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.
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.
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.
Located in the east of the city, Tokyo Station handles a vast array of commuter trains running north, south, east and west. All trains are color-coded to match the lines on which they run. Most lines run local, rapid and express trains. Tokyo Station is also the terminal for bullet trains running to all corners of the country. Tickets for these may be purchased at all major JR stations at the Midori Madoguchi (Green Window). It is best to make a seat reservation in advance. Moreover, the imperial red building also houses a plethora of shops, eateries and even a hotel within its premises, making it a premiere attraction.
A building that houses it all, the Shin-Marunouchi Building contains floors of shops, restaurants, and businesses. At a height of 198 meters and 38 stories, this building dominates both the skyline and the retail sector in front of Tokyo Station. The retail zone offers around 150 shops ranging from jewelry, to cosmetics, to men's and women's fashion. The dining options are varied, offering shoppers a selection that includes teahouses, Brazilian barbecue, and the ubiquitous Seven-Eleven. With room for both work and play, the Shin-Marunouchi Building has it all.
Lixil Gallery is located on the 2nd floor of the Tokyo Tatemono Kyobashi building. It plays a crucial role in taking emerging artists under its wing, and giving them a platform to showcase their artworks. Established in 1982, the trendy place boasts an eclectic repertoire of exhibitions all year round so check website for details. At this same floor, you can also see contemporary ceramic-artworks at Galleria Ceramica.
Tokyo International Forum is an excellent venue for music, theater, dance performances, cinema and art exhibitions. It consists of four buildings, each with its own venue hall. Live performances are usually staged in Hall A and Hall B. The facilities are marvelous and include a variety of restaurants that cater to a wide range of culinary tastes. Concerts are also sometimes staged in the afternoon and evening.
Gallery Koyanagi is tucked away at the back of the Koyanagi building, on the eighth floor. Here you will find around thirty artistic spaces, all occupied by well-established artists, both local and foreign (Sophie Calle, Rei Naito, Yoon Hee Chang). It's a space that requires time and quiet (it's one of the largest commercial art spaces in Tokyo) and both shall be richly rewarded.
Idemitsu Museum of Arts is located on the 9th floor in the Teigeki building. Since its 1966 opening, the Idemitsu has earned a reputation for housing excellent ceramics, the Chinese portion of which is among the most extensive to be found in Japan. The collection also includes byobu (folding screens), lacquer, painting, Chinese bronzes, scrolls, calligraphy, and tea utensils. For study and research, representative shards from various Japanese kilns are on display in a separate room. The first museum director, Sazo Idemitsu acquired this collection over a 70-year span. In addition, the Idemitsu owns more than 400 works of the French religious and expressionist painter Georges-Henri Rouault (1871-1958).