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Asia » Japan » Tokyo

Tokyo is a marvelous mix of modern living and old-fashioned manners, slick high-tech gadgets and cutesy cartoon mascots. It's terribly crowded, yet can be strangely quiet. It's home to the understated, and the wacky, and you often find them right next to each other on the sidewalk. That's the beauty of this not-so-pretty city — that, and the fabulous food and unparalleled mass transit system. There are shrines and stone lanterns and other traces of old Japan scattered among the skyscrapers, swanky shopping malls and hole-in-the-wall noodle shops. The trick is to sample it all, to visit the serene garden and the massive office tower with a sky deck.

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Tokyo was known as Edo until 1868, but it's hard to imagine that this high-rise, high-tech metropolis could possibly have existed in a time before electricity and concrete. Tokyo isn't just a futuristic city; it's the place that has shaped our vision of what the future will look like.

There's a sci-fi familiarity to areas like Shibuya, Shinjuku and Akihabara; the skyscrapers glowing with illuminated signs, subway stops inside shopping malls and taxis with automated doors could be straight out of "Blade Runner" or "The Fifth Element."

But the space-age topography of Tokyo has been shaped by a history of catastrophe. In the 20th century alone Tokyo suffered earthquakes, fires and devastating bombing. The result is a city that has repeatedly been forced to rebuild, shedding its past with each successive redevelopment. In Tokyo, the future is a long-standing tradition.

After centuries of expansion, Tokyo has grown vertically to accommodate its 12 million residents. Perhaps the inevitability of another catastrophic earthquake accounts for the lack of emotional attachment to the city's architecture; buildings are continuously being pulled down and replaced, creating the sensation that Tokyo's skyline is a permanent work in progress.

While it can seem that the city is intent on stream rolling over its past, you can still see traces of old Edo. The Meiji Jingu Shrine tells of the city's Shinto heritage and there's something timeless about the charming chaos of Tsukiji Fish Market. Even the enduring formalities of Tokyo's social etiquette and the joy with which Tokyoites greet the coming of the cherry blossom are signs that the city maintains a lingering affection for its traditions.

 

Places to see in Tokyo

 

Kichijoji

The places on our destination Tokyo list have so far all been in the centre of the city. Kichijoji is the exception. It’s about a 30 minute train ride to the West of the city but is a great day out if you fancy it. During the Japanese cherry blossom season, Inokashira Park is ablaze with pink flowers. In Autumn it’s the turning of the leaves that draws the crowds. It’s a university town so it’s also a good place to find some good bargains as well as some good basic grub to set you on your way. For more information

 

Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National Museum is one of the best museums in Japan and one of the top 10 places to go in Tokyo to admire amazing architecture and view interesting artifacts on display. The Tokyo National Museum is located in the Ueno district and boasts various areas (all with information and signage in English) such as the Buddhist exhibit section which includes lettering art from the 9th century, a 3D Mandala, and Buddha statues; as well as the grand Heiseikan section, and the Hokan Gallery where you can learn in detail about Japan’s history.

 

Roppongi Hills

Roppongi Hills is without a doubt the cultural hub in Tokyo, and one of the top 10 places to go in Tokyo for a great experience. Roppongi Hills is especially fun to visit during the summer months as the area hosts lots of regular events such as the Bon ODori Festival (July 16th-17th) and the Beer Festival (June 15th-16th). Roppongi Hills is also home to the Mori Art Museum and Tokyo City View, which is home to a 360 degree observation deck and Aquarium in the Sky where you can experience the feeling of being underwater. There are also a ton of restaurants and shops, as well as cinemas, green areas, and luxury hotels such as the Grand Hyatt Tokyo.

 

Odaiba

Odaiba is a pleasure island connected via Rainbow Bridge and train to the mainland of Tokyo. If you want a fun day out, this is a great place to be.You can shop till you drop, take in a museum, get dizzy on a ferris wheel, indulge in an onsen, drive a Toyota, play games, and sight see your way through the day. It’s great!At the end of the 1990′s, Japan celebrated it’s connections with France by borrowing their Lady of Liberty for a year. She proved so popular that a replica was made (of the copy) once she was returned to her rightful home in France.

 

Sensoji temple

Sensoji Temple is believed to be the first temple ever built in the Tokyo area and was originally founded by a fisherman, Haji Nakatomo, who is said to have built the temple after finding a statue of Kannon in one of his fishing nets.

