Everything you need to know about Tokyo.
Tokyo at a glance
- Population: 13 million
- Language: Japanese
- Currency: Yen
- Time zone: GMT+9
- Telephone code: +81 for Japan, 3 for Tokyo
- Emergency numbers: 110 – police, 119 – fire / ambulance
- Weights and measures: metric system
- Average temperatures: Winter 29–52°F (–2 to 11°C); Summer 70–83°F (21–28°C)
Greater Tokyo is the world's most populous metropolitan area and is the center of Japanese culture, finance, and government. A bustling cosmopolitan city, Tokyo is also a major transportation hub and a world economic and industrial center.
Metropolitan Tokyo is generally defined as the four prefectures of Tokyo, Saitaima, Kanagawa, and Chiba, while the city of Tokyo proper usually refers to the 23 wards in Tokyo prefecture itself.
Lacking a defined center and encompassing a number of areas with a distinctive flavor, Tokyo has often been described as a city of cities.
At Tokyo's heart is old Edo, with the Imperial Palace grounds and public parks and gardens. Asakusa is another area that gives a glimpse of a Tokyo that is fast disappearing; there one finds cobbled streets and small shops selling traditional wares, all centered on the beautiful Sensoji Temple, Tokyo's oldest.
At the opposite pole of extreme modernity is Akihabara, which is renowned for its plethora of supposedly discounted electronic goods and which becomes flooded with people at the release of the latest software.
Shinjuku is the site of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office, housed in a 48-story building with twin towers that is just one of many such structures in Shinjuku that makes the area the part of Tokyo that most resembles a modern American metropolis. There one also finds Shinjuku Station, Japan's (and perhaps the world's) busiest train station with well over a million passengers catching trains there each day.
In contrast to its skyscrapers' clean lines and the open spaces surrounding them, Shinjuku also includes Kabukicho, a sometimes seedy entertainment district.
Shibuya is another area with a huge train station, department stores, eateries, and bars, though Shibuya is a bit cleaner than Shinjuku and considerably trendier, with hordes of young people crowding its streets.
But Shibuya cannot compete with the opulence of the Ginza, Tokyo's preeminent shopping district and the site of many upscale restaurants, galleries, and bars.
Not to Miss
Tax-Free Shopping: Tokyo is one of the best shopping destinations in the world. Head over to Ginza, the world-renowned shopping district, for major international labels including Chanel, Cartier and Bulgari.
For those looking for more unusual or cutting-edge trends, the Harajuku and Omotesandō neighbourhoods are the place to go.
Shibuya: The most famous district in Tokyo - a must-see, the shopping mecca and simply a very exciting place to be. Fashionable, colorful street, that never sleeps.
The crossing is one of the busiest in the world – as the traffic lights change people from all directions across the street. The wonderful thing is – Japanese never bump into one another since they adjust their pace.
Food: Tokyo has the most top-rated restaurants in the world. It is home to over 14 three-star Michelin restaurants. And of course once in Japan, everyone has to have sushi – it is the best in the world here.
The fresh fish that was bought in the biggest fish market, prepared by a sushi master, who has been perfecting his craft for years – this is a serious business in Japan, that has to be respected by the travellers!