In a city consistently ranked as the cleanest and most friendly in the world, spending time in Tokyo isn’t difficult or unappealing. Ease of traveling, helpfulness of locals, and plenty of historical sights in addition to modern amenities puts Tokyo at the top of many travel guides’ lists of must-see places.
It is the capital of Japan and boasts the most populous metropolitan area in the world, 36 million people, and growing. The area is divided up into areas, or neighborhoods—each treated like small cities, which explains whyTokyo is frequently referred to as a “city of cities” affectionately. With so much to see, it could become overwhelming to plan an itinerary in Tokyo, but thankfully, Leaf Canoer Julia at vetaretus-6 has compiled a thorough list of sights and experience in this bustling city in her leaf “Things to see in Tokyo”.
The comparative aspect of old vs new makes Tokyo an endlessly interesting place to explore. Culture and way of life is passed down from generation to generation and a tradition of honor and loyalty is well-preserved in Japan in both architecture and attitude. But a booming economy also makes Tokyo home to many global corporations and the amenities are truly first class and state of the art. To fully appreciate Tokyo one has to be ready to dive in to the history while still appreciating modern technology and innovations that are to be found there. Below are a mix of “old vs new” Tokyo sights.
Hachiko Statue at Shibuya Station
It’s no secret that dogs are regarded as inspiringly loyal animals, and the story behind this statue demonstrates just how true that it. Waiting for his owner to come home from work each day at Shibuya Station, Hachiko became a local fixture in the early 1920’s. When his master died of a brain hemorrhage, this remarkable Akita continued to wait for his master each day for nearly a decade after he died. This statue was erected as a national symbol of loyalty to one’s family and to the Emperor, and remains a popular tourist attraction.
Shop Til You Drop
When you’re ready to take advantage of a populated city, shopping is usually a part of the experience and Tokyo is no exception to a wide array of shopping venues. One particularly interesting area worth exploring is the fashion district of Takeshita-dori in Harajuku. Here one can find living art just watching the people passing by on the street. Don’t feel shy! Ask to photograph them and most people would be flattered to stop and pose. Shops and restaurants abound in the area so explore and pick up some of Japan’s quirky and delightful fashion expressions.
Temples and Shrines
Worship is a very significant part of Japanese culture. Though there is not one mandated religion, the country is largely Shinto, an ethnic religion, or Buddhist. Buddhism arrived in Japan in the early 6th century and most Japanese death rituals are handled by Buddhist monks. There are many Shinto shrines available for patrons to attend and offer offerings and enjoy their peaceful atmosphere. One excellent shrine to consider visiting is Meiji Jingu, dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his Empress Shoken. After their deaths, the loyal people of Japan donated over 100,000 trees to commemorate their virtues and created a lush forest amid a busy city. Tips are offered by user vetaretus-6 for showing proper etiquette while visiting Shinto shrines.
From the Water
One great way to take in Tokyo and appreciate it’s panorama is from a river cruise. There are a variety of options for routes, and vessels, including ferries, open air boats, water busses, and even enclosed boats for inclement weather. One option provides for pickups from hotels where you are escorted to the towering skyscraper of World Trade Center Tokyo. From the 40th floor, take in sweeping views of Tokyo, with a guide to answer any questions and provide information. Travel then through parts of the city on your way to Asakusa Kannon Temple, the oldest and most significant Buddhist temple in Tokyo. Passing briefly through a shopping district, you’ll head to the river where you’ll embark on a 45-minute river cruise, gliding under bridges all while hearing audio commentary about this historic city. (www.viator.com see Tokyo Highlights Afternoon Tour and Sumida River Cruise)
Sky High Buildings
Skyscrapers are part of Tokyo’s iconic cityscape. It wouldn’t be proper to visit Tokyo without ascending one of it’s sky-high buildings and Mori Tower provides an unparalleled view of this metropolitan area. Observation decks on the 52nd and 54th floor are open to visitors. It is a fantastic place to capture some cityscape photography.
Tokyo Dome City
A small entertainment complex in Bunkyo consists of the mega-arena Tokyo Dome, a spa and an amusement park complete with roller coasters. It is a great way to spend a few hours thrill-seeking and with ample opportunities for relaxation as well.
The contrast of city and nature, old and new, ancient custom and modern amenities make Tokyo a fantastic city to explore. It’s low crime rate and temperate climate should encourage one and all to spend some time in this world-class city.