Most of the temple’s structures were destroyed in WWII with the exception of the garden, Asakusa Shrine, and the Nitenmon Gate. The main hall was last built in 1958. Although the current structures may not be that old, Sensoji is still well worth the visit! It’s both beautiful and iconic with its large gate lantern being one of the most famous symbols of Tokyo.

The temple grounds are large and bustling, as the walkway leading up to the main hall is lined with souvenir shops and restaurants. Although there are definitely a lot of touristy items, there are also unique items to be found in many of the stores so it’s worth browsing even if the store appears to have the same things as all the others. The atmosphere is lively and fun, in my opinion. Sensoji often makes itself to the top of traveler’s lists of favorite Tokyo sites! The temple grounds are free, so it’s a good budget option if you can manage not to buy souvenirs!

 

Imperial Palace Tokyo

The Tokyo Imperial Palace was built on the grounds of the former Edo Castle. The Fushimi Yagura of the castle dates back to 1659 and the famous Nijubashi area dates back to the same century. There is also a large area of imperial pines. You can see all of these from the outside, but to enter the actual Imperial Palace grounds, you must reserve a spot on one of their tours which can be done on their website. The tour is free with the reservation.

Inside, the tour takes you past the Imperial Household Agency, the Imperial Palace (not the home of the emperor, but this is where they wave to the crowds on New Years), and onto the Nijubashi Bridge before going back around to the visitor center and gift shop. The imperial buildings are all quite modern, so they are probably not as impressive as the remnants of Edo Castle, but the simple fact that it’s the current Imperial Palace is enough to keep it interesting, I think, and the audio guide (the tours only have Japanese language guides, so those who don’t know Japanese must take an audio guide) is informative and certainly makes the tour worthwhile.

Tours are only offered on weekdays. If possible, it’s most convenient to get a tour on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday because then you can go straight from the tour to the Imperial East Garden which is closed on Mondays and Fridays.

 

Shinjuku Gyoen

Shinjuku Gyoen was constructed on the site of a private mansion belonging to Lord Naito, a “daimyo”(feudal lord) of the Edo era. Completed in 1906 as an imperial garden, it was re-designated as a national garden after World War 2 and opened to the public.

58.3 hectares(144 acres) in size and with a circumference of 3.5 km, it blends three distinct styles, French Formal, English Landscape and Japanese Traditional, and is considered to be one of the most important gardens from the Meiji era.

Among the 20000 trees which grow in Shinjuku Gyoen are the first examples planted in Japan of such species as tulip trees, planes, Himalayan cedars and bald cypresses, whose distinctive crown shapes give the garden a solemn and dignified atmosphere.

 

Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji Fish Market has to be one of the world’s most amazing fish market, and it’s one of the top 10 places to go in Tokyo hands down! If you’re a fan of sushi and seafood, you’ll love spending time at the Tsukiji Fish Market seeing the huge fish, mingling with locals and soaking in the old traditional Japanese charm. The fish market is truly huge and can be overwhelming to explore for the first time so it’s a good idea to book a guided tour with Tsukiji Fish Market Guided Tours, which will also include a sushi lunch, a chance to learn about fish monging techniques and much more.

 

Tokyo Tower

The Tokyo Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in Tokyo and it’s without a doubt, one of the top 10 places to go in Tokyo to enjoy memorable views of the city. The views from the Tokyo Tower are truly amazing, especially at night when Tokyo is beautiful illuminated. Besides enjoying the views from the observation decks, the Tokyo tower is home to a wax museum, an aquarium and the Trick Art Gallery, which boasts really cool 3D pictures and sculptures.

 

Tokyo Government Building

The Tokyo Government Building is located in Shinjuku and it’s another of the top 10 places to go in Tokyo to enjoy panoramic views of the city.You can get excellent views of downtown Tokyo from the Tokyo Building (even of Mt. Fuji on a clear day), and the best part of a visit to the Tokyo Government Building is that it’s free to get in!

 

Nightlife in Tokyo

 

By day, Tokyo is arguably one of the least attractive cities in the world. Come dusk, however, the drabness fades and the city blossoms into a profusion of giant neon lights and paper lanterns, and its streets fill with millions of overworked Japanese out to have a good time. If you ask me, Tokyo at night is one of the craziest cities in the world, a city that never seems to sleep. Entertainment districts are as crowded at 3am as they are at 10pm, and many places stay open until the subways start running after 5am. Whether it's jazz, reggae, gay bars, sex shows, dance clubs, mania, or madness you're searching for, Tokyo has them all.

