Both New York and Tokyo are famous for many things. They’re both a food and fashion capital, dense with towering monoliths, and offer endless late-night fun. What these two cities do, they do well.
Their exciting allures are what you’d expect from a big city. But that’s where their similarities end as these two are vastly different.
While you can’t go wrong with either, one of these cities will fit you best depending on your preferences. And for you to pick between the two, you need to get to know them more below!
New York is one of those cities that remains to be a dream destination for people around the world. Its endless list of allures, sheer diversity, and electrifying energy alone is enough to attract tourists. But what truly makes the city a tourist magnet is that it indulges everyone, no matter where their interests lie.
What Makes New York Unique?
Let the World’s Food Capital Tickle Your Tastebuds
You may find plenty of food capitals around the world. But none of them are as diverse as New York’s world-renowned food scene. What makes this city a true culinary mecca is that it’s home to around 94 national cuisines, the most of any city in the world!
With that, your tastebuds will have a trip around the world without ever leaving New York! You’ll find no shortage of restaurants to choose from here in the city.
There are tens of thousands of restaurants here in New York. And according to Open Data’s table, you’d need around 22 years to eat at every restaurant in the city! So you’ll have tons of places to try during your trip.
For the dining experience of a lifetime, head to the city’s many Michelin-starred restaurants. A few of them have the highest distinction by the Michelin guide. And these few three-star restaurants are all in Manhattan:
- Eleven Madison Park
- Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare
- Le Bernardin
- Per Se
If these aren’t in the cards for you, the city has loads of restaurants with a two or one-star distinction.
But what’s truly at the heart of New York’s food scene are its iconic dishes. These dishes display the city’s long and enduring reputation as a cultural melting pot. Most of them have influences from other countries, and over time, New York made these tasty delights their own.
Find them in restaurants or stalls right around the corner. Even if you get them for cheap, New York knows how to make the tastiest of these dishes:
- New York–Style Pizza: Get a massive slice of this Italian favorite for only 1 to 4 USD! Thick on its crust and thinning out toward the center, what makes this pizza unique is that you can fold it in half!
- Pastrami on Rye: The city is full of Jewish delis selling their tasty cured and smoked beef brisket. Imagine thin layers of these piled high between two rye bread!
- Cheesecake: This cheesecake variety may be simple as it usually doesn’t have toppings. But what it lacks in toppings it makes up for its creamy and dense texture!
Iconic Attractions You’ve Seen on the Silver Screen
Wandering around the streets of New York may feel like you’re exploring a massive film set. The city is brimming with sights that have long graced famous movies and TV shows. And in exploring the city, you get to relive some of your favorite ones!
No trip to New York would be complete without visiting Lady Liberty, one of the largest statues in the world. Take a trip to Ellis Island where she stands as a symbol of freedom. It’s not only a representation of the city but also of the country.
Explore the city and you’ll find a wealth of shiny skyscrapers to marvel at. But none are as iconic as the Empire State Building.
You may have seen them in countless TV shows and movies, such as King Kong and Superman. But when in the city, you can do more than marvel at the building from afar. Make your way up to its open-air observation deck on the 86th floor, and it’ll reward you with views of this beautiful city!
Another iconic landmark in the city is the social media darling, Times Square. It’s a picture-perfect spot and an exciting place to be from day to night. It’s much more of an eye candy at night, though, with its bright, massive billboards and neon lights illuminating the streets.
Times Square may be bustling and crowded. But it’s the perfect place to get intoxicated by New York’s urban vibrancy!
You’ll still find the addicting buzz of the city in a more regal setting, the historic Grand Central Terminal. Built in 1913, this Beaux Arts building is one of the most beautiful landmarks in the city.
Enter the terminal and make your way to the Grand Staircase. This is the best spot to marvel at the ceiling where you’ll find an intricate mural of gold-leaf constellations!
Experience New York’s World-Renowned Creativity
If you’re an art lover, New York is a world-renowned destination for all things creative. Cultural centers are aplenty in the city, with diversity and scale that’ll keep you occupied on your trip. And no matter where your interests lie, there’s plenty of art to be had in the city.
The face of New York’s creative scene is its wealth of renowned art institutions. More specifically, the city’s big three art museums attract millions of visitors from around the world each year! These three must-visit museums are:
- Metropolitan Museum of Art: This museum holds over 5000 years’ worth of art. From Stone Age artifacts to contemporary masterpieces, you’ll find centuries’ worth of art under one roof.
