Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world, a modern megalopolis, a true hive of activities where life doesn’t stop even at night. It’s one of the most incredible towns on the planet! Only in Tokyo, the concrete “jungles” stand side by side with ancient temples, the latest hi-tech releases strike the imagination, and even the local citizens can mix up the local metro lines. A complicated layout of the streets and districts is another particular feature of the megalopolis. You can easily get lost here, so you should build a route carefully but always be ready to take the wrong turn. Tokyo is a city with an attitude, and it depends only on you if you manage to make friends with it or not.
Districts of Tokyo
According to the territorial division, Tokyo consists of 23 special districts. They were parts of one city but have now gained a special status. Every area has its government: a mayor and a regional council. A governor and metropolitan assembly are at the head of Tokyo and all its districts.
The following districts are the most attractive for tourists:
- Ginza. It’s a beautiful elite district that is considered to be one of the most expensive in Tokyo. The area is situated not far from the city’s railway station. The Imperial Palace and fish market are located within walking distance. The best boutiques and the most expensive restaurants are concentrated here.
- Akihabara. This is quite an extraordinary and extremely vivid neighborhood. The Anime is the main raisin of this place. Neon signs, game-playing machines, shops for adults only, a diversity of cafes with corresponding attributes. The local flavors and colors take your breath away from the first seconds.
- Roppongi. When the sun is up, this area is considered to be a business district, and it quite dull to explore it. Sky-high office centers and the representative agencies of many companies - these are the decorations that you’ll see during your tour. But when the sun goes down, Roppongi turns into a loud party with nightclubs, bars, disco halls, and restaurants that work till dawn.
- Shinjuku and Shibuya. These are two districts located close to each other and have a conventional division. This is a lively and fancy part of the city with a wide range of cafes, restaurants, bars, gaming halls, and sparkling neon signs at every corner. These neighborhoods are considered to be the center of fast food as here you can taste every kind of street food.
- Harajuku. It’s another fancy buzzing area. The busiest crossroad in the world is the raisin of this place: broad streets, several pedestrian crossings, and zillions of cars and people.
Ancient temples and contemporary buildings, cozy parks, and big shopping malls, zoos, exhibitions, museums, amusement centers for children and adults - Tokyo won’t let you get bored. The cultural tour in the capital of Japan can fit absolutely every requirement. Good mood and lots of free time to see the most exciting place are two primary components of a wonderful trip.
Even though Tokyo is considered to be an international city, the majority of its citizens are the Japanese. The number of permanent foreign residents in the capital is only around 3%. According to the data gathered in 2008, this number includes:
- Indians (almost 190 thousand people);
- Chinese (approximately 145 thousand);
- Koreans (about 117 thousand);
- Filipinos (over 31 thousand);
- Americans (nearly 20 thousand).
It should be noted that the fast aging of the nation is the main problems of the population in Tokyo. The birth rates are decreasing, while the expectancy of life is, vice versa, increasing. According to the statistics, more than 20% of the citizens in Tokyo are seniors.
History of the City
The city grew and developed rapidly. At the beginning of the XVIII century, it became one of the largest in the world. Shogunate’s dethronement happened in 1868. Emperor Meiji moved the capital to Edo and gave a new to the city - Tokyo. A new milestone in the city’s development started, especially in the industrial field.
On September 1, 1923, Tokyo was severely damaged by an earthquake. As a result, half of the city was destroyed. The capital faces the second shake during World War II when many wooden houses burnt to ashes after air attacks. Even the Imperial Palace was damaged.
A rapid resuscitation of the economy began at the beginning of the XX century. In world history, this period is called “The Japanese Economic Miracle”. By the end of the 1980s, Tokyo had become one of the most progressive cities in the world.
High seismic activity is the main problem in Tokyo. This issue even caused a discussion devoted to the matter of moving the capital to another city. However, at this point, Tokyo remains to be the major city in Japan and continues to grow and develop.
Before the trip, you should calculate the approximate budget that you will require for the travel:
The best time to visit Tokyo
Spring is considered to be the perfect period to visit Tokyo. Plum trees begin to bloom at the beginning of April. Then, the cherry blossom steps in. A rave of color is changed into the bloom of wisteria and azalea. In summer, it’s time for hydrangea. Moreover, it is allowed to ascend Mount Fuji (from July 1 to August 27).
