More than any other city in the world, Tokyo personifies the effervescent “bright lights, big city” urban landscape. Home to about a quarter of Japan’s population, this is a city teeming with polite people who have a refined, simple and elegant aesthetic (though they're also known to adore their fair share of kitsch).
Beauty spans some pretty wide extremes in this megalopolis, from an ultramodern skyscraper like the Tokyo Tower to the simple beauty of the Meiji Shrine to the breathtaking gardens of the Imperial Palace. This is the rare big city where you can roam without worry as crimes against visitors are virtually unheard of — and if you leave something on a park bench, check with the nearest police station, as most of the citizens of Tokyo are so honest they turn in found items.
If it's available anywhere in the world, you can probably buy it in Tokyo — and the Japanese have a talent for experimenting with avant-garde materials, which makes shopping an adventure. Look for avant-garde fashion, anime and comics, bleeding-edge technology and, of course, Hello Kitty trinkets.
Sights, Sounds and Sushi
You can't leave Tokyo without trying the awe-inspiring sushi, and if you like a side of people watching with your maki, make haste to the Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo’s largest fish market that moves 2,000 tons of fish every day to points far and wide. To eat like a local, dine in a food hall in the basement of a department store; the quality of the food surpasses most restaurant fare in the rest of the world, and the taste testers will allow you to sample exotic delicacies.