Tokyo Feature


What's Where

Tokyo commands a prominent position in the Kanto region on the southern coast of Honshu, Japan's largest island. Some 13 million people live in the capital (nearly 35 million, if you count all of Greater Tokyo), and, as in most big cities, Tokyo is a patchwork of colorful neighborhoods, each with its own texture. A few of the most important neighborhoods for visitors are profiled here.

1 Imperial Palace District. This is the center of Tokyo, where Edo Castle once stood. The imperial residence is open only two days a year, but you still can explore the palace grounds and gardens.

2 Akihabara and Jimbo-cho. Akihabara is famed for its electronics stores, manga shops, and cultish maid cafés. In neighboring Jimbo-cho, family-run bookstores abound.

3 Ueno and Yanaka. Ueno Park is home to three superb national museums, a university of fine arts, and a zoo. A stone's throw south is the lively Ameyoko street market. Adjoining Yanaka is a charming old neighborhood with an abundance of temples.

4 Asakusa. The sacred merges with the secular and ancient tradition with modernity in Asakusa. The area is home to Tokyo's oldest temple, Senso-ji, and the Asakusa Jinja shrine, while Tokyo Skytree, a soaring skyscraper, looms large just to the east.

5 Tsukiji and Shiodome. Tsukiji is home to what is purportedly the world's largest fish market. Its neighbor, Shiodome, is a massive development zone, with plenty of fashionable shops, hotels, and restaurants.

6 Nihombashi, Ginza, and Marunouchi. Nihombashi lays claim to the geographical and financial center of Tokyo. Follow the money slightly south to Ginza, where you'll find Tokyo's traditional high-end stores and equally expensive restaurants. Marunouchi is home to plush retail and office complexes.

7 Aoyama, Harajuku, and Shibuya. Aoyama and Harajuku are chic neighborhoods saturated with designer stores, independent boutiques, and malls. To the south is Shibuya, an urban teen's dream packed with people, hip shops, and megachains.

8 Roppongi. Roppongi has a rich and sometimes sordid history of catering to foreign nightlife; here you'll find the massive Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown developments.

9 Shinjuku. The train station here, adjacent to the towering Takashimaya Times Square mall, is supposedly the busiest in the world. And when the sun sets, the bars and clubs in the red-light area of Kabuki-cho come to life.

10 Odaiba. An artificial island in Tokyo Bay, Odaiba is an isolated hub for shops, restaurants, family-oriented amusements, parks, and office complexes.11 Side Trips from Tokyo. There are numerous day-trip options if you're based in Tokyo. Southwest of Tokyo, Yokohama's Chinatown has more than 150 restaurants that serve every major regional Chinese cuisine. Continuing southwest, Hase is home to the 37-foot Daibutsu—the Great Buddha, and Kamakura, the 13th-century capital of Japan, is home to numerous temples and shrines. West of there, the national park and resort area of Hakone puts you close to majestic Mt. Fuji. To the north of Tokyo, far removed from the urban bustle lie Nikko and the decadent designs of the Tosho-gu shrine complex. At a nearby national park, Chuzenji-ko (Lake Chuzenji) and waterfalls like Kegon-no-taki nourish the spirit in a far less extravagant way.

Updated: 2014-01-23

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