(July 6-9, 2012) Tokyo is a massive city. To see everything might take you a while. I had the chance to spend five days in this enormous metropolis, navigating its subway lines to see some of the sights the city has to offer. But while buildings, cars, and people occupy lots of the cityscape, Tokyo has big and amazing parks and gardens to take a respite from the urban environment when needed.
Staying in the Asakusa area, I had a chance to walk around one of the most visited places in Tokyo. Senso-ji, not far from the Asakusa subway station, is a Buddhist temple that is famous to both tourists and locals. There are lots of stalls for shopping that provide great souvenirs. My first day was spent walking up to the temple and strolling through pedestrian streets that fill the area. Lots of great restaurants are found here as well, and I took advantage by having dinner at a sushi restaurant. From Asakusa, the newly built Skytree is only a 20 min walk. I finished the first evening in Tokyo admiring the tower.
The Ueno Park area was the starting point for the next day. After grabbing a
First evening in Tokyo
delicious mozzarella and tomato sandwich outside the train station, washed down with some freshly squeezed orange juice, I headed to the Tokyo National Museum. After a couple of hours of learning about archeological and historical artifacts, I headed to the Imperial Palace. The walk from Tokyo Station was a bit confusing, as it is under construction at the moment. The Imperial Palace is a quiet place, and I was able to stroll through it leisurely.
The next day, I grabbed lunch in Tokyo’s midtown, Roppongi. After some delicious broth and a quick view of Tokyo Tower, I made my way to the Meiji-jingu, the famous Shinto shrine. The area is magnificent, and the trees drown the city life as you get deeper in and make your way to the shrine. I enjoyed the ground greatly and was able to see a wedding procession at the shrine itself. I made my way out and headed to the shopping district on Omotesando. The sidewalks are filled with people heading in every direction possible. The only way to walk is by following the crowd, unless you want to receive inadvertent shoves here and there. There are also numerous side streets that are
both quiet and hectic. On Cat Street I enjoyed a coffee while people watching, but, on Takeshita Street, vendors are screaming at the masses of people as they walk by their store fronts. Overall, it is a fun place to go shopping or walking around. I ended the evening in the Shinjuku area, enjoying the bright neon lights that I came to associate Tokyo with before arriving and some cold drafts of Kirin at one of the brewer’s bars in the area.
(July 18-20) After traveling, around other parts of Japan, I came back to Tokyo to spend the last few days to relax. The most exciting part of sightseeing those last days was visiting Tokyo’s fish market (Tokyo Central Wholesale Market—Tsukiji). The walk from the subway station to the thousands upon thousands of stalls selling all kinds of sea animals was hectic to say the least. Dodging trucks and workers carrying different types of products, I finally made my way in to the stalls. Rows and columns of stalls selling different products fill the warehouse. Most of the people working ignore the tourists taking pictures. As I walked around, I saw people gutting, beheading, scaling fish; I noticed
At the Tokyo National Museum
how they gently and precisely cut fish with saws and small knives. It was quite a spectacle and awesome to experience.
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