Tokyo Travel Guide

Tokyo Overview

Japan’s capital city is a mind-boggling kaleidoscope of futuristic skyscrapers and blinding neon lights that illuminate the centuries of culture and heritage lying in the shadows. One of the worlds most forward-thinking destinations, Tokyo can be intimidating to first time visitors, yet, given time and in similar fashion to Kyoto, it is a city that travelers come to adore, making it rank alongside London, Paris and New York as a must see once in a lifetime city. Boasting sparkling shopping malls, ground breaking architecture and the latest in technological developments, Tokyo is a mecca for consumerism, yet flip the coin and find a cultural rich city peppered with ancient Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and bonsai filled gardens.

 
Tokyo is every bit the epitome of the old blending effortlessly with the new where busy commercial districts of high flying businessmen merge into old medieval lanes walked by kimono-clad women and karaoke bars spring up next door to traditional teahouses. Today the commercial and entertainment side of the city seemingly takes precedence and the sights are not always obvious to the naked eye, however, those that step back from the chaos will find the rewarding and captivating side of Tokyo. Breakfast on sushi at Tsukiji early in the morning, explore the Buddhist temples of Asakusa during the afternoon then, following a plate of steaming noodles from a café, shop for tomorrows trends in Akihabara and Shibuya.
 
For long having a reputation as a pricey city and one to be avoided by budget travelers, visitors to Tokyo are often pleasantly surprised by its affordability. The streets are lined with cheap izakaya restaurants, tickets for the theatre and sumo wrestling events come at bargain prices and the majority of the historical attractions are free of charge. Furthermore, for those that can handle the noise, the changing faces of Tokyos streets provide a stimulating glimpse into the life of this enigmatic city.

Things to do in Tokyo

Tokyo Sightseeing - Tourist attractions and activities in Tokyo are boundless, with the most challenging task being to know where to start. Boasting abundant temples, shrines, palaces and gardens there is literally something on every corner that will astound and amaze. Stop by the Tokyo Tourist Information Centre and pick up a map and walking tour ideas. A good way to go is by district, making sure to check out futuristic Akihabara, traditional Asakusa and the artsy suburb of Roppongi. Many visitors find themselves particularly drawn to the shrine of Meiji-Jingu, Nikko mausoleum, gardens of Shinjuku-gyoen, Tsukiji Market and Sensoji Temple.

 
Tokyo Museums - To see all of Tokyos well-presented museums and galleries would be a commendable experience, however, the following are a selection of the best.
Edo-Tokyo Museum - Fascinating insight into Tokyos history and culture housed in a building resembling a spaceship.
Japan Folk Crafts Museum - Displays of Japanese folk crafts ranging from giant pots to intricate kimono.
John Lennon Museum - Perhaps an unlikely addition, however this museum does a fine job in showcasing the life of Lennon, including exhibits on family trips to Japan with Yoko Ono.
Mori Art Museum - Rotating exhibitions of up-and-coming artists from around the world located on the 53rd floor of the RoppongiHillsMoriTower.
Panasonic Centre - Visit the Panasonic showroom for the latest in technological developments.
Tokyo National Museum - Japans oldest and biggest museum houses the worlds largest collection of Japanese art and ancient artefacts such as kimono, samurai swords and ceramics.
 
Theme Parks in Tokyo - Being a forward-thinking and fast paced city, it will come to no surprise that the city is home to a handful of parks offering high adrenalin activities to thrill-seeking travellers. The leader by a long way is Tokyo Disneyland, home to all the expected Disney fun and a carbon copy of its California counterpart. Smaller, less expensive parks around the city are Hanayashiki and Megaweb. For rainy days, the city also houses the Sunshine International Aquarium and Tokyo Sea Life Park.
 
Shopping in Tokyo - Like London, New York and Paris, Tokyo is a fashion conscious city where new trends fade out as quickly as they came in. Those in search of the latest in designer clothing should make a move for the boutiques of the Ginza district or Shibuyas Omotesando Avenue. Techies should check out the newest developments and bargain electronics at Akihabara and those in search of traditional souvenirs will do best heading for Asakusa. For the ultimate Tokyo food market experience, arrive early at Tsukiji fish market for a breakfast for fresh sushi.
 
