Tokyo, Japan’s capital, is a place of vast proportions where the old and the new merge into a fabulously detailed cityscape. Upon arrival, visitors are confronted with the sheer energy that radiates from within Tokyo. Tokyo’s city center is a kaleidoscope of exotic sights and sounds. The night view brings forth a seemingly endless, delicate tapestry of Tokyo lights. Despite two major disasters, Tokyo, located at the mouth of the Sumida-gawa River, has remarkably transformed into a modern Japanese metropolis. Tokyo is an example of a success story in action.
A visit to Tokyo brings a collection of sights and provides for an animated experience. In such a city there is so much to see and do, ranging from visits to shrines, temples, and excellent museums, to trips throughout the various shopping areas.
Tokyo, in fact, is a shopper’s paradise. An amazing variety of high-quality goods and brand designer products can be found in elegant specialty shops located in Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, Yurakucho, and Ikebukuro. The dazzling lights of Ginza, Japan’s answer to New York’s Fifth Avenue, and Tokyo’s most celebrated shopping district, attracts both the avid shopper and the window shopper alike.
In the sports arena, baseball is big business in Tokyo. The spectacular Korakuen Dome, home of the popular Giants, features Japanese professional baseball games which are held regularly. Sport fans will be drawn to Tokyo’s four biggest spectator sports: professional baseball, rugby, sumo and soccer. Although not among the four, Yankee style football and martial arts are also quite popular.
If you enjoy sightseeing, make sure to embark on a relaxing and fascinating 40 minute day cruise on the Sumida River between Asakusa and the Port of Tokyo. A choice of five routes are offered: the Canal Cruise (canal district and Shinagawa Aquarium), the Harbour Cruise (Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Port), the Kasai Sea life Park (including a stop at Tokyo Big Sight), the Museum of Maritime Science (Odaiba Seaside Park and museum of ships complete with swimming pool and palms), and the Sumida River (passing beneath a dozen bridges).
In this city of twenty-four-hour shops and ancient shrines, there is always a showcase performance for visitors to enjoy. For the art enthusiast, Tokyo offers many forms of entertainment. In fact, Japan is focused on the arts and, with excellent facilities such as the National Theatre and Opera City in the Shinjuku district, Tokyo appeals to individuals and groups interested in drama, opera, and the ballet. For theatregoers there are three unique and powerful forms of entertainment: Kabuki, Takarazuka, and Noh. As a standing form of ancient Japanese tradition the Kabuki features only male performers, whereas Takarazuka is an all-girl revue.
For a more thorough view of Japan’s history, visitors can tour the many excellent museums scattered throughout Tokyo. The most modern is the Edo-Tokyo Museum, complete with an intriguing 52-meter escalator supported by four colossal pillars.
Closely tied to the culture of Japan, the traditional Japanese gardens of Tokyo take visitors a step back from the frenzied pace of modern life. They find themselves entering a world of tranquility, an enchanting setting of gardens outlined by wooden houses landscaped with neatly clipped bonsai trees. Cobbled lanes lead to tiny neighborhood shrines shrouded in foliage.
A major advantage of visiting Tokyo is to participate in the many festivals that take place around the year. Each year a festival is held during which the passing seasons are observed by visits to local shrines or temples. With over 500 annual events, the festivals provide visitors tangible links to the past and present. The upbeat atmosphere is one of the things that makes Tokyo so appealing. This vitality has become part of the popular culture, a culture which seems to be constantly in the midst of a celebration of life.
Things to do
Tokyo Disneyland – Amusement Park
1-1 Maihama, Urayasu-Shi
Chiba-Ken, 279, JAPAN
81-4-73 54 0001, 81-33-366 5600, Fax: 81-473-545240
It is a re-creation of Disneyland in California. Open every day 9 am to 10 pm April through August and from 10 am to 6 pm September through March. (From September through November it closed on Tuesdays, and from December through February it is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays except holidays.
