Tokyo, formerly known as Edo, is officially Tokyo Metropolis. This is the capital of Japan and one of its 47 prefectures. Often referred to as a city, it is officially known and governed as a “metropolitan prefecture” – different from and combining elements of a city and a prefecture, a characteristics unique to Tokyo. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world, and with over 13 million people in the metropolis, is the 8th biggest city in the world.
Tokyo offers its visitors the ultramodern and the traditional, from neon-lit skyscrapers to historic temples. Visitors will not be disappointed as long as you know where to go. Here are some suggested places to go during your visit.
1. Tokyo Imperial Palace
This site with scenic gardens and tours of the ground is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan. Situated in the center of Tokyo, the palace is surrounded by a water-filled moat and tree-covered grounds. This gives the visitors a precious taste of nature within the bustling metropolitan city. Kokyo Gaien (Imperial Palace Outer Garden), Kokyo Higashi Gyoen (Imperial Palace East Garden) and Kita-no-maru-koen Park are all open to the public free of charge. However, if you wish to visit the area around the palace itself, it is advised to make reservations which can be done over the internet.
2. Meiji Shinto Shrine
This famous Shinto shrine is surrounded by a forest and features a seasonal iris garden. The shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. The shrine is located at Shibuya, Tokyo.
This ancient Buddhist temple is Tokyo’s oldest temple, and one of its most significant. Sensō-ji was formerly associated with the Tendai sect of Buddhism but became independent after World War II. This temple is dedicated to Guanyin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy and is the most widely visited spiritual site in the world with over 30 million visitors annually. Adjacent to Asakusa Shrine, the Sensoji Kannon temple is located in Asakusa, Tokyo.
4. Asakusa Shrine
Also known as Sanja-Sama (Shrine of the Three Gods), Asakusa Shrine is one of the most famous Shinto Shrines in Tokyo. The shrine honors the three men who founded the Sensō-ji. It is a part of the larger grouping of sacred buildings located the Asakusa area on the east side of the Sensō-ji down a street marked by a large stone torii.
5. Tokyo National Museum
Opened in 2001, he National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation is a museum created by Japan’s Science and Technology Agency. Situated in a new purpose-built building in the Odaiba District of Tokyo, it can be reached by the Yurikamome driverless fully automated transit system from downtown Tokyo in about 15 minutes. Visitors to the museum will be treated to real-time displays of data from a huge array of seismometers across Japan which shows the country gently vibrating. Earthquakes which occasionally hit Japan are shown as larger movements and visitors can search the on-line database where the most recent earthquake occurred. The Honda robot Asimo is one of the star attractions in the museum.
6. Edo-Tokyo Museum
The Edo – Tokyo Museum is a great contrast to Tokyo National Museum: technology versus culture. If you are curious about the history of Tokyo during the Edo period, the Edo-Tokyo Museum is the best place to visit. The museum features a large replica of the Nihonbashi, which was the bridge leading into Edo, the Nakamuraza theatre, and scale models of towns and buildings from the Edo, Meiji, and Shōwa periods. The building was designed by Kiyonori Kikutake with a distinctive elevated shape modeled after an old storehouse in the kurazukuri style.
A district of Minato, Roppongi which literally “six trees” is famous for the affluent Roppongi Hills development area and popular night club scene. This area is popular with locals and foreigners alike. Many foreign embassies in this central part of Tokyo, south of Akasaka and north of Azabu.
8. Takeshita Street
A pedestrian shopping street lined with fashion boutiques, cafes and restaurants in Harajuku, Tokyo, the stores on Takeshita Street include major chains such as The Body Shop, McDonald’s, and 7-Eleven, but most of the businesses are small independent shops that carry an array of styles. The area can be reached from the exit of JR East’s Harajuku Station. This street is very popular with young students visiting Tokyo on school trips, or local young people shopping for small Takeshita Street is very popular with young teenagers, particularly those visiting Tokyo on school trips, or local young people shopping for small “cute” goods at weekends.
9. Ueno Park
Located in the Ueno district of Taitō, the park was established in 1873 on lands formerly belonging to the temple of Kan’ei-ji. It was one of the country’s first public parks and was pattered after western example demonstrating the borrowing and assimilation of international practices that characterized the early Meiji period. Located inside the park are several major museums and the park also boasts of its cherry blossoms and hanami during spring. During recent times, the park and its attractions attracted over ten million visitors a year, making it Japan’s most popular city park.
Ameya-Yokochō or Ameya Alley is an open-air market in the Taito Ward of Tokyo, located next to Ueno Station. Starting just behind the Yodobashi Camera Building and the Yamanote Line south until the Komuro Building, the market area is approximately 164,227 square feet. Over one hundred and eighty shops are located in the area selling products ranging from fresh food and fish to clothing and watches.