Tokyo – A Neon Wonderland

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1 Tokyo-Japan

Tokyo is more than five-hundred years old and was once a modest fishing village. The city was known as Edo, a small castle town and political center in the 16th century. Today, Tokyo is the world’s most populous metropolitan area and famous for its shopping centers and vibrant nightlife. Much of the city is a jungle of wires and concrete with a mass of noisy loudspeakers and neon lighting.

The city is also known for its variety of festivals such as the Kanda Festival, which is one of the three great Shinto festivals. Each year, more than a million people gather in Ueno Park, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and Inokashira Park to view the cherry blossoms and enormous fireworks display over the Sumida River.

The city is vast and one can think of Tokyo as a constellation of cities that have grown together.  Central Tokyo consists of Chiyoda District, also referred to as Akihabara, Chuo, Minato, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Shinagawa, Toshima and Meguro.

Shinjuku is home to many futuristic skyscrapers, luxury hotels, hundreds of restaurants and shops. The area is also famous for its red-light district and wild nightlife. Chuo is well-known for the fish markets of Tsukiji and Shibuya is recognized as the fashionable shopping district. Shinagawa is home to a major train hub and Meguro offers museums and great parks.

The suburbs of Tokyo include Suginami, Setagaya, Ota, Nakano, North and East. Old Tokyo, or Shitamachi, consists of five areas. Koto is known for its Kameido Tenjin and apartment complexes.  Sumida houses the main sumo arena and Taito features the temples of Asakusa. The Tokyo Dome is situated in the area of Bunkyo and Arakawa boasts the city’s original tram line.

2 TokyoDome

Tokyo Dome is located in the entertainment complex known as the Tokyo Dome City. The dome is a 55,000-seat stadium in Bunkyo Ward and hosts the Toei Superheroes live shows. The complex includes an amusement park, a Ferris wheel, spa, video game centers, shops, restaurants and a roller coaster.

The city offers an unlimited choice of entertainment, culture and shopping. Akihabara is known as Tokyo’s Electric Town and is the heart of the otaku community. Otaku is a Japanese term for people who are over-enthusiastic about comics and animation. The many stores along Chuo-dori offer an amazing variety of comics and animation.

Shinjuku is well-known for its camera stores and Akihabara for its electronic stores.  If you are looking for funky clothes and accessories, you should definitely visit Shibuya and Harajuku.  For cheap Japanese ceramics and kitchen ware you can go to Kappabashi Street near Asakusa. This area is also referred to as Kitchen Town.

The Oriental Bazaar in Omotesando is an exciting place and perfect if you are looking for ninja outfits, T-shirts and samurai swords. Nakamise in Asakusa is also a great place to buy T-shirts, kimonos and swords.

Tokyo Imperial Palace

Tokyo Imperial Palace

The Emperor and Empress reside in the Tokyo Imperial Palace and you can visit the area around the palace. The palace is situated in the center of the city. You can apply for a free guided tour in advance. The palace is usually open to the public for two days each year. You will also be able to see the Eyeglass Bridge and the East Gardens when visiting the palace. The view of the gardens during the months of March and early April is stunning. This is the time when the cherry trees are blossoming.

Ensure to visit the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park. The museum is the largest in the country and boasts amazing Japanese art. Other great museums to visit in Tokyo include the National Museum of Western Art, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Odaiba, the Nezu Museum in Aoyama, The Edo-Tokyo Museum in Sumida and the National Diet Library. For a traditional Japanese drama you can visit the National Noh Theater.

Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree

The city’s urban landscape consists mostly of modern architecture such as Asahi Beer Hall, Tokyo International Forum and The NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building. The Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree is the tallest towers in Japan. Tokyo Skytree is the second tallest structure in the world and home to a restaurant and an observation tower. The neo-futuristic designed tower is in close proximity to the Tokyo Skytree Station and the Oshiage Station. The pillars of the tower are attached to the frame with oil dampers. The oil dampers act as cushions during an earthquake and can absorb fifty percent of the energy.  The upper observatory features a section of glass flooring and allows you to enjoy a direct downward view of the streets below.

Kabukichō is Tokyo’s notorious red-light district with its girls in miniskirts and adults-only vending machines. The streets are almost always packed with people. You can visit one of the many small bars and enjoy an evening of karaoke and great music. For good cocktails you can visit the Hair of the Dogs. Tohru, the owner, is welcoming and you can contact the bar at 03 5285 1989. The small alley on the west side of the Yamanote tracks, Omoide Yokochō, is worth visiting with its Yakitori joints. Ensure to also visit Vagabond in west Shinjuku. Vagabond is a cosy jazz bar with live music.

The Sky Bus Tokyo is a good option for a tour around the city center. An open-top bus will take you on a 45 minutes ride around the Imperial Palace and via the Ginza and Marunouchi districts.

Exploring Restaurants in Tokyo

The city has it all, from extremely expensive meals to cheap meals, from fad foods to global cuisine and from simple eats to rare finds. Tokyo cuisine is typically a mix of both new and old cuisines. Although the cuisine here is rooted in the food culture from ages ago, the Japanese cuisine is constantly packed with new styles.

For an exciting meal of the Ainu such as crushed salmon snouts and steak you can visit the Rera-Chise Restaurant situated north from JR Nakano on Arai1-37-12. You can also explore the mouth watering dishes at Mitsuboshi Curry on Arai 2-1-1. The waiters are friendly and can speak English. The menu is also available in English.

For lots of fun and great soft serve, you should visit Dairy Chiko at Nakano 5-52-15 near the entrance to the Petit Paris. Try the eight-story soft serve cone or watch other people attempting to eat the enormous cone.

5 tokyo-disneyland-flower-dancer

Visa Requirements

On arrival in Japan, a person must show a valid national passport establishing his/her identity and nationality. The passport must be valid for six months or more. Nationals of countries that do not have “Reciprocal Visa Exemption Arrangements” with Japan must obtain a visa.

International Calls to Japan

If you ever need to call to Japan then you can use 011now services. You will save up to 95% on phone calls and texting overseas. First calls are free!

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