About the Exciting Capital of JapanThere are not many cities in the world like Tokyo. Tokyo is a futuristic metropolis, a city that stuns its visitors in every possible way. From the fast busy pace of life, to the huge and unimaginable shopping centers, the bustling streets and crossroads, the ultra-modern skyscrapers, the crazy technology and the innovative and liberated attire of many of its young people.
On top of being a busy and industrial city, Tokyo is one of the most modern cities in the world, it is also the enchanting cherry blossom, a variety of fine Japanese food, clean and tidy streets, beautiful gardens, colorful fall in autumn, and an ancient and special culture.
Tokyo is undoubtedly one of the more fascinating cities in the Far East. Its status as a financial, commercial and tourism metropolis has made it one of the most important places in the business and cultural worlds. This unique Japanese culture is well present and demonstrates how tradition can be combined with innovation.
The modern side of Tokyo stands out. It is expressed in a skyline of innovative and modern towers, an unparalleled public transportation system, advanced and efficient roads, organized and large shopping and entertainment areas, and more.
A visit to Tokyo will leave you amazed. Sooner rather than later you will surely understand the nickname given to Tokyo - "A Western Tourist's Amusement Park".
Some InformationTokyo has 23 districts and another 26 urban areas. It is located on the banks of the Tokyo bay, on the east coast of the island of Honshu, the main island of Japan.
Tokyo alone has over 13 million residents, 35 million people reside in the greater Tokyo area. This makes this metropolis the most populated in the world. Every day, more than 2 million people travel into the city from surrounding towns.
HistoryIn the past Tokyo was known by the name "Edo", meaning "estuary", for the location of the city at the mouth of the river. In East Asia there is an ancient tradition of including the word capital in Japanese in the name of the capital city, after it became the capital of the empire in 1868, Edo's name was changed to Tokyo. Meaning "the capital of the East". "Tu" in Japanese is East and "Kyo" means the capital.
For a certain time period Tokyo was also called "Tokei", which is a different pronunciation to the Chinese characters for the word "Tokyo". This was during the early Meiji period.
When to Visit?The most popular seasons to visit Japan are the spring and the fall. However this country is beautiful at an season. The summer month of June is considered in Japan to be the "rainy season," and July and August are hot and humid.
It is beautiful to visit Japan during March, April, May, the spring months, mainly because of the sakura, the magnificent cherry blossoms. The blossom happens are a different time every years.
Not less beautiful is the amazing autumn trees, changing to colors of red-orange-yellow - around September, October, November.
AccommodationsA recommended area to sleep in is around the train station Shinjuku, or Shibuya. Ensure that your accommodation will be walking distance from one of these two stations.
If you picked over areas to stay at in the city, it is recommended to stay near the Yamnote Line.
Besides the usual hotels, Tokyo offers special Japanese hosting.
For adventurers, try a capsule hotel, which offers a cheap line of sleeping cells for a single person. Minimum amount of space but privacy guaranteed.
Home sharing is economical and you will likely meet the local residents, who host travelers in their houses.
Popular and unique option for accommodations in Tokyo are Ryokan - traditional Japanese guest houses with shared showers and toilets at a cheap price. Rooms are simple and clean, with paper partitions separating them. Guests sleep on futon mattresses lying on the floor. There are many such in the city, even in major places.
FoodThe city has over 150,000 restaurants and the largest and most varied fish markets in the world, it is not wonder that food here is a major part of entertainment. Here there is great food at luxury restaurants, and also at street stalls, in popular restaurants, and shops and grocery stores, in well-packed sushi dishes.
At street stalls, the cheapest at all times of the day and always delicious and authentic, there is a distinction between yakitoris stalls, a type of chicken skewers, raman stalls, the legendary soup dish of Japan, and Isakos- popular pubs in every street corner. Around these are quite a few fast and tasty noodle stalls, restaurants with suva noodles, sushi of all levels, and restaurants specializing in tempura, vegetables and seafood fried in a delicate layer of breadcrumbs. Noodles, ramen, suva or udon are the great pleasures of the street.
Next to the popular foods, there are gourmet high quality restaurants, Japanese or Western, some having up to three Michelin stars. They are expensive of course, but as with most restaurants in Tokyo, some offer business meals between 11 am and 4:30 pm.
