Situated in the Kanto region on the mid-eastern part of the Honshu Island, Tokyo is the capital and the largest city in Japan. Tokyo, literally meaning ‘Eastern Capital,’ is also one of the 47 prefectures in the country. However, it is much popular as a metropolis rather than a prefecture. The largest of its kind in the world, Tokyo’s metropolis is made up of: 26 cities, 23 city wards, eight villages, and five towns.
Once a typical village known as Edo – the city became the political center of the country when Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of the most powerful rulers, established his feudal government here during the 16th century. But, Tokyo got its present name when the emperor Meiji shifted his capital from Kyoto to Edo. A city of contrasts, Tokyo has now become one of the most popular destinations in the world, brimming with world-class attractions.
Tokyo has to its credit such a great number of attractions that it takes months to explore them all. One of the most popular among the city’s attractions is Imperial Palace, which is still the residence of the emperor of Japan. The palace is built on a huge amazing site, where still the remains of Edo Castle can be seen. Another worth-visiting attraction here is Diet Parliament, which was opened in 1936. Equally worth mentioning is Kabuki-za Theatre, which is perhaps the most popular in the country. Opened its door in 1889, the theatre conducts daily performances.
No visit to Tokyo would be complete without taking a tour to Akihabara, also known as Akihabara Electric Town or Akiba. This area boasts of an enormous collection of electronic shops. Also, a great attraction in the city is Tokyo Tower, a soaring structure that takes after the Eiffel Tower in Paris. A marine aquarium can also be seen here. Additionally, Tokyo is home to Tsukiji Central Wholesale Market, one of the largest fish market in the world.
Other not to miss destinations in Tokyo are Shinjuku, a business area of the city with one of the biggest amusement squares in the country; Asakusa, with attractions such as Sensoji Temple and the Kaminarimon gate; Roppongi, a trendy area regarded as the international area of the city; and Odaiba, a highly developed waterfront as well as island area in Tokyo bay.
Above all, while your stay in the city, don’t miss Tokyo Disneyland, an amusement park with highlights such as Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour, Fantillusion, Western River Railroad, The Mickey Mouse Review, and Meet the World.
Shrines and Temples – Each of the temples in the city is truly a sight to see. Most popular among the shrines in the area is Sensoji Temple, also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple. Located in Asakusa, the temple is a Buddhist shrine, with features such as the Kaminarimon or thunder gate and a five-storied pagoda. Nakamise, a shopping street with a history of several centuries, leads to the second gate of the temple, Hozomon.
Meiji Shrine, dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife Shoken, is another popular temple in the city. Completed in 1920 and rebuilt after the Second World War, Meiji Shrine is home to various festivals and events.
A visit to such shrines as Sengakuji Temple, where 47 Ronin are buried; Yasukini Shrine, which commemorate Japan’s war dead; and Zojoji Temple – the main shrine of Buddhist Jado sect would be a great experience.
Museums – Tokyo has a great number of museums, which among many others, are the Tokyo National Museum – the oldest as well as the largest in the country; Mitsuo Aida Museum, with a rare collection of artifacts; Edo Tokyo Museum, where on display are artifacts related to the city’s history and culture; O Art Museum, a multi-purpose art museum; Mori Art Museum, showcasing contemporary Japanese art; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum; Nezu Institute of Fine Art; the Bunkamura Museum of Fine Art; Science Museum of Tokyo, and Sompo Japan Museum of Art, housing works of Seiji Togo, a well-known Japanese artist.
Parks and Gardens – For nature lovers, Tokyo has an astounding array of parks and gardens. Some of the most popular among them are:
– Rikugien, a beautiful landscape garden designed in Japanese style
– Hama Rikyu, one of the most attractive gardens in the area, which once served as the garden of a feudal lord’s residence during the Edo period
– Kyu Shiba Rikyu Onshi Teien, which is developed on the site which was earlier the residence of several feudal lords as well as government officials
– East Gardens, an amazing garden located within the compounds of the Imperial Palace
– Ueno Park, one of the largest public parks in the country, is home to many museums, such as the Tokyo National Museum and the National Museum for Western Art
– Yoyogi Koen, a unique park designed in western style
Tokyo has some of the best shopping areas in the form of Ginza district, located in the heart of the city. Many stores designer items, jewelry, and apparels can be seen here. Among the largest department stores in the area are Hankyu, Seibu, Printemps, Matsuya, Wako and Mikimoto.