Travel, Teach, Live in Japan
Images of Japan range from the ancient temples of Kyoto and Nara, to the mystical mountain shrines of the Kii peninsula, to the ultra modern skyline of Tokyo and its denizens who have a penchant for dressing like Little Bow Peep and the odd cartoon hero. People tend to either bypass Tokyo completely or spend their whole time in the city depending on their preferences and what they are looking for in Japan.
The truth is that Tokyo is much more than street fashion, high end gadgets and earthquake resistant skyscrapers. In fact Tokyo, or Edo as it was once known, has as much history and culture as the other areas of Japan. If you are visiting Japan, no matter what you're interested in, you should make it a point to explore all that Tokyo has to offer before you move on to explore the rest of the country.
Tokyo is a thriving metropolis that is part futuristic and part old quaint town that blends together in a wonderful mix of modern and traditional. With over 33 million people living in the greater Tokyo Metropolitan area it can be difficult to peel back the concrete and neon facade that most visitors see and never move beyond.
If it's your first time in the city there are a number of attractions that you should not miss. Start your tour in Shinjuku and a walk with the young generation in their quest for the latest name brands. Move on to Meiji Shrine to the south were you are welcomed into a quite forested park at the center of which sits a massive wooden Shinto shrine where, if you are lucky you'll catch a glimpse of a traditional Shinto wedding. Exit the grounds through a large tori gate and into Harajuku and mingle with the young hip crowd dressed in costume play. Walk and take pictures with Little Bow Peep, Goth sweethearts, and the anime characters.
Move on to the more traditional areas of Tokyo (shita-machi, or lower town) and visit Asakusa area with the oldest and grandest temple in Tokyo, Sensoji. Head to Akihabara for a break back into the modern world with the latest gadgets and the peculiar culture of Maid Café's that have sprung up to service the Otaku (diehard fan) of the cartoon and comic genres. Loaded up with a new camera head up to Ueno Park where you can stroll amongst cherry blossom trees, ancient temples and visit the Ueno Zoo and pay a quick visit to their newest additions from China, the adorable Giant Pandas Bili and Xiannu.
As night approaches (no, you are not able to do all of the above in one day) it is time to burrow into the endless alleys and night fun that Tokyo offers. If you are hungry head back to Shinjuku, pick a small street and walk down it. There are a ton of small places to get lost in and sample dinner like the locals.
Look out for a nice izakya (like a tapas bar) where you can sample a large variety of dishes and drink. Once you are full head over to Roppongi or Izabuchuban areas where the night life really heats up with countless bars and clubs. You should plan for a late night as the clubs stay open, and full, until 4 am or so. Party until the first trains start and grab a bowl of miso ramen from a noodle shop to help fight off a hangover.
When you get back to your hotel, shower, take a 5 min nap and then rinse and repeat. Tokyo has an energy that will keep you motivated and awake your whole trip. After all, when will you be in Japan again?
If you want to find more fun and creative things to do in Tokyo please head on over to Things To Do in Tokyo at http://thingstodoin-tokyo.com.