Let's go to Tokyo!

Historic Tokyo 2

Home
Transportation
Accommodations
Things to See
Map of Tokyo
Tokyo Customs
Practical Tips
About Us
Historic Tokyo 東京の史的

Meiji Jingu 明治神宮 (Meiji Shrine) Yoyogi Park
On your visit to Harajuku to see the oddly dressed teens and listen to music in Yoyogi park you might be missing the most important and popular shinto shrine in Tokyo.  Meiji Jingu was opened on November 1, 1920 to enshrine the souls and honor the memory of Emperor Meiji (d. 1912) and his wife Empress Shoken (d.1914), whose policies were instrumental in opening Japan to the outside world and restoring power to the Imperial Family.    The shrine was constructed on a site near an Iris garden that the royal family frequently visited.
 
At the entrance to Meiji shrine are gigantic Torii (gates) decorated with the imperial seal, reflect a shrine befitting an Emperor.
Meiji Jingu Torii


 A peaceful oasis in the heart of modern Tokyo, Meiji Shrine is sheltered by a 700,000 square-meter forest of 120,000 evergreen trees, donated from all parts of Japan when the shrine was established.

 The walkway to the shrine is beautifully lined with tall arched trees.

Meiji Jingu Trees

Many family shinto ceremonies are held at Meiji Jingu, including weddings, funerals, New Year's celebrations and Boy's day, children's day and girl's day (as shown below).

Meiji Jingu Ceremony

 Below are Meiji shrine's famous ancient camphor trees, decorated with a Shimenawa.

Meiji Jingu

 There are countless gardens surrounding the area and it's adjacent to Yoyogi park (pictured below) which serves as a great visiting place on Sundays for its live concerts by local acts, and is also a great place to celebrate the annual Hanami party (cherry blossom viewing party). 

Yoyogi Park

 

 


 
Tokyo Tower東京タワー
A quick scan of Tokyo's skyline and one can instantly recognize Tokyo's 1,091 foot radio tower, rising above the landscape providing a great visual point of reference, it's difficult to imagine Tokyo without it.
Tokyo Tower


Here's a video of our visit to Tokyo Tower in 2010:
 

Tokyo Tower has two observation decks and a visiting area (called Foot Town) with museums (trick art and wax museums), shops and restaurants.

Main Observatory - First Floor

Tokyo Tower Main Observatory

 

 


 The Main Observatory on the first floor has a nice view of Tokyo and a window on the floor to see how far up you are, and for interesting photo opportunities.  Also on the First Floor is Club 333 (pictured below), which has live bands from 7-9pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays and a live DJ on Fridays from 7:30-9pm.   The ambience and music are free with your 820 admission to Tokyo Tower's Main Observatory.

Tokyo Tower Club 333
 

 


There's also a cafe (sign pictured below) where you can enjoy light meals or a cappuccino and a view of Tokyo from a 50 story panoramic window.

Tokyo Tower Café La Tour

 


On the second floor of the Main Observatory (same admission price) you'll find a souvenir shop, shinto shrine and the entrance to the special observatory.

Special Observatory  - For an additional 600 fee you can visit the special observatory at the very top of Tokyo Tower, which has amazing views. 

Tokyo Tower Special Observatory


If you're visiting at night they have special LED lights set up to make it feel that you're "walking in space", with ambient sounds to assist the effect. :-)  So japanese.

Tokyo Tower Special Observatory Night

 


While its history only dates back to 1961, it's ensured a place in history with the completion of Tokyo Sky Tree in 2012, a sleek new radio tower, which will stand 2,003 feet in the air (nearly twice the size of Tokyo Tower).

Click here for more details on Tokyo Tower.

Tsukiji Shijo  築地市場 (Tsukiji Fish Market)

Established at this spot in 1935, Tsukiji Fish Market has long been a tourist attraction for those people curious about where all the great sushi in Tokyo comes from.  It may not be for everyone as its filled with surly fishermen and shrewd restaurant managers, but it's a great place to see just about every kind of crazy fish 魚 (uo) ....

