Tokyo Prefecture, Japan

Tokyo, the capital of Japan, definitely offers a variety of sights. During my visits I have shopped, gone to museums, visited temples and shrines, and more. Tokyo is crowded and fast paced. Tokyo's main nightspot, Roppongi, is where all the foreigners go to play.

Note: If you are staying in Tokyo see the Note on Tokyo Ryokan

Cherry blossom petals
Cherry blossom petals fall like snow during Ueno park hanami season

Cherry blossom petals
Cherry blossom petals float in a small stream in Ueno park

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Images from Tsukiji Fish Market the nations largest wholesale market

Anything that lives in the sea is sold at the market every day. People trying to go about their daily business despite the foreigners walking around, taking photos and getting in their way. The pathways through the countless vendor shops were narrow and packed with boxes of fish, fish heads, and other dead things. Look out for puddles of blood on the floor!

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Frozen tunas still on dry ice

fishmonger
A fish monger reaches for a light for his cigarette

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Kabuki display at the Tokyo Edo Museum

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Wood block prints and blocks displayed at the Tokyo Edo Museum

The Tokyo Edo Museum is a museum dedicated to the Edo period and the transition from the Edo period into today's Tokyo. There are volunteer English speaking guides free of charge. The tour takes about two hours.

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A buddhist statue is reflected off a case at the National Museum in Ueno Park

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Tourists curiously peer into the North Korean spy ship on display in Odaiba

The spy ship is on display at the Maritime Science Museum in Odaiba The spy ship was sunk in Dec. 2001 in Japan's waters and then raised later to conduct an investigation. The spy ship was put on private display and then open to the public on May 31, 2003.

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Traditional Japanese festival in the streets of Tokyo's Shinjuku ward

capsule

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My trip to the Kabukicho capsule hotel. I paid the 4500 yen (~$40) at the front desk on the 3rd floor and got my locker key. In the locker is a yukata and towels. You change into the yukata in the locker room and leave your things in the locker. Then you can use the bath which is like your typical sento. Because the capsule hotels are design for guests who hadn't planned an overnight stay, shaving cream, razors, combs, and everything else you need is provided. When done, Floors 6, 7, and 8 are all capsules. Each floor has a toilet, smoking area, vending machines with beer, and sinks, etc. There is a TV, radio, light, and sprinkler head in each capsule. Your capsule has no door, only a curtain so in the morning I could unfortunately here the guy in the capsule next to me watching the porno channel.

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Tokyo Summer Land Water park in Hachioji, Tokyo prefecture.

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The indoor wave pool at Tokyo Summer Land on a Sun. in July. If you don't like crowds, you may want to go on a weekday!

station train

If you visit Tokyo, you will ride the JR train system or the subway. These photos of Shinjuku station and inside a Tokyo train were taken on a busy day. The trains are always extremely crowded during rush hour and special events like hanabi (Fireworks shows). The station employees called pushers wear white gloves and literally push/pack people into the train so the doors can close. With the exception of people lying in the luggage racks, it is much like a NY train returning from Times Square after midnight on New Years.

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Akihabara, Electric Town with more than 600 multilevel shops accounts for 1/10 of the entire nations electronics and electric appliances sales. This photo, taken on a Thursday, really doesn't do it justice, since 100,000 shoppers visit per day on the weekends.

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Asakusa main gate (left) and open shopping mall (right).

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Jizo Bosatsu (sitting) at Asakusa Temple in Tokyo

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A shop worker makes senbei (rice crackers) in Asakusa.

shibuya

Shibuya, just outside Shibuya station. This is where the young crowds go to play. Shibuya is packed with restaurants, bars, karaoke bars, etc.

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May 2002 annual Aikido exhibition at Nippon Bodokan in Kitanomaru Park.

Women Only Train Sign
This Women-only train car sign reads like the rules of Fisbin!

Hama Rikyu gardens

Hama Rikyu gardens
Hama Rikyu gardens

Covered walkway at Hama Rikyu Gardens
Covered walkway at Hama Rikyu Gardens

Image of sky scrapers
Image of sky scrapers reflect in the salt-water pond of Hama Rikyu Gardens

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Hama Rikyu Gardens Tea House

Ueno

Ueno Park is a huge park in Ueno, Tokyo that boasts a lake, a zoo, museums, food booths, and more. Artists sketch charateratures and the station-side entrance of the park and eEntertainers draw a crowd to make some money or just for a promotion. Also in the park is the Japan National Museum which is worth a visit.

