2003-07-14, 06:37 PM
Coming to Tokyo from Taiwan (I am a Canadian working in Taiwan) on Aug. 1st.
Staying for 4 or 5 nights, attending Summer Sonic on Sunday Aug. 3rd.
Besides that, my itinerary is open. Can anyone suggest some good places to hit in and around Tokyo. I've been fascinated with Japanese culture for years (almost ended up teaching in Japan, but nevermind).
Something tells me I'd be happy just wandering around and getting lost, but perhaps some more direction would be helpful. I've heard Shinjuku was the inspiration for the film Blade Runner, so that might be interesting. And I've heard good things about Nikko as well (would love to get out of Tokyo, cheaply, if possible - ya I know, keep dreaming).
Also, planned on (perhaps) checking out the Studio Ghibli Museum (Mr. Miyazaki).
Would absolutely love any suggestions from those in the know.
2003-07-15, 04:15 AM
Well, 4 or 5 days are a very short time for a trip to Tokyo, but ok:
First of all, if you're interested in Japanese culture, then you should definetely try to reserve at least one day for a trip either to Nikko or Kamakura.
Tokyo is a fascinating city, admittedly, but there is not that much of Japanese culture to be found - at least not on first glance, and for a second or third glance you needed much more time than just 4 days.
Nikko is a nice contrast to the *big-city* that is Tokyo. However it's a two-hour journey by train with a one-way ticket for about 2800,- Yen. (Might be more today - did that trip 2 years ago.) Expect to pay an additional 500,- to 1000,- Yen of entrance fee for the shrine there. Ah - and don't take JR to get to Nikko - the above mentioned price is for the Tobu-Nikko-sen, which takes of in Asakusa.
If this trip seems to be too expensive, then you should consider visiting Kamakura instead. Only 50 minutes from Tokyo taking the Yokosuka-sen. Besides the famous Daibutsu, you can visit some beautiful temples (entry fee between 100,- to 300,.- Yen.) You can leave the train at Kita-Kamakura station, visit a few temples close by and then take a hiking-path to the Daibutsu (about 2 hours or so, if I remember correctly). However since August is extremely hot and humid, it might not be the wisest idea to go for this small hiking-tour unless you're very heat-resistant.
Haven't been to the Studio Ghibli Museum myself, but I know that you have(!) to buy your tickets in advance - thus, if you intend to visit it, you should start checking now.. There is an official website at http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/ Information how to purchase the tickets in Taiwan is provided too, albeit only in Chinese - and since my Chinese reading skills are still below average you'd better check for yourself.
Now back to Tokyo: Shinjuku is a definete 'must'. In the hours after sunset you can experience that kind of "Blade Runner" atmosphere in some parts. Lot's of people, lot's of entertainment (well - *any* kind of entertainment you can possibly think about) but also some excellent restaurants (check http://www.walkerplus.com).
Also: make sure to go to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office in New Shinjuku. They offer an observation platform at about 200m, which is free(!) (compared to platforms like those of Sunshine City in Ikebukuro or Landmark Tower in Yokohama, which charge you an arm and a leg) and the view over Tokyo at sunset is absolutely breathtaking! Make sure you take a camera with you, or you will regret it. :D
For experiencing the city, also take a look at Shibuya and Harajuku, and to breath a bit of air, make a stop at Yoyogi Koen, Shinjuku Gyouen (charge is 150 Yen or so) and don't forget the Meiji-Jingu! (If you start early enough, you can make a long stroll from Shinjuku -> Yoyogi Koen/ Meiji Jingu -> Harajuku -> Shibuya ...but I wouldn't advise to do so in August.)
What else... well, if you're interested in Japanese culture, then you definetely should spend some hours in the Edo-Tokyo museum (http://www.edo-tokyo-museum.or.jp/). The entrance fee is kind of high, but imho it's worth it beca&uacute;se it has an excellent exhibiton about the history of Tokyo. Oh, and don't forget to make a short stop at the Sumo Museum at the Kokugikan Sumo-Stadion just around the corner - at least if you're interested a bit in Sumo (entrance is free here!). I'd also suggest paying a visit to the Asakusa Kannon Shrine in Asakusa and spend some time on foot exploring the streets around it. If you got the chance, try to read Kawabata Yasunaris "asakusa kurenaidan" before you go there, and you can perhaps feel some tiny echoes of the Tokyo of the 1920th exploring the streets.
As for nightlife - mhm, I guess that depends on personal tastes. Personally I dislike Roppongi and prefer Shinjuku instead, but there's enough action out there in almost any part of Tokyo.
Hope my ramblings helped a bit...(?)
2003-07-20, 08:15 PM
Big time thanks for taking the time to do that Andy.
Will endeavor to get in on most of your advice.
As you already pointed out, 4 or 5 nights is not an ideal amount of time. But I plan to make the most of it.
As my hotel is in Ueno, I think I may rent a bike and cruise around the neighboorhood for a day, soak in the vibe, etc.
Once again, thanks alot.