Tokyo Festivals
Asakusa Sanja Matsuri - Tokyos biggest festival at its largest shrine where worshippers take to the streets to carry mikoshi (portable shrines) in lively processions. Takes place on the third Sunday of May.
Kanda Matsuri - Also in May, this 3-day festival celebrates the gods of the Kanda Myojin shrine with a series of lively parades.
Fuji Rock Festival - Big name artists from across the globe come to perform at the Naeba Ski Resort during a weekend in July.
Tokyo International Film Festival - October welcomes the arrival of Japans major film festival with an eclectic programme that will amaze and intrigue.
 
Sumo Wrestling in Tokyo - Japans national sport, where two oversized men come face to face in an attempt to wrestled each other out of a small ring, is a must see event when in Tokyo. Nihon Sumo Kyokai is the home of sumo and the website is full of information regarding event listings and ticket allocations.
 
Tokyo Nightlife - 24-hours are never enough for a day in Tokyo and the city is as vibrant by night as it is throughout the day. From the karaoke-party bars of Roppongi to the swanky lounges of Shinjuku to the artsy vibe of Ebisu, even for long-term residents there is never a shortage of watering holes and new venues to explore.
 
Bars in Tokyo
Fiesta - Boisterous Roppongi karaoke bar offering punters the chance to test their vocals in a variety of languages.
Goshiki - The beer cuisine is brimming with tasty beers from local microbreweries to a decor hinting at an English-pub.
Heartland - Popular Roppongi beer hall attracting an artsy and fashion conscious crowd.
New York Bar - Made famous by the movie Lost In Translation, this slick lounge bar sits on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt.
 
Clubs in Tokyo
Alife - Huge Roppongi nightclub with a strict dress code and above average cover charge.
Blues Alley Japan - Laidback basement club and one of Japans finest venues for live jazz.
Gas Panic - Lively party bar cum club that attracts boozed up youngsters and scantily clad Japanese women.
SECO - Hidden beneath the train tracks of Shibuya is an intimate house club pulling in big name DJs.
 
Theatres in Tokyo
Bunkamura - Specialising in dance productions, this venue is an all-in-one museum, bar/restaurant, concert hall and theatre complex.
Tokyo Takarazuka Theatre - Colourful theatre productions put on by the all female Takarazuka dance company.

Hotels in Tokyo

Budget Hotels Tokyo

Khaosan Tokyo Kabuki - Ever popular backpacker hostel in the heart of the Asakusa district. Tel (81) 3 5830 3673.
Quality Hostel - Ks House Tokyo Oasis - Clean, friend and easygoing hostel in central Asakusa. Tel (81) 3 3844 4447.
Ryokan Kangetsu - Traditional guesthouse in the south of the city offering superb hospitality and tranquil gardens. Tel (81) 3 3751 0007.
Toco Tokyo Heritage Hostel - Laidback budget guesthouse with modern rooms plus a stunning garden. Tel (81) 3 6458 1686.
 
Midrange Hotels Tokyo
Annex Katsutaro - Simple yet comfortable rooms in an old school hotel of the Yanaka district. Tel (81) 3 3821 2500.
Park Hotel Tokyo - Great value Ginza hotel with 3 restaurants and bar and lounge. Tel (81) 3 6252 1111.
Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu - Modern hotel welcoming business visitors, families and solo female travellers. Excellent attached French restaurant. Tel (81) 3 5457 0109.
 
Luxury Hotels Tokyo
Park Hyatt - Tokyos leader in style and luxury since 1994 comes with one of the citys finest restaurants, New York Grill. Tel (81) 3 5322 1234.
The Peninsula - Word class hotel in a prime location overlooking the ImperialPalace. Luxury benefits include complimentary Rolls Royce taxi chauffer to nearby locations. Tel (81) 3 6270 2888.
The Ritz Carlton - The epitome of skyscraper hotels with stunning suites offering unsurpassed views of the city. Check out the Hinokizaka restaurant. Tel (81) 3 3423 8000.

Tokyo Weather

Tokyo Travel Resources

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