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It’s rare that you find high-tech cities, exquisite temples and stunning natural wonders all on one island, which is why Japan’s Honshu is a must for any traveller. Here’s our lowdown on the places that are simply unmissable.


Japan’s ultra-modern capital at the head of Tokyo Bay is home to Sky Tree, the world’s tallest tower (not structure, that’s still the Burj Khalifa in Dubai). But that’s just one of the attractions in a city that caters to all, from the full-on culture vulture to the hard-core clubber.

Things to do:

Opened in 2012 at 634m high, Sky Tree gives amazing views, not just of the city, but its surroundings: to the east, the Pacific, to the north and south, the great Kanto plain with its eponymous mountain range beyond; and to the southwest, unmistakable Fuji – on a clear day. If you’re into history, the Imperial Palace is a must. Home to the Japanese Emperor since 1868, you can circle its giant stone walls and enjoy its East Garden anytime. To explore further, book a tour on the Imperial Household Agency’s website. Nearby stands Yasakuni-jinja, the main shrine to Japan’s war dead. Despite the controversy over its annual attendance by the country’s political leaders, it still serves as a poignant reminder of war’s horror. For all things artistic, do not miss the National Museum in Ueno Park. Known as the Louvre of Japan, its many exhibits range from paintings, pottery and calligraphy to sculpture, arms and armour. Manga fans and tech toy geeks should check out Akihabara. In the city centre, its gaudy streets are full of girls in kinky ‘maid’ outfits, handing out fliers for their ‘meido’ cafes.

This city boasts more restaurants than any other in the world. And if you’re wondering where the fish in your sushi came from, head for Tsukiji, the world’s largest seafood market. Get there early and you can watch the frantic tuna auction. But don’t delay: it’s going to be relocated as part of the city’s face-lift for the 2020 Olympics.

Tokyo’s performing arts scene is as rich as any capital’s. What you won’t get elsewhere, though, are Kabuki, Bunraku and Noh. These traditional dramatic arts of song, puppets and masks play at the National Theatre. But if big men grappling in loincloths is your thing, head for Kokugikan, home to Sumo wrestling in January, May and September.

Going out:

Shopaholics, get your credit cards ready for the neon delights of Ginza, while those who party hard should check out Shibuya, the latest hub of the city’s club scene. Big kids can head to the Tokyo Disney Resort in nearby Chiba.


Try a Japanese capsule hotel. Great for location and budget too. From £19pn.


Honshu glad you visited? Make the most of Japan's main island
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