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.
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 of the Edo era. 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.
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.
Wreathed in an atmosphere of a working-class neighborhood set in the pre-1923 Great Kanto Earthquake days, the Shitamachii Museum is an evocative representation of the bygone glory of Japan. It is home to a string of traditional, Japanese-style houses which, much paradoxically, lie nestled amid the soaring high-rises of Tokyo. 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. A striking nexus of antiquity and unhindered cultural intrigue, the museum displays insightful exhibits which can be explored and understood with the help of an English speaking guide. A glimpse of Japanese history, the museum is no less than a time machine, transporting its visitors to the Edo era.
Just a 15-minute walk from the trendy and youthful town of Kichijoji, this park has enough to keep you interested for a full day. There is a large pond where you can paddle rental boats, a zoo where you can pet some of the caged animals, playground facilities for baseball or Frisbee games with family and friends, and enough space and greenery for an ideal picnic. On weekends the place even comes alive with street musicians and artists. Inokashira Park is also one of the prime locations for viewing the cherry blossoms in late March/early April.
Asakusa Hanayashiki is the oldest amusement park in Japan. If you wish to spend a nice day with your kids by enjoying nostalgic rides and spectacular shows, then this place is for you. This park has a roller coaster which was made way back in 1953, but is very popular even today. The high tech shows will definitely leave you astonished, so plan your visit now! Other than the attractions, there are plenty of intriguing shops and restaurants serving delicious food. Opening hours might be changed by season and weather, so go prepared by inquiring ahead.
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.
Since its opening in 1999, the National Showa Memorial Museum collects, preserves, and exhibits materials related to the early Showa era (from 1935 to around 1955). Here you can learn about what peoples' lives were like during that time period. There is also an audio visual room and a library, where you can read, watch, and listen to various materials.
Visitors to Tokyo shouldn't miss this gorgeous landscaped garden. Originally an imperial garden, Kyu-Shiba-rikyu Gardens was created in 1924 and was named as one of the most beautiful spots in Tokyo. Stroll along the pathway and admire the flowers as well as the prominent garden pond. You can cross one of the four bridges, admire a "waterfall" crafted out of stones, take your children to the playground, or just relax and take in the sunshine. Surrounded by tall building, this bit of nature creates a peaceful oasis in the city.
Established in 1959, the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum served as a podium to honor the game of baseball and the players associated with the prestigious game. The location was shifted from Korakuen Stadium to the Tokyo Dome and commemorated players, umpires as well as executives. Apart from the associated members, you shall also find baseball related equipment, literature and the likes. The facility also includes a library, video terminals and many historical databases.
The vast Iwasaki estate that was founded in 1886 by the Iwasaki family is an important cultural asset, whose crown jewel is the Kyu-Iwasaki-tei Gardens. It has a beautiful western style residence, a princely Japanese style house and extensive gardens. The craft of making ‘kinkarakawa paper'(gold leather work like paper) has almost disappeared. But if you visit the Kyu-Iwasaki-tei Gardens, you will see this work on the garden's wall, adding further cultural significance to this landmark. The gardens are free to visit for Junior High school and Elementary school students living in Tokyo.