Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, used to be called Edo (also spelled Yedo or Yeddo, Japanese: 江戸, literally: bay-door, "estuary", pronounced /edo/). The city's prosperous history dates back to the 1460s, when Ohta Do-kan, one of the feudal rulers, built the original Edo Castle. In 1603, when Tokugawa Ieyasu in Edo received the title of 'shogun' and the Tokugawa shogunate began, Edo became the political centre of Japan, while the capital was in Kyoto in the west. In 1868, with the Tokugawa shogunate coming to an end, the new government decided to make Edo official capital of Japan and renamed the city as "the Eastern (東) Capital (京)". This is when the name "Tokyo (東京)" came into being.
Population: About 12 million people — 10 percent of Japan's population — live in Tokyo. Approximately 33–36 million live in the Greater Tokyo Area, which is a large metropolitan area consisting of the prefectures Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Tokyo.
A popular destination for travelers from around the world, Japan is a country with a wonderful reputation for the latest technology and unique culture. Tokyo offers everything from pop culture to animation to advanced IT environments. People from foreign countries are often surprised by the crowded trains and traffics jams are also fascinated with the sophisticated service. Tokyo is one of the most interesting and exciting cities in the world.
Hotels and lodging
In Tokyo, there are many hotels to choose from. Room rates are nearly equal to New York.
If you wish to stay in comfort in Tokyo, you will have to pay a lot. Or, you can chose an economy hotel with an Internet cafe or manga cafe which has adequate accommodation for using PC and shower 1500 Yen/night.
In brief, staying in Tokyo is expensive. I recommend staying near the following stations: Shinjuku, Shinagawa, Shibuya These are located in 3 of Tokyo's 23 wards. The best location may be the Shinjuku ward. Many people use Shinagawa due to having good access to all destinations out of Tokyo and the hotel cost in Shinagawa ward is cheaper than in Shinjuku area. From Shinagawa JR station, you can take on Shinkan-sen (Bullet train) bound for Kyoto and Nagoya, go to Haneda Airport which is the only domestic airport in Tokyo by Keikyu-Line. Shibuya and Shinjuku are towns that never sleep. Between Shinagawa and Shinjuku, it takes only 20 minutes by Yamanote Line which runs until midnight (12 a.m.).
- Park Hyatt Tokyo: This hotel is the most popular in Tokyo.
Marunouchi, Ginza & Odaiba
- Imperial Hotel: This hotel is the most famous in Japan and has the longest history in Tokyo.
Shinagawa & Shibuya
Roppongi and Akasaka
- Akasaka Excel Hotel Tokyu: Cost effective due to good location and room rate. Room rate is under $200/night.
- Akasaka Prince Hotel: Designed by famous Japanese architect Kenzo Tange.
- Hotel Asia Center of Japan: Room rate is cheapest around Akasaka area. Under $70/night.
There are many hotels, so you can choose one near the rail station you use. Many standard hotels are located near JR stations (Ikebukuro, Shinbashi, Shibuya, Shinagawa, Shinjuku).
- Ginza Kokusai Hotel - located in Ginza, Japan.
- Toyoko-inn - Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku; Shinagawa, Minato-ku economical hotel group in Japan. This chain has many rooms, which are narrow but cost effective. Room rate:$60–70/night.
- APA hotel - economical hotel group in Japan. Rooms are well-equipped, but the locations are far from city center "Shinjuku".
- Tokyo Capsule Hotel Listing- Cheap Hotels in Tokyo
- Sawanoya Ryokan-the traditional Japanese Inn. located in "Shitamachi" of Tokyo.
- Backpackers Hostel K's House Tokyo-Newly opened backpackers hostel (June 1, 2006) in Asakusa Tokyo
- Internet Access in Tokyo- Internet Cafe's (2)
- Rakuten Travel This site enables you to find room on the day via internet.
- Japanese Guest House Make a Reservation at a Ryokan (Traditional Japanese Inn) Anywhere in Japan.
- Travel-Japan.jp Links to official websites of Japanese hotel and ryokan in Tokyo
Notable sites in Tokyo include:
- Shinjuku - a great spot similar to Manhattan in New York City.
- Shibuya - a famous place to see the evolutional of fashion trends.
- Asakusa - of global fame due to the old temple "Senso-ji", which has a retro-flavor going back to the Edo era.
Tokyo Dome City - This park is located in the center of Tokyo and provides a spa resort and some amusements from 9am to 8/9pm. The access is good from the Ikebukuro, Shinjuku and Tokyo stations. Entrance is free. You can also enjoy seeing baseball games.
Tokyo Disney Resort - This amusement park is the most famous in Japan and is located in Urayasu city, on the east side of Tokyo. The park is quite far from Tokyo but is definitely worth a visit. The park contains both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. It is recommended to buy your ticket before you visit as the park frequently sells out and closes its entrance due to overcapacity.
Edo (old Tokyo) exploring
Asakusa is one of Tokyo's most traditional neighborhoods. It is well known by Old town and Asakusa Kannnon Temple, or Sensoji which has Five-story Pagoda. There is a familiar feeling when you visit the Asakusa area.
This is oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo and very popular with visitors. The approach to the temple is Nakamise Street, which is always filled with travelers and good souvenirs. In the gate, you can see a big Chochin (Chinese Lantern).
