Japan: Tokyo

Enjoying both the traditional and contemporary sights of Tokyo

Route

Tsukijishijo Station on the Toei Oedo Line — <5 mins. by walk> — [Tukiji Market] — <Toei Oedo Line12 mins.> — Ryogoku — [Edo-Tokyo Museum][Ryogoku Kokugikan] — <JR Sobu Line10 mins.> — Asakusabashi — <Toei Asakusa Line 10 mins.> — Asakusa — [Senso-ji Temple] — <Tobu Skytree Line 3 mins. — Tokyo Skytree[TOKYO SKYTREE] — Oshiage — <Toei Asakusa Line9 mins.> — Ningyocho — <Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line3 mins.> — Akihabara[Akihabara Area] — <Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line22 mins.> — Roppongi[Roppongi Area]

Tsukiji

A center of Japanese cuisine. The world’s best fish market, and it never sleeps!

Tsukiji, located along the Sumida-gawa River, lies next to Ginza, Tokyo’s famous downtown area. For most people, what springs to mind first when they hear the name ‘Tsukiji’ is the Tsukiji Market, also called ‘Uogashi’ (fish market). This market handles the largest volume of fishery products in Japan, and dealing in more than 450 kinds of products, such as tuna, around-the-clock makes this market unique throughout the world. At 5:00 a.m. the ‘seri’ (auctions) begin, and by around 8:00 a.m. the market is at its most lively, with fish shop and restaurant people crowding in to buy fresh products from the specialized dealers.

In contrast, the general public comes to do their shopping in the peripheral shopping area known as ‘Jou-gai’ or off-market. The period from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. is the busiest time there, and you can buy not only fresh fish, but also many other items, including meat, rolled omelets and professional cooking utensils, or even grab a bite of breakfast. Among the dishes offered is the popular ‘maguro-don,’ a big bowl of rice topped with slices of raw tuna. There is also a great array of sushi restaurants in the area to tempt you. After your meal, why not take a walk to the neighboring Hama-rikyu Gardens, a Japanese garden with beautiful ponds and flowers.

 

There are many other attractions in Tsukiji, which became a gateway to western culture in the 19th century when Japan started trading with foreign countries. The Tsukiji Catholic Church and St. Luke’s International Hospital were already standing at that time. Tsukiji Hongan-ji Temple, designed in the ancient Indian style, is also a building not to be missed. The twin towers of St. Luke’s Garden are a new symbol of the town, and from the observatory on the 47th floor, you can enjoy romantic night views.

Tsukiji Market represents the typical wholesale market of Japan, running 24 hours a day. The general consumer is not allowed to shop there (Only bidding for tuna can be observed*. Reception starts at 5 a.m. on a first-come-first-served basis). On the other hand, there are 300 shops in the Jou-gai, or Off-market, where anyone can not only buy but also dine on sashimi, sushi or tempura made with fresh ingredients on the spot.

Edo-Tokyo Museum

In this very spacious museum, you can explore the history and folklore of Tokyo from the Edo period till the present day. For more info about current exhibitions click here

Asakusa

Located in Taito-ku along the west bank of the Sumida-gawa River, the Asakusa district once thrived as a temple town for the nearby Senso-ji Temple, but now it is a downtown area that rivals Ginza, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Shibuya. The history of Senso-ji Temple goes back far into the past. Legend has it that fishermen brothers discovered an image of Kan’non (the goddess of mercy) in the Sumida-gawa River around the year 628 and were inspired to enshrine it. The temple’s symbol is the Furai jin-mon (Gate of Wind God and Thunder God) adorned with a large red paper lantern that bears the inscription “Kaminari-mon” (Thunder Gate). There is a constant flow of visitors and worshippers to the temple throughout the year.

Numerous shops along Nakamise-dori Street, which runs along the approach way to Senso-ji Temple, carry a variety of small articles made of Japanese-style paper and other traditional goods such as folding fans. It is a lovely shopping street that attracts many foreign visitors.