- Museum of Modern Art (MoMA): An art laboratory that features the best modern works of our time. MoMA features masterpieces that go beyond paintings. Here, you’ll marvel at films, photography, sculptures, and more, that showcase boundary-breaking art.
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: Among the three, this museum stands out for its cutting-edge exterior. Innovative inside and out, this museum is home to a wealth of cubist and surrealist artworks. It’s also home to one of the largest collections of Kandinsky masterpieces in the world!
New York’s creative expression goes beyond masterpieces you’d find indoors. The artistic minds that New York homes and hones have the city as their canvas. And they paint an otherwise dull cityscape with all colors of the rainbow, adding character to each corner you’ll come across.
New York’s street art is a reflection of how the locals think and feel. So more than a feast for your eyes, discovering this scene allows you to get to know the city more. Some of the city’s hubs for incredible murals are:
- The Bushwick Collective
- The Audubon Mural Project
- South Bronx Block
Enjoy the Quieter Side of the City in Stunning Green Oases
Being in such a big and bustling city like New York, you’ll never run out of fun things to do no matter what time of the day. But sometimes, the city’s never-ending buzz can get overwhelming. On days when you just want to relax, you’re never too far from a lush green oasis here in New York.
New York has an extensive park system that covers 14 percent of the city. One that lures locals and tourists alike for its luscious, leafy spaces is the world-famous Central Park. And there’s no better place to spend a lovely day out than here.
Go on a walk, bike, or ride a carriage as you explore this massive park! Within its borders are plenty of scenic attractions for you to discover.
Enjoy a picnic at Sheep’s Meadow, pay tribute at Strawberry Fields, or marvel at the iconic Belvedere Castle! If you want to escape the city’s frenzied atmosphere, head to the park’s secret garden, the Conservatory Garden. Central Park is also a fun visit during winter too, when you can go ice skating at Wollman Rink!
Parks come in all shapes and sizes here in New York. But one of the most unique and unexpected ones is the High Line. This is an elevated, linear public park built on an abandoned railway that stretches on Manhattan’s West Side.
Fringing the park is a wide variety of plant species that fill the area with color during spring. Plus, the park also features picnic areas, public art installations, and a wealth of food carts.
There are tons of other interesting spots along the route. This includes the Meatpacking District in the south area, which is full of trendy restaurants. And on the 16th Street access of the park, you’ll find Chelsea Market, which is full of unique shops!
There’s Nonstop Fun in the City That Never Sleeps
In a city called “The City That Never Sleeps”, New York’s allures don’t stop when the sun sets. Once it becomes dark, the city lights up with neon lights and blinding billboards. And the city’s unwavering, energetic energy only becomes stronger.
New York is a city built for and full of night owls. Because of this, it has a wealth of late-night attractions that offer exciting ways to cap off your day! Exploring the city at night is a memorable and thrilling experience as there’s always a fresh opportunity at every corner.
Enjoying a round of drinks or dancing the night away are staples in the nightlife scene, no matter where you go. You’ll find this to be true in New York, too, with its sheer amount of bars, pubs, and nightclubs of all kinds.
Start the evening at a rooftop bar like Mr. Purple and soak in the city lights as you sip on your cocktail. Sneak into many of the city’s speakeasies like Employees Only. Or dance to the blasting, and upbeat music at electrifying nightclubs like Nebula!
You don’t need drinks for a thrilling night out in New York though. The city offers a plethora of diverse late-night activities to keep the fun going!
You can’t talk about New York’s nightlife without Broadway. It’s one of the best things to do in the city at night, and even the locals agree! Night shows start between 7 to 8 PM, so make sure to have dinner early to watch The Phantom of the Opera and other classic hits!
One of the more unique things you can do in the city is to attend a live TV taping! Some of the popular choices here are Saturday Night Live (SNL), The Tonight Show, and The Daily Show. You can even watch Law and Order live, where hearing the court cases is anything but dull!
No other city in the world offers a delightful medley of the old and the new than Tokyo. If you want to see both sides of Japan, you don’t have to pick between the two in this city.
What Makes Tokyo Unique?
Get Dazzled by Tokyo’s Many Gorgeous Architecture
Like many big cities around the world, Tokyo’s cityscape is full of shiny skyscrapers and concrete monoliths. Tokyo’s passion for innovation and experimentation is evident in its architecture. Thus, its cityscape is brimming with buildings full of character, many of which you won’t find elsewhere.
