Hello everyone, I'm Yoshi.
Today we are living in the society overwhemed by a lof of information. It is said that the information about the tourist spots in Tokyo is also "overwhelming". Last weekend, I guided a customer from the United States and we walked around in Tokyo one day. In this article, I would like to introduce our customized tour for someone who is thinking to visit Tokyo in the future and enjoy the trip in a simple way.
This article is for: someone who wants to avoid overwhelming information plan the trip simply
3 Categories to enjoy Tokyo in a simple way
I classified our travel destinations into the following 3 categories:
- Traditional Culture & History: Ueno, Asakusa, Ochanomizu, Meiji Jingu Shrine
- Japanese pop culture: Akihabara, Harajuku
- Interesting Scenery: Shibuya, Shinjuku
The details of each tourist spot are described below.
1. Traditional Culture and History
Ueno Park is famous as the place to see cherry blossoms in Spring. About 4,000,000 people visit this place during that season. Ueno is also known as the center of art and culture in which you can discover traditional arts, religious backgrounds of Japanese people, interesting history as well.
Photo: Statue of Takamori Saigo
We went to see the Tokyo National Museum, Shinobazu Pond and statue of Takamori Saigo. In the National Museum, you can see the origin and change of traditional culture, arts, craftworks, influence of Buddhism on the Japanese society. Takamori Saigo is considered an important historical figure who contributed to the Meiji Restauration in 19th century. Shinobazu Pond is covered with beautiful lotus and it blooms in summer.
Photo: Shinobazu Pond
If you want to have street foods near Ueno. Ameyoko Shopping Street, is recommendable. We visited a Takoyaki shop (Octopus Dumpling) and took a shot break. Also, you can find Sta-Don (Bowl of Rice topped with pork and seasoned with garlic soy sauce), Seafoods, cosmetic shops, etc.
Photo: Takoyaki (Octopus Dumpling)
If you take Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Asakusa is just three stops from Ueno. The history of Asakusa traces back to 628, when two fishermen found a small buddhist statue in the Sumida river and showed it to a intelligent priest. That small buddhist statue is now preserved in Sensoji Temple, and the fishermen and the priest are worshipped in Asakusa Shrine located next to the Sensoji Temple.
Photo: Sensoji Temple
At the entrance of Sensoji, you will see Kaminarimon Gate or Thunder Gate. Thunder is considered to produce good harvest in agriculture, and you will also see the statue of Fujin (deity of wind) in the right and statue of Rajin (deity of thunder) in the left. On the lantern, you can find the Chinese character of Matsushita Denki（松下電器）, which is the present day “Panasonic Corporation”. In 1960, the founder of Matsuhita Denki, Mr. Konosuke Matsushita became ill and visited the temple to pray for the recovery of his health. After the visit, he got better and donated fund to construct the thunder gate.
Nakamise Shopping St.
Nakamise Shopping St has been famous among the citizens since Edo Period. Today many peple visit this place to enjoy the “sweet” street foods such as Kibidango (soft rice cakes covered with millet flour), NingyoYaki (sweet cake with red bean paste), Kaminariokoshi (sweet puff rice cracker), Agemanju (deep fried manju). Also, you can find Ukiyo-e postcard(Japanese woodblock prints), Manekineko (beckning cats), and other types of souvenirs.
We went to Ochanomizu after visiting Akihabara. This is located very close. It’s about 10mins walk. You can find Meishu (Famous Sake) Center, Kanda Shrine, and Yushima Seido (Confucious Temple). In Meishu Center you can try a cup of Sake from 200 yens ~, when it is open. Yushima Seido enshrines Confucius and worked out as the academic center during Edo Period. You can see its subtle difference from Buddhist Temples and Shinto Shrines.
Photo: Yushima Seido
(4) Meiji Jingu Shrine
Surrounded by green forest, Meiji Jingu Shrine is considered as an oasis in the center of Tokyo. The road to the main hall is covered with sacred stones to purify the mind and body of visitors before meeting the deity, and we see very big Torii gates that literally mean the place where birds perch. Actually, we sometimes see many crows there.
Photo: Meiji Jingu Shrine
2. Japanese pop culture
If you are interested in the Japanese pop culture. I would recommend Akihabara. Akihabara has been known as the center of electric town, but today we can also enjoy various modern cultures such as Maid café, games, and plastic toy displays. We went to a Maid café near Akihabara Station and ordered a cup of beverage. One interesting characteristics is that the cute maid teaches you how to make the drink more delicious, forming a heart with your hands and speaking “Moe-Moe-Kyun”. I think this is a unique culture in Japan.
Afterwards, we went out to play Street Fighter II on the street. There is a store in the main street that displays Super Nintendo open to the public. If you are interested in eSports, you can enjoy a virtual street fight with someone.
Photo: Akihabara Main Street
You can find Harajuku near Meiji Jingu Shrine. In Takeshitadori Street, you can have modern street foods such as crepes and candy floss. Also, this is a shopping street that includes cat café, Daiso, and cosmetic shops.
Photo: Takeshita Street
3. Interesting Scenery
Shibuya’s scramble crossing is very famous among foreign tourists. About 3,000 people cross the street during its peak time.
Photo: Shibuya's Scramble Crossing
Actually, we started our tour in Shinjuku and finished it there. About 3,000,000 people use Shinjuku station. This place is the hub of public transportation in Tokyo.
Photo: Tocho or Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings
Tocho or Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings are the place to visit to enjoy the 360° Panoramic Views of Tokyo, because it is, “FREE”. This is a hidden tourist spot, about 10 mins walk from Shinjuku Station. Going up to the 45th floor, you can enjoy watching the entire scenery of Tokyo. Also, there is a piano open to the public on the floor. If you like playing the piano, I think you can enjoy the performance there.
Finally, we went to Shinjuku Golden Gai where many tiny bars are located in the small district. The Golden Gai’s history started as the black market after the WWII, but today this area is called “bar-hopping area”. Some bars offer “no charge, no taxes” services to the visitors, and you can enjoy the conversation with the owner. Some of them speak English.
◆Our Travel Route ◆
- Shinjuku - JR Yamanote Line - Ueno
- Ueno - Tokyo Metro Ginza Line - Asakusa
- Asakusa - Tsukuba Express - Akihabara
- Akihabara - Walk - Ochanomizu
- Shin Ochanomizu - Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line - Meiji Jingu Shrine
- Meiji Jingu Shrine - Walk - Harajuku
- Harajuku - Walk - Shibuya
- Shibuya - JR Yamanote Line - Shinjuku
Let's enjoy Tokyo in a simple way
In this article, I introduced our customized tour and 3 categories to avoid overwhelming information and enjoy Tokyo in a simple way. If you are planning to come to Tokyo and find it difficult to decide your destination, I hope this article will be helpful to solve it. I really appreciate the opportunity to meet my customer this time. Thank you very much.
Photo: With my customer
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