The Imperial palace is home to Japan’s Emperor and the imperial family; you can walk around the outside of the moat of the Imperial Palace, and admire the luster of the ancient centuries. The grounds, however, are only open on two days: on the Emperors birthday (Dec 23) and Jan 2.
Surrounding the Tokyo National Museum and Ueno (Tokyo) Zoo, this park encompasses true Japan in its temples, shrines and it even features an aquarium. It is well known for being the prime cherry-blossom-viewing spot.
Tokyo Sea Life Park (Kasai Rinkai Suizokukan)
Tokyo Sea Life Park is a giant aquarium that simulates life in the depths of the ocean. Exhibits featured include the spectacular rooftop glass shark tanks and much more.
Edo-Tokyo Museum is the newest and one of the best historical museums, depicting life in Tokyo from the 17th century through the end of World War II. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10- 6 (Thursday and Friday until 8 pm). Closed Dec 28-Jan 4.
Wild Blue Yokohama
Wild Blue Yokohama is an indoor beach that is open year round. It is a perfect example of Japan’s ability to harness the forces of nature in new and innovative ways.
Tokyo National Museum
13-9 Ueno Koen, Taito-ku, in Ueno Park
The Tokyo National Museum is the nations largest display of Japanese history and culture, with more than 100,000 treasured artifacts and artworks. Exhibits include Chinese and Indian art as well.
Azabu Museum of Arts and Crafts
Azabu Museum of Arts and Crafts emphasizes Japanese artworks, including glass, ceramics, clothing and paintings.
Drum Museum Taikokan
2-1-1 Nishi Asakusa, Taito-ku
Drum Museum Taikokan presents a hands-on exhibit of drums from around the world. Very small but interesting personal collection, housed upstairs in a traditional festival costume-and-instrument store in an old district of Asakusa.
Fukagawa Edo Museum
1-3-28 Shirakawa, Koto-ku
Fukagawa Edo Museum looks at life during the Edo period (19th century)
Japanese Sword Museum
4-25-10 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku
Visit the Japanese Sword Museum for a display of modern and ancient swords.
Kogeikan National Museum of Modern Art
3 Kitanomaru Koen, Chiyoda-ku
The National Museum of Modern Art offers a collection of Japanese art created since the Meiji era (AD 1868-1912). Nearby Crafts Gallery displays Japanese handicrafts.
The Paper Museum displays the process and equipment used in hand-making Japanese paper.
The Silk Museum
1 Yamashitacho, Naka-ku
The Silk Museum (Yokohama) illuminates the silk-making process and also displays fine silk fabrics.
The Sony Plaza
Visit the fascinating showrooms of the Sony Building. Visitors can test many products, as well as some products, which have yet to be released
2-3 kitano maru Koen
The Budokan was built as a martial arts arena for the Tokyo Olympics of 1964. It still hosts tournaments and exhibitions of judo, karate, and Japanese fencing, as well, as concerts.
Kotsu Hakubutsukan Transportation Museum
1-25 Kanda Sudacho
This is a great place for children! Exhibits explain the early development of the railway system and include a miniature layout of the rail services. This museum also features Japan’s first airplane.
Kite flying is an old tradition in Japan, and the kites in this museum include examples of every shape and variety. For the children, the museum offers a special kite-making workshop.
Kokuritsu Kagaku Hakubutsukan (National Science Museum)
7-20 Ueno Koen
Everything from dinosaurs to moon rocks is on display at this conventional natural history museum.
The planetarium has daily shows displaying the movements of the solar system, the constellations, and galaxies projected on a dome 65 ft. in diameter. Adjacent to the planetarium, visitors can explore the museum of astronomy.
Koraku-en Amusement Park
This amusement park offers attractions that the kids are going to love! The chief attractions of which are a giant roller coaster and a “circus train”.
This large amusement park has four roller coasters, a haunted house, and seven swimming pools. It also features an authentic Coney Island carousel, refurbished and rescued by a Japanese entrepreneur.
Tama Dobutsu Koen
This wildlife park gives animals freedom to roam, and most exhibits are separated by moats. Visitors can also take an adventurous tour of the Lions’ Park on a minibus