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.
As the premier jazz venue in Tokyo, the Blue Note is the place to hear some of the world's greatest jazz musicians. Tied in with other clubs in such cities as New York and Milan, Blue Note is able to attract such names as Natalie Cole, Oscar Peterson and Taj Mahal. Arrive early for dinner and enjoy a wide ranging menu offering everything from steaks to seafood. A rustic, elegant setting provides the perfect vibe to enjoy dinner and music and is a must-visit for jazz lovers while in Tokyo.
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.
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 groups of friends 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.
This huge, two-building general science museum was established in 1877 and covers a wide variety of scientific knowledge including the evolution of living things, the Earth's formative history, nature, and astronomy. The giant dinosaur fossil, a moon rock and the stuffed body of Hachiko, the famous loyal Akita dog are some of the unmissable exhibits here. Taxidermy specimens, steam engines and the life of Japanese people are also some of the intriguing permanent exhibitions. If you cannot read Japanese, it is better to bring along a Japanese friend who can translate things for you.
This magical wonderland is a fitting embodiment of Walt Disney's legacy. Opened in 1983, Tokyo Disneyland was the first Disney theme park to be built outside the United States. The park is centered around the iconic Cinderella Castle, and features a troupe of attractions scattered across numerous themed arenas such as World Bazaar, Adventureland, Westernland, Critter Country, Fantasyland, Toontown and Tomorrowland. In addition, this gargantuan facility is also home to an arsenal of shops and dining facilities. Here, Mickey Mouse, along with his clan of iconic Disney characters, parades around, sparking joy and jubilation among both young and old.
Ginza is one of Japan's, and perhaps Asia's, most prestigious shopping areas. 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. You can also participate in and enjoy the events which take place in the vibrant district all year round. If you have the money to spend, Ginza should be on your itinerary.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Nestled in the recesses of Nagatachō, the iconic Hei Shrine upholds the spirit of the Shinto school. The temple enshrines Oyamakui-no-kami, its architecture comprising traditional elements like pointed roofs and scarlet, lacquered furnishings. Dating back to 1478, this revered shrine was originally built inside the Edo Castle to serve as protection from enemies. It was moved to its present site in 1659, with its role as guardian of the palace unfazed and unchanged. Although the facade is insignificant concrete, the torii gate bears inscriptions and glorious images of monkeys, which are believed to be messengers of the shrine's deity. A fine collection of Tokugawa swords and other relics are also on display in the shrine museum. An iconic sanctum in the midst of Tokyo's cosmopolitan din, the shrine does not just reverberate with an ardor which has shaped the religious course of the country, but also carries within itself legendary traces of the Kamakura eon.