Things To Do In Tokyo
Old traditions rub shoulders with modern culture in the city of Tokyo. Here, you can admire electronic billboards and temples while singers from the karaoke bar rock and sing their lungs out across the street. You can wake before the sun rises and shop for fresh fish at the Tsukiji Marketplace. Afterwards, recharge and wander beneath the cherry blossom trees that line the paved walkways of the Sumida Water. Spend some time wandering from the wonderful East Backyards to the Imperial Construction, and remember to pick up some Japanese history at the Edo-Tokyo Memorial.
Indulge yourself in a variety of sushi, maki, tonkatsu, and udon noodles plus as much wagashi (a staple Japanese dessert) as you can stuff into your tummy. Tokyo is acknowledged as the center of the Japanese business world. It also has one of the world’s leading stock exchanges with twenty-six percent of the Japanese labor force work in finance and commerce.
When To Go:
Although Tokyo is blessed with a variety of climates, it doesn’t get hot, even in the summer. However, if you are in love with the idea of seeing the cherry blossoms fill the sky, come around the months of April and May and see Tokyo along with the lovely flowers in all their beauty.
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These are the top things to do in the city of Tokyo.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Even in winter the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is beautiful, and during flowering and autumn - triply so. The park is located in Shinjuku, Tokyo near the city hall and skyscrapers that do an excellent job of highlighting the contrast between the bustle of the city and the natural beauty of the garden. The peace and quiet, as well as the beauty of the organic gardens will help relax anyone. Come here as many times as needed to be away from the bustle of the city and lose yourself in an oasis of beauty and tranquility. Though the park has an admission fee charge (200 yen entrance), it is open to all from 09:00-16:30. In winter, the park closes at exactly 6 pm. Here you can always admire the flowers, but the best time to see them is late March or early April, when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.
If you visit in early November, you can see the beautiful Chrysanthemum, the symbol of the Imperial Dynasty. The park is an amazing combination of Japanese and European (French and English) influences. The decorative ponds are filled with carp and pergolas. Also, if you have time, go to the greenhouse and view the tropical plants. The only downside is the park ban on alcohol (including beer) which disappoints many tourists. However, the attraction’s pleasant and relaxing walk with nature is worth going without a drink for a while.
The huge temple complex of Meiji Jingu is located near the Harajuku station, contrasting with the popular Takeshita Dori, an ultra-modern youth quarter. On weekends in the Meiji Jingu, you can see traditional wedding ceremonies. In November, kids aged 3-7 can come with their parents and spend a holiday on the City-san. In early December, the gardens are again worth a visit - this time to see the leaves of the maple trees turn red. In the heart of this beautiful park of over 70 acres, there is an old wooden Shinto shrine that has stood for more than 1500 years. Its simple lines will impress even the most discerning traveler. There are bathrooms, restaurants and bars located inside the park.
To get to the complex, take the bus from Harajuku station. The JR lines arrive next to the sanctuary, while the others, headed to Omote-Sando, stand only a few feet away. After a walk of 10-15 minutes (along the path you can admire a fascinating exhibition of chrysanthemums) you arrive at your destination. Apart from the temple itself, (which is already a good enough reason for the journey), you may see children dressed in traditional prayer clothing amidst an oasis of peace. On many of the corners there is an omikuji, a small wooden plaque where you can write your own prayers to hang on to a tree. There is also a Shinto building just to the right of the marriage temple, but be careful— it is forbidden to enter during the rites so as not to disturb the solemn ceremony.
The Yoyogi Park is an excellent place for walking and recreation. On weekends, people spend time walking with children and dogs, playing sports, riding bikes, or eating lunch. The park is enormous, with lots of beautiful trees. The ginkgo grove is especially beautiful in late November. The park is also a favorite meeting place for Elvis Presley fans, who try to look exactly like their idol – something that is very entertaining to see. The park is located in the city center near the station of Harajuku. When going inside the Yoyogi Park, you may also pass by the nearby temple called Meydzhizhdingu, where you can lose yourself in another quieter world, cut off from the outside bustle.
The temple itself is very attractive, but one of the first things you’ll want to do is meet the ministers of the church. Miko (the Shinto shrine attendant) will be dressed in traditional garb – with a red and white shirt with wide sleeves. He will help you write a wish and hang it on the specially designated points. In the park there is a gift shop and café, and smoking is only allowed at designated areas inside the park, and is forbidden at the temple. Admission is free.
Shibuya Center Town
The Shibuya Center Town is one of Tokyo’s most famous tourist spots. Shibuya is a huge area concentrated with all the most attractive modern amenities; famous clothing and electronics stores, entertainment centers, and a variety of restaurants for every taste and wallet. It is very easy to get lost, because the myriad of streets fan out over a vast area. For design lovers, it is certainly recommend to go to the "Loft" and "Tokyu henddz". For lovers of traditional cuisine - visit the restaurants on the top floor, ("Tai", for example). There are also several good bookshops.
