Tokyo is both Japan’s capital and its largest city. This modern metropolis and technological powerhouse is home to many interesting sights and landmarks. It is almost guaranteed, though, that you will eventually get lost between the enormous buildings, hundreds of subway lines, numerous railway stations, and nearly 13 million people. However, getting lost is all part of the adventure, right? Time to get started!
Originally, Tokyo was a small fishing village named ‘Edo’, meaning "estuary". When it became the imperial capital of Japan in 1868, its name was changed to Tokyo. Today, it is a very safe city and crime is not an issue for tourists. However, there is a bit of a language barrier to overcome, as most Japanese people do not speak at a strong level of English. You will scratch the back of your head when you enter the huge subway complex only to see that all signs, ticket machines, etc. only show Japanese characters. However, food is quite easy in Japan, as all restuarants have pictures in their menus and vending machines are filled with everything you could possibly want to eat - or buy! In a typical Tokyo vending machine, you can buy a phone, soda, candy, fruit, vegetable, even fresh fish or a pastry! With patience, you will soon learn your way around.
Tokyo is a supermodern city and Japanese teenagers are known to be very up-to-date with the latest trends and gadgets. Therefore, the district of Shibuya, the birthplace of many fashion and entertainment trends, is their heaven. Full of shops, restaurants, bars, dirty sex shops, and loud Pachinko halls, Shibuya is one of the most crowded areas of Tokyo. It is amazing to just stroll around this fantastic area to observe all of the sights, noises, and people buzzing around in all directions.
Sights and landmarks
In Asakusa, you will find an old Buddhist temple which is more or less a "must see" attraction. In the surrounding area, you will also find tons of small shops with all kinds of funny things to buy.
The Imperial Palace is another "must see". In the middle of the hectic Tokyo chaos, you will find this palace in a huge, beautiful park. You wont get to go inside the inner walls, but walking around the park gives you good impressions of the area. If you are there in March/April, the cherry trees will have blossomed and the park will be absolutely stunning.
In the ”Electric City” of Akihabara, you will find all kinds of electronics. This place has it all: mobile phones, nosetrimmers, cameras, watches, televisions, and more. If there is a special gadget that you want, you can absolutely find it here for a comparatively cheap price. However, dont bother bargaining because the prices are set.
At 333 meters, the Tokyo Tower is 13 meters taller than its model, the Eiffel Tower of Paris. It is also the world's tallest self-supporting steel tower. It was completed in the year 1958 as a symbol for Japan's rebirth as a major economic power. Today, it serves as both a television and radio broadcast antenna and a tourist attraction. Visitors can ascend to the main observatory at 150 meters and the special observatory at 250 meters to get a bird's eye view of Tokyo. Under good weather conditions, you can even see Mount Fuji in the distance. If you are in search of large shopping complexes, take the train over the huge Rainbow Bridge to Odaiba.
How to get around
Tokyo has the most developed train/subway service in the world. At first, it might strike you as total chaos. However, when you get the hang of it, it is such a perfect and easy way to travel around the big city. The trains in Tokyo are a fun experience, so there is no need to resort to a taxi, which is quite expensive anyway.
Tokyo has a temperate climate, since it is located in the middle of Honshu, the largest of Japan's islands. There are four distinct seasons in Tokyo, so plan your travel around the likely weather conditions.
While you are in Tokyo, take a day trip to Mount Fuji. It is truly amazing to see this volcanic mountain on a clear day. You will suddenly understand the inspiration for Hokusai's masterpiece collection "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji". Also, try all of the different types of Japanese dishes and delicacies. You may want to eat at a sushi bar one day, a curry house the next, and a ramen shop the next. The options are endless!