Most of the buildings that dot the city’s map aren’t historical sites though. Instead, there are a wealth of modern masterpieces here to dazzle you with their unique design. These buildings alone are well worth a trip to Tokyo, especially if you love architecture!
One of the standout buildings in the city is The Iceberg. It features an angular structure to give the facade a three-dimensional look. And because it’s clad in blue-tinted glass, the building looks like a giant crystal!
Another head-turner in Tokyo’s cityscape is Sunny Hills. Unlike concrete and glass monoliths in the city, Sunny Hills’ facade is an endless series of wood lattice designs. This makes the building look like a wooden basket!
Its crisscross design uses an ancient technique called jigoku-gumi to keep the wood together. And you’ll find the same pattern inside, where you can sample some tasty pineapple cake!
If you like Sunny Hills’ design, the Daiwa Ubiquitous Computing Research Building is a must-see. This building also strays away from using hard materials on its facade, like concrete and metal. Instead, it uses natural materials for a softer appearance.
It features panels of wood on its exterior that form waves to create a smooth and organic exterior. At the heart of a building, you’ll find an organ-like opening that generates light and wind into the campus.
Travel Back in Time Though Historical Places and Experiences
With its futuristic technology and sleek cityscape, it’s easy to forget that Tokyo has centuries’ worth of history under its belt. It may not have Kyoto’s wealth of historical sites, but the city has its fair share of these too. But here, you’ll get to see both ancient and ultramodern Japan in one afternoon.
On the quest to explore Tokyo’s historic landmarks, it’s best to start with the oldest. Shofukuji was the first Zen temple built in Japan. This building dates back to 1407, and even if it went through war, fire, and natural disasters, it remains intact.
In Tokyo, you’ll also get to visit the Imperial Palace, the home of the emperor and the imperial family. It’s built on the site of the old Edo castle where the Feudal Lord Ota Dokan’s first fortress stood in 1457. And other than the palace structure itself, the attractions that surround it are also worth a visit.
On a tour of the palace, you can wander around parts open to the public. You can stroll around the Kokyo Gaien National Garden, walk on the Nijubashi Bridge, marvel at the Kikyomon Gate, and more!
Tokyo has plenty more historical sites for you to visit. But if you want to get a taste of the fascinating Japanese culture, you’d have to be in the center of all the action. In this modern city, you can still experience centuries-old traditions that live to this day.
You can watch a Kabuki show at the famous Kabuki-za Theatre in the Ginza district. Try your hand at shodo, a Japanese art form of handwriting. You can even try a Kimono Experience, where experts will transform you into a modern-day geisha!
Explore the City’s Best and Quirkiest Museums
Tokyo’s art scene reflects the city’s fun character. It’s playful, embraces its eccentricities, and marches to the beat of its own drum. The city’s art scene embraces art beyond the usual, and there’s always something delightfully surprising going on here.
The astounding collection of museums here is not the usual boxy monoliths you’d find. Instead, you’ll discover avant-garde structures designed by the best architects in the country. Museums here are art in themselves, but what they hide behind their closed doors is more exciting.
The hundreds of museums and art galleries here are dynamic, featuring constantly-changing exhibitions. They keep up with the times, featuring NFTs on massive LED screens. Yet Tokyo’s art scene remains true to its roots, featuring centuries-old art like ukiyo-e woodblock prints.
If it’s your first time visiting Tokyo, the Tokyo National Museum is the best place to start. This museum has the distinction of being Japan’s first, oldest, and biggest museum.
At this museum, you’ll find hundreds of thousands of Japanese artworks. Many of which are national treasures that include paintings, calligraphy, swords, and more!
Once you’ve visited this destination museum, it’s time to dive into Tokyo’s more unusual art scene!
Tokyo is home to the only museum dedicated to the avant-garde artist, Yayoi Kusama. Unlike most single-artist museums, this museum is dynamic. It constantly refreshes its exhibitions as Kusama continues to create art.
Much like the artist herself, the museum has a flamboyant flare that gifts you with Insta-ready spots at every corner. Every inch of this museum is full of color, glitter, and picture-worthy art, even in the elevator.
Another unique museum in the city is the Ghibli Museum, a perfect visit for kids and kids at heart. As it’s a tribute to Ghibli, everything about this museum is whimsical.
