Traveling To Tokyo

My travel to Tokyo was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Being in touch with a distinctive culture is an experience to remember. With a population of about 12 million, Tokyo metropolitan area is at the center of the world’s most populous urban area in the world. But with an area of over 2000 square kilometers, there are a lot of places to explore. With busy cityscapes and high-rise buildings mixing with the old, traditional Japanese structures, temples and gardens Tokyo is a land of contrasts.

The best times to go to Tokyo are when cherry blossoms during springtime and during autumn when yellow-orange hues of falling leaves scatter across parks. Temperatures at these periods offer a favorable environment to outdoor adventures and visit to attractions by foot. Summer monsoon comes in June and gets extra humid in August while snow abounds during winter month of January.

Citizens of many countries can visit Japan without visas for stays up to 90 days. Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides visa information to every first time traveler.

Getting In

Almost all international flights come to Narita Airport while a few others fly into Haneda Airport. From the airport terminal, Narita Express train service is available with stops at important locations such as Tokyo, Shinjuku, Yokohama and a number of other stations. Airport limousine is also available and more convenient for people who would like to make a direct stop at certain hotels around Tokyo.

Transportation in Tokyo is quite convenient but please note that the Tokyo subway is among the most extensive in the world and someone could easily get lost in its numerous interlinking subway lines. English signs are available and asking for directions from locals who are generally friendly obviously helps.

Also note that train lines are managed by different companies so one ticket may not be usable in other lines. For example the JR fare card system Suica can only be used on JR; Passnet cards, on the other hand, can be used on every subway and train line except JR.

Getting Around

For somebody who want adventure within the city, there are various places I could recommend.

1. Tsukiji Market – Tokyo’s main fish market where many delectable seafood dishes at restaurants come from. A daily bidding sale (except Sundays) start early so you need to be there even before sunrise. Another good reason to visit there are the availability of nice restaurants for breakfast.

2. Edo-Tokyo Museum – Features the city’s rich historical heritage that dates from the samurai ages to geishas to the modern era. Next to the museum is the Kokugikan, the sumo wrestling venue held about three times a year. If you are interested to watch the sumo events, you must arrange your visit ahead of time.

3. Akihabara – For technology and gadget geeks, this is the place for you. Latest releases of Japanese brand products often get displayed here. Software, games, comic books and related stuff are also found here. Since the main buyers are the locals themselves, please note the difference between Japanese and your local settings such as power supply requirements; Japan adopts a 100-voltage system as opposed to many 220-v AC systems.

4. Odaiba – A man-made island where the famed Rainbow Bridge gets connected to Tokyo mainland. Accessible using the Yurikamome, it features a unique view of Tokyo as well as the location of Fuji TV Building, a copy of Statue of Liberty and Toyota’s showroom where you can test drive their new models.

5. Meiji Shrine – Accessible through Harajuku Station, Meiji Shrine is a Shinto Shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his consort, Emperor Shoken who both died early 1900’s. It consists of Naien or inner precinct cantered on shrine buildings, Gaien, or the outer precinct, which includes the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery and sports facilities; and the Meiji Memorial Hall. The whole area is covered by trees of different species. There are food shops inside the shrine.

6. Asakusa Shrine – It is Tokyo’s most popular shrine located adjacent to the temple Sensoji in Asakusa, Tokyo. It is open from 6:30am to 5:00pm daily. It hosts the Sanja Matsuri every third weekend of May. The Asakusa Samba Carnival is held at the last Saturday of August. There are several shops that sell Japanese sweets and souvenirs for loved ones back home.

7. Shinjuku – The location of Tokyo’s Metropolitan Government Building which are 243 meter tall twin towers and surrounding buildings contain the offices and the assembly hall of the metropolitan government of Tokyo, as well as observatories on the 45th floor of each tower. The view from the southern tower is considered slightly more interesting. Several department stores are also in the area like Odakyu, Keio and Takashimaya.

There are a lot of places in Tokyo that I have never been and plenty of things that I have never done there. I hope to be back there again soon.

Filed Under: Meaningful Travel

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