You can explore this area for a whole week and not feel bored or tired. The district of Shibuya is the most congested intersection in Tokyo. This crossroads is often filmed in the movies; you may have seen it in the movie, “Lost in Translation." The Shibuya Center Town is located opposite the subway junction.
The Asakusa is an excellent place to explore the old traditions of Tokyo. Although it is located in a historic district, it is surrounded by newly constructed modern buildings. Explore the cultural and historical center of Asakusa— starting at the Temple of Senso-ji and the gated Kaminarimon. Next, go to the Skaytri tower and from the nearby dock, view the cruise ships and boats on the Sumida River in Tokyo Bay. On the streets of Asakusa, you can buy souvenirs or eat street food like a native. These fast food joints will often have long lines of locals waiting to enjoy their food. If you’re feeling like a more formal experience, go to Edalni. It is one of the best places to have traditional Japanese and other cuisines.
You can explore the area by boat or foot rickshaw. Travel tip: take a photo on the background of the Kaminarimon side of the huge woven straw slippers. The large slippers belonged to Buddha! At the front of the main temple building, you’ll see the steaming bowl around which people will gather. According to popular belief, it has a magical healing smoke that is believed to cure all ills.
Tokyo National Museum
At the Tokyo National Museum you will find everything you wanted to know about the art of Japan that was once seen only on postcards. Here you will find prints, swords, ancient Buddha statues and more. Unfortunately, the museum shop is not very big and offers only a modest range of souvenirs. The museum is located at the Ueno Park and is divided into five buildings. The main building houses Japanese art — hosting ancient scrolls, armor and kimonos that tourists find exquisite. The other edifice highlights other Asian art and old paintings. The paintings of Hokusai are proudly displayed and can also be seen as reproductions for sale in the shop (a bit expensive, but very well stocked). By visiting, you can enjoy the best ancient art in the country, ranging from archaeological finds to the materials of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The collections revolve twice a year, so guests do not get bored, even if they choose to come back several times. Very often in the pavilion, there are newly organized thematic exhibitions that require a ticket (additional cost), but the cost to view the permanent collections is very small. The national museum is a must for anyone who wants to get closer to the culture of Japan.
The Sensoji Temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Tokyo, boasting exceptionally beautiful architecture. First and foremost, it is a working temple where the Japanese come to pray. Tourists are more prevalent on the outside. The place is interesting because here you can see the different generations of Japanese citizens, all praying to their gods.
On the way to the temple, visit the souvenir street (souvenirs are sold only for cash). You can admire the frescoes on the walls and ceiling, or even say a few prayers of your own. Do not forget to throw a few coins in the special box.
The temples here are small compared to other cities in Japan, but they have their own charm. There are also museums, the zoo and much more that make this park special. But the most unique aspect of the Ueno Park is the Hanami (garden) which is one of the most magical places to admire cherry blossoms. This area isn’t frequently visited, so it provides a bit of seclusion for enjoying one of the natural attractions of Japan.
The crowds (when there are some) are diverse and you can see young people drink and eat lying on mats made of plastic. The area is rich with the smells of good food, as thousands of stalls full of new dishes, strange kebabs, beer and sake are nearby. If the day is warm and sunny, visit the zoo and line up to see the giant pandas that live here.
Tokyo City View
The true scale of the city can only be appreciated from the Tokyo City View. From above, the city really shows itself as a metropolis with its impressive neighboring skyscrapers. The view here is top notch, so it’s best not to hurry through your tour. Enjoy the views by standing a little longer at each window, taking your time to see it all. The sufficiently high entry fee is worth it because of the stunning 360 degree panorama of the city, as well as an excellent museum of modern art, which by itself is another good reason to visit. It has great views, panoramic floor (only in one place), good location (next to a row of hotels) and is also near the Central Park. Don’t miss it!
Roppongi Hills Park
The Roppongi Hills Park can be visited free of charge. The best time to visit is during the Christmas illuminations or during Spring, when flowers fill the park. The Mori Art Museum holds a number of very interesting exhibitions. The only downside is that you have to pay if you want to climb up to the observation deck of the Mori Tower. The observation deck is also closed in bad weather.
Every tourist should enjoy a stroll in the evening on the roads of Roppongi. During the day, it’s nothing special. Roppongi is just a typical street in a big city. But in the evening, the entire place lights up as the atmosphere becomes full of life. There are open bars, live concerts, and exhibitions of digital and techno art.
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