Tokyo Trip

Ten days in Tokyo, 5 of those at a conference, the other 5 spent seeing the sights.


Tokyo Trip

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by hellbunnie on October 7, 2006

Modern and traditional at the same time, Tokyo is a great city to visit with so many things to do and see. I spent 10 days here, but could easily have stayed for so much longer... Highlights include the parks, temples, shops, food, people, pretty much everything actually!${QuickSuggestions} It helps to know some Japanese, the people are incredibly friendly and helpful, but outside of the big hotels they don't generally speak that much English.${BestWay} Train - there's an underground system and overground lines. They're all easy to use and quite cheap. The city is way too big to see on foot, but the trains will take you wherever you need to go.

Ueno Koen Park

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by hellbunnie on October 7, 2006

Apparently Ueno park is a great spot to view the cherry blossoms at the right time of year, unfortunately I was there in May and just missed the hanami festival; not a cherry blossom in sight.

The park is large and offers pleasant walks with peony gardens and a number of beautiful temples and shrines. It's a popular place for Tokyoites to walk and picnic and was very busy when I was there.

You'll find lots of stalls selling octopus balls, green-tea ice-cream and similar delicacies. You an have a cheap and delicious lunch just by buying a few things from these stalls, then sit down on the grass and enjoy it.

There's a concert area beside Shinobazu pond where for a small fee you might get to see some local pop groups play. There are also stalls around the pond selling antiques. I bought some second-hand kimonos as presents.

The park contains the Tokyo National Museum which has fantastic exhibitions of Japanese art, ceramics, textiles and generally beautiful stuff. There's also an archaeology exhibition but I didn't make it that far.

There are some other museums here too, it took me the best part of a day to see the National Museum and another to wander around the park. I didn't even make it to any of the other museums. Plan on spending some time here!

Ueno Park
5-20 Ueno Koen
Tokyo, Japan, 110-0007
+81 (3) 3828-5644

Ueno Park Concerts

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by hellbunnie on October 7, 2006

If you're lucky you'll find a gig in progress at the small semi-open-air concert location in Ueno park beside the Shinobazu pond. The line-up varies, on the day I was there there were a bunch of punk and rock bands. Some were terrible, others great. It's a fun, relaxing way to spend a few hours. These were small local bands, I doubt they ever have well-known acts playing here, it's probably too small a location. There are no drinks served, but you can always buy something (alcohol included) from the ubiquitous vending machines.
Ueno Park
5-20 Ueno Koen
Tokyo, Japan, 110-0007
+81 (3) 3828-5644

An Evening of Kabuki

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by hellbunnie on October 7, 2006

Kabuki is one of the traditional theater forms of Japan, and is generally considered to be easier for us simple westerners to understand than Noh theater which is rather more stylised. In Tokyo the best place to see Kabuki is in the Kabuki-za theater in Ginza.

You can buy tickets online or at the theater, either for a full show or a single act. I went for the full show although I had no idea what it was about or whether I'd understand a word of it.

There are a number of distinct acts, first there's usually a short historical play, then a dance, then a comedy piece followed by the main play. You'll get a booklet in English with some information on the play you're going to see, and you can get headphones with commentary in Japanese, English and possibly other languages. I (perhaps foolishly) didn't bother with the headphones.

The first three acts were all easy to follow with a little help from the booklet and the lovely lady beside me who spoke about as much English as I spoke Japanese. The costumes, music and stylised speech were beautiful even if you don't understand them, and the dance was stunning with a beautiful young onnagata (a male actor who plays a woman) going through several lightning fast costume changes, each more sumptuous than the last...

The longer main play had a more complicated plot that I didn't fully follow, and it was long with stretches of dialog which were probably essential to the story. The headphones would definitely have helped here.

If you're interested in Japanese culture or in theater then this makes a most absorbing evening. If you'd like to have a look but don't think you could stick the four and a half hours of the full show then buy a ticket for one of the earlier, shorter acts, they're much easier to follow than the main play anyway. And do get the headphones even if you speak Japanese as the language used is somewhat archaic.

Kabuki-za Theater
Harumi-dori, Ginza
Tokyo, Japan

Onsen Hot Spring Baths

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by hellbunnie on October 7, 2006

The Japanese have a tradition of communal bathing in public baths, and these are still very popular today. Many of them use water from natural hot springs. If you have the time you can take a trip to a hot springs resort, but if you can't make the trip then you can still try out the baths in Tokyo.

There are a number of onsen baths (fed by hot-spring water) in Tokyo, I visited a small one in Asakusa, ask at your hotel and they should be ble to direct you to one nearby.

The procedure is simple enough; you leave your clothes in a locker and head into the shower room where you wash yourself thoroughly before getting into the baths. There are pools of varying heats, including a cold plunge pool which you finish up in.

It's very relaxing and the perfect way to sooth your tired muscles after a hard-day's sight-seeing.

Bring a towel, soap, shampoo, etc. though you can usually buy these at the baths. You might also want to bring flip flops or something, of course you have to remove your outdoor shoes as you come in...


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