It’s a city of contrast. Where else do you find demure kimono-clad girls next to slick Elvis impersonators than good old Yoyogi Park? But only on Sundays.
Tokyo will amaze you with its dual personality; its serenity and its brashness. A city of about 20 million people, it is one of the few metropolises where every train is on time. But try to avoid rush hour. You might get pummeled by a sweet old lady on her way to the Sumo matches at the Budokan Hall!
Visit Roppongi for a taste of modern night life; you can even catch a reggae show. And if you’re still awake after that, hop a train to the Tsukiji fish market at 5 a.m. to see one of the most spectacular fish bazaars on earth. Some tuna comes all the way from Montauk, NY. Now that’s a global marketplace!
When you’re ready for a little peace and quiet, you may visit the brilliant Asakusa Shrine, a prime example of Edo-period architecture. Here you may cleanse your spirit, or, of course, shop to your heart’s delight at many of the little stalls lining the small streets leading to the shrine. Otanoshimi ni! Perhaps the greatest urban sprawl in the world, the Tokyo metropolitan. Tokyo began as a tiny fishing village called Edo, and for more than four centuries was ruled by a series of
chieftains and military warlords. A castle was constructed in Edo in 1457, the year officially noted as the founding of the city, and by 1680 it had grown to a population of over a million people. The city received its modern name in 1868 when the Emperor Meihi moved his court to Edo. It now sprawls 55 miles (88.4km) east to west and 15 miles (24km) north to south and covers an area of 2,031 sq. km.
This area is home to some 20 million people. Famous for its extremes; the word’s most crowded trains, the world’s cleanest streets, the world’s most expensive melons, Tokyo nevertheless seems to be characterized by an overlying blandness. Since the 17th century, Tokyo has been divided up between “yamanote” (south and west) and “shitamachi” (north and east). Simply put, uptown has more to do, downtown more to see. Uptown has the high-rises, the nightlife and the
armies of navy-suited salarymen of the Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro business areas, while downtown has Tokyo’s oldest area, Asakusa, the city’s great museums and the imperial palace.