Bustling, busy, safe, dynamic, fascinating, exciting, energizing- Tokyo is all these things. Asia's biggest metropolis is known the world over for its cutting-edge technology, dramatic architecture, trend-setting fashion and, of course, award winning cuisine!
Yet, Japan's capital is not merely a city of crowds, commerce, glass and steel. A visitor soon finds that for every skyscraper there is a shrine or temple, a place of calm and stillness. For every shopping centre a well-tended park where the seasons are marked by the changing blossoms and foliage. Trendy modern restaurants share space with traditional neighborhood operations who have been serving customers for generations.
Spring and Autumn are favorite times for locals and tourists as the temperatures are pleasant, the seasonal dishes delicious and seasonal colours stunning. Winters are cold but rarely see snow. Summers are hot and humid but also the season for festivals, fireworks and other entertaining events.
Served by the most extensive commuter rail and subway system in the world, a traveler can rest assured - these trains will, with very rare exceptions, be on time, clean and efficient!
One visit to Tokyo may not be enough, but any visit will leave memories that will last a lifetime!
Tokyo's reputation as a world capital of cuisine is well-established. Justifiably recognized with more Michelin stars than any other city, diners can find an immense variety of Japanese, European and Asian restaurants that cover virtually any menu and budget. A list of a few locally developed dishes and cooking could include:
Sushi and sashimi. Tokyo's world famous Tsukiji Fish Market yields up an incredible variety of top quality seafood every day. It comes as no surprise that some of the city's best sushi and sashimi can be found around the market and in nearby Ginza. A form of sushi first made here in Tokyo, Edo-mae sushi is now to found all over the world. No matter what the season, a traveler can be assured of freshl seafood almost everywhere they go in Tokyo, from high-end sushi bars to izakaya pub-style restaurants to reasonably priced kaiten sushi shops where high-quality pieces slowly flow by the diner on a conveyer belt.
Monjayaki. Tokyo's version of okonomiyaki is different in several significant ways from its cousins in Kansai and Hiroshima. Fresh ingredients such as seasonal vegetables and seafood are finely sliced or chopped and mixed into the batter. The finished dish is not quite as solid as okonmiyaki so monjayaki is eaten off the griddle using special spatulas. A Tokyo original well-worth a try!
Tokyo Street Food. Found under train tracks, near office buildings or at small yatai food stalls pulled by the cook to places around major stations, Tokyo street food offers a chance to try some local favorites while getting to know some of the citizens of this vast city. Defined by reasonable prices, and simple menus, visitors can look forward to skewered chicken & vegetable yakitori, nourishing oden hot pot or ramen noodles amongst many other offerings in a more relaxed atmosphere than the busy streets would suggest. Just follow the usual rule of thumb, a stand or stall with lots of customers is probably busy for good reason!
Attractions and Local Specialties
The Imperial Palace
Sightseeing in Tokyo can be problematic- with so much of interest to see it can be difficult narrowing down the options. One approach is to tackle the city by district, or ku in Japanese. 3 of the more famous are:
Chiyoda-ku District. Chiyoda-ku District includes areas such as Hanzomon, Kojimachi and Hibiya. The area is centered on the historic Imperial Palace and nearby National Diet Building as well as 2 of Tokyo's most famous parks: Chidorigafuchi and Hibiya-koen Park. Visitors can also find an array of important temples, shrines including the somewhat contentious Yasukuni Shrine, famous boutiques, cafes and architectural interest such as the Kokusai International Forum throughout the area. Travelers may also wish to note that tours of the Imperial Palace grounds are free of charge but require prior registration with the Imperial Household Agency.
Minato-ku District. Minato-ku counts Akasaka, Aoyama and Roppongi amongst it's more famous addresses. The favored location for many foreign embassy's, Minato-ku has long had a more international and modern flavour to it's attractions.
Chuo-ku District. Chuo-ku District contains perhaps the 2 most internationally prominent locales in all of Tokyo: Ginza and Tsukiji.
Events & Activities
Tsukiji Fish Market
Tokyo festivals tend to be much like the city itself- busy and on a very large scale with almost every month offering up a major festival or event. A few of the many highlights on the festival and event calendar could include:
Kanda Matsuri Festival. One of the 3 most famous festivals in Japan (along with the Gion Matsuri and Tenjin Matsuri), the Kanda Matsuri dates back to the early 17th Century and is held every mid-May. Celebrations are divided into odd and even numbered years with the even numbered festival celebrated on a smaller scale. Odd-numbered years, however, see truly spectacular sites as nearly 100 mikoshi portable shrines are carried by 100s of participants while mounted priests accompany the parade as it winds its way through Tokyo's Chiyoda-ku district towards Kanada Myojin Shrine.
