Japan:A Closer Look At Tokyo-Part 2

Feb 2nd, 2009 | By | Category: Regional Travel Resources, Tokyo and Vicinity

Today Honor (UKTokyoite) from Tokyotopia continues her series of guests posts on Tokyo in our Japan: A Closer Look Series. Last week she shared some fun things to do and see in southern Tokyo and today she will tells us about some of the great things to do and see in the northern half of Japan’s capital city. Take it away Honor…

As promised, we’re heading to the northern half of the city in Part 2 of our Things To See And Do In Tokyo. If I missed one of your favorite places or activities, please share your recommendation in the comments at the end of the article so others can enjoy it too!

Things To See And Do In Tokyo

Asakusa Japan Nakamise Shopping StreetI know Asakusa is mentioned in all the guide books but it is a place I love to take a wander, especially along Nakamise Dori the old style shopping street pictured on the right. Grab a bite to eat at one of the food stalls set out around Sensoji Temple and see some traditional methods for making Japanese products in action. It always amazes me the patience and skill involved in making items such as a fan or a hairbrush.

If you love books then a visit to Jimbocho to see if you can find a hidden treasure should be on your agenda.

Nihon Bashi Bridge Imperial Palace JapanThe Imperial Palace in the Hibiya/Marunouchi district of the city stands on the grounds of the original Edo Castle where the Shogun Tokugawa set up his home. The gardens that surround the Palace are extensive and if you need a break from the city buildings this is a good place to stroll and relax. If you can find the Nihonbashi bridge (pictured on the right) that crosses to the Palace, just around the corner to the left is a little cafe that is set in the grounds of a water and fountain garden. It’s lovely on a hot summer day!

Ueno used to be a major trading area for goods moving north from Tokyo. Today it is host to a number of attractions that continue to draw tourists and residents alike:

  • Ameyoko shopping street was used for black market goods during WWII. You can still pick up some bargains here from the local traders and shops, just be ready for the crowds.
  • Ueno park is a famous spot for viewing the cherry blossom festival known as hanami – again be warned this does get crowded.
  • There are several museums in Ueno that continue to put on some outstanding special exhibitions as well as offering their regular galleries. Choose from the National Science Museum, for Japanese and Asian art and culture there’s Tokyo National Museum, or the National Museum Of Western Art for starters.
  • I should also mention Ueno Zoo if zoos are your thing. In truth I find it hard to recommend this place as I personally felt the enclosures were small and some animals did not look particularly happy to my inexpert eye (this was a couple of years ago now). It does have a good reputation though so take a look and see if its something you want to put on your itinerary.

Sumo Wrestlers TokyoIf you happen to be in Tokyo when the Grand Sumo Tournament is being held I personally highly recommend getting along there and joining in the fun. There’s a great atmosphere and its not just about watching the fights themselves. Join the fans at street level eager to grab a glimpse and perhaps shoot the perfect photo of their favorite sumo wrestler.

While you’re in Ryogoku (the name of the district where the tournament is held), visit the Edo Tokyo Museum to see how Tokyo developed from the 1600s to the city we know today.

Finally I’d like to take you out to the Western side of the city – I know I promised north but I can’t miss this place off my list! Kichijoji, found at the end of the Inokashira line, is home to Inokashira Park. Go at the weekend to see the street art and flea market in full swing.

Book in advance if you want to visit Studio Ghibli, famous for its unique display and demonstrations of animation.

Next week will be the last of this Tokyo series where we’ll take a look at some of slightly more odd things worth knowing about the city. In the meantime, visit Tokyo Tourism Information or drop by my site, Tokyotopia, to learn about lots of other great things to do and see in Tokyo. Have a great week!

Other Articles in the Japan: A Closer Look series:

Image Credit: UKTokyoite & Shane Sakata, Personal Collection

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