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Why fly to Tokyo?
Tokyo sits on Japan's largest island, Honshu and is one of the country's 47 prefectures, but it is a whole lot more than that. The city is a techno dream, a fantasy shopping theatre and the ultimate in dining and nightlife all wrapped up in a light mystique. Sure there are Buddhist temples, skyscrapers, dim sum and donuts, but there is a lot more. The city has virtually placed itself on a spaceship and is ready to launch at any moment, in the mean time, it is getting ready for the adventure by being armed with every technical gadget you might imagine and dressed ready for an excursion into the future.
Head to the Harajuku Bridge for your first taste of Tokyo to get yourself situated. It is where you will witness a gathering of the far out kind. Dressed in the latest of fashions, albeit with taste, is Tokyo's youth, and they congregate on the bridge in duds you didn't even know existed. From Gothic loli's to manga, anime and Cosplay kids, the outfits are fantastic and so are the personalities that go along with them. Don't worry, it is absolutely normal to go by and to be just lost in the wonder for a little bit, they're used to it.
It is lovely to be able to start your day off in the beautiful Shinjuku Gyoen Gardens. The French section is particularly lovely as well as the traditional Japanese Garden. You can take tea in the tea house or have a picnic on the grounds. If you are there in spring (because you scored a particularly great flight deal) you will be regaled by dancing cherry blossoms.
Visit the not-so-zen but definitely zing Senso-ji Buddhist emple in Asakusa for a taste of old Tokyo. And then go shopping in one of the mega malls for the taste of the new. Calling all food connoisseurs (we all are really), Tokyo is home to Michelin-starred restaurants galore. And if you love sashimi, welcome home. The city has more sashimi restaurants than you can throw a cat at. There are numerous restaurants serving up delicious fresh fish, which is more often than not purchased that morning from the Tsukiji Fish Market, which in itself is hopping with action and worth a visit. Visit at least one izakaya, which is where the work crowd heads for an after dinner drink and nosh.
Lastly, do the Shibuya Scramble. What does that mean you say? Take the train to Shibuya Station and head outside to watch the beauty of what happens when the lights go red, all the lights go red and that means GO! for the usually several hundred people waiting to cross. It is an amazing sight to see the square burst into action and then stop and then burst into action and then stop. It provides for a lovely study of human behaviour.
Tokyo is just a whirr of activity with a huge personality, the likes of which you will find no where in the world. It's Asian chic and cool, it is techno savvy and supremely sexy, throw in some zen gardens and go fast, go slow, just go and Tokyo.
The city's climate reflects its little location in the great wide sea. Monsoon season kicks off the summer in June. Temperatures during July and August are hot, hot, hot and float in the 30s. Typhoons can also occur in the tail end of summer and beginning of fall. In the winter the numbers dip to freezing levels with temperatures settling below the zero degree mark.
When to fly to Tokyo
Tokyo is a busy little place. The summers bring in tourists by the throngs who are more than happy to brave the heat to get Tokyo techno. As a result flight rates are high from June through to August. The latter half of December getting into New Year celebration time is also a busy time in the city and flight prices are high.
As soon as New Year is celebrated and all over, most travellers put Tokyo out of their minds for a few months and this is when you can snap up some good flight deals. October and November are also slower months for booking flights to Tokyo and good deals can often be found.
Getting into Tokyo
You will fly into Narita International Airport. There are several ways to get into the city center. You can travel by rail, which will get you into the city in about an hour and a half. Alternately, you can also take the Skyliner which is super fast and will get you there in about half the time. Taxis are available as well, but are definitely the pricier option.
Getting around Tokyo
The city has an extremely efficient interconnected public transportation system. You can use the bus service, which has a massive fleet. The light rail system and subway are also a great option and will get you where you want to go quickly. Taxis are readily available and also an option, but if you're travelling during rush hour you could be spending a lot of time in one.
- Tokyo is the home of the bento box. This lunchbox for adults has spread throughout the world, but since this city is the originator, you will find the best bento boxes here. If your city has not been graced by this fun lunch (or dinner) option then you should know that a bento box is made up of a meat or fish, veggie sides and rice. It is such a treat to have someone create a whole lunch for you like you without you having to decide each individual option, a procrastinator's delight. The presentation of the bento can vary but all of the dishes are divided into compartments and don't touch each other - a big hit with kids.
- Harajuko kids used to meet in Yoyogi Park in the 80s, when it was closed to traffic. Today the park is still vibrant but with different characters. Yoyogi Park is a miniature version of life in Tokyo. It is a fantastic place to visit and watch what people normally do in locked away rooms happening outside. You will see theater groups practicing and swing dancers swinging, The Yoyogi Gymnasium was where the Tokyo Olympics were held.
- Have you ever been to a fish auction? If your answer is no you must go. Action at the Tsukiji Fish Market gets started early at 5 a.m. and buyers are serious about their fish. It is just fascinating to watch and then you can step outside of the auction hall and see the slicing and dicing action of the fishmongers.
- Take in a live round of sumo wrestling. You don't have to be as sports fan to enjoy this, think of it as a cultural experiment of sorts. The Ryogoku Kokugikan stadium is usually bursting on fight night and the manner in which fans pay tribute to the ancient art of sumo will be like something you have never seen.
- Yebisu Garden Place is great place to head to if you want to wind down your cultural adventure in a beer museum, enjoy some delicious food and just take it all in.
- Compare flights to Tokyo from Australia on AirfaresFlights.com.au.
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