Walking Tour of Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan, is a true mega-city, with over 23 million people in its metropolitan area, and an economy which is larger than Canada’s. Navigating the streets is extremely difficult, even for locals, because of the unusual address system, but public transport is fast and efficient, plus there are many signs in English. The city is much more about goods and services, and less about tourist attractions. As a matter of fact, much of Tokyo’s tourism revolves around products.
One must-see attraction is Tokyo’s wholesale fish market, in Tsukiji, the largest in the world, which offers just about everything that swims in the ocean. Another interesting commercial sight is Akihabara, Electronic City, which boasts all the high-tech gadgets anyone could imagine.
More traditional tourist attractions include Kokyo, the Imperial Palace, although access to the actual palace is only available on two days a year. However, some of the grounds may be open, either by reservation, or, in the case of the East Garden, accessible anytime.
In the Asakusa area, visitors should check out the Sensoji Complex, with its temples, shrines, and gardens. In the Aoyama area, the Meiji Shrine, with its beautiful Inner and Outer Gardens, merits some time. Also there are many quality museums for those so-inclined.
Because of the sheer size of the city and distances between many of the attractions, my walk incorporates the use of the efficient subway (Metro) system in traveling from section to section.
My walk begins at, perhaps, the most fascinating place in Tokyo, the Tsukiji Fish Market, largest of its kind in the world. Try to get to this cacophony of sights, smells, and sounds in the morning to experience it at its most entertaining and chaotic. Take the Hibaya Line or Oedo Line to Tsukiki Station. Also explore the many shops in the area, as well as the Tsukiji-Hongan Temple, before proceeding on your walk.
From the temple, walk northeast on Harumi-dori. You will pass the Kabuki Theater, on your right, near the Ginza Yon-chome crossing, one of the world’s busiest intersections. Note the Clock Tower of the Wako Department Store, a city landmark, and the San’ai Building, another icon of modern Tokyo.
When you reach Hibayi-dori, turn right, and then left, across the Nijubarhi Bridge, which leads to the Imperial Palace, a Shogun castle which dates to the late 16th century. Be sure to stroll through the Otemon Gate and into the East Garden of the Imperial Palace before leaving the area.
Exit the palace grounds to the south, by passing through the Sakurada Mon (Gate of the Field of Cherry Trees) and turn right on Hakumi-dori, to reach the National Diet Building, home of the Japanese parliament.
Now, turn left here and then enter the Metro Station. Take the Ginza Line west, toward Shibuya, to get to the western part of the city, Tokyo’s hottest and hippest district. From the Shibuya Station, walk out the north exit and onto a plaza which sports huge videos screens and a large concentration of people. From here, you can see and/or access several interesting city sights. There is a walkway to Mark City, a large shopping mall complex. To the north is Seibu, an enticing and very popular department store. Also nearby is the famous 109 Building (an unusual cylindrical structure) which is another shopping Mecca.
You could spend hours here, browsing the many shops and people-watching, but, for now, proceed northward, past Seibu, then continue north on Meiji-dori, and then turn left on Omotesando-dori, to visit Meiji-jingu and its lovely gardens.
After your visit, return to the entrance and walk eastward on Omotesando-dori, to the Omotesando Metro Station. Now, take the Ginza Line east to the Asakusa Station. From the station, walk west on Kaminarimon-dori, and then turn right on Naka-mise-dori, through the Thunder Gate, the main entrance to the Asakusa Kannon Temple (also known as Senso-ji Temple), one of the city’s premier attractions. Actually, explore the entire area, spending some time, in particular, at the Asakusa Shrine, the Five-Storey Pagoda, and the garden of the Denbo-in Monastery. After your visit, return to the Asakusa Metro Station, and take the Asakusa Line south to Higashi-Ginza Station. As you exit, walk east on Harumi-dori, and then left on Shin-Ohashi-dori, and then right to the Fish Market, where you began your journey.