Access: 6 minute walk from Metro Asakusa station.
Asakusa Hanayashiki - is located near Senso-ji temple and is the most historical amusement park in Japan. The park can be rented for a group (over 100) or for only a few individuals. It is a classical park, but still a great experience.
Access: 5 minute walk from Asakusa Station(Tokyo Metro Ginza Line / Toei Subway Asakusa Line / Tobu Isezaki Line)
Recently in Tokyo, some all-day spa resorts have appeared. While it may be a strange experience for non-Japanese, some of the spas cater to foreigners.
Maps and transportation
Getting to Tokyo
From airport to Tokyo
Narita airport is the most common destination for travellers. It is located in east of Tokyo. From the airport, you will have to use Railway or Airport Bus or Taxi. Unless your destination is as far away as Narita, take the train. This may sound strange, but by bus or Taxi, Tokyo is 2–3 hours... so the train is actually MUCH faster, even for business travellers.
To local cities except Tokyo
For example, Yokohama, Tsukuba, Ohmiya around Tokyo. You should ask the bus counter. But if you want to check-in your booked hotels around Shinjuku, Shinagawa, Akasaka, Ikebukuro, you should use Airport Limousine Bus .
There are 2 different way to Tokyo. Keisei-Line and JR-Line, both provide fast service between the airport and Tokyo. The station is located in same place under the airport(each Terminal(1 and 2) has each station). But the final distination is different. Keisei-Line's terminal linkes to Ueno in the eastside of Tokyo. JR-Line is connected to Tokyo and Shinagawa, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Ohmiya, Yokohama. JR's The Limited express "Narita Exp." runs every hour, but it is more expensive than Keisei-Line. If you want to save money, take the Keisei-Line, and transfer to JR-line at Nippori station before arriving Ueno. It takes about 60 min by Ltd. Exp. to Tokyo or Ueno. If you use local train or express, it will 90 min. ride to Tokyo or Ueno station.
Due to the chaotic traffic and the lack of car parking, it is advisable to travel around Tokyo using public transport. The bus service is economical, but is often too slow and complicated. Also, street numbers in Tokyo are very confusing because buildings are numbered based on the order they were built, not the order they are in line. Taxis are very expensive (minimum charg from 660yen/2 km). The roads in Tokyo are narrow and winding through the jungle city "Tokyo".
Outside Tokyo, driving is one of good choice to travel because the highways are excellent, and rental cars come with GPS navigation systems.
MAKE SURE to have printed maps of each destination you plan to visit.
Japan Railway company(JR)
Tokyo's trains are all safe and frequently running. Especially, Yamanote-Line(circle line) runs every 2–3 minutes. The train is always very crowded. The local trains in Tokyo have no coach class except middle-distance(Tokaido-Line, Tohoku-Line..),and Limited Express, special train to home(Home Liner), Bullet train(Shinkan-sen). If you want to use JR trains. You buy ticket in the station via ticket-vending machines. The machines help you to buy tickets with English guidance.
East Japan Railway Company Official Site
East Japan Railway Company WikiPedia
Tokyo has many subway routes like New York city. It is not difficult to use subway for visitors. But transfer of trains is sometime confusing you. So you will use this route map. In Tokyo, there is 2 different subway operators. Tokyo Metro and Toei. You can't distinguish like me. But you will find that "Tokyo Metro" is a little cheaper than Toei. They connect each other in Shinjuku, Ohtema-chi, Iidabashi,and so on. If you find these sign, you can reach the subway stations.
Domestic airlines are using Tokyo International Airport(Haneda Airport) near Tokyo. It is about 20 min. train ride from Shinagawa or 20 min. Monorail ride from Hamamatsu-cho. Tokyo International Airport
Site seeing Bus Tour
Hato Bus This company provides good city tour for foreigners. For example, they offer a Half Day tour and a Night tour of Tokyo.
The Gray Line This brand is familiar with visitors from the USA. They provide good service and half/full day Tokyo tour. Reservations accepted on a 24-hour basis. Pick up service is available.
H.I.S. Experience Japan HEJ offers a wide range of services from hands-on cultural experience programs to tour packages for you to have unique and profound experiences in Japan.
Practical information and resources
Tokyo Tourism Information:TOKYO METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT official site
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On last summer holiday, I went to Tokyo with my family for three days. On the first day, we went to Tokyo Disneyland; it is bigger than Hong Kong Disneyland. In the theme park, we took photo with the cartoon character and bought a lot of souvenir, such as teddy bear and T- shirt, we had some thrill rides, such as roller coaster and cable car. It is a wonderful program in this tour.
On the second day, we went to Akihabara, which is the animation items and computer items paradise in Japan. In Akihabara, we can buy different kinds of animation items, like DVDs, figure and posters.
In conclusion, Tokyo is great city for travel, shopping and entertainment, I also suggest you before go to Japan, you should check the public transport information, it can help you to travel in Japan easily.
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- Tokyo Tourism Information - Tokyo Metropolitan Government official site
- Japan National Tourist Organization
- The foreigner Japan
- Japan guide.com
- Pike's Tokyo Guidebook - Tokyo attractions
- Swedish Travel Guide about Tokyo
- News and informations on Tokyo travels
- Visit Japan
- Tokyo Review
- Information on Tokyo travel and flights