In Tokyo, the ultra-modern meets the old without any disharmony. Let’s start our tour with the summit of Tokyo Skytree!
Tokyo Skytree is the second highest tower in the world after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Its observatories, one at 350 metres and the other at 450 metres, reveal a breathtaking view! However, it is advisable to be patient to get there: because of its relatively recent opening, Tokyo Skytree attracts Tokyotes, Japanese tourists and international tourists alike. There’s a crowd at the gate!
Another observation point is the Tôkyô Town Hall building (Tôkyô Metropolitan Govnernment in Nishi-Shinjuku), which offers a very beautiful view from its 45th floor.
In Ikebukuro, it is also possible to kiss the skies at Sunshine 60, and finally, the magic spot of Ropongi Hills is located at the very top of the Mori Tower! A trendy district frequented by foreigners, Roppongi has many restaurants, bars and nightclubs. In the Mori Tower are also designer shops and the Mori Art Museum, an international reference in contemporary art.
On the fashion side, Shibuya is a major centre with its ready-to-wear brands. Here, all styles meet and we compete for the most fashionable look. The crossroads of Shibuya, with its wide studded crossings and pedestrian traffic, is emblematic of the district. Tower 109 sits in its heart, a true temple of fashion! Don’t miss, before or after your shopping session, to take a picture with the statue of Hachiko. For nearly ten years, this dog went to the station at the same time every day, in the hope of seeing her deceased master return. The Japanese were so touched by his fidelity that they erected a tribute monument here. Over time, this statue has become a meeting place.
Rival and neighbour of Shibuya, Harajuku also boasts many fashion and accessory boutiques. Cat Street is the street for designers and young creators. Kiddy Land will immerse you in acidic and kawai (cute) worlds with its Hello Kitty, Snoopy, and Rilakkuma rays. Laforêt’s level -1 will delight all fans of gothic and sweet lolita styles: here you can buy superb Alice and the Pirates, Putamayo or Victorian Maiden creations. In Takeshita-dori, Bodyline has lower prices than its competitors.
Finally, note that the reference for punks, goths and sweet lolitas is in Shinjuku, in OIYoung. Levels 5F to 8F offer the most famous brands: Myself-Half, h.NAOTO, HellCatPunks, Baby The Stars Shine Bright, everything is there! A cultural visit par excellence, Ueno offers the opportunity to go green. In its immense park are scattered several temples including the Tôshô-gû sanctuary with its stone and bronze lanterns and its five-storey pagoda.
Ueno also hosts a zoo and the National Museum of Tokyo. The entire Japanese heritage seems to be concentrated here, from the very old archaeological remains to prints, kimonos, precious fabrics, calligraphy pieces, sculpted mirrors… The museum also has sublime lacquered objects, ceramics, medieval weapons and armours. Allow enough time to browse his invaluable collections!
Another important cultural site is Asakusa’s Sensô-ji. The oldest temple in Tokyo, it is decorated with beautiful scarlet, black, white and gold colours. Behind a first door with a gigantic paper lantern stretches an avenue full of small shops. At the end, the imposing Hôzô-mon interior door, containing the Hokke-kyô (Lotus Sûtra, sacred text), is classified as a national treasure. Finally, the buildings of the sanctuary impress by their shades, their size, and their magnificence! It is possible to make wishes and buy good luck charms in the adjacent shops. With a little luck, you may be able to attend a ceremony or wedding, and see the beautiful traditional clothes!
For travel in Tokyo as well as in the rest of the country, the Japan Rail Pass is an excellent option. In autumn, the mummies (maples) are adorned with flamboyant colours, while the sakuras enchant the Japanese in April. At this time, picnics at Ueno or Shinjuku parks are an institution. The respectful, friendly, kind and considerate attitude of the people will undoubtedly touch you.
Between visiting temples, shopping, restaurants (do you know the taste of real sushi? tempura? teppanyaki?), stopovers at karaoke or in arcades, you will always have new things to do and discover.