The building itself looks like a colorful Italian villa with dense greenery covering its exterior. The studio’s characters are on full display here, and you’ll find a Totoro plushie grinning at you from a fake entrance!
Tokyo Is One of the World’s Top Culinary Meccas
Like New York, Tokyo is one of the world’s food capitals. Tokyo may not have the diversity of New York’s food scene, as it’s only home to 58 national cuisines. But Tokyo has the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, as it’s home to over 200 of them.
So if you’re a big foodie, Tokyo is one of the best places in the world to visit.
With upscale dining aplenty here, you’ll get the best sushi at restaurants like Sukiyabashi Jiro and Sushi Saito. But you’ll also get the best dishes the culinary world has to offer. Indulge yourself with some foie gras at Hommage, delicious pizza at Pizzeria e Braceria L’Insieme, and more!
Tokyo’s restaurants don’t need a Michelin star to keep you coming back for more though. In a city so filled with foodies, you’ll find passionate chefs everywhere. And you’re never too far from a spot serving some of the best ramen you’ve ever had.
Thus, sampling the best dishes in Tokyo isn’t a question of where you’re going to eat. It’s a matter of what you’ll be having for your meal!
The astounding number of delicious choices here can make that decision hard though. So if you don’t know what to get, here are some of the best Tokyo-born dishes:
- Tendon: This is a combination of “tempura” and “donburi”. Order a serving of tendon and you’ll get a bowl of rice topped with deep-fried seafood and veggies to go with it.
- Monjayaki: A savory, pan-fried pancake that’s much like Osaka’s okonomiyaki. Monjayaki is also an egg pancake mixed with thin slices of cabbage, seafood, and meat. But this version is thinner, and it looks much like melted cheese when cooked.
- Abura Soba: Most noodle dishes in Japan come with a soup, but not this one. This soupless dish uses buckwheat noodles combined with soy sauce, pork lard, and a variety of other ingredients. Some of the usual ones include a shoyu tare base, nori, green onions, and menma.
Discover the Distinct Charm of Tokyo’s Famous Districts
Tokyo is a wanderer’s wonderland. Walk around the city, turn a corner, and you’ll find an enclave that’s so distinct from the other. Thus, when walking around the city, you’ll slowly discover the city’s hidden charms.
The city is home to several famous and vibrant neighborhoods. Each known for something, you’ll find the perfect hangout here depending on your likes!
If you love shopping, Ginza is the place to be. You’ll enjoy the finer things in life here as it’s filled with luxury brands shops, lavish show windows, and more. If shopping here isn’t on the cards for you right now, even window shopping is a fun thing to do here.
Shibuya is where all the action happens as it’s the hippest place in the city. It’s the birthplace of the trendiest fashion and culture in the country. And you’ll find endless rows of department stores and shopping malls here for every type of shopper.
If you love anime, games, and all things electronics, Akihabara is your neighborhood. This is the hub of Japan’s otaku culture. Thus, you’ll find countless specialty shops here for anime, manga, video and card games, and more!
Tokyo vs. New York – Which Is Better?
The better city between the two will depend on your preference.
If you love history, both have attractions to offer. All you have to do is pick between American or Japanese history!
But where Tokyo wins is that enjoying the city’s history isn’t limited to sightseeing. Here, you can experience history, too, through a wealth of cultural activities. Enjoy a tea ceremony, watch a Kabuki show, transform into a geisha, and more!
If you’re a foodie, you can never go wrong with both. But if you want to sample cuisines around the world in one place, New York has a more diverse food scene. And if you love upscale dining, Tokyo has the most Michelin-star restaurants in the world.
If you’re traveling with kids, Tokyo is the better destination for you. It’s full of kid-friendly attractions such as Disneyland, the Ghibli Museum, zoos, aquariums, and more.
New York has its fair share of family-friendly attractions and activities. But Tokyo has more to offer in this regard.
Tokyo Crime Rate vs. New York
Both New York and Tokyo are relatively safe for cities of their size. But when comparing their data from Numbeo, Tokyo has a lower crime rate. Tokyo has a crime rate of 24.23 while New York’s crime rate is 49.67.
This data considered other factors, like worries of getting robbed, vandalism, theft, and more.
New York ranked low for two of these, such as getting cars stolen and getting physically attacked. In every other factor, the city got a moderate ranking. Meanwhile, Tokyo ranked low across most of these factors and very low in worries of cars or things in cars getting stolen.
