Japan is a strikingly beautiful country filled with amazing culture and history. Located to the east of China and Korea, Japan is made up of 6,852 islands. The four islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku make up 97% of the countries land mass.
The capital of this awe-inspiring country is Tokyo, which has a population of over 13 million. Although it would be impossible to see everything this city has to offer in just one visit, here are some of the highlights that should not be missed and the top things to do in Tokyo on your next trip to Japan.
OTA MEMORIAL ART MUSEUM:
This lovely little museum is around 50m from the Meiji-jingumae subway station where you can gaze in wonder at the spectacular collection of wooden block prints known as Ukiyo-e. Don’t be alarmed when you are provided a pair of slippers to wear during your visit, as shoes are not permitted within the museum.
This magnificent temple is the beautiful home of the golden image of the Japanese Buddhist goddess of mercy, Kannon. According to legends, a statue of Kannon was fished out of the sea in 628 CE by two fishermen. They brought it to land and it has remained in its present location ever since. The temple itself was completed in 645, making it Tokyo’s oldest temple.
There are many jinriksha (people who drive rickshaws) around the area, which adds to the charm and appeal. They offer tours, which can be a bit pricey, but worth the experience if it is within your budget. Located outside of the outer gate of the temple is a historic shopping street where you can pick up souvenirs such as folding fans and kimonos.
SHITAMACHI HISTORY MUSEUM:
If you want to experience what life was like in old Tokyo, then you should pay a visit to Shitamachi History Museum. This museum recreates the life of the people living in the city in Edo times. You can see a merchant’s shop, a sweet store, a tenement house and the home and business of a copper boiler maker. You will also see various artifacts from the time period that take you back to an almost forgotten point in time that will make you appreciate our modern conveniences.
TOKYO NATIONAL MUSEUM:
The Tokyo National Museum is one museum in Japan where you should definitely make time to visit. It is the largest museum in the country, housing more than 100,000 artifacts from different eras, including the largest collection of Japanese art. There are four main galleries in the museum, each housing display after display of many wonderful pieces that will seemingly transport you back to a time of samurai and geisha’s.
SAIGO TAKAMORI STATUE:
The Saigo Takamori Statue is quite a sight to behold. It is of a samurai walking his dog and marks the southern entrance to the Ueno Park, a park where many people congregate. Saigo Takamori, who has been dubbed “the last true samurai”, was the historical basis for the movie “The Last Samurai”.
IMPERIAL EAST GARDENS:
A visit to the Imperial East Gardens, located in central Toyko, is a beautiful way to relax and take in traditional Japanese culture. Set in the central location of the former Edo Castle and the city’s stronghold from 1603 to 1867, none of the old buildings remain, but the gardens are reminiscent of this ancient power.
At the top of the hill you will discover the foundations of the former castle tower, which is certainly an impressive sight to see. This ancient castle was proclaimed as the tallest in Japanese history, but it was destroyed by fire in 1657, along with much of the town. The gardens were established at the bottom of the hill, a testament to the beauty and grandeur of Japanese history.