Tokyo is the capital of Japan, and one of the biggest cities in the world with 12 million occupants. The city is a neon vision, displaying both the best of technology today and wild imaginings of the future. The lights, fashion and nightlife are unlike anything you’ve ever seen, but surprisingly sit quite comfortably alongside traditional Japanese culture, which also strongly affects life in Tokyo. From ancient tea ceremonies to karaoke in a neon lit hot tub, Tokyo has it all.
Finding Accommodation and Holiday Apartments in Tokyo
Get a taste of how locals live by staying in a Tokyo apartment. Though dwellings here are typically small, Japanese apartments have a beautiful, distinctive style that makes the most of the space. A holiday apartment in Shinjuku or Kabukicho is the perfect base for some extreme shopping, and at night the area, especially Kabukicho, transforms into a nightlife haven. Ueno is a beautiful area in the north of Tokyo that is home to a beautiful park, museums and markets. It’s a little more laid back than other parts of Tokyo, so if you have kids if might be a good option for accommodation.
When you arrive in Tokyo, you will be blown away by this incredibly vibrant, colourful, technological and heavily populated city. Expect to spend the first day awestruck by all the many sites, neon lights and colours that catch your eye. This fast paced city has so many incredible activities and you can be guaranteed it has something to suit everyone. The busy city centre contrasts nicely with the tranquil Japanese gardens which are in various locations throughout the city. Whilst there is a lot of revolutionary technology here, expect to experience a more traditional Tokyo also. You may like to start your journey in Old Tokyo, called Shitamachi, which is home to many fascinating museums. At the centre of Shitamachi is Asakusa, with old shopping streets and many temples. The most famous is the beautiful Sensoji Temple. It’s the oldest temple in Tokyo, and though it was partially destroyed during World War II it has been restored to its former glory. Also here is Ryōgoku Kokugikan, the largest sumo wrestling arena in Japan and if you get a chance, this is a cultural activity that should not be missed. Another must see is the stunning Imperial Palace and the wonderful gardens that surround it. Here you can see the official residence of the Imperial family and experience the stunning stylised gardens Japan is famous for. If you are wanting get in amongst the bustling city, full of shopping, nightlife and futuristic skyscraper’s, head to the vibrant city centre. Areas such as Shinjuku have hundreds of shops and restaurants along with having Tokyo’s red light district and some of the wildest nightlife in the city. For a taste of how Tokyo does wild nightlife, book at table at the famous Robot Restaurant. You’ll see more westerners than locals there, but it’s still a mindblowing experience. The show features robots, kung fu pandas, marching girls and dancers, dinosaurs, giant neon tanks in a bizarre performance with dinner. It’s definitely not for the faint hearted or those prone to migraines, as every surface in the room is constantly flashing, shining or moving. If you think you can handle it though, it’s totally worth it. You may also like to see Shibuya which is a fashionable shopping district, has great nightlife and the famous Harajuku area is here. The Meiji Shrine is also in Shibuya so it really is a place for all ages. And finally, if you are in Japan in early spring, make sure you partake in Hanami, the festival of viewing Cherry Blossom trees. The blooms only last for a month or so, but create extraordinary vistas of pale pink blooms across the parks. In Tokyo, celebrate Hanami with locals and head to Chidorigafuchi, a park where you can rent a small boat and paddle around on the waterways enjoying the view.
Getting Around Tokyo
Tokyo has a world famous subway and train system. It’s very efficient, fast and clean. There are dozens of train lines, but the most important one to know is the Yamanote Line, which loops around central Tokyo. Use the Subway to travel around the suburbs inside the Yamanote loop. You can get a prepaid ticket from machines inside the stations, and the same ticket can be topped up again, similarly to London’s Oyster card. Driving in the city is not recommended as its very confusing for visitors and extremely expensive to park.