Population: 13,300 million
photo by Moyan Brenn
Tokyo, officially Tokyo Metropolis is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan.
It is the capital of Japan and the most populous metropolitan area in Japan.
Tokyo is often referred to and thought of as a city, but is officially known and governed as a “metropolitan prefecture”, combining elements of both a city and a prefecture; a characteristic unique to Tokyo.
The Tokyo metropolitan government administers the 23 Special Wards of Tokyo (each governed as an individual city), which cover the area that was formerly the City of Tokyo before it merged and became the subsequent metropolitan prefecture in 1943.
- TOKYO CITY
- The city is divided into 3 main areas:
THE CENTRAL TOKYO
the seat of the Japanese power that includes the Imperial Palace, the Ministries in Kasumigaseki, the Parliament in Nagatacho and the electronic mecca in Akihabara.
Also includes the famed department stores of the Ginza and the fish markets of Tsukiji.
[Minato (Akasaka, Shinbashi, Roppongi, Odaiba, Shiodome)]
including the business centers of Akasaka and Shinbashi and the neighboring nightclub district of Roppongi, the port district (at least in name) which includes the artificial island of Odaiba, the skyscrapers of Shiodome.
Home to luxury hotels, giant camera stores, futuristic skyscrapers, hundreds of shops and restaurants, and Kabukicho, Tokyo's wildest nightlife and red-light district
[Shibuya (Harajuku, Ebisu)]
The fashionable shopping district which also encompasses the teenybopper haven of Harajuku (also home to the Meiji Shrine) and the nightlife of Ebisu
A major train hub and business center, including Gotanda.
Including Ikebukuro, another giant train hub.
A residential area with a few nice parks and museums.
THE OLD TOKYO (SHITAMACHI)
Home of the Edo-Tokyo Museum and Tokyo's main sumo arena (Ryogoku Kokugikan), both in Ryogoku.
[Taito (Asakusa, Ueno)]
The heart of Old Tokyo featuring the temples of Asakusa and National Museums in Ueno.
Home to Tokyo Dome and the University of Tokyo.
Famous for Kameido Tenjin and former woodland in Kiba, but now known for its many new public apartment complexes.
Home to Tokyo's last original tram line.
Many suburban wards, including Adachi, where one can visit one of Kanto's Three Great Temples: Nishi-arai Daishi, Katsushika, known for the charming Showa-era atmosphere of Shibamata and Edogawa, a quiet eastern suburb.
Includes the suburban wards of Kita, Itabashi and the quieter northern Nerima, which contains some of the 23 wards' last remaining farmland.
Home to the otaku paradise known as Nakano Broadway.
Half industrial complex, half upscale residential area.
- WHAT TO DO AND WHAT TO SEE
- Tokyo has a vast array of sights, but the first items on the agenda of most visitors are usually the temples of Asakusa, the gardens of the Imperial Palace (in Chiyoda) and the Meiji Shrine.
Tokyo has many commercial centers for shopping, eating and simply wandering around for experiencing the modern Japanese urban phenomenon. Dazzling Shinjuku, youthful Shibuya and upmarket Ginza have their own unique characteristics . These areas are bustling throughout the day, but they really come into life in the evenings.
If you're looking for a viewing platform, the Tokyo Tower is the best known and offers an impressive view. The highest spot in Tokyo is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building(Tokyo's City Hall) in Shinjuku. Its twin towers have viewing platforms that offer a great view over Tokyo and beyond.
A recent addition to the viewing platforms around Tokyo is Tokyo City View in Roppongi Hills in Roppongi, a 54-storey high-rise building that houses an art museum, restaurants, cafes, clinics, stores and offices.
The city is dotted with museums, large and small, which center on every possible interest from pens to antique clocks to traditional and modern arts.
Tokyo Skytree is a broadcast, restaurant, shopping mall, and observation tower in Sumida, Tokyo, Japan. It measures 634 meeter, which is about 2,800 feet and became the tallest structure in Japan and also in the world. The observation deck is available from 8:00~22:00 and the admission fees are required only when entering the observation deck.
- GETTING THERE
- Tokyo, as the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, is Japan's largest domestic and international hub for rail, ground, and air transportation.
Tokyo has two large airports: Narita for international flights and Haneda for both domestic and international flights.
By train and Subway
Rail is the primary mode of transportation in Tokyo, which has the most extensive urban railway network in the world and an equally extensive network of surface lines.
It is clean, safe and efficient, but can get quite confusing due to the several distinct railways that operate within the city.
Announcements and signs are usually bilingual in Japanese and English, though in some areas frequented by tourists, signs in Korean and Chinese can also be seen.
If you are using a smartphone you can benefit from a free, official Tokyo Subway Navigation application available in the app stores. It works offline and has multi language interface, including English.
A Tokyo Metro Subway map is also very helpful to get you around. You can get it at any subway station free of charge.
When using the train, Prepaid fare cards are convenient and highly recommended as they allow you to ride trains without having to read the sometimes Japanese-only fare maps to determine your fare
Highway bus services link Tokyo to other cities, resort areas and the surrounding prefectures. There are JR and private bus companies.
Long-distance buses use a number of terminals scattered throughout the city, but the main JR depot is at Tokyo Station's Yaesu-minamiguchi exit, while Keio and some other private companies use the Shinjuku Highway Bus Terminal
Bus service may be cheaper, but the train is probably more convenient. If you have a JR pass, then you should generally stick with the trains.
Taxis are very pricey, but may be a value for groups of three or more. Also, if you miss your last train (usually 12 pm), you may not have another choice.
- CLIMATE/ TEMPERATURE
- Tokyo is classified as lying in the humid subtropical climate zone and has four distinct seasons. Summers are usually hot and humid with a temperature range of about 20-30°C, though it can sometimes climb into the high thirties. Winters are usually mild, with temperatures generally ranging from 0-10°C, though occasionally temperatures may go below zero at night.
Snow fall is rare.
The famous cherry blossoms bloom in March-April.
- WHAT TO WEAR
- During summer, you should be fine if you wear a short-sleeved shirt, t-shirt or a dress, however a long sleeved shirt is highly recommended if you choose to go near water or to the mountains.
In the winter, be sure to bring warm clothes such as winter coat or jacket, hat, scarf and gloves. Winter boots are not necessary but be sure to bring warm shoes.
For the spring and autumn a light jacket or a sweater should keep you warm.
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