Tokyo is Japan's capital and the world's most populous metropolis. It is also one of Japan's 47 prefectures, consisting of 23 central city wards and multiple cities, towns and villages west of the city center. The Izu and Ogasawara Islands are also part of Tokyo.
Prior to 1868, Tokyo was known as Edo. A small castle town in the 16th century, Edo became Japan's political center in 1603 when Tokugawa Ieyasu established his feudal government there. A few decades later, Edo had grown into one of the world's most populous cities. With the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the emperor and capital moved from Kyoto to Edo, which was renamed Tokyo ("Eastern Capital"). Large parts of Tokyo were destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and in the air raids of 1945.
Today, Tokyo offers a seemingly unlimited choice of shopping, entertainment, culture and dining to its visitors. The city's history can be appreciated in districts such as Asakusa, and in many excellent museums, historic temples and gardens. Contrary to common perception, Tokyo also offers a number of attractive green spaces in the city center and within relatively short train rides at its outskirts.
THINGS TO DO IN TOKYO
- Tsukiji Fish Market - is a large wholesale market for fish, fruits and vegetables in central Tokyo. It is the most famous of over ten wholesale markets that handle the distribution of food and flowers in Tokyo. Tsukiji Market is best known as one of the world's largest fish markets, handling over 2,000 tons of marine products per day.
- Akihabara - also called Akiba after a former local shrine, is a district in central Tokyo that is famous for its many electronics shops. In more recent years, Akihabara has gained recognition as the center of Japan's otaku (diehard fan) culture, and many shops and establishments devoted to anime and manga are now dispersed among the electronic stores in the district. On Sundays, Chuo Dori, the main street through the district, is closed to car traffic from 13:00 to 18:00 (until 17:00 from October through March).
- Koishikawa Korakuen - is one of Tokyo's oldest and best Japanese gardens. It was built in the early Edo Period (1600-1867) at the Tokyo residence of the Mito branch of the ruling Tokugawa family.
- Hama Rikyu - is a large, attractive landscape garden in central Tokyo. Located alongside Tokyo Bay, Hama Rikyu features seawater ponds which change level with the tides, and a teahouse on an island where visitors can rest and enjoy the scenery.
- Imperial Palace East Gardens - are a part of the inner palace area and are open to the public. They are the former site of Edo Castle's innermost circles of defense, the honmaru ("main circle") and ninomaru ("secondary circle"). None of the main buildings remain today, but the moats, walls, entrance gates and several guardhouses still exist.
- Tokyo Imperial Palace - is located on the former site of Edo Castle, a large park area surrounded by moats and massive stone walls in the center of Tokyo, a short walk from Tokyo Station. It is the residence of Japan's Imperial Family.
- Tokyo National Museum - is the oldest and largest of Japan's top-level national museums, which also include the Kyoto National Museum, the Nara National Museum and the Kyushu National Museum. It was originally established in 1972 at Yushima Seido Shrine and moved to its current location in Ueno Park a few years later.
- Tokyo Skytree - is a television broadcasting tower and landmark of Tokyo. It is the centerpiece of the Tokyo Skytree Town in the Sumida City Ward, not far away from Asakusa.
- Asakusa - is the center of Tokyo's shitamachi (literally "low city"), one of Tokyo's districts, where an atmosphere of the Tokyo of past decades survives.
- Sensoji Temple - is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa. It is one of Tokyo's most colorful and popular temples.
- Edo-Tokyo Museum - is housed in a unique looking building in the Ryogoku district. The museum's permanent exhibition vividly illustrates the past of Tokyo (known as Edo until 1869) through its exhibits and covers many features of the capital from the Edo Period to relatively recent decades.
- Rikugien Garden - is often considered Tokyo's most beautiful Japanese landscape garden alongside Koishikawa Korakuen. Built around 1700 for the 5th Tokugawa Shogun, Rikugien literally means "six poems garden" and reproduces in miniature 88 scenes from famous poems. The garden is a good example of an Edo Period strolling garden and features a large central pond surrounded by manmade hills and forested areas, all connected by a network of trails.
- Shibuya - is one of the twenty-three city wards of Tokyo, but often refers to just the popular shopping and entertainment area found around Shibuya Station. In this regard, Shibuya is one of Tokyo's most colorful and busy districts, packed with shopping, dining and nightclubs serving swarms of visitors that come to the district everyday.
- Shinjuku - is one of the 23 city wards of Tokyo, but the name commonly refers to just the large entertainment, business and shopping area around Shinjuku Station.
- Meiji Shrine - is a shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. Located just beside the JR Yamanote Line's busy Harajuku Station, Meiji Shrine and the adjacent Yoyogi Park make up a large forested area within the densely built-up city. The spacious shrine grounds offer walking paths that are great for a relaxing stroll.
- Harajuku - refers to the area around Tokyo's Harajuku Station, which is between Shinjuku and Shibuya on the Yamanote Line. It is the center of Japan's most extreme teenage cultures and fashion styles, but also offers shopping for adults and some historic sights.
- Shinjuku Gyoen - is one of Tokyo's largest and most popular parks. Located just a short walk from Shinjuku Station, the paid park's spacious lawns, meandering walking paths and tranquil scenery provide a relaxing escape from the busy urban center around it. In spring Shinjuku Gyoen becomes one of the best places in the city to see cherry blossoms.
- Yoyogi Koen - is one of Tokyo's largest city parks, featuring wide lawns, ponds and forested areas. It is a great place for jogging, picnicking and other outdoor activities.
- Odaiba - is a popular shopping and entertainment district on a man made island in Tokyo Bay. It originated as a set of small man made fort islands (daiba literally means "fort"), which were built towards the end of the Edo Period (1603-1868) to protect Tokyo against possible attacks from the sea and specifically in response to the gunboat diplomacy of Commodore Perry.
- Institute for Nature Study - is a nature reserve in the heart of Tokyo near Meguro Station. The sights and sounds of the city are left behind when you enter the park. It is a wild, natural and quiet world even though the grounds are located near the Yamanote Line and bordered by part of the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway.
- Roppongi Hills - Roppongi Hills is one of the best examples of a city within the city. Opened in 2003 in the heart of Tokyo's Roppongi district, the building complex features offices, apartments, shops, restaurants, a hotel, art museum, observation deck and more. The office floors are home to leading companies from the IT and financial sectors, and Roppongi Hills has become a symbol of the Japanese IT industry.
- Tokyo Tower - is the world's tallest, self-supported steel tower and 13 meters taller than its model, the Eiffel Tower. A symbol of Japan's post-war rebirth as a major economic power, Tokyo Tower was the country's tallest structure from its completion in 1958 until 2012 when it was surpassed by the Tokyo Skytree. In addition to being a popular tourist spot, Tokyo Tower serves as a broadcast antenna.
- Sengakuji Temple - is a small temple near Shinagawa Station in Tokyo. The temple is famous for its graveyard where the "47 Ronin" (also known as Akoroshi, the "masterless samurai from Ako") are buried.
- Zojoji Temple - is the head temple of the Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism in the Kanto Region. The temple was built in the year 1393 and moved to its present location in 1598 by Tokugawa Ieyasu who selected it as his family temple. A mausoleum of the Tokugawa family can be found on the temple grounds. Most of Zojoji's buildings are recent reconstructions except for the main entrance gate, the Sangedatsumon, which has survived many fires, earthquakes and wars and dates from 1622.