Tokyo, the capital is the most populous metropolitan area in the world. The city has the most urban infrastructure with its world-class transportation and distribution networks in land, sea and air routes. Still, the city is not devoid of its green spaces. There are many open green spaces or gardens that you can visit while at Tokyo. History of the city comes alive in its various museums especially the Tokyo National Museum and historical temples.
The Imperial Palace
Tokyo Imperial Palace, the main residence of the Emperor of Japan consists of various buildings including the main palace, the private residences of the imperial family, a museum and gardens. Situated in the center of Tokyo, it is surrounded by a water-filled moat and three covered grounds. The gardens are open to public, however to visit the palace, you need to make reservations in advance.
The Gardens of Tokyo
Ueno-Koen, the oldest park in Tokyo has two main entrances. The park’s main attractions are the various museums, Ueno Zoo and and a Toshogu Shrine. Additionally, it is one of Tokyo’s most popular and lively cherry blossom spots with more than 1000 cherry trees in the central pathway.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is another popular park in Tokyo with its spacious lawns, meandering paths and breathtaking scenery which provides tranquility to your senses. The park is comprised of 3 gardens namely, Japanese landscape garden, French garden and English garden.
Other gardens you can visit are Yoyogi Koen which is a western style park, Imperial Palace East Gardens which forms part of the Imperial Palace inner area, Koishikawa Botanical Garden and Rikugien which is a classic Japanese landscape garden.
Religious sites to awaken the spirituality in you
Meiji Jingu Shrine is Tokyo’s most famous Sinto Shrine and is dedicated to the defied spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife. The 40-foot-high (12-meter) Torii gate at the entrance to the 200-acre park is made of 1,500-year-old cypress, and there's a second one like it closer to the shrine itself.
Sensoji, an ancient Buddhist temple enshrines a golden image of Kannon better known as the Buddhist Goddess of mercy. It is Tokyo’s oldest temple
Other religious that call for a visit include Asakusa Shrine also known as Sanja-sama which honors three men who founded the Sensoji, Sengakuji Temple famous for its graveyard where the “47 Ronin” are buried, Zojoji Temple which has hundreds of statues and an elaborate golden altar and Yasukuni Shrine founded by Emperor Meiji in memory of people who died in his service. The shrine lists the names, origins, birthdates and places of death of all of these.
Learning about Tokyo’s history through the museums
Tokyo National Museum should be on your list even if you have time to visit just one museum in Tokyo. Its grand buildings treasure world’s largest collection of Japanese art. The oldest national museum in Tokyo has four galleries- Honkan, Horyuji Homotsukan, Toyokan and Heiseikan.
Edo-Tokyo Museum is a great place to learn about Tokyo’s history and culture especially during the Edo period. Tokyo was earlier known as Edo and was ruled by the Tokugawa shogunate from 1603 to 1868.
There are many more museums that one can visit in Tokyo. These are National Art Center Tokyo, Mori Art Museum, Hara Museum, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and Ghibli Museum.
Other than the Gardens, Museums and Temples, Japan has a lot more to explore. While the above would help you to explore the traditional part of Tokyo, there is an entire urban experience to it as well. This can be explored through the shopping, dining and nightlife experiences.
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