Japan counts among the most developed and sophisticated countries of the world. Along with being excruciatingly clean and beautiful, the positive behaviour of the people here is a thing to behold. Japan’s history, culture and heritage are objects of admiration too.
There are a number of airlines which get you to Tokyo. Narita International Airport of Tokyo receives most international flights. Narita is an area on the outskirts of the city of Tokyo. The journey requires approximately 8 hours from here to the city. The Japanese are very particular about punctuality and time; therefore it is unlikely for the flight to be late. From the airport, there are many means of transport which one can use to reach Tokyo. I recommend using the train because it is considerably cheaper. It is imperative to buy a JR (Japan Railways) pass from your own country before leaving for Japan. The JR pass can be retrieved from the JR office in Narita Airport. Buying this pass saves tourists a huge amount of money. It provides access to a varied means of transport owned by Japan Railways which include rail, bus and also a ferry in Miyajima, Hiroshima. The Narita Express transports you to Tokyo station in about 53 minutes. The best period to visit Japan is in the month of April. The cherry blossom trees are in full bloom and the weather is pleasantly cool at this time. I suggest that you carry a good windcheater to shield yourself from the cold. While Shibuya and Shinjuku are your best options when it comes to tourist residences, Ginza area is not bad either. One could also consider staying in Bed and Breakfast homes if not hotels, which is also cheaper and will give you a hint of the conventional way of life here. During my visit to Tokyo, I stayed at a Bread and Breakfast apartment in Chuo- Ku area of Ginza. Tokyo is an extremely tourist-friendly city. All the tourist destinations here are connected by railway. The JR railway lines form a circle in Tokyo.
After freshening up at your apartment, set out for the first destination- The Senso-ji Temple. The nearest station is Asakusa. Senso- ji is a Buddhist temple related to its Tendai sect. Just beside it is a Shinto Shrine, also called Asakusa Shrine. Just a walk from the Asakusa Station is the first gate of the temple, called Hazarimon or ‘thunder gate’ with a huge red lantern in the centre and figures of gods at each side. Entry to this spot is free. Leading from this gate to the second one is a shopping street called ‘Nakamise’. It is the perfect spot to buy souvenirs and taste Japanese food. I was pleasantly surprised to find green tea ice cream here. It was a different concept for me, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Men and women dressed in the traditional Japanese dress, Kimono, flock about. The air smells sweet owing to the cherry blossoms in full bloom. The shrine is grand from the inside. It looks like a mosaic of red, black and golden. There are a couple of other shrines too other than the main one. After paying your respects to the deity in the sanctum, we head to our second Destination, Ueno Zoological Gardens. The nearest Station to Ueno Zoological gardens is Ueno. It is closed on Mondays and the entry fee is 600 Yen. Be it the Arctic, Amazon Rainforests or the wilderness of Africa and India, one can find creatures from all corners of the world there. We can safely invest about 2 hours to explore the area and soak in its aura. After getting your dose of nature, we head to a place which is quite the opposite.
Our next spot is Akihabara Electric town. Akihabara station being the closest one, it is accessible directly through the JR line. Bright Neon Skylights and displays virtually teleport you to a world which is alien to the earth as we know it. You can treat yourself here to some Soba or Udon, both staple Japanese noodles. It will be subtly dark by the time you leave Akihabara. It is the perfect time to visit the TOKYO SKYTREE, from where the city looks bejewelled at night. The TOKYO SKYTREE stands tall at 634 metres and is the tallest Broadcasting Tower which is free- standing in the world. The highest we can go up in the structure is 450 metres. This floor is called the Tembo Galleria. The option of a lower level is available in the form of Tembo Deck standing at 350 metres of the SKYTREE’s height. The entry fee for this level is 2,060 Yen. What lies in wait at this floor is a spectacle to behold. At this position things down under look like minute granules. The city sprawled in front of your eyes will make you pinch yourself to get back to ground state. One can see the Sumida River, the Tokyo Tower and many such landmarks of the city from here. After taking in the sight to your heart’s content, we head back to our apartment. My experience of Tokyo will remain etched in my conscience forever. Every individual must pay a visit to this beautiful nation at least once in their lifetime.
- Adjust your watches according to Japanese Standard Time (JST), which is three and a half hours ahead of Indian Standard Time (IST).
- While walking on a bridge over the Sumida River, you may spot some Jellyfish swimming by if you are lucky.
- Entering the alleys of the Nakamise of Senso- ji Temple, you will enter a shopping haven where products will be on sale and you will get great discount on various items.
- If Japanese food is not your thing, you can buy your lunch or dinner from ‘Konbini’ or the numerous convenience stores which contain all food items you could ever think of. Some of them are open all day and night long, for seven days a week.