Asakusa is also known as the site for many traditional events. The Sanja-matsuri is a festival of Senso-ji Temple, and is famous for the palanquin parade that is said to convey the “Edokko Katagi,” or the spirit of the children of Edo, representing the traditional temperament of the original townsfolk of Tokyo. Other festivals include Hozuki-ichi (ground cherry market) in summer, Tori-no-ichi (rooster market) at Otori-jinja Shrine in early winter and Hagoita-ichi (Japanese battledore market) at the end of the year. The most popular event is the fireworks display along the Sumida-gawa River in summer, which over one million people gather to watch.

Ryogoku Kokugikan

Ryogoku Kokugikan, the venue for the famous Grand Sumo Tournament, is located here. A visit to the “Sumo Museum” on the 1st floor is highly recommended. There are also many restaurants where you can try the sumo wrestler’s staple meal called “chanko”, which is a one-pot stew made with broth, meat, fish and vegetables.

Senso-ji Temple

It is believed that the Senso-ji Temple was built in 628, making it the oldest temple in Tokyo. After passing through the Kaminarimon Gate, you will see many shops selling souvenirs.

TOKYO SKY TREE

Boasting a height of 634m, making it the world’s highest stand-alone communication tower, Tokyo Skytree opened in May 2012 and has already become a major symbol of Tokyo, forming the center of Tokyo Skytree Town(R), which also encompasses Tokyo Solamachi(R), a complex that includes many shops and restaurants, as well as an aquarium and planetarium.

Akihabara Area

A “wonderland” that has evolved from a small group of electrical equipment shops into a huge computer marketplace.

The name Akihabara is now world famous. More than 250 electrical appliance and electronic shops of all sizes are located in a small area centered around Chuo-dori Street, to the west of Akihabara Station. In the past several years, the main trend has been a shift away from general home electrical appliances towards the new world of computers and the Internet. Emerging animation-related shops have also been attracting much attention. The shop assistants have a wealth of knowledge and are able to answer all sorts of questions. Many of them speak English, Chinese or Korean.

This town began as an area specializing in electrical equipment in the latter half of the 1940s, when people’s primary source of information was radio. In the beginning, a gathering of many shops dealing in radio parts sprang up under the elevated JR railroad structures. Later, these shops began dealing in home electrical appliances, with the area ultimately developing into the world’s largest electrical equipment marketplace.

The site of many service centers and showrooms of major manufacturers, as well as duty-free shops and a wide array of events, the town is quite attractive in the eyes of visitors. Among the many events are the Denki-matsuri Festivals held in summer and winter. They are the biggest of the events, and a great chance to find good shopping bargains that should not be missed. Take the time to fully explore this “electronic wonderland.”

Roppongi Area

The most popular nightspot in Tokyo “Roppongi / Akasaka.” “Roppongi Hills” -one day is not enough to take it all in!

The Roppongi district is filled with popular nightspots packed with visitors from abroad. There are also many international restaurants, so it should be easy to find something to suit your taste. Two popular attractions in Roppongi are Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown. On the 53rd and uppermost floor of Roppongi Hills, you will find contemporary art exhibited in the Mori Art Museum, and on the 52nd floor is Tokyo City View where the glass-walled observatory offers a stunning 360-degree view of the city, particularly impressive at night. Tokyo Midtown has art venues, such as the Suntory Museum of Art, and a large garden. Both Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown have many restaurants, brand name shops and hotels offering various kinds of entertainment.

The Akasaka district has many first-class hotels and foreign embassies. It is another famous nightspot like Roppongi, however, Akasaka is characterized by its exclusive clubs and excellent Japanese restaurants. There are many faces to Akasaka: its political face as home to the Diet Building and the Prime Minister’s Official Residence; and its face as a business area with TBS Broadcast Center (nicknamed “Big Hat”) as a central figure, to name just two. At the same time, Akasaka is also a pleasant place to walk around and visit some historical sites typical of Tokyo, such as Hie-jinja and Akasaka Toyokawa-inari shrines.

Tokyo is known as a city that never sleeps, and there are many clubs ?and bars for foreign visitors, particularly in Roppongi.

Tokyo

Japan

Heading picture: Von Morio – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5794297