Tokyo Travel Guide
Tokyo is an enormous city filled with ancient temples and palaces. The Temple of Senso-ji honors Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. While the statue is not on public display, the beauty of the temple itself makes the trip worthwhile. Senso-ji, meanwhile, is right across from Nakamise-dori, a street lined with craftspeople selling their wares.
Another Tokyo icon is the grand Imperial Palace. It's in the very center of the city and was actually built to replace the original, which was destroyed during World War II. The emperor of Japan and his family still live there and so it is only open to the public on January 2nd and December 23rd (the emperor's birthday). Book ahead to tour the spectacular imperial grounds.
But one of the greatest pleasures here is simply exploring the city on foot, not only wandering into Buddhist temples but also into funky boutiques, noodle shops, and farther-flung residential neighborhoods. Fashion is a huge part of the culture here and you can find some of the more cutting-edge getups on Harajuku's Takeshita Street where people play dress up to a delightful extreme.
Sugino's creations are baked daily in minuscule quantities, which qualifies them as gentei (limited-edition) and thus extra-desireable.
For a unique night out in the city, attend a performance of Tsugaru shamisen, music with origins in northern Japan, played on a traditional three-stringed instrument called a shamisen. Seating is traditional-style on tatami mats, and a cover charge applies.
To spot the Harajuku girls, stroll along this pereptually crowded, store-lined street.
The Japanese are obsessed with stationery, and Ito-ya is just the place to satisfy the habit, with 11 floors of paper, notebooks, photo albums, pens, pencils, markers, decorative boxes, office supplies, and other things you don’t need but soon find yourself craving.
Around the world, the name Mikimoto is synonymous with the highest quality pearl jewelry.
Tokyo’s oldest temple, completed in A.D. 645, is devoted to Kannon, the Buddhist deity of compassion and mercy. Throughout their history, temple structures were repeatedly destroyed by natural disasters, fires, and most recently in World War II air raids.
A lack of Japanese language skills is no barrier to enjoying this terrific market on the grounds of the Togo Shrine—just bring pad and pen, and negotiate the price on paper.
One of Japan's largest department stores (also one of the world's largest), Tobu is located atop the Ikebukuro subway station, with 15 stories above ground and 4 beneath.
Dog's Care Joker brings Roppongi Hills pampering to pooches.
A cross between a French patisserie and an American cupcake shop, Tokyo Sweets Factory is located on the basement level of a Jiyugaoka office building.
France's top pasty provocatuer is a household name in Tokyo, with several boutiques and a swank marbled Bar Chocolat created by Wonderwall, the cutting-edge design firm behind Uniqlo stores.
While in Asakusa do not miss this furugi (used clothing) store’s affordable secondhand kimonos. Selection and prices vary widely, and even if you are not looking for a kimono to wear, you can find beautiful material to reuse in quilts, handbags, skirts, and other crafty projects.
The bakery in the New Otani Hotel specializes in mont blanc desserts.