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Published: February 11th 2020
Tokyo, modern yet traditional, so large, so busy, so easy to navigate. All that they tell you about this bustling metropolis is true. Our first stop in the city was the National Museum of Western Art in Ueno, so low key that it wasn't even featured in the Lonely Planet guidebook. I love art museums, though, so I had to go. Worth an hour of your time, and you get to walk through the lovely Ueno Park nearby. Nearby the neighborhood of Yanaka also deserves a bit of attention for snacks and perhaps a drink at the Yanaka Beer Hall
For this leg of the trip we stayed at the wonderful Guesthouse toco (https://backpackersjapan.co.jp/toco/english.html), which I highly recommend. Located in a 100-year-old traditional Japanese house with a tiny garden in a quiet but convenient area of Tokyo, with very friendly staff and free welcome drinks each night, this was my second favorite guesthouse the two weeks we stayed in Japan. The only caveat is that the traditional Japanese guesthouse has no central heating, so be prepared to bundle up at night.
The next began with an early trip to the Buddhist Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa. If you visit one
temple in Tokyo, it's got to be this one. Tokyo’s most visited temple enshrines a golden image of Kannon (the Buddhist goddess of mercy), which, according to legend, was miraculously pulled out of the nearby Sumida-gawa by two fishermen in AD 628. On the grounds you'll find numerous occasions to have your fortune told, burn incense and candles, buy snacks and dodge fellow tourists and camera crews.
Then it's back to Ueno Park where you ought to plan a full day for the Tokyo National Museum. If you visit one museum in Tokyo, it's got to be this one. It's the oldest national museum in Japan, it's the largest art museum in Japan, and it's one of the largest art museums in the world. Here you'll find the world's largest collection of Japanese art, including ancient pottery, Buddhist sculptures, samurai swords, colourful ukiyo-e
(woodblock prints), gorgeous kimonos and much more.There's also a garden with vintage tea houses that's only open in spring and fall. Lovely! This is definitely on my list to return to on my next trip to Japan.
Our final morning in Tokyo was spent at the Tsukiji fish market, or rather the outer market with
shops. Lots of fun to stroll through, dodging tourists all the way, and Clement had a great time with the seafood.
In addition to the above, if you've got time I highly recommend a day trip to Hakone to visit Hakone Yuryo, a beautiful mountainside onsen, easily accessible from Tokyo by train. Private baths are available for couples and those desiring a bit more privacy. Mount Fuji is also viewable from Hakone with good weather and better luck. Definitely on my list for next time.
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