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The Tokyo National Museum displays a bevy of sculptures, paintings, calligraphy, archaeological objects and other decorative arts. Broadly divided into Japanese, Chinese and Korean forms, the museum's collections are nothing short of artistic preservation of Asian history and culture. Exhibitions, lectures and gallery talks are held regularly, so visitors can gain access to some valuable information about the world's largest continent. The museum also stores historical documents dating back to the 10th and 11th Centuries.
With Totoro greeting you at the entrance, step inside this colorful and whimsical museum and learn all about Studio Ghibli animations. Stroll through the beautiful exhibits and discover how animated films are created. After learning about the movie process, you can catch the screening of short museum-exclusive films. Kids will love playing on the plush Cat Bus from My Neighbor Totoro and later, you can visit the rooftop garden to see the seven-meter (23 feet) tall statue of Robot Soldier from Laputa Castle in the Sky. Pay a visit to the Ghibli Museum to learn more about an iconic animation studio.
The Shinjuku Gyo-en blends Western and Eastern influences in its layout with English, French and conventional Japanese gardens. It also features quaint tea ceremony houses and a greenhouse with a considerable collection of tropical plants. It is most famous for its cherry blossom trees, which in early spring paint the whole place with different hues of fluttering pink. It is an ideal place to get some fresh air, relax amidst nature and lift your spirits.
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.
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.
Ueno Zoological Gardens, over a 100 years old, contains a multitude of birds, Siberian tigers, monkeys, gorillas, Giant Pandas, 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. A pagoda-like structure on one end of the park adds some Japanese history into the mix. Neatly combining history and wildlife, this attraction makes for a particularly rewarding experience for children.
Watching over the increasingly-cosmopolitan landscape of Sumida, Tokyo Sky Tree is one of the tallest of its kind in the whole of Japan. The tower is indeed a beacon of the city's contemporary bent and an amalgam of the country's traditional tastes and elements of Neo-futuristic architecture. Boasting a monumental scale of 634 meters (2080 feet), this lofty tower is home to many attractions including a restaurant, a cafe, an aquarium and a couple of observation decks that afford astounding views of the metropolitan cityscape beneath. Also doubling as a broadcasting tower, Tokyo Skytree prides itself on its glorious standing as one of the world's tallest towers. A sight of magnificence and luminescence at night, Tokyo Sky Tree is not only a dominating feature of Sumida's skyline but is also a majestic embodiment of the city's ever-evolving face.
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.
Akihabara refers to the eastern side of the Chiyoda section of Tokyo. A vibrant and trendy hub, it 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. Almost every shop here deals with electronics, so the possibilities are endless for technology lovers!
This striking Buddhist temple is one of Tokyo's oldest, originally established in 645 CE in honor of the goddess Kannon. Legend has it that in 628 CE, two brothers found a small statue of the goddess in the Sumida River which miraculously returned to them each time they submerged the idol. The majestic Kaminarimon, or Thunder Gate, guards the approach to Kinryū-Zan Sensō-Ji, its most distinctive feature being a massive paper lantern painted in shades of red and black to resemble a storm cloud. Beyond this lies the Nakamise, a pathway lined with colorful stalls selling traditional crafts and snacks. The temple itself is a magnificent sight, its main hall a grand spectacle replete with intricate details, and large paper lanterns strung from a ceiling held up by towering columns. Set alongside a five-tiered pagoda, the shrine is a vividly vibrant place of worship which is also one of the city's best known. The original temple was damaged during the Second World War; the existing structures are recent additions.