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Historical

Top Rated Attractions in Tokyo

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Meiji Shrine

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.

Tokyo National Museum

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 The museum also stores historical documents dating back to the 10th and 11th Centuries.

Ryogoku Kokugikan

Ryogoku Kokugikan is the largest indoor area in Tokyo; it can hold over 100,000 spectators comfortably at a time. The arena is designed keeping international standards in mind, as a lot of overseas tourists flock here during matches which are held every January, May and September. Refreshment stands serving alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages, and easy parking facilities are available. Do not forget to try out the legendary Yakitori which is Japanese style barbecue chicken, served during matches. A visit here is not merely a visit to an arena; it is a taste of a slice of the Tokyo life.

Sensō-ji

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.

Asakusa Shrine

A millennium ago or so the legend goes, the Hirokuma brothers found the statue of Kannon (the Bodhisattva of Mercy - the deity alleged to have great powers in purifying people and granting them true happiness) in their fishing nets, and the village chief dutifully enshrined it. The Asakusa Shrine was thus established in 1649 and the three persons in the legend were consecrated as gods of the shrine, hereby earning it the nickname Sanja-sama (the shrine of the three gods). Undoubtedly one of the most famous shrines in Tokyo, it also hosts the Sanja Festival in May.

Hie Shrine

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.

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