Tokyo is giant.
At over 5,000 square miles, the Greater Tokyo Area is the second largest metropolitan area on the planet in terms of urban landmass. When it comes to population, it comes in at #1. As the home of the most people in the world, it’s no wonder there are specific jobs dedicated to crowd control. Oshiya, or “pushers” work at some of Tokyo’s busiest railway stations. Their job is to push people onto crowded trains during rush hour so don’t be surprised if you get a little nudge onto the train while you’re traveling.
Tokyo has many different wards, each with their own spotlights. See Shibuya’s neon lights and then travel to a different ward to see Sumida’s Ryogoku Kokugikan (a Sumo arena!). Or, visit Harajuku, which is well known for it’s bold street fashion. While you’re seeing the sights, take advantage of tax free shopping (bonus!) and check out the many street vending machines selling interesting items such as canned bread, flying fish soup, sushi socks and….puppies!
If you choose to venture to the outskirts of Tokyo, be sure to visit Takao-san. It’s not only the world’s most visited mountain, it also has an udon shop and beer garden at it’s summit! Or, visit Tokyo Disneyland, which is Disney’s first park outside of the United States.
Things to Do and See
Asakusa is the center of Tokyo's shitamachi (literally "low city"), one of Tokyo's districts where an atmosphere of the past decades survives. Asakusa's main attraction is Sensoji Temple, a very popular Buddhist temple built in the 7th century. The temple is approached via the Nakamise, a shopping street that has been providing temple visitors with a variety of traditional local snacks for centuries. Temple visitors will go through Karminarimon (Kaminari Gate), which is the first of two large entrance gates built more than 1000 years ago.
Standing at 634m, the Tokyo SkyTree is the tallest free-standing building in the world. The decision on the figure "634" for the height was based on the concept of choosing a figure that would be easy for everyone to remember. From the observation decks, the landscape of the old Musashi Province reminds visitors of the locality and history of the area surrounding Tokyo. Take the elevator all the way up to Floor 450 and enjoy the 360 degree view!
Imperial Palace East Gardens
The Imperial Palace East Gardens are a part of the inner palace area and are open to the public. They are the former site of Edo Castle's innermost circles of defense, the honmaru ("main circle") and ninomaru ("secondary circle"). None of the main buildings exist today, but the moats, walls, entrance gates and several guardhouses still do!
Meiji Shrine is the Shinto Shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. The shrine is located in a 170 acre forest, made up of 120,000 trees that were all donated by people from Japan.