Tokyo, Japan's capital, is located on the eastern part of the Honshû island. The city itself has a population of more than 10 million people. If you combine that population with it's greater metropolitan area, there is around 35 million people gravitating around Tokyo! This makes the Tokyo agglomerate the largest city based economy in the world. Travelers can really have sightseeing and to-dos cup full when visiting this impressive Japan city.
If there is ever a city that comes close to the glitz and glamour of New York, Tokyo would take that prize. The 240-square mile metropolis has all the action, hustle and bustle that would make even the most seasoned Manhattanite feel right at home. From history to geography, this is one city that’s really got it all covered.
History - Tokyo through Time
Tokyo started off as a small fishing town named Edo in the 15th century. Towards the end of the 16th century, a shogun – a local warlord – established his base in this fishing town, which later rose to such prominence that, by the 19th century, Edo, then already known as Tokyo, had become the center of culture and politics.
The city has seen its fair share of disasters. The Great Kanto earthquake in 1923 was an all-out calamity that severely damaged Tokyo and caused massive loss of life. In 1945, the city was also bombed by the U.S. in a WWII campaign. It has since recovered and become the glittering metropolis it is today.
Despite its relatively diminutive size, Tokyo has a wealth of sights and experiences to offer. There are several fascinating museums with four in Ueno Park alone. Two of the most popular and comprehensive of the museums are The Tokyo National Museum and the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. Other niches have also found a home in the museum scene here; the National Museum of Western Art and the Japanese Sword Museum are a must-see for anyone visiting Tokyo.
Globetrotting shoppers will also love the city for its many shopping districts. Choices range from the wild and far out in the iconic Harajuku area – the same one that spawned the nonconformist Harajuku aesthetic – to the upscale and brand-conscious in the Ginza district, where labels like Gucci and Louis Vuitton have set up shop.
Whether you are looking for something traditionally Asian or distinctly neo-Japanese, you can find it in Tokyo. The city hosts traditional kabuki drama, a thriving J-Pop scene and everything in between.
When and Where
Going around Tokyo is as much a question of timing as it is location. There are a number of festivals and events throughout the year that are all part of the Tokyo experience.
The months of January, May and September of every year brings grand sumo wrestling competitions that are held in Ryogoku Kokugikan in east Tokyo. These are major events that often pack an entire house with sumo fans. During the month of May, the city witnesses the Kanda festival, which features packed streets and fantastic floats.
Spring – between March and May of every year – is a great time in general to go to Tokyo to view the iconic cherry blossoms in full bloom. The city is riot of pink and white during those months. Planning a July getaway in Tokyo? There’s an annual fireworks display over the Sumida River that attracts thousands of viewers from all over the country.
Getting Around & Transportation
Tokyo’s well-connected train system makes it very easy to get around this city. No location is more than walking distance away from a station, especially within the busier business districts. A map, however, would be invaluable, as the network of lines and exchanges can be very confusing.
From fashion to festivals, Tokyo has got it all in one neat and – in the typical Japanese style – minimalist package. It is modern, metropolitan Asia at its best.