Getting to Know the Scene -- Tokyo has no one center of nighttime activity. There are many nightspots spread throughout the city, each with its own atmosphere, price range, and clientele. Most famous are probably Ginza, Kabuki-cho in Shinjuku, and Roppongi. Before visiting any of the locales listed in this section, be sure to walk around the neighborhoods and absorb the atmosphere. The streets will be crowded, the neon lights will be overwhelming, and you never know what you might discover on your own.

Although there are many bars, discos, and clubs packed with young Japanese of both sexes, nightlife in Japan for the older generations is still pretty much a man's domain, just as it has been for centuries. At the high end of this domain are the geisha bars, where highly trained women entertain by playing traditional Japanese instruments, singing, and holding witty conversations -- and nothing more risqué than that. Such places are located mainly in Kyoto and, generally speaking, are both outrageously expensive and closed to outsiders. As a foreigner, you'll have little opportunity to visit a geisha bar unless you're invited by a business associate.

All Japanese cities, however, have so-called hostess bars; in Tokyo, these are concentrated in Ginza, Roppongi, Shinjuku, and Akasaka. Hostess bars in various forms have been a part of Japanese society for centuries. A woman will sit at your table, talk to you, pour your drinks, listen to your problems, and boost your ego. You buy her drinks as well, which is one reason the tab can be so high. Most of you will probably find the visit to one not worth the price, as the hostesses usually speak Japanese only, but such places provide Japanese males with sympathetic ears and the chance to escape the worlds of both work and family. Men usually have a favorite hostess bar, often a small place with just enough room for regular customers. The more exclusive hostess bars welcome only those with an introduction.

The most popular nightlife spots are drinking establishments, where most office workers, students, and expatriates go for an evening out. These places include Western-style bars, most commonly found in Roppongi, as well as Japanese-style watering holes, called nomi-ya. Yakitori-ya, bars that serve yakitori and other snacks, are included in this group. Dancing and live-music venues are also hugely popular with young Tokyoites. At the low end of the spectrum are topless bars, erotic dance clubs (including those that employ Western dancers), sex shows, and massage parlors, with the largest concentration of such places in Shinjuku's Kabuki-cho district.

 

Japanese Women

 

All women are uniquely attractive and fascinating in their own way, and there is no single 'type' of woman that is better than any other. However that said it is certainly true that some guys have preferences for certain types of women and some 'types' of women seem to be admired in particular by more men than others. One type of woman widely heralded as particularly attractive for instance is women from Japan, and there are many things that make them attractive to many men. This can frustrating or confusing for those who do not share the oriental looks of Japanese women and can leave them wondering just what it is that makes Japanese women so good looking. Here we'll look at what it is that makes Japanese women attractive to many men. Of course if you're Japanese yourself then this will all be old news to you, but a good boost for your self esteem nonetheless.

 

Enthusiasm

A lot of Japanese women are very enthusiastic and bubbly and this kind of cheerfulness is contagious. There's also a rumour among men whether or not it holds any water that Japanese women are particularly 'giving' in the bedroom and that of course makes them attractive.

 

Size

Japanese women are almost universally petite – that is very small and very slim which comes from their diet as well as their genetics. Of course it's no surprise that a lot of guys like slim girls, but many guys also enjoy shorter women as it can make them feel taller and more manly as a result.

 

Complexion

Japanese women have very smooth skin that is often either very pale or slightly tanned. Either is very attractive and contrasts their usually jet black hair perfectly. This is further impacted by the fact that Japanese women tend to go wrinkly at a later age meaning that they maintain their good looks.

 

Exotic Looks

Men who are not from Japan will likely find Japanese women's looks exotic and different and this can make the sexual experience very exciting and different.

 

Hair

Japanese women are generally known to sport jet black hair which is highly attractive and as mentioned can contrast against their china-white skin. At the same time their hair is normally very straight and this is something that most guys appreciate.

 

Fashion

It's also a bit of a generalisation whether or not it's true that Japanese women have particularly good fashion sense, and this of course means that they are better able to compliment their exotic and beautiful looks as well as their slim frame.

 

Tastes

 

Again it's a big generalisation, but many men believe that Japanese women are less impressed by looks and strength and more impressed by achievements and intelligence. This means that many 'nerdy' guys believe they have a better chance with Japanese women. Likewise there is a belief that Japanese women are impressed by Western men. It's only natural to like people who we think will like us so it stands to reason these tastes would make them more attractive to a lot of Western men (even if they are incorrect assumptions).

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