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Not everything is glitzy and expensive in Ginza-- Komparu-yu, the oldest senta (bath house) in Ginza, retains it's original two baths. One is nurui (lukewarm) and the other is atatakai (hot); the lukewarm bath, however, is hot enough for most visitors. Entrance is within 500 yen; a steal considering that these baths have survived since 1863.
Residing amid rolling, open parkland, the glorious Kōkyo (Tokyo Imperial Palace) is an ethereal structure commanding might and magnificence. Fronted by the rejuvenating Fukiage Garden, East Garden and Ninomaru Garden which are enlivened by an alluring autumnal glory, the palace is steeped in history and unabashed architectural excellence. 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. The magnificent visage gives way to an interior which is just as elegant, comprising Hōmeiden State Banquet Hall, the Rensui Dining Room and the Chōwaden Reception Hall among other sections. Only on two occasions - January 2 (New Year) and 23 February (Emperor Naruhito's birthday) do the Emperor and the Royal Family emerge and wave to the gathering crowd from behind bulletproof windows. A magnificent nexus of modernist architectural styles fused with rooted, traditional nuances, the Imperial Palace is the crowning glory of Tokyo.
Tsukiji Honganji Temple was established in 1617 in the Yoshiwara area of Tokyo. It was relocated to Tsukiji after the great fire of 1657. The current architecture resembles that of Indian temples and was designed by Chuta Ota in 1935. Once a major complex of over fifty temples, Tsukiji Honganji is now noted for being the biggest temple in Japan made entirely of stone. This is the final resting place of the famous Edo Period artist, Hoitsu Sakai (1761-1828). The temple is also considered to be a pilgrimage owing to the artifacts of Prince Shotoku, Shinran Shonin, and Shonyō Shōnin preserved here.
First opened in 1935, the historic Tsukiji fish market created an outer market region, thanks to its massive popularity. Known as the Tsukiji Outer Market, this vibrant landmark sells a variety of items like fresh produce, fish, utensils as well as ready to eat food. The market came into existence as a need to cater to non-wholesale customers, who were initially barred from entering the area for it was solely commercial. Even though the historic inner market has shut shop, you can still enjoy the unique shopping culture at the Outer Market.
The National Diet Building was built in 1936. It is about 65.5 meters (215 feet) high and takes up 103 square meters (1108.7 square feet) of space. There are two free tours available: the first one is offered by the House of Representatives (this tour is not offered on Saturdays, Sundays and a holidays) and the second one is offered by the House of Councilors. In these tours, you will see the lobby, conference hall and central hall of the National Diet Building. You don’t need to book in advance if you're going with less than nine people.
Named after Kyoto's famous Mount Atago in Arashiyama, Tokyo's Atago Jinja Shrine is a picturesque Shinto shrine on the hill. The striking red gate of the shrine opens to a large complex which was originally built during the 16th Century and rebuilt in 1958. During the Edo period it was also a choice location for cherry-blossoms. To approach the hillside shrine you must make a choice between two sets of stairs--easy and a difficult! You will find the Benten shrine in the center of a pond. An added attraction is the teahouse for a well-earned rest and refreshment.
Built as a tribute to the soldiers and war heroes of Japan, the Yasukuni Shrine is a notable Shinto Shrine of the country. The shrine commemorates 2,466,532 people comprising of civilians and military and also including those from Taiwan and Korea who once served under the Japanese Emperor. Chinreisha, a separate shrine on the premise houses memorials for the soldiers who fought in opposition to Japan. The architecture of the wooden shrine is remarkable with green and gold embellished roofs and massive courtyards and quadrants dappled with cherry blossoms. The shrine has been a center of conflict, however, is also the hub for several festivals and events of the city. An intriguing site, the Yasukuni Shrine has garnered a lot of attention from locals as well as tourists.
A Zen temple and a Shinto shrine (dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of harvests) co-exist on this site. This scenario was common until the Meiji restoration, when temples and shrines were officially separated. In the compound is a small shrine in honor of a famous Edo Period administrator, Tadasuke Ohoka. Two fox statues flank the main temple, which is protected by many small Inari shrines. While the architecture and presence of Shinto deities is glaring, the temple remains largely Buddhist. The renowned feature of the temple is Reiko-Zuka or Hill of Foxes, the shrine dotted with hundreds of fox statues wearing red bibs around their neck. Reiko-Zuka is dedicated to fox who is considered the messenger of God.
The elegant Akamon, a symbol of the University of Tokyo, is also an important national cultural treasure. Built to welcome Yasuhime, the daughter of the 13th generation Shogun Ienari, on her visit to the samurai Maeda Family in 1828, the gate got its name from its beautiful vermilion color, and its eaves still retain the Maeda Family crest. While you are on the grounds, pause to consider this century-old masterpiece.
Imado Jinja Shrine was built in 1083. This shrine suffered damage due to war and earthquakes, however it has been rebuilt each time. Imado Shrine is a famous place of marriage, and many people who want to find their true love visit here. This shrine is the birthplace of "Manekineko," a figure shaped like a cat that is said to be a symbol of prosperity and happiness.
Dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, 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 Meiji 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 Jingū is isolated from the hustle and 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, which dates back to 1958 after its predecessor was destroyed during World War II.