasakiyama Shizen Dōbutsuen) is a popular monkey reserve at the base of Mount Takasaki, a 628 meter high mountain along the coast between Beppu and Oita City. The mountain is home to some 1500 wild Japanese macaques that roam freely around its steep, forested slopes. Park visitors can get close to the monkeys as they are fed, and watch them as they run around, play or just sit in the sun and groom each other. Mount Takasaki's monkeys are divided into two separate troops of approximately 700 to 800 individuals each, making them some of the world's largest monkey troops. The troops take turns coming down to the monkey park, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. During their stay at the park, the monkeys get fed by the wardens and spend their time playing and resting while appearing almost oblivious to the human visitors. However, although they seem tame, the monkeys should not be touched or fed, and eye contact should be avoided.
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Nijo Market
Nijo Market (二条市場, Nijō Ichiba) is a public market in central Sapporo that occupies about one city block. Both locals and tourists visit the market to shop for fresh local produce and seafood such as crabs, salmon eggs, sea urchin and various fresh and prepared fish.
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Curb Market
Curb Market (札幌場外市場, Sapporo Jōgai Ichiba) consists of nearly 80 stores and restaurants lined up along several blocks just outside of Sapporo's Central Wholesale Market. One of the city's largest public markets, the Curb Market specializes in Hokkaido seafood such as crab, sea urchin, salmon roe, squid and scallops, and local produce such as corn, melons and potatoes when in season.
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Shiroi Koibito Park
Shiroi Koibito Park is a theme park by Ishiya, a local chocolate company. The company's flagship product is the Shiroi Koibito cookie, which consists of two thin butter cookies and a layer of white chocolate in between. It is one of the most famous souvenirs from Hokkaido. The park consists of a free area with a shop, cafe and restaurant and a paid area with various chocolate related exhibits and, most interestingly, a few large windows through which visitors can observe the cookie production process in the factory. It is also possible to create your own cookies in hands-on workshops. Another part of the Shiroi Koibito Park is a soccer field that serves as the practice ground for Consadole Sapporo, the local J-League soccer team.
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Asahikawa Zoo
Recently Asahiyama Zoo has displaced Ramen and skiing as Asahikawa's primary drawcard, in the process, becoming Japan's number one zoo. The total number of people expected to have visited the zoo by the end of 2007 is in excess of 3 million, an impressive figure when you consider that the population of Asahikawa is a mere 360,000. And, all this form a zoo that just over a decade ago was struggling to stay open. Asahiyama zoo features more than 800 animals from approximately 150 species, a healthy number when you consider the difficulties associated with maintaining animals during a hot summer and an extremely cold winter. As can be expected, however, people do have their favourites, and the polar bears, penguins, seals, big cats, and orangutans come in for special attention. The enclosures for these animals are designed with both the animal and visitor in mind so you can expect to get closer than you might imagine. The penguin enclosure, for example, affords a 360-degree view. There is a vertical tank for the spotted seal which prefers to dive and surface vertically. The polar bear enclosure has a variety of built-in viewing areas to allow you special access.
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Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum
Otokoyama sake brewery museum introduces sake brewing culture as Japanese traditional industry and history of Otokoyama from 350 years. You can see valuable materials, document and sake set in the Edo period, and can also see a part of sake brewing when brewing. Free entrance fee, we sell items of the brewery limited in tasting & shop. About 200,000 people visit here every year with Furano, Biei and Asahiyama Zoo as a sightseeing spot in Hokkaido.
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Ueno Farm
Ueno Farm is a popular farm garden in Nagayama located in the northeastern part of Asahikawa city and has been a farmer since 1906. Ms Sayuki Ueno, a gardener, made a Hokkaido-style garden suited for the climate and natural features of Hokkaido as the foundation for an English-style garden at their site and the garden has been opened to the public since 2001. More than 2,000 types of flowering plants are planted at about 1.3 ha of the site, and visitors can enjoy various flowers from spring to autumn. An open period is from late April to mid-October. Admission fee is JPY 800. A parking lot is free of charge. NAYA cafe is built at the site and opens a business through the year.
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Kagoshima City Aquarium
Visitors to the aquarium are immediately drawn into the experience by stepping in front of the massive floor to ceiling Kuroshio Great Water Tank right after they enter. This approximately 1,360,000 liter tank focuses on the Kuroshio current; the current that runs off of Japan's eastern coast and is essential for supporting a wide variety of marine life. A large whale shark, graceful manta rays, and shiny tuna all glide right in front of your face. As you exit the large tank room, you walk right under these magnificent creatures, as the tank curves over your head. Kagoshima City takes particular pride in its marine life and the aquarium features many species that are indigenous to the local area. Those familiar with the southern port towns such as Makurazaki will recognize the shiny tuna (katsuo) in the huge 1st-floor tank, for example. Perhaps the most intriguing residents are the taka-ashi (lit. tall leg) crabs, whose leg spans can reach nearly 4 meters! These somewhat fierce-looking, yet serene animals are prevalent in the warmer waters between Kagoshima Bay and Tokyo Bay. Jellyfish, eel and squid are other creatures you can learn about through exhibits that are translated into English.
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Reimeikan Museum
The Reimeikan Museum (黎明館) is dedicated to local history and culture. On three spacious floors, it presents a wide variety of exhibits that cover the span of Kagoshima's history from ancient to modern times. There are a few interesting models, such as a large diorama of downtown Kagoshima at the beginning of the Showa Period (1926-1989) and a small scale model of a village from the middle ages. The museum was built on the former site of the local castle, known as Kagoshima or Tsurumaru Castle, and is surrounded by parts of the former moat and stone walls. The museum and castle ruins are located at the base of Mount Shiroyama, which literally means "castle mountain" in Japanese.
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Kagoshima Christmas Market
After stumbling across the Christmas Market at Hakata Station, I discovered that Kyushu was actually holding many Christmas Markets across different JR Station locations. Kagoshima-chuo station happened to be another of those market locations, and despite being a lot smaller in size than the Hakata one, this market still had beautiful lights and some lovely stalls.
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Seoul Museum of History
The Seoul Museum of History is the only museum in Korea that represents the city’s history and culture. Since its establishment on the former site of Gyeonghuigung Palace in 2002, the museum has offered visitors the chance to experience 600 years of Seoul’s history and culture through interactive exhibitions. The three-story museum is divided thematically into three exhibition areas, including a special exhibition area, a permanent exhibition area and a hall that exhibits collections donated by the public. The museum offers accessible and interactive exhibitions to the public with various hands-on programs. For example, visitors are allowed to touch and explore the exhibits on display, which are replicas of originals in the museum. In addition, the museum offers the U-Exhibit Guidance System, an automatic translator (various languages are available) for visitors, which makes every tour convenient and interesting.