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foodjapan.net - Tokyo

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[place]* The administrative and cultural capital of Japan, Tokyo is home to 12 million people, 160,000 restaurants and the most Michelin stars of any city in the world. From noodle bars to izakaya - if it's edible, you'll find it in Tokyo... somewhere.


In a Nutshell

Japan's capital since 1869, when the Emperor moved here from Kyoto. Cultural and economic hotspot; divided into 23 "special wards" but - as far as the common tourist is concerned - one large, sprawling metropolis. Unabashedly cutting-edge, flashy and a little gritty underneath; shopping and food both world class. Major national and international transportation hub.  



What to See

Visit Shinjuku to see modern Japan up close and personal, and for its boisterous but ever-delightful red-light district of Kabuki-choHarajuku offers the latest in hip and trendy fashion; the maze-like back streets of Shibuya are always charming and full of wacky purchases - if you can afford them. Ueno offers a rarer look at the real Japan - see commuters and housewives dashing in and about "Ameyoko", its market / shopping avenue - and the Sensoji (Asakusa district) is, if a helpless tourist trap, still stunning in scale and splendour. The Roppongi Hills complex, and surrounding area, almost drips with sleaziness, but I still liked it. 

Tokyo Tower is a tourist favourite, but if you've seen the Eiffel Tower I'd give it a miss - there's not much else of note around the area. Ginza is beautiful and classy and stuffed end-to-end with high-end purchases, but safe to skip if you have better places to be. 



What to Eat 

Monjayaki is the one dish which is definitively Tokyo, and its native habitat of Tsukishima is distinctly quaint and worth a visit. The stalls at Tsukiji Market offer some of the freshest sushi Tokyo has to offer, and is worth a look if you're up early enough. Dojo (loach) in the aforementioned Asakusa district is also a local specialty and unique enough to warrant a look.

Otherwise, the capital puts up a decent offering of many of the country's finest dishes - if it looks interesting, it may be worth a try. Cheap and excellent ramen stores are a dime a dozen, and look out for bargain revolving sushi shops with long queues - if there's a long line of locals waiting at the door, it's probably a good bet.



Getting There

Accessible direct or via single transfer from most cities, by Shinkansen from most major cities in Japan, and a hundred other ways I can't be bothered to list. Chances are you arrived in Tokyo, anyway...




JR trains connect much of inner Tokyo and run frequently until midnight. Be wary of the privately-operated Metro lines, which are unlikely to be covered by a tourist JR rail pass; popular stops falling under this category include Ginza, Roppongi and Asakusa (note JR's Asakusa Bridge does not come near Sensoji and requires a transfer.) Expect single fares to run from ¥120 - ¥400 or more.




Visit for the "modern" Japan - neon lights, hustle and bustle, and technological wizardry embedded deep in all facets of life. Food is excellent all round. As a sampler of what Japan has to offer it is unparalleled, but if you are expecting traditional Japanese grace and harmony you may be disappointed. 



More Information 

Blog: Day 1 (Ueno) - Day 2 (Shinjuku) - Day 3 (Harajuku, Shibuya) - Day 8 (Asakusa, Ryogoku)

Japan National Tourism Organisation

Been to Tokyo? Agree? Disagree? Anything to add? Comment below!


10 Sec. Blurb

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The administrative and cultural capital of Japan, Tokyo is home to 12 million people, 160,000 restaurants and the most Michelin stars in the world (227)
Uni - sea urchin

Uni, or sea urchin, is one of the most treasured delicacies in Japan, but it's also eaten in Chile, the West Indies and in Mediterranean cuisine.
Right direction


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