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Top Attractions in Tokyo
Imperial Palace East Gardens
Open to the public, the gardens are all that remain of the former innermost circle of defense for Edo Castle, the residence of the Tokugawa shogun between 1603 and 1867. The gardens can be entered by three gates: Hirakawa-mon, Ote-mon, and Kita-hane-bashi-mon. In addition to the sculpted, rolling greenery, remaining structures include stone walls, moats, and guardhouses.
This beautiful complex set within a forest in Nikko, 130 km (81 mi) north of Tokyo, is the mausoleum of Ieyasu Tokugawa, who began the Tokugawa Shogunate that reigned over the nation between 1603 and 1868. Decorated with gold leaf and numerous wood carvings, the compound also includes multiple Shinto and Buddhist buildings, many of which are acknowledged by the government as Important Cultural Properties.
"Kitchen town," as it's often referred to, is a collection of 170 small shops on Kappabashi Dogugai street near Asakusa. Here you can find just about everything needed to open a restaurant or bar. Cutlery, uniforms, pans, wall furnishings, cash registers, cleaning supplies, and even the plastic food models seen in front of shops are all on offer and in large quantities.
Constructed in 1649, the Asakusa Shrine—also referred to as Sanja Sama (Shrine of the Three Guardians)—is one of Japan's most famous places of worship. The structure survived the U.S. bombing raids of 1945. Its annual festival, which attracts hundreds of thousands and features the carting of numerous portable shrines around the compound and nearby streets, takes place each May.
Tsukiji Fish Market
If it lives in the sea, chances are that it can be found at Tsukiji, affectionately referred to as "Tokyo's kitchen." Thousands of wholesalers and buyers broker deals for crabs piled in buckets, squirming eels, bagged clams, and endless varieties of fish at this chaotic market. The biggest draw is the tuna auction, which gets underway in the wee hours of the morning and features rapid-fire bidding on hundreds of frozen carcasses weighing up to 200 kilograms (441 lbs).
Takeshita-dori in Harajuku
Popularized on a global scale by Gwen Stefani's song "Harajuku Girls," this pedestrians-only street outside JR Harajuku Station features various shops selling some of Japan's trendiest and most garish clothing to swarms of Tokyo youth. Since the target is teenagers, prices are low, at least in comparison to the upscale boutiques found in nearby Aoyama. Harajuku is only about 500 yards long, but the shopping hordes are so dense and relentless on weekends that it can take 20 minutes to navigate from one end to the other.
At an elevation of 12,388 feet, Mt. Fuji is the nation's highest peak. It's also one of Japan's most famous symbols and is a point of inspiration for artists and commoners alike. The dormant volcano sits between Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures. In nice weather, it can be viewed from Tokyo and Yokohama. For a closer peek, climb it in summer or see it from a Shinkansen bullet train traveling between Tokyo and Osaka.
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