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Dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Skoken, this Shinto shrine was originally constructed in 1920 at the site of an iris garden that is known to have been favored by the royal couple. Emperor Meiji ascended to the throne in 1867, at the height of the Meji Restoration, drawing Japan from the veils of feudalism and into the modern era. The traditional nagare-zukuri shrine is built amid a teeming, evergreen forest of over 10,000 trees from across Japan; a token of gratitude donated by the people. Simple, yet elegant, the Meiji Jingu Shrine is isolated from the bustle of the city, its verdant shroud softening the sounds of the vibrant metropolis that is Tokyo. Nearby lies the enchanting inner garden, a field of iris blooms in June. The Imperial Treasure House at the shrine also exhibits the coronation carriage and several other intriguing mementos of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. The shrine that stands today is a reconstruction of the original, built in 1958 after its predecessor was destroyed during WWII.
The Shinjuku Gyoen Imperial Garden mixes Western and Eastern influences in its layout with English, French and conventional Japanese gardens. It also has quaint tea ceremony houses and a greenhouse with a considerable collection of tropical plants. It is most famous for its 1500 cherry blossom trees, which in early spring paint the whole place with different hues of fluttering pink.
This naturally wooded park adjoins the Meiji Jingu Shrine, and until 1996, it hosted Tokyo's amateur rock and roll bands, who strutted their stuff every Sunday. They have since moved to Omotesando, and Yoyogi Park has become quiet, and ideal for lovers and families who like to enjoy a tranquil Sunday afternoon strolling by small ponds filled with koi (Japanese carp). Rental bicycles are available within the grounds during summer.
Shibuya is a Tokyo district that is known for its shopping and fashion. Start the day at the well-known meeting spot, Hachiko Statue, then head down any street to find great stores. Book 1st is a fantastic book store and Mandarake is the perfect place to find anime comics or toys. Find a great outfit at Hysteric Glamour or discover a great song at Tower Records. If you have a child, or are a kid at heart, don't miss the Disney Store. However, head to Shibuya 109 if you want to do all of your shopping at once. This impressive mall is in the middle of the street and is both a landmark and a shopping center.
This famous Tokyo shrine dates back to 1478 and was originally built inside the Edo Castle (now the Imperial Palace) as protection from its enemies. It was moved to its present site in 1659, its role as guardian of the Palace unchanged. Although the outside façade is insignificant concrete, the torii gate has images of monkeys - the messenger of the shrine's god. A fine collection of Tokugawa swords and deity figures that once paraded in the Sanno Festival are also on display in the shrine museum.
Housed inside the ultimate entertainment complex in the city, Tokyo Dome City Amusement Park is home to several exciting rides ideal for adults and children, making it perfect for a fun family-outing. Formerly known as Kōrakuen,Feel, this amusement park was established in 1952 and was renamed in 2003. Feel the adrenaline rush as you enjoy the Thunder Dolphin Roller Coaster or with the reckless swings of Super Viking Sorabune. Even your little ones have their share of fun with child-friendly rides like the Venus Lagoon or Carousal and many more. For those who like the chills, there is a haunted house as well. All in all, you are sure to have a memorable day with your loved ones at the Tokyo Dome City Amusement Park.
The Imperial Palace has been the official residence of the Emperor and Empress of Japan since Tokyo became the political and imperial capital in 1868. Located in what was once the inner section of Edo Castle, the seat of the Tokugawa shogun, this piece of prime real estate in central Tokyo is enclosed by walls and moats, making a glimpse of its residents impossible. Only on two occasions - January 2 (New Year) and December 23 (Emperor Heisei's birthday) do the Emperor and the Royal Family emerge and wave to the gathering crowd from behind bulletproof windows.
Akihabara refers to the eastern side of the Chiyoda section of Tokyo. Akihabara is sometimes referred to as the "Electric City" because of the high concentration of stores selling all things electronic. Find the latest video games, gadgets, iPods, and cameras at Yodobashi Akiba, a nine-story flagship store, or peruse the Tokyo Animation Center where you can watch showings and demonstrations on gaming and animation. Literally almost every shop deals with electronics, so the possibilities are endless for technology lovers!
Kabuki-za, the main kabuki theater in Tokyo since 1889, usually features two daily performances each consisting of three or four plays, and the repertoire is changed monthly. For 650 Yen, non-Japanese-speaking visitors can hire earphones that give an explanation in English. The visitor who does not have time for an entire performance can buy a ticket for the 4th floor to watch part of the show, but earphones are not available. Five restaurants provide a wide range of Japanese food and refreshments for visitors.
Ginza is Japan's, and perhaps Asia's, most prestigious shopping area. Many up-market retail shops have their flagship stores here. Ginza attracts smart and elegant shoppers and office workers as well as students in t-shirts. There are countless wining and dining places to choose from ranging from the reasonable to the outrageously expensive. If you have the money to spend, Ginza should be on your itinerary.
Slip into the atmosphere of a working class neighborhood set in the pre-1923 Great Kanto Earthquake days. A mural on the landing between the first and second floors depicts peddlers, artisans and blue-collar workers going about their daily life during the Edo period. The extensive display of household items gives a fascinating peek into a lifestyle from days gone by. The exhibits have no explanations in English, but an English language guide is available. Guide dogs are permitted and there are toilets with disabled access on two floors.
This 100-year-old zoo contains a multitude of exotic birds, baby Siberian tigers, monkeys, gorillas, giraffes and other animals from all over the world. A monorail links the two separate areas within the zoo, and there is also a children's petting zoo at the southern end.