Tokyo Journals

Terrific Tokyo

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A September 2009 trip to Tokyo by barbara

Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel Photo, Tokyo, Japan More Photos
Quote: I had less than a week on this first trip to Japan. I did my best to make it count.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings

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Attraction | "A Good Place to Start a Tour of Tokyo"

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings Photo, Tokyo, Japan
Quote:
I wanted to go on a tour of Tokyo led by an English speaking guide. Well, I didn't think I needed reservations in advance. I just showed up at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings in Shinjuku from which the tour was supposed to embark. Ah, what folly! I have now discovered the Japanese are planners, and reservations are the way of the wise. Queries of, "Can you please look to see if there's an extra place on the tour since I don't have a reservation?" were met with bewildered looks. I was an amusing gaijin (foreigner.) If I had only stopped at the visitors' centre earlier, I could have booked my space. If only I had taken advantage of the resources available, I p...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 16, 2009

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings
2-8-1, Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo, Japan 163-8001
03-5321-1111

Tokyo National Museum

Attraction | "A Good Overview of Japanese Art"

Tokyo National Museum Photo, Tokyo, Japan
Quote:
One of the nice things about the Tokyo National Museum is its location. There's a subway station right beside Uneo Park where the museum is housed. (The train station across the street offers a sky train to Narita airport.) While just being a pleasant place to walk, Uneo Park has lots of attractions on offer. If you're traveling with kids, for instance, you might want to check out the zoo here or the National Science Museum which has a gigantic statue of a whale swimming out front. The Tokyo National Museum contains the world's largest collection of Japanese art. It is a lovely complex at the end of one park with several buildings. Pressed for time because we had a plane to catch, w...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 16, 2009

Tokyo National Museum
13-9 Ueno Koen
Tokyo, Japan
+81 (0)3 3822 1111

Yasukuni Shrine

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Attraction | "Place of the Dead near the Imperial Palace"

Yasukuni Shrine Photo, Tokyo, Japan
Quote:
The name of the Yasukuni Shrine translates into "for the repose of the country." Founded in 1869, it is the resting place for all of Japan's warriors who died in wars from then on. Now, I don't think my grandfather who fought in the Pacific Theatre in WWII would have appreciated my visiting this place. I'd imagine he would have at the least been very uncomfortable. The Shinto shrine is, actually, a point of contention even within the country of Japan itself. It is always controversial when politicians visit here, and the rising administration just voted into power will have to address Yasukini as well... whether or not any party leaders will ever pay homage to those 2.5 million soldie...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 16, 2009

Yasukuni Shrine
3-1-1 Kudan Kita
Tokyo, Japan 102-0073
+81 (0)3326 8326

Hama Rikyu Garden

Attraction | "A Quiet Place for Tea"

Hama Rikyu Garden Photo, Tokyo, Japan
Quote:
A short walk from Tsukiji Fish Market is the Hama Rikyu Garden. After almost being run over by the speeding carts in the market, getting jostled while going down aisles full of people, being overwhelmed by frenetic energy, I wanted a moment to renew my feeling of Zen. Entry into Hama Rikyu is around $3, but I was happy to find green space in the city. Upon entry, I was given an information sheet in English that explained the garden used to be a Shogun's hunting grounds. Apparently it was stocked with ducks. I also read in my guidebook that the garden is good to see from the water, and I discovered you can catch a water taxi from here if you so desire. Wandering on paths b...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 16, 2009

Hama Rikyu Garden
1-1 Hama Rikyu Teien
Tokyo, Japan 104-0045
+81 (0) 3 3541 0200

Tsukiji Fish Market

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Attraction | "The Freshest Fish"

Tsukiji Fish Market Photo, Tokyo, Japan
Quote:
While I got a glimpse of a giant tuna being whizzed away on the back of a buyer's cart, I did not see the famous tuna auctions that take place in the wee morning hours at the Tsukiji Fish Market. No matter. My senses were pretty overwhelmed anyway. The fish market is located by the bay. When I got to it around 6 AM, I was glad I had already had a cup of coffee. You have to keep alert in this area, or you'll get run over. This is a place of serious commerce, and the fish sellers/buyers ride carts at fast speeds up and down the aisles. In truth, when you first get to this area, it's hard to see it's a fish market. It certainly doesn't smell all that fishy. To one end, pr...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 16, 2009

Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Station Stop (subway)
Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Transport

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Story/Tip

Tokyo Subway Map Photo, Tokyo, Japan
Quote:
The Tokyo subway system might look intimidating, but it's very efficient and easy to use. The trick is taking a deep breath and finding the English map. When you approach the subway station, you will see the lines displayed above the machines from which you buy your tickets. What you need to do is count the stops you need to go. There will be a number circled above the stop. This is the fare required to travel to that station. For example, if you go from Shibuyu Station to Uneo Station, it costs 190 Yen. When you buy the ticket, you'll see this option displayed on the screen. You insert your money and press the 190 button. Easy peasy! Also, like when using the Underground in Lond...Read More

Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel

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Hotel | "Sleeping in Shibuya"

Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel Photo, Tokyo, Japan
Quote:
The Cerulean Tower is a nice, Western style hotel in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. Our room was plenty big enough for two with a fantastic view. Internet access was a necessity, and we had no problems getting connected. The bathroom was small, but I loved how a giant rectangle in the mirror wouldn't fog up after a steamy shower. (For me, it's all about the comfort details.) The toilets are funny in Japan as well. While you'll run across the traditional squat variety while touring around the city, the Cerulean offers a Western throne to guests. However, when you take a seat, gurgling sounds erupt beneath you to mask any embarrassing sounds that you might emanate. It was kinda funny...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 16, 2009

Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel
26-1 SAKURAGAOKA CHO
Tokyo, Japan 150-0031
81-3-3476-3000