Tsukiji Fish

squid 烏賊 (ika) ...
Tsukiji Squid

....octopus 鮹 (tako)....
Tsukiji Octopus (Tako)

...and blowfish, wait!  that's a display...
Tsukiji Blowfish (Fugu) Prop

 


ok... here's the honest to goodness deadly blowfish 河豚 (fugu)....

Tsukiji Blowfish (Fugu)

 


You can try samples too (and even though death by fugu is rare, we recommend you stay away from the fugu), otherwise get the freshest sashimi you've ever had. :-)

Tsukiji Samples

 

 


Also they have a Tuna 鮪 (maguro) auction (for restaurant owners) open to tourists from 5am - 6:15am daily, check out the YouTube video below:

http://www.youtube.com/v/viTmXuo882g

Of note:  This is a very industrious area, with fisherman wheeling around large carts with (literally) tons of fish, so please know that no children are allowed and you can't wear open toed shoes (like sandals or heels).   For courtesy's sake, please don't touch the fish (unless you've already bought it) and no flash photography is allowed during the tuna auction (too distracting, but you can bring a camera with no flash).

Imperial Palace - 皇居

It is possible to plan a tour of the Imperial Palace in advance of your visit (use the online english application about a month before you go).  Although you don't tour the interior of the palace, you get to see much more of the palace than the typical tourist.  Including the lotus moat, the balcony where they Emperor speaks and a remarkable defense tower that was so beautiful, when the capital moved from Kyoto to Tokyo they relocated this building stone by stone.  Here's our YouTube video of our tour there in 2010.

 

Below please find a link with more information and access to an english application to reserve your place in the tour. :-)

https://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/guide/koukyo.html

Imperial Palace - East Gardens 皇居御苑

The East Gardens are open to the public at Japan's Imperial Palace in Tokyo.  The palace itself (seen from the gardens in the picture below), is occupied by the current Imperial family and therefore only open to the public on January 2nd (for the New Year's greeting) and December 23rd (for the Emperor's birthday). Imperial Palace Gardens Bridge and view of Palace


 

 The gardens however are open to the public for free throughout the year during daylight hours 9am-4:30pm, closed only on Mondays and Fridays.

Imperial Palace Gardens


If you need a bit of rest and relaxation, or simply want to see how the royals live, then a visit to the Imperial Palace Gardens won't disappoint you. :-)

Imperial Palace Gardens

Incidentally, if you're looking to have a picnic in the East Gardens, or just want a cool place to eat lunch, then check out the brand new Daimaru 大丸 Department Store at Tokyo Station. 

Daimaru pics

They have an amazing selection of bentos (lunch boxes) and take out food on the ground floor (like a British Department store, groceries are in the basement), please see the YouTube video about the grand re-opening of Daimaru - Tokyo Station.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jPN_l_3Z-E

Or if you'd rather grab a bite to eat in a sit down restaurant, they have numerous restaurants and cafes.  For example, there's a sushi restaurant on the 12th floor and Inoda Coffee (cafe) on the 8th floor.

Still inside Tokyo, but just on the outskirts is one of the best Buddhist Temples in Tokyo.

Ikegami Honmon-ji (Temple) 池上本門寺

Honmon-ji has been an important temple for hundreds of years, owing to the fact that the leader of the Lotus Sect of Buddhism (Nichiren) died here in the year 1282.  Below is a woodblock printing showing the path leading to Ikegami Honmon-ji from 1932.
Ikegami Honmon-ji

 


 ...and the same approach to Honmonji today.

Ikegami Honmon-ji

 

 

 


At the top of those 100 steps of purity, you'll see  the gate that leads to the temple.

We visited Ikegami again in 2010, please see the YouTube video below, if you'd like to see more:

 

Ikegami Honmon-ji


 A closer inspection of the gate reveals the temples guardians on either side, below you can see the shadowy figures on either side of the gate...

Ikegami Honmon-ji

   ...and below is a close up of Raijin the Thunder God (on the left in the pic above).

Ikegami Honmon-ji Guardian

 


...and once safely through the gates (*phew!*), you can see Soshido Hall.  The small roof to the right (in the pic below) is the hall's main purification area.  If you'd like to know how to use it, please click here.

