The Tokyo most will be familiar with is that place of shimmering skyscrapers, dazzling neon signage and streets thronging with traffic and hordes of pedestrians. But among the urban hyperactivity, pockets of serenity and traditional culture reveal themselves.
Tokyo is a city of extremes. The world’s biggest metropolis, it’s where technology moves at the same velocity as the iconic bullet trains and fashions fade as quickly as they arrive. Discover the multimedia Mecca of Akihabara, a paradise for gadget lovers and anime enthusiasts. Experience the dizzying pace of the subway system and Shibuya Crossing, otherwise known as ‘the scramble’. Then when you’re ready for respite, take a calming stroll through a tranquil Japanese Garden. Gaze at the glassy lakes and candy floss-coloured cherry blossom trees. Visit beautiful temples and serene Shinto shrines. Or feel your tensions evaporate while immersed in soothing hot spring waters. Choose the speed to suit you and embrace the fascinating contrasts of Japan’s captivating capital.
Discover a digital retail paradise in ‘Akiba’ or Akihabara. For all things electronic or Japanese anime-related, there is nowhere quite like this world-famous shopping district in the heart of bustling Tokyo. Pick up all manner of gadgets around Chuo and Kanda Myojin streets. Or explore Akiba’s other claim to fame as a Mecca for Manga. Shop for the cult comic books and other Manga memorabilia, then stop for a drink or bite to eat at a Manga ‘maid café’.
With its generous smattering of quirky cafés, bohemian bars and vintage clothing boutiques, Kichijoji is a magnet for Tokyo’s hip crowd. Soak up the laidback vibe and unwind in the glorious surroundings of Inokashira Park. Take in the clouds of baby pink cherry blossoms in spring, or the russet and golden hues in autumn. Enjoy a leisurely boat cruise around the lake and visit the beautiful Benzaiten Temple. Or simply sit back with an exotic-flavoured ice cream and people-watch.
Renowned as a centre for trendy and alternative teenage fashions, Harajuku also offers welcome respite from the city bustle at the tranquil Meiji Jingo Shrine. Dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and his wife, this Shinto shrine’s ornate timber buildings lie in acres of serene, lush forest. Stroll along the tree-lined avenue of Ometesando on your way to Meiji Jingo, stopping to browse at big-brand clothing boutiques or the luxurious Ometesando Hills shopping mall. Discover another green oasis at Yoyogi Park.
Young fashionistas flock to Shibuya to snap up the latest labels at its abundant array of trendy boutiques and department stores. Head to the retail hub that is Center Gai, or to the renowned Shibuya 109 building for up-to-the-minute female fashions. Watch the surge of pedestrians at the famous Shibuya Crossing and have your photograph taken by the landmark statue of Hachiko the dog. In the evening, dine at in-vogue eateries and sip cocktails at a chic bar or cool club.
Crammed with big-brand shops, designer boutiques and deluxe department stores, Ginza is another retail heaven in Tokyo. The district is also a hub for the arts, boasting a vast selection of galleries and theatres. Take in a traditional kabuki-style performance at the beautiful Kabuki-za theatre. Or wander at your leisure through the stunning grounds of the nearby Imperial Palace. Complete your day with an exquisite Japanese meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant.