Tokyo (literally the Eastern Capital) is the most famous city of Japan and it's capital city. Tokyo was previously known
Twilight falling on Tokyo
in as Edo, before that, Kyoto was the capital. Japanese government sits here and the Imperial Palace, home of the Japanese Imperial Family is located here.
Tokyo is located on south-east part of Honshu, on the deep depth of Tokyo Bay. Nearby Tokyo are prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa. Tokyo itself is located in Kanto area. Although Mount Fuji is located rather far, it is very possible to watch it from Tokyo.
About 35 million people live in the Greater Tokyo area. Tokyo is the largest concentration of people on earth. In busiest railwaystations you can catch million people passing in hour. Because of traffic jams, people don't usually travel to work by using their own car, but use commuter trains or subway. Often the family use the car only for shopping or weekend activities. In addition to Japan Raiway Company JR lines, there are also private railway lines. If you are going to Tokyo and want handy subway map, download this: JR East Lines in Greater Tokyo PDF.
New Tokyo Airport, Narita is the first welcome the foreign traveller will get. However, this isn't anywhere near Tokyo. Actually it is located in different prefecture, Chiba-ken. Whatever you do, don't catch a cab!
If you are headed somewhere which has a railway stop, I recommend going via rails. "NEX" or Keisei line (or Keisei SKYLINER, kind of better one with reserved seats" are few options for you to go to Tokyo. In case you are headed towards the airport, it is convenient to catch the train in Nippori station.Trains will cost you about 1000 - 1800 yen to go to Tokyo. If it's crowded time, I recommend paying the little extra to reserve the seat from Keisei Skyliner.
The other options are Keisei bus or Limousine bus. Limousine bus will cost you around 3000 yen, but it is really comfortable, especially in hot season. It's good idea to buy return ticket at the same time since it will save you some money.
There is another airport closer to Tokyo. This airport is the Haneda airport, mainly for domestic flights.
The main railway system in Tokyo is Yamanote-line which forms a complete circle stations of of Shinjuku, Shinagawa, Ueno, Meguro. From these stations, traveller can switch to subway (chikatetsu) or another commuter line.
Download JR lines in Greater Tokyo .
There is also very extensive bus network inside Tokyo. Bus is often very cheap method of transportation. There are amazing number of taxis in Tokyo. They usually start from 660 yen.
In addition, there is tram line Toden Arakawa Line. This was once extensive streetcar system, but now only The Arakawa line is left. It operates between Minowabashi and Waseda.
It is comforttable to move by foot or bicycle in Tokyo as the air is very clean considering the size of the city.
Tokyo has a large places interesting for foreign visitors. Please read more about Centers of Tokyo.
Tokyo Metropolitan Towers (Kenzo Tange)
(click to enlarge)
Edo Castle is the old base of Tokugawa rulers, all fortified and surrounded by moats. After 1868 it has been the residence for emperors of Japan, despite the new Imperial Palace was built 1968. Guess there's something appealing there.
Quietest place inside Tokyo center would be the Meiji Shrine, a shrine dedicated for Emperor Meiji (1867-1912) which exists in middle of a cypress forest. Meiji Shrine can be easily spotted from somewhere high, from Tokyo Metropolitan Towers in Shinjuku for example or Tokyo Tower. Meiji Shrine is usually very crowded during New Year as people will go there to pray.
Shoppers want to go to the unofficial Broadway of Japan called Ginza. All large domestic and international companies have shops or offices there. In fact it really is BROAD way - the street is very wide.
Another interesting sight is Aquarium in Kasai, a fantastic place for sea lovers. Nearby Kasai, there is also Tokyo Disneyland. Aoyama is the center of top class bars and restaurants - a definitive business-people hangout. Aoyama has also interesting history - during buble economy, there was built over 10 000 flats which are now mostly empty and lost their glamour.
And Ueno forms the focal point of Japanese commuter lines. Many lines meet there and people usually stop by for a beer of coffee while switching their lines. The station is very special and cozy, with it's half transparent, tent-like roof. Here is a Hard Rock cafe with the guitar of Jon Anderson and postcard from John Lennon. Not far from Ueno station is the old shopping street called Ameyoko street. If you need a suitcase or cheap clothes, look from there. The prices are really low and merchandise is good.
In Ueno lies also beautiful and famous Ueno park that is really wonderful especially in the time of Sakura. Ueno park is one of the last places where homeless people are still allowed to live with their tents. Some of them have made a small business there - painting bypassers or sakura trees and selling their paintings for a small fee. Such fantastic art can be rarely seen anywhere else. Nearby Ueno park lies also the national museum of Japan. I also recommend to stop by in good restaurant in Ueno called Juraku.
Next to Ueno there is also Akihabara - Electric Town..
See also: River Sumida