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Amida Nyorai (standing) at the Japan National Museum

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Nyorai (sitting) at the Japan National Museum

Shinjuku

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The hustle and bustle of Shinjuku taken from in front of Shinjuku station.

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Takashimaya Times Square, opened in 1994, is 14 floors of clothing, house wares, furniture, souvenirs, restaurants, and more. It also includes the Kinokuniya bookstore, which has a great section of foreign books including the largest selection of Japanese language books I have ever seen. I rarely visit without buying at least one more Language book. Below are the tracks leading to the left into Shinjuku station.

flamenco

Flamenco show in a Spanish restaurant in Tokyo. The singer and guitarist are Spanish and the dancers are Japanese. The dancer on the left teaches in Kofu as well as in Tokyo.

Harajuku

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Traditional wedding at the Meiji Jingu Shrine.

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Jingubashi bridge leading into the Meiji Jingu Shrine. This is where the young hang out every Sunday to listen to local bands (above right) and to parade around in their costumes (below). It is not unusual for people to change into two or more costumes in a single day.

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Takeshita Street (left) offers many shops and restaurants and is a popular place for pedestrians to cruise up and down eating ice cream crepes and looking for bargains. Atsuzoko (right), or Platform shoes, are popular with the young.

Roppongi

Absolute Ice Bar
Absolute Ice Bar

The Ice Bar that opened in 2005, imports its blocks of ice from Sweden, same as the famous sweden Ice Hotel. When I visited in April 2006, the cover was 3500 yen which included 1 drink in an ice glass. Use of a poncho-style jacket and gloves is also included in the price. The max. limit for a visit is 45 minutes due to the low temperature.

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Motown House I (left) and Motown House II (right).

kaiten

Roppongi kaitenzushi (rotary sushi) restaurants can be a cheap place to eat. The plates of sushi move along a conveyor around the chef in the center, as seen here, or through a small opening into the kitchen in the back. You take whichever sushi plate you want. The plates are color-coded according to price. When you are done, the waiter adds up the total based on the color and number of empty plates you have collected. Tea bags, ginger, chopsticks, and everything else you need is directly in from of you including a hot water dispenser for making tea, and cups rotating around a lower conveyer belt. If your favorite sushi is not on the conveyor, or you want a beer or something else from the menu, you can place an order with the chef or the waiter.

Odaiba

ladylibery
Copy of Lady Liberty unveiled Jan. 2001.

Food court at Oedo-onsen
The food court at Oedo-onsen decorated for cherry blossom season.

Resting rooms at Oedo-onsen
One of the 3 resting rooms at Oedo-onsen with chairs complete with person TV.

Outside garden at Oedo-onsen
Coed outside garden and heated wading pools at Oedo-onsen.

Oedo-Onsen Monogatari, opened in 2003, is an old Edo period style bath complete with about a dozen different yukatta designs to chose from, food court, massage services, resting rooms, sand sauna, dry sauna, and various baths, including outside baths. I lived in Kofu, Yamanashi, and so I had more onsen than I knew what to do with. However, for visitors with only a week or two, only visiting Tokyo and Kyoto, this is a great chance to experience the Japanese onsen which I strongly suggest you do. Bathing is all natural (no bathing suits) and there are no mixed gender onsen. Men and women baths are separate. However there is a heated wading pool outside where men and women in their yukatta can sit, drink and spend time together.

The last time I went (Nov. 2008) I noticed they had a Mr. Fish spa. Basically a foot bath with small fish that nibble at your toes. I would also recommend trying both the sand bath then Akasuri if you have never tried them. Some of special baths close early (around 5 p.m. I think) so you need to come early to try these. Standard admission allows you to stay until 2 a.m., but you can pay a little extra to stay at the onsen until 9 a.m. the following morning. I have done this in leu of a hotel in the past. You can crash in the relaxation room.

I have described the procedure for visiting an onsen at the onsen experience on my Hot Springs page. Oedo-onsen Monogatari is pretty much the same. Take your shoes off and store them in one of the shoe lockers on your left (as you enter). Continue to the front and pay (there is an English "menu"), then go to the choose the design of the yukatta you want.Go to the appropriate locker room (red curtain is girls, blue is boys) and change. You can leave you underwear on under your yukatta if you want. There will be another locker room before entering the men and women's separate baths. Your locker key bracelet has a bar code and you can scan this to purchase everything from food, drinks from the vending machines, massages, and even tokens for the video games. When you enter the bath locker room, the attendant will scan your bracelet and give you a large and a small towel.