Discover Tokyo

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  • Friday, 17 May 2013 11:18

Ginza is Japan’s world class shopping and food hub. World famous brand stores rub shoulders with high class department stores while the area is jammed with quality restaurants where you can savor Michelin starred sushi or traditional Japanese cuisine. Other favorite attractions are the food halls in the basement floors of department stores. They feature all imaginable food varieties, from a diverse range of sweets, to alcohol and regional food specialties.

Shinjuku, Kabukicho
With over 3 million users daily, Shinjuku Station lays claim to the title of the busiest station in the world. In the vicinity is the beautiful park Shinjuku Gyoen national garden. There are commercial districts with high rise buildings, department stores and large electronics retail stores. Japan’s largest entertainment district, Kabukicho, is also located right near the station. The area is packed until late at night with patrons attending high class nightclubs, casual pubs, karaoke, and pachinko venues.

Ryogoku and the Edo-Tokyo Museum
Adjacent to Asakusa is Ryogoku, the Sumo precinct. Numerous sumo stables are located here and Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournaments are held at Ryogoku Kokugikan (Sumo Hall) in January, May and September. A distinctive feature of this area is the restaurants that serve Chanko-nabe, a dish eaten by sumo wrestlers. Just nearby is the Edo-Tokyo Museum which exhibits the history of Tokyo from samurai days to the present.

Roppongi landmarks include Roppongi Hills and Midtown, high rise developments with over 50 stories. These are giant commercial complexes with magnificent views of the night scenery, housing brand stores, restaurants run by famous chefs, hotels and art galleries. The Roppongi area is a focal point for all types of dining, from theater restaurants to clubs and Japanese style pubs, and is thronged with patrons at night.

Tokyo Station, Imperial Palace, National Diet
The Imperial Palace, which is also the residence of the Emperor and Empress, was once the site of Edo Castle. Although in the heart of the capital city, the grounds contain vast natural areas, part of which are open to the public as a park, and the perimeter is popular as a jogging track. In the autumn of 2012, the red-bricked Tokyo Station located directly opposite the Palace, was restored to its original design from when it was built about 100 years ago. In the vicinity of the Imperial Palace are the National Diet and the National Theater.

Asakusa and Tokyo Sky Tree®
With the 1300 year old temple Senso-ji at its heart, Asakusa is strongly reminiscent of Japan’s ancient past. Jinrikisha (rickshaws) run along the streets and evoke a Japan of several hundred years ago. Just a 20 minute walk from here is the 634 meter high Tokyo Sky Tree® which opened in 2012. From the glass-walled gallery 450 meters above ground you can experience an outlook that is akin to walking in the sky.

Harajuku and Takeshita Dori
Harajuku is popular as the center of youth fashion. Within this area is Takeshita Dori which is at the forefront of Harajuku fashion and famous for the KAWAII culture. The 350 meter length of this road is crammed with stores that are overwhelmingly popular with young girls. It is also very well-known as a location for talent and pop idol scouts.

Shibuya is a gathering place for the trend conscious youth. Every street features distinctive facilities that include large scale buildings devoted to fashion, multipurpose amusement arcades with karaoke and game centers, cinemas and clubs (discos). There are also alleyways where old style pubs remain and you are never too old to enjoy this hub of adult social interaction which is always thronged with people.

The iconic feature of Ueno is Ueno Park. It is the focal point of numerous cultural facilities including the National Museum of Western Art which was designed by Le Corbusier, one of the three greatest exponents of modern architecture, and Ueno Zoo which was the first zoo established in Japan. As a renowned cherry blossom viewing location it teems with tens of thousands of sightseers in spring. The commercial precinct called Ameyoko which starts at Ueno Station is home to more than 400 stores selling all manner of goods from food to knickknacks.

Akihabara and Ikebukuro
Akihabara is one of the world’ s largest electronic retail store precincts, also known as AKIBA, hallowed ground for anime and manga. Whether it is an electronic store or one that specializes in anime and games, you will be served by with specialized product knowledge. The area is also popular for the very unique maid Café and cosplay shops. Ikebukuro is a new sacred site of anime. The so-called Otome Road has a concentration of anime and comic stores that directly target female customers. tj

This article appeared in Issue #271 of the Tokyo Journal. Click here to order from Amazon

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