When it comes to safety in walking alone during the day, both Tokyo and New York ranked high. When walking alone at the night, safety is still high in Tokyo. But New York got a moderate ranking on this factor.
Tokyo vs. New York GDP
Tokyo and New York are two of the richest countries in the world based on their GDPs. New York’s GDP is around 1.21 trillion USD. Meanwhile, Tokyo’s GDP is around 1.52 trillion USD.
Is Tokyo More Expensive Than New York?
Tokyo is a much cheaper city to visit than New York across the board. On a trip to Tokyo, you’ll only spend around 148 USD on average each day. But in New York, you’ll spend around 253 USD daily. Take note that plane tickets aren’t a part of this estimate.
If you want to see a breakdown of these costs, you’ll find them below.
Much of this daily expense goes into accommodation. If you’re traveling alone, a hotel costs around 70 USD in Tokyo and 132 USD in New York. But if you’re traveling as a couple, this will be 140 USD in Tokyo and 264 USD in New York.
Getting around Tokyo is cheaper as it will cost 18 USD per day. In New York, you’ll have to spend around 39 USD each day.
A day’s worth of meals will cost around 35 USD in Tokyo and 40 USD in New York. Alcoholic drinks for a day will be around 30 USD in Tokyo and 23 USD in New York.
Entertainment costs for a day, such as entrance tickets and shows will be 65 USD in Tokyo. But this will set you back around 144 USD in New York.
Is Tokyo Like New York?
Tokyo is like New York in that both cities are megalopolises. Tokyo has all the amenities that a big city could offer like New York. And Tokyo also has a seemingly endless list of attractions and things to do from day to night.
Tokyo has a dense cityscape, filled with skyscrapers and other concrete monoliths. The city has an extensive maze of restaurants, shopping districts and malls, and cafes. Plus, Tokyo also has vast green oases aplenty within its limits.
But these are similarities that Tokyo also shares with other big cities around the world. There are more differences than similarities between Tokyo and New York.
Tokyo is a homogenous city, while New York is one of the most diverse cities in the world. This difference is most evident in their food scenes. You also have to consider the cultural differences and the etiquette in both cities, which are vastly different.
Similarities Between New York and Tokyo
The similarities between the two cities are due to their big city allures.
These cities have dense cityscapes filled with soaring and shiny skyscrapers. Both are famous for the astounding amount of stunning architecture they have.
Tokyo and New York are two of the world’s top food capitals too. New York is the top culinary mecca for its diverse food scene, as it’s the city with the most national cuisines. Meanwhile, Tokyo’s food scene has the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world!
New York is one of the world’s fashion meccas too, and it’s a trendsetter. The city shares this distinction with three other cities. But many consider Tokyo the fifth fashion capital in the world and the frontrunner of the industry in Asia.
Other than that, both cities have neighborhoods with their distinct charms. Many of which are as famous as the city itself.
All five of New York’s boroughs are famous, such as Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx. The popular districts in Tokyo are Ginza, Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Akihabara.
You’ll find some spots in both cities that are quite similar too. New York’s theatre district, Times Square, is much like Tokyo’s Shinjuku district.
Distance Between New York and Tokyo
The distance between New York and Tokyo is around 6,739 miles (10845 km).
Is Tokyo Bigger Than New York City?
Tokyo’s land area is quite complicated, as Tokyo is both a city and a prefecture since the city merged with the prefecture in 1943. The entire Tokyo area has a land area of 847 square miles (2194 square km), but the city proper area is around 240 square miles (622 square km) big. Meanwhile, New York City has a land area of around 784 square miles (2031 square km).
Tokyo Population vs. New York
Despite being larger in land area than New York, Tokyo has a smaller population. Tokyo’s city proper area has a population of 13.99 million people. Meanwhile, there are around 18.9 million people living in the city of New York.
Time in Tokyo vs. New York
Tokyo follows Japan Standard Time (GMT +9). Meanwhile, New York follows Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5). With this, the time in Tokyo is 14 hours ahead of New York.
How Many Time Zones Between New York and Tokyo?
Since each time zone equates to an hour of the time difference, there are 14 time zones between Tokyo and New York.
Tokyo to New York Flight Distance
The flight distance from Tokyo to New York is around 6731 miles (10832 km).
New York to Tokyo Flight Path
The flight path from New York to Tokyo goes up north, flying over Alaska before reaching Tokyo.
Tokyo to New York Flight Time
The total flight duration from Tokyo to New York is around 13 to 14 hours.