Sumidagawa River Fireworks. One of Japan's oldest fireworks festivals-and certainly the biggest, the Sumida-gawa Fireworks date back to at least the mid 17th Century. Held at the end of July, 100s of thousands of spectators line the riverside and bay areas to take in the tens of thousands of fireworks launched over Tokyo Bay. Many of the participants wear traditional yukata light kimono, lending a traditional air to the event.
Tsukiji Shisi Matsuri Festival. First held to celebrate the completion of a land reclamation project in the 17th century, the Tsukiji Shisi Festival is unique in several ways. The highlight of this June festival is the pair of lion heads carried by 2 teams. The female lion head is carried only by women participants while the male is shouldered by men. The main mikoshi portable shrine is carried by everyone creating a unique scene not often witnessed at festivals in Japan.
Chidorigafuchi (Cherry blossom trees)
The Diet Building
The Commemorative Statue of Hachiko
The Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace, where their Majesties the Emperor and Empress reside, is situated in the center of Tokyo. The palace is surrounded by a water-filled moat and tree-covered grounds -a precious taste of nature within the bustling metropolitan city.
Access from hotel: 5 mintues walk.
Roppongi is a popular place for dining and partying especially with foreign tourists and residents. It is one of the centers of Tokyo's nightlife, and has many restaurants, club and bars. The Roppongi Intersection just outside the subway exit is a very exiting area, always full of people.
Access from hotel: 15 minutes by subway or by taxi.
Shibuya is unique in that every street and area in the district has a completely different atmosphere. It is famous as the place where new trends are born that quickly spread among the youth nationwide. You can get a direct feel for today's Japanese fashion trends there.
Access from hotel : 10 minutes by subway.
TOKYO SKYTREE opened on May 02,2012 as a new symbol of Tokyo. The 634m-high TOKYO SKYTREE was recognized by the Guinness World Records Company as the tallest broadcasting tower in the world while tallest construction in Japan.
Access from hotel:Take subway Hanzomon-line from Hanzomon station to Oshiage station(24min)>>1 minute walk from Oshiage station.
The Tokyo Tower
Since its opening in 1958, the Tokyo Tower has been the world's tallest self-supporting steel tower until TOKYO SKY TREE opened. With its' similar appearance to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Tokyo Tower is very popular sightseeing spot for foreign tourists.
Access from hotel:Take subway Hanzomon-line from Hanzomon station to Aoyama Ichome station >>Take subway Oedo-line from Aoyama Ichome station to Akabanebashi station(about 10minutes) >>7 minutes walk from Akabanebashi station
Odaiba is a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay,across the Rainbow Bridge from central Tokyo.There are many tourist and leisure spot such as Tokyo Joy Police(amusement park), Fuji Television.
Access from hotel:Take subway Hanzomon-line from Hanzomon station to Aoyama Ichome station >>Take subway Asakusa-line from Aoyama Ichome station to Shinbashi station >>Take Yurikamome from Shibashi station to Odaiba Kaihin Koen station
Tokyo Midtown is a composite urban district with a new style. It comprises a package of six buildings set amongst lush greenery. This town features a variety of facilities such as stores, restaurants, offices, hotels and museums, surrounded by greenery.
Access from hotel:Take subway Hanzomon-line from Hanzomon station to Aoyama Ichome station >>Take subway Oedo-line from Aoyama Ichome station to Roppongi station(about 10 minutes) >>Directlink from Roppongi station
Ameyoko is the shopping street, which has over 400 shops between JR Ueno station to JR Okachimachi station. Famous for its extremely cheap foods,seasonal goods and other ware, Ameyoko is one of the popular shopping spot in Tokyo.
Access from Hotel:Take subway Hanzomon-line from Hanzomon station to Mitsukoshimae station >>Take subway Mitsukoshimae station to Ueno-hirokoji station(about 18 minutes) >>1 minute walk from Ueno-hirokoji station
Tsukiji Fish Market
A center of Japanese cuisine. The world's best fish market, and one that never sleeps! This market handles the largest volume of fishery products in Japan, and is packed with fish shop and restaurant staff, crowding around to buy the pick of fresh fish from the specialized dealers.
Access from hotel :15 minutes by taxi.
The Asakusa district once thrived as a temple town for the nearby Senso-ji Temple and has preserved a traditional atmosphere of old Tokyo. Nakamise-dori street is a lovely shopping street that attracts many foreign visitors.
Access from hotel: 30 minutes by subway.
23-1 Ichiban-cho, Chiyoda-ku,
Tokyo, 102-0082, Japan