5 tips for Tokyo

Tokyo with Mount Fuji
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Tokyo is in the same category as world-class cities like Paris, London, and New York when it comes to tourist attractions. Japan’s capital city, Tokyo, serves as the country’s financial, political, and commercial center. With all its hustle and bustle, this amazing metropolis has a more peaceful side that we’ll show you. Edo was the name given to the city in the past. In 2003, Tokyo celebrated its 400th anniversary.

To keep you busy for days, Tokyo features a plethora of museums, galleries, shrines, and temples. You may visit the Imperial Palace, the Tokyo Tower, and the new Tokyo Sky Tree, all within a short distance of one other in the Japanese capital city of Tokyo.

Tokyo, like many other Asian capitals with a lengthy history, has ancient neighborhoods that provide a peek of Japan’s traditional culture that is rapidly disappearing. Don’t miss the Hakone resort region outside Tokyo, where Mount Fuji is on display.

Tip 1: The Asakusa Shrine

Asakusa was a popular center of Kannon belief even before the Edo period. The main shrine is a tiny Kannon statue that, according to legend, was found by three fishermen in their nets. In the Edo period, the famous Yoshiwara entertainment district developed near the temple, and even then the temple complex itself was famous for its many colorful souvenir stores and for the temple gates decorated with huge lanterns. Like most of Tōkyō’s sights, the entire ensemble fell victim to the incendiary bombs of World War II and was rebuilt in the post-war period – partly of reinforced concrete. But this did not diminish the popularity of the temple.

Asakusa Shrine in Tokyo
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The entrance to Sensoji is marked by the Kaminarimon (or Thunder Gate), which is characterized by a huge lantern and four guards in the archway. This gate is the symbol of Asakusa and all of Tokyo.

Tip 2: Skytree Tower 

Since 2012, the Skytree is not only the new TV tower, but also the new landmark of the Japanese capital Tokyo. The Japanese are proud to call the highest television tower in the world their own and the Skytree is accordingly well visited.

With a height of 634 meters, the Skytree in the Japanese capital Tokyo is the tallest television tower and the second tallest structure in the world after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It towers far above Tokyo’s sea of houses in the Oshiage district and is almost twice as high as the 333m Tokyo Tower, Tokyo’s previous landmark in the Minato district. The elegant tower is one of our top 10 sights of Japan.

There are two viewing platforms, at 350 meters there is a restaurant, café and stores behind large windows. The highest platform is at 450 meters. A sloping, 110-meter-long glass walkway (“Air Walk”) connects floor 445 with floor 450.

Tokyo City Skyline with Skytree Tower

By the way, the height of the Skytree was not chosen by chance. The numbers 6, 3 and 4 are “mu-sa-shi” in Japanese, which is the name of a former province that once enclosed Tokyo, Saitama and parts of Kanagawa Prefecture. The Skytree thus represents a true landmark of the region.

At night, the Skytree is illuminated by thousands of LEDs in changing colors. The lights, which move like mini meteors above the viewing platforms, represent the passage of time and the connection between the past and the future. The lights at the top shine seemingly into space, symbolizing dreams and hopes.

Tip 3: Meiji Shrine

Surrounded by a dense forest, Meiji Shrine is one of Tokyo’s most important sights. Especially at the traditional New Year’s festival, millions of visitors are drawn to the national Shinto shrine, which is also known as a green oasis in the middle of the mega city Tokyo.

The Meiji Shrine is located in the Shibuya district and is just a few steps away from Harajuku Station. It was built in honor of Emperor Meiji and his wife Shōken and was completed on November 01, 1920. The main building of the shrine was destroyed by an air raid in 1945 during World War II and was not rebuilt in the original style until 1958.

Meiji Shrine in Tokyo
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To build the shrine in 1920, the whole country donated 100,000 trees. Over 110,000 people helped plant the young trees in the ground around the shrine at that time. Today, these trees line the wide gravel paths leading to the shrine, providing shade for the many visitors. Walking through the impressive Ni-no-Torii at the entrance to the forest, the noise of the mega-metropolis ebbs away step by step until it finally falls completely silent. It is not for nothing that the Meiji-Jingū is called a green oasis in the middle of Tokyo. Here, at least in the morning and before the numerous tourists arrive, you can relax a bit and let your soul dangle.

Tip 4: Imperial Palace of Tokyo

The Imperial Palace Tokyo is the royal residence of the Tenno, the Emperor of Japan. Emperor Naruhito has been in office since May 01, 2019. He resides in the palace with his wife Masako and their daughter Aiko.

The imperial palace is located in Tokyo’s Chiyoda district, right in the center of the metropolis. It was built until 1888 on the former site of Edo Castle.

The Second World War inflicted considerable damage on Tokyo’s Imperial Palace. It was to take until 1968 for its reconstruction in the modern style to be completed. Even today, the Japanese Emperor’s residence is guarded by the Imperial Guard.

Imperial Palace of Tokyo
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Most of the imperial palace can only be visited on a guided tour. Only on two days a year does the palace open its doors to the general public: on February 23, the emperor’s birthday, and on January 2, the New Year.

The imperial complex is surrounded by important buildings such as the Parliament, the Supreme Court or the Police Headquarters. On a tour you can visit the keep, moat and Nijyu Bridge, the latter is also considered the symbol of the imperial palace.

Tip 5: Shinjuku Gyo-En Garden

Shinjuku Gyoen Park originally belonged to Lord Kiyonari Naito in the Edo period (1608-1868), who was a retainer of the first Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa.  During the Meiji period (1868-1912), the park was used for agricultural experiments and was not converted into an imperial garden until 1906, when it was finally opened to the public after World War II in 1949.

Shinjuku Gyoen is one of the most popular parks in Tokyo and is just a short walk from Tokyo’s largest train station, Shinjuku. The park consists of three types of gardens: Japanese, English and French.

Shinjuku Gyo En Garden in Tokyo
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To the south of the park is the Japanese Garden, which features several lakes, tea houses and the Taiwan Pavilion. To the east is the French Garden with a rose garden and beautiful allies.

In the center is the English Landscape Garden, which turns into a white sea of blossoms in spring with over 400 cherry trees. There are also some early or late cherry trees, so the cherry blossom can be viewed for almost a whole month.