Tokyo, Japan’s capital city, is home to twenty-five percent of Japan’s population. Here, ancient temples and palaces offer a tranquil respite from the ultra modern city known for its leading-edge technology. Whether travellers are looking for a glimpse of Japan’s long and gilded past or the latest in modern technology and trendy nightlife, Tokyo offers a wide variety of events and things to see the whole year round.
Those with a love of history must make a visit to the Imperial Palace, formerly known as Edo Castle. Open to the public on special occasions, the palace is still surrounded by an impressive moat and imposing gates. The East Garden is open to everyone and is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo.
More glimpses into Tokyo’s past can be found in the Asakusa district. The charming narrow streets are filled with shops offering everything from kimono to hand made combs and lead to the Asakusa Kannon Temple.
Those that love the cosmopolitan side of life will want to visit the Ginza district, well known for its neon lights and high end shopping. Hipsters and other cultured folk will find trendy Shinjuku the place to be for its fun nightlife and more shopping. When party goers are ready for a little calm and quiet, they can visit Euno Park, the largest park in the city, or the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.
Taxis are rather expensive and buses can be frustrating and over crowded. Do remember, however, that the Japanese are famous for pushing commuters onto trains during their highest rush hours, so best plan accordingly.
Narita International Airport, located about an hour outside of the city, is where most flights to Tokyo arrive. Those arriving to the city from within the country have the option of Japan’s impressive rail system, bus network, or even numerous ferries for arriving in style. Once in the city, the train system is the best bet. Individual districts are best explored on foot, but getting from one district to another is best by train.
There are a wide variety of accommodations available to visitors. There are plenty of Western Style hotels, but those that are looking for a truly unique experience may wish to research staying in a Ryokan, or Japanese Inn, where they can discover the traditional side of living in Japan. Business Hotels, created for travelling Japanese businessmen in mind, may be a less expensive alternative for travellers, but finding a room with two beds or a double bed may be more of a challenge. Those on a budget may wish to consider Minshukos, which are similar to bed and breakfasts and are usually family owned and run. There are also half a dozen youth hostels available to young travellers.