Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world, and can feel overwhelming for any Western traveler. Tokyo is the capital city of Japan and has a population of more than 13 million people in the metropolitan area. The local metropolitan area, known as the Tokyo Metropolis, has a population estimated at 37 million people, making it the second largest metro area in the world. Tokyo is one of the few places in the world where you can see high-tech visions of a future world coexisting alongside scenes of ancient Japan.
When to visit
here is no bad time of year to visit Tokyo. With such a massive metropolitan area at your disposal for exploration, you'll find something to do any time of the year in Tokyo. Many Japanese citizens spend their beautiful weather days outside at Yoyogi Park. Here you'll find citizens from all walks of life gathering to socialize, practice hobbies from normal to out-of-the-ordinary, and even play sports.
If you are visiting Tokyo and hoping to shop, the warmer weather of summer and spring offer a great opportunity to visit the city's Omote-sando shopping district near Yoyogi Park. For those of you visiting during the cooler calendar months, visit a local sento [public bath] to enjoy a warming soak.
Tokyo is one of the few places in the world that actually enjoys four distinct seasons. The area's climate is classified as a humid subtropical zone. Summers in Tokyo are dominated by hot, humid weather with average high temperatures ranging from 68 F (20 C) to 86 F (30 C). Spring and fall offer inviting weather with mild highs and crisp low temperatures in the evening.
Winters in Tokyo are usually quite mild, with snow a rarity. The occasional snowstorm does strike Tokyo, but it occurs on average just once or twice a year. High temperatures during the winter months range from 32 F (0 C) to 50 F (10 C).
The city of Tokyo was founded over 500 years ago as a humble fishing village named Edo, and has served as the capital of shogunate empires and democratic governments since then. There are 23 central wards that combine to form the greater metropolitan area. The city covers 770 square miles (2,000 km2), and you'll find something new and unique in each ward.
Central Tokyo is home to Japan's political and economic power, and offers you the chance to explore the Imperial Palace, tour Parliament, and see the many electronics manufacturer's that call Akihabara home. Old Tokyo houses the temples of Asakusa and the National Museum.
When the weather permits, enjoy a picnic in the park during the Sakura [cherry blossom]. Tokyo is famous for its cherry blossom trees that bathe the city in beautiful shades of pink each March and April. Boat rides on the Sumida River are also a popular way to see the city.
As a city with a rich cultural history, Tokyo has limitless attractions. The city has numerous commercial shopping centers that allow you to shop, dine, and simply wander around as you take in the splendor of a culture very different from many Western nations. Each shopping district has its own appeal, such as the dazzling lights of Shinjuku, the youthful exuberance of Shibuya, and the upscale feel of Ginza.
The Tokyo Tower offers impressive views of the Tokyo metro area, but it is not the highest spot in Tokyo. You can also enjoy great vistas and panoramic views from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. If you want to see the city from the comfort of a seat, Sky Bus Tokyo offers quick tours around the city on the hour from its open-top double-decker buses.
Tips & Recommendations
• If you want to see traditional open-air bazaars, visit Ueno's Ameyoko market. Many other markets have modernized as a result of the nation's postwar occupation.
• Traffic snarls are common in Tokyo, but the city's public transportation is among the best in the world. Skip renting a car and rely on public transport.
• Japan in general is one of the safest nations in the world. Tokyo, as a result, is one of the safest major cities in the world.
You'll find Kobans [small police stations] every other block if you do need help.
• Tokyo's English-language life line is available by dialing 44.
Looking for something on a grand scale? APA Hotel Asakusa-Kuramae offers an extensive room selection. Book a comfy 3-star room here. Close to Edo-Tokyo Museum, this location also allows easy access to Sensoji Temple. This property is conveniently located near Ueno Station.
Palace Studio Minami Azabu complements its large selection of rooms with a high level of service. A good option for those who seek a greater degree of comfort in Tokyo. Tokyo Tower, located nearby, is an interesting landmark.
You're sure to enjoy great service and quality, at 3-star Palace Studio Akasaka Nibankan. Tokyo Tower is one of the Tokyo landmarks you may wish to visit. Here, you'll be less than 2km (1.25mi) from National Olympic Stadium.
This Tokyo Ueno Youth Hostel is rated 2 star(s). Bustling Ueno Station takes you to all points of interest in and around Tokyo. Ueno Park and Koishikawa Korakuen Garden are nearby landmarks. You'll be close to National Museum of Western Art and Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, where you can spend hours admiring the collections. This property is 1.6 km (1.0 miles) from Tokyo Dome.
With no more than 20 rooms, Tokyo Sumidagawa Youth Hostel is a small boutique establishment. If your focus is on good value for price, try this 2-star property. Among the popular sights within walking distance from here are Edo-Tokyo Museum and Sensoji Temple. Nearby, Ueno Station is a good public transportation option.
Guest House Wasabi offers plenty of rooms and options. The 2-star rating indicates the price should be right for budget travelers. Both Tokyo National Museum and Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum are quite close.
With fewer than 20 rooms, GIS Guest House Tokyo offers the intimacy of a small accommodation. 2-star rooms are a good value here. The nearby Tokyo Station is a convenient transportation hub. Edo-Tokyo Museum is located within walking distance of this property.
Tokyo House Inn is modest and comfortable, with a 2-star rating. Enjoy good connections to surrounding areas via Shinjuku Station. Tokyo Metropolitan Government is a popular landmark found nearby, as is Shinjuku Gyoen Park.