A must-try experience in Tokyo are restaurants in the "kaiten" style, or a conveyor belt with sushi going around the restaurant. Each plate is color coded to reflect a price, customers take which ever plates as they wish. At the end of the meal the waiter counts and calculates the cost of the bill according to the colors of the plates. A fun and great experience with children!
SavingTokya is not considered a cheap traveling destinations. But even in one of the most expensive cities in the world, they are ways to save.
Staying at capsule hotels is much cheaper than anywhere else, also a traditional Ryokan or a private apartment, like a guest house are good options.
To travel the subway as you wish, buy a discounted daily ticket.
The food stalls on the streets of Tokyo are wonderful. You will not have to eat at a fancy restaurant to enjoy the tastes of the Japanese cuisine. Noodles from the small shops in the alleyways are also delicious.
At any hour, and very cheaply, you can buy a takeaway "Bento" from 24 hours convenience stores. It's a sort of lunch box that's delicious, well made, and cheap.
In the huge food isles of the large department store, you will find food at a good price and quite a few samples and tastings. Between 8 PM - 9 PM, you can buy up to 70% off at the most expensive department stores, including the most expensive delicacies. Head to Takashimaya and Tokyu.
Museum enthusiasts should purchase a Grutt Pass card, which allows free entrance, or a significant discount, at the entrance to all the city's most important museums.
Cheap souvenirs can be found at the "100 Yen Shop" stores around the city.
Kabuki shows for a daytime show can be seen for $ 20, a tenth of the price of the evening shows.
For free sites in the Japanese capital - Click on the tag Free in Tokyo.
Public TransportationThe Tokyo subway is clean and tidy. The same is true of the stations and tunnels, where everything is orderly and tasteful. The train itself is very quiet.
For unlimited subway rides in Tokyo, buy a discounted daily ticket. The "Tokunai Pass" offers free travel throughout the day on the JR train lines.
Taxis in Tokyo are very expensive, and at night the price usually reaches high amounts.
The great and advanced Japanese trains are also very expensive. If you plan to leave Tokyo for trips to different parts of Japan, the Japan Rail Pass, which can only be purchased outside Japan, will greatly reduce the price. It will allow unlimited travel on all train lines here, for 7, 14, or 21 days.
MuseumsTokyo has a crazy variety of museums, most of which are closed on Mondays. The front doors always close half an hour before closing time, and tickets are sold only in cash. Taking photographs is usually forbidden.
For free museums, go to the Kanto Earthquake Memorial Museum, the Electric Power Historical Museum, and the Sumo Wrestling Museum.
TipIn Japan it is not customary to give tips. The Japanese are usually not comfortable with accepting a tip, and if you leave a tip, know that there is a change the waiters will even be insulted.
Clubs and EntertainmentThe city of Tokyo offers various outing areas like Shibuya, Ginza and Shinjuku. There are bars, restaurants, shops and many areas for Pachinko machines, all of which are also offered in Kabukicho, which also functions as Tokyo's red-light district. In Roppongi you will find a variety of restaurants and night clubs where tourists and foreign residents are mostly go out.
For those looking to dance, it is worth knowing about the "Womb Club," where Brad Pitt performed in the Hollywood movie "Babel".
An overview of all of these will be can be found under the tag Entertainment in Tokyo.
ShoppingCheap Shopping? Sales? - not here. Unlike other Asian countries, Japan is not cheap. But the shopping experience here is real and Tokyo's shopping centers are definitely worth it.
The Japanese are freaks of gadgets and technological toys. The recommended place to purchase electronics and gadgets is at the Akihabara neighborhood, the "Mecca" for electronics. The number of electronics stores here is enormous, some stores have prices that are not bad.
Shopping is also worth doing in the Ginza neighborhood, where there is a huge selection of department stores and shops. Enter Sony's building, where the company exhibits its new products, even one that are not yet released.
Designer shops and modern fashion can be found in the Rajuku area, and in the Aoyama area in the Shibuya district, as well as after shopping attractions.
An excellent market, varied and colorful, is the Amico market in Ueno. The Asakusa area has traditional shops, in the evenings there is also the magical Nakamise Exhibition.