(東京) This “Tokyo” means the smaller Tokyo, Tokyo Station Area. This area used to be the center of Edo where Edo castle was situated which turned into the Imperial Palace, the residence of the emperor in 1868 when Edo period ended. After that, through the significant damages by the war, this area has been developed as the symbolic center of Tokyo. Almost all the Shinkansen lines start from Tokyo station, and there are many offices of enterprises and commercial complexes incorporating stores offering high-quality apparels and goods, cafes, and restaurants. Inside of Tokyo station is also full of shopping complexes where you can purchase various souvenirs. The Imperial Palace is a trendy scenic spot for its historical architecture with lush greenery and cherry trees blooming in spring.
Tokyo Station Area is literally the center of Tokyo/Japan, and the central hub of Shinkansen lines. Tokyo Station is the large shopping complex called Tokyo Station City, consisting of various shopping streets, hotels, and other services inside of station and underground. The red-brick historical architectures built 100 years ago have been recently renewed and it became a symbol of Tokyo.
Imperial Gardens and Palace
皇居 This is the large house and garden of Japan’s emperor, a portion of which opens to public visitors. In the Edo period, it used to be the Edo castle where Tokugawa Shoguns lived, and the emperor moved from Kyoto when Edo period (Edo Shogunate) ended. Because it was the castle, the entire premise is surrounded by the moat, and m
ost of the original buildings were gone, but still, some historic buildings and gardens remain. It’s an excellent place to enjoy strolling, especially in the spring season for cherry blossoms. Basically, only Higashi-Gyoen opens to public visitors, and Inui street is seasonally opened in the cherry blossom season. Also, the free tour in the premise of Imperial Palace is available on weekday, that is reservable from http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/index.html. If it’s fully booked, then try same-day registration, joining a queue on the day. Tickets are distributed from 8:30/12:00 before opening (opening time morning 9:30 afternoon 13:00, the whole tour takes 1h15min).
千鳥ヶ淵 The moat in the north part of Imperial Palace is well known as a scenic spot of cherry blossom. Many cherry flowers color both sides of the moat, and it’s great to take a boat and see flowers lighted-up in the night.
靖国神社 Founded in the year of 1869, the shrine enshrines souls of more than two million soldiers as the gods, who died in the wars since the end of Edo period until today. Famous as the notable place for full-blooming cherry blossom in spring and splendid shrine architectures and battle plane exhibited in Yūshūkan are worth seeing.
(秋葉原) The chaotic city is well known as the epicenter of Japanese pop-culture and electronics, which is the must-visit area for who loves those. In the buildings decorated with colorful signs, there are many stores and services related to anime, manga, games, various hobbies, costumes, Japanese idols, and other subcultural stuff. You would find the rare items which are available only here in Japan, even in the world, and also 2nd-hand electronics market is developed here so you can buy high-value items. It’s good to look for your favorites and to purchase souvenirs here. Also, there are special-type cafes and restaurants available such as maid cafe, cat cafe, etc. which make you enjoy another aspect of Japan.
電気街 Akihabara is the top city for quality and quantity of stores of home appliance stores, youth-culture stores, and other unique services. It would be interesting to walk around see the ambience unavailable anywhere else.
神田明神 This ancient shrine dating from 730 is well-known as the base for one of Tokyo’s three greatest festivals, Kanda Festival, which takes place in around middle of May every year with around 1,300 years history. The current buildings were constructed in 1934 in a reinforced concrete after the huge earthquake in Tokyo so it could survive from air strikes during the war. It’s told that once you visit Kanda Myojin, then you shouldn’t visit Narita-san Shinshōji temple due to their historical background.
(上野) While embracing the most hustling and bustling shopping street in Tokyo, Ameyoko, Ueno also has the feature of the cultural center of Tokyo as many museums including the world heritage site designed by Colbgier are situated in the vast park, Ueno Park. The park is famous for many cherry trees beautifully-blooming in spring when crowded with many people enjoying Hanami. Around Ueno Park, there are many places to see, the representative zoological garden in Japan, various top-class museums, and historical sites.
アメヤ横丁 The busy shopping street with 500m length has around 400 stores where you can buy various items such as clothes, dry foods, and others at cheap prices, and enjoy seafood, snacks, and sweets upon strolling. On the underground floor, Chinese, Korean and East Asian counties’ foods are sold. This lively discount market started as a black market right after World War 2, and its official name “Ameya Yokocho” means candy alley, because candies (ame) and various products imported from America were sold here. Double meanings of Ame are included in the name.
Ueno Onshi Park
上野恩賜公園 Normally called Ueno Park, this park is proud of beautiful cherry blossom full-blooming in Apr when many people come in and enjoy hanami. In a vast ground, there are many cultural and art museums and Japan’s representative zoological garden. It’s good to buy foods and drinks at Ameyoko, and visit Ueno park and try quick hanami in the best season.
Ueno Zoological Gardens
上野動物公園 Located adjacently to Ueno Park, this large zoological park boasts of the largest number of visitors and the second largest number of animals in Japan and exhibits world’s three most rare animals, Giant Panda, Okapia, and pygmy hippopotamus.
Ueno Tōshōgu Shrine
上野東照宮 Constructed by Iemitsu Tokugawa in 1627, the third Shogun of Edo Shogunate, the Toshogu Shrine (enshrining Ieyasu Tokugawa) is proud of beautiful historical architectures Konjikido (golden shrine building) and shrine gates, which still keep their architecture style of Edo period because those could avoid the war fire, fortunately. Located within Ueno Park, it’s a precious place where you can feel the historic and serene atmosphere, in the middle of the hustle and bustle Ueno city.
The National Museum of Western Art
国立西洋美術館 Japan’s representative western art museum exhibits many valuable collections of paintings and sculptures, by the famous Impressionist, such as Courbet, Monet, Renoir, Rodin, Rembrandt, and others. Also, the building is the World Heritage asset, designed by Le Corbusier and built in 1959. On the garden at the right front of the buildings, several famous sculptures done by Rodin and others.
National Museum of Nature and Science
国立科学博物館 The only national science museum in Japan has two permanent exhibitions: Nihon-kan and Chikyu-kan where you can see many kinds of fossils, stuffed animals, specimen, and industrial assets. Enjoyable for both adult and child.
Tokyo National Museum
東京国立博物館 Located within Ueno Onshi Park, Japan’s oldest museum exhibits Japan and oriental artworks and historical assets in 5 exhibition buildings, including 89 national treasure. Proud of Japan’s number one quality and quantity of collection.
Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
湯島天満宮 Dating from 458, this ancient shrine is well-known for the fortunes on academic success because it enshrines Sugawara-no-michizane who is the famous god of academic. In the seasons of exams, many students are visiting to pray for their success, and in Feb, around 300 of palm trees are full-blooming and color the historic site beautiful. Palm festival takes place from early Feb to Mar and some events take place on weekends.