Momiji is the main raisin of autumnal Tokyo. It stands for “red leaves”. It’s clear from the title that all the parks change their colors and look splendid. There is no time for boredom during winter in Tokyo. In this season, you can admire the breathtaking illumination of the city that turns it into a real fairy-tale.
Taxis in Tokyo are a convenient way to move around the city, although it’s not the cheapest one. The bigger the car is, the more you have to pay for a ride. Look for a red light to spot a free taxi. You should sit in the car on the left side (there is left-hand traffic in Tokyo). The door closes automatically. On average, taxi drivers don’t speak English. Therefore, you should write down or save your address in advance. You can also show your destination on a city map.
If you want to attend attractions with discounts, you should have the Welcome card. Any tourist can get it for free. You just need to find an information office calledЕ JNTO and show your passport.
When you enter the metro, you need to buy a ticket, choosing the first and the final stations. The price depends on the route. It’s essential to keep a ticket till the end of a ride as there is another pay-gate at the exit. If you change your course during a trip, you must come up to the employee and clarify the new price. After that, you should either pay some additional money or get the price difference.
It’s a rigid taboo to leave tips in Japan. Waiters in restaurants, taxi drivers, chambermaids - no one will accept any extra money. Some people may even react aggressively to this gesture. By the way, some hotels include the service fee into the total price. Usually, it’s around 10-15%.
It’s bad manners to speak loudly on the phone ion public places. It also concerns the ringtone. Local citizens tend to mute their phones, answer all the calls quickly and quietly. We highly recommend you to give up on such conversations in public transport.
What should a tourist do in Tokyo?
- Take a ride in a metro. One of the most complicated and puzzling undergrounds in the world definitely deserves your attention. An endless flow of passengers, inscriptions, and sign written in hieroglyphs, weird transfers, and challenging routes - after the first ride, it may seem that it’s impossible to figure it out. With time, you understand the construction of the Tokyo metro is quite convenient. The main point is to grasp the principle.
- Conquer the Shibuya crossroad. It’s the most famous one in the world where around 3000 pedestrians cross the street simultaneously. You can either become a part of this hive or admire the view from the top floors of the neighboring buildings. Both options are lovely, but we highly recommend to give each of them a try.
- Admire the city from the bird’s-eye view. An enormous TV tower is perhaps the most renowned symbol of the city. The observation deck is located at a 250-meter height. You can get there in an elevator. It offers a splendid view of the town. When the sky is clear, you can even see Mount Fuji!
- Spend a night in a capsule hotel. It’s a unique accommodation option that is extremely popular in Tokyo. Each capsule is designed for one person. It’s a cozy sleeping place at a low price. Comfort and free space are out of the question, but it’s definitely worth trying.
- Purchase a ticket to Shinkansen. It’s the fastest train in the world and is considered to be one of the symbols of Tokyo. It can take you to the suburbs of the city that actually doesn’t offer anything interesting. However, in this case, it’s not the final destination that matters. It’s all about the trip and unusual transport.
- Enjoy the beauty of the blooming cherry blossoms and bonsais. The city parks and gardens in Tokyo are genuine oases. There are over 100 thousand trees in Shinjuku Gyo-en National Garden, thousands of cherry blossoms in Ueno Park, and a collection of bonsai trees in the Happo-en gardens. Each of these places can help you to relax from the city fuss and enjoy the picturesque nature.
- Meet the Emperor. Only on December 22 and January 2, there is a meeting of the Japanese with the Emperor on the enclosed territory of the Imperial Palace. You should book a ticket for this event in advance. Even if you don’t manage to meet the Emperor, a walk around the territory of the palace will bring you lots of positive emotions.
- Try real sushi. Only in Japan then know how to cook the right sushi (not the rolls!). A perfect option for a tasting is to head to the fish market early in the morning. There, chefs in local cafes will be more than happy to cook you a fresh portion for breakfast. By the way, the majority of establishments will offer you over 30 variants of sushi.
- Spend all your money on shopping. If you still have some money left after tours and entertainment, you can head to the Ginza district. It’s impossible to leave this part of Tokyo without purchases. Huge shopping malls, thousands of shops and boutiques, the most diverse goods, worldwide known brands, the latest technological releases - shopaholics will be in raptures!
- Take bright pictures with local citizens in Harajuku. The weekends are the best time to come here when the streets are crowded with the youth wearing colorful clothes, weird hairstyles. They usually have attributes of various trendy directions. As a rule, these people are more than happy to take a memorable photo with tourists.