Ikegami Honmon-ji Soshido Hall


Inside Soshido Hall you'll find a gilded shrine to pay your respects to.

Ikegami Honmon-ji

 


 After you offer incense or a few yen, a quick look around will reveal the location of the ancient five story pagoda which is the oldest (and tallest) original pagoda in Tokyo.  Ikegami Honmon-ji

 

 


 Close to the Pagoda is a nice statue devoted to Nichiren, who died here on a pilgrimage in 1282.
 Ikegami Honmon-ji Nichiren


A stroll around the grounds will reveal a much bigger area than you might have anticipated with buildings, gardens, tea houses and monks living quarters.  They even have a museum (pictured below).

Ikegami Honmon-ji

 The only other original structure that remained intact is the library built in 1784(pictured below), that houses all the Buddhist scriptures in hexagonal bookshelves (not open to the public).

Ikegami Honmon-ji

 

Getting There - Meiji Jingu - Harajuku

 

From Shinjuku 新宿 - Take the Yamanote 山手 line to Harajuku 原宿.

Price: 130

Time: 5 minutes

Just make a right out of Harajuku station, make a right at the bridge and a right into the shrine at the end of the bridge. 

 

From Nakano 中野 - Take the Chuo 中央 line to Shinjuku and transfer to the Yamanote 山手 line to Harajuku 原宿.

Price: 160

Time: 11 minutes

Just make a right out of Harajuku station, make a right at the bridge and a right into the shrine at the end of the bridge.

  

Getting There - Daimon - Tokyo Tower

 

From Shinjuku 新宿 - Take the Toei Subway Oedo 大江戸 line  to Daimon 大門.

Price: 210

Time: 16 minutes

 

From Nakano 中野 - Take the Chuo 中央 line or Chuo-Sobu 中央総武 line to Shinjuku 新宿 then transfer to the Toei Subway Oedo 大江戸 line  to Daimon 大門.

Price: 360

Time: 29 minutes

 

Getting There - Tsukijishijo- Tsukiji Fish Market

 

From Shinjuku 新宿 - Take the Toei Subway Oedo 大江戸 line  to Tsukijishijo 築地市場.

Price: 260

Time: 20 minutes

 

From Nakano 中野 - Take the Chuo 中央 line or Chuo-Sobu 中央総武 line to Shinjuku 新宿 then transfer to the Toei Subway Oedo 大江戸 line  to Tsukijishijo 築地市場.

Price: 410

Time: 33 minutes

 

Getting There - Tokyo Station - Imperial Palace Gardens

 

From Shinjuku 新宿 - Take the Chuo 中央 line or Chuo-Sobu 中央総武 line to Tokyo 東京 station

Price: 190

Time: 15 minutes

Follow signs to the Marunouchi exit and take the main road straight to the Imperial Palace.  For more details please click the link below.

http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/guide/access_map_kokyo.html

 

From Nakano 中野 - Take the Chuo 中央 line or Chuo-Sobu 中央総武 line to Tokyo 東京 station.

Price: 210

Time: 19 minutes

Follow signs to the Marunouchi exit and take the main road straight to the Imperial Palace.  For more details please click the link below.

http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/guide/access_map_kokyo.html

 

 

Getting There - Ikegami - Honmon-ji (shrine)

 

From Shinjuku 新宿 - Take the Yamanote 山手 line to Gotanda 五反田 then transfer to the Tokyu Ikegami 東急池上 line  to Ikegami 池上.

Price: 350

Time: 36 minutes

It's a ten minute walk from the station, please click the link below to look at the map for more detail.

Ikegami Google Maps

 

From Nakano 中野 - Take the Chuo 中央 line or Chuo-Sobu 中央総武 line to Shinjuku 新宿 then transfer to the Yamanote 山手 line  to Gotanda 五反田 then transfer to the Tokyu Ikegami 東急池上 line  to Ikegami 池上.

Price: 400

Time: 45 minutes

It's a ten minute walk from the station, please click the link below to look at the map for more detail.

Ikegami Google Maps

 

Click here to go back to Historic Sites

counter for wordpress

そうだ 東京行こう!