Tokyo is a fast-paced city with an almost manic energy. The city is constantly changing, as the local obsession with newness makes fashions fade fast and the latest technologies quickly obsolete. However, the hyper-urban cosmopolis does have a more traditional side that, although not immediately evident, is still there to charm travelers with its shrines, public baths and leafy parks. The city is also as important historically as it is in the pop-culture world. The imperial family is a source of pride and an institution, and residents mix traditional societal mores with cutting-edge inventions, art, fashion and music. The Japanese capital and its culture are taking the world by storm, but it still stays faithful to its origins.
There is so much to see and do in the city of 12 million people, but the Asakusa district is a real highlight. The district is easily accessible by subway, but if you are not in a hurry, take the river cruise that lazily floats up the Sumida from Tokyo Bay’s Hinode pier. Once you arrive, check out the country’s first skyscraper, photo studio and cinema, then head to the Sensoji Temple. The small temple enshrines a golden statue of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, and is located in the area’s most lively neighborhood.
The nearby Nakamise neighborhood is one of Tokyo’s best shopping districts and one of the oldest in Japan. There, visitors can find everything from typical Japanese souvenirs to handmade silk garments, local delicacies, anime comics, antiques and the latest electronics.
The Yasukuni Shrine is another religious institution worth visiting. Dedicated to the millions of people who have sacrificed their lives for the emperors since the mid-19th century, the Shinto shrine is encircled by fragrant and delicate cherry trees. The nearby military museum is intriguing, featuring a flying suicide bomb, man-carrying torpedo and train from the Burma railway.
Walk downhill from the shrine to reach the Jimbocho Book district, home to one of Asia’s best collections of prints, manuscripts and books. Visitors will find everything they need to nourish the intellect, and the seemingly endless rows of bookshops feature publications in nearly every language.
The imposing but beautiful Imperial Palace is one of Tokyo’s brightest gems. Once the world’s largest castle, the 16-kilometer maze of walls and moats is a great introduction to Japanese history. Although visitors cannot explore the hidden palace, they can stroll through the moats and outer gardens and climb the turreted watchtowers.
For amazing views of the city, head to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government offices. The 45th floors of the twin towers have wraparound observation decks, and visitors can see past the city’s edges on a clear day.
The Japanese eat more fish than any other nation, and Tokyo is home to Asia’s largest seafood market, the Tsukiji Fish Market. Visit early in the morning to watch the seafood being auctioned, then sample some of the world’s freshest sushi, seaweed, tuna, caviar or controversial whale species from one of the many stalls.
Other sights and areas worth visiting in Tokyo include Disneyland, the red-light Kabukicho district, the high-fashion Ginza area, Akihabara Electric Town, Sanrio Puroland, the home of Hello Kitty, the Tokyo Tower, the Hachiko Statue to a legendarily faithful Akita and the Mori Art Museum. Visitors can see many of these sights from the city’s open-top double-decker buses.
Tokyo Geographical Location
Tokyo is located on the largest of Japan’s islands, Honshu, and spreads onto the Izu and Ogasawara Islands in the southeast.
Tokyo is heavily populated with 13,200,000 inhabitants.
Japanese is the official language of Japan and there are many dialects throughout the country. English is common in Tokyo and other city areas.
Tokyo Predominant Religion
- 84% Shintoism
- 71% Buddhism
- 2% Christianity
- 8% Other
Many Japanese practice both Shintoism and Buddhism causing the statistics to appear more than 100%.
The Yen is the official currency of Japan.
There is steady rainfall throughout the year in Tokyo although the winter is normally drier. The summers are hot with high humidity and cool winters that usually receive some snowfall.
Tokyo Main Attractions
- Sensoji Temple
- Meiji Jingu
- The Tsukiji Market
Other Attraction in Tokyo
- Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office
- Tokyo Tower
- Tokyo Sky Tree