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The Shitamachi Museum

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.

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Yokohama Zoo 'Zoorasia'

Zoorasia is not only one of Japan's largest zoos, but it is also the most child-friendly zoo in the country. It covers an area of about 53 hectares and holds more than 1,500 animals of over 150 species; everything from elephants to alligators, and tropical birds to piranhas. The beauty of this zoo is that the animals are housed in environments that are as close as possible to that which they inhabit in the wild. Even the vegetation and terrain are as natural as possible.

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Tokyo National Museum

The Tokyo National Museum displays sculptures, paintings, calligraphy, archaeological objects, and other decorative arts. Broadly divided into Japanese, Chinese and Korean forms, the museum's collections are nothing if not an 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 The museum also stores historical documents dating back to the 10th and 11th Centuries.

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Edo-Tokyo Museum

Both history and architecture buffs will appreciate the very contemporary building balanced on its landmark, gigantic pillars. Set in a stadium-sized expanse, a model of Nihonbashi (Japan's premier bridge) separates feudal Tokyo (Edo) from modern Tokyo (since 1868). In the permanent exhibition area, you will find original documents. Nostalgic aspects of everyday life are depicted to scale without the restriction of display cases. Ongoing enactments of various folk arts and crafts bring Japan's rich cultural traditions to life. Do not miss the models of the Edo Castle and the Kabuki Theater. See the website for visitor information and the event calendar.

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Shinjuku Gyoen

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.

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Meiji Jingu Shrine

This perfect example of Shinto architecture-- which features muted colors and sparse lines-- was opened in 1920 to commemorate the death of Emperor Meiji in 1912. Surrounded by 72 hectares (178 acres) of shady trees and the many species of Japanese flora that grow in Meiji Jingu Park, it is one of Japan's most sacred and picturesque shrines. The Imperial Treasury House annex exhibits the coronation carriage and mementos of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.

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