Spotlight on 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.

            The best excursion from Tokyo is to Kamakura, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of the city. Here, visitors can see the Great Buddha, long a symbol of Japan, over 12 meters (37 feet) tall, made of bronze, and dating to1292 AD. The curious can actually walk inside his stomach (for a fee, of course). Also in Hase, the actual location of the Buddha, is Hasedera, with several notable sculptures and views of the bay.

            Another popular excursion is to Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, southwest of Tokyo, to get up close and personal with another symbol of Japan, Mount Fuji, the snow-covered volcanic peak, over 4,000 meters (12,000 feet) high.  The Five Lakes region of the park has the best views of the mountain.


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