Everybody knows Tokyo (東京). Even people with little to no interest in Japan itself, have heard of Tokyo in some way. So why is that?
Well, because it is a gigantic place of amazing opportunities. And gigantic is definitely no exaggeration. In all of its metropolitan area, called Kanto Dai-toshi-ken (関東大都市圏), live about 36 MILLION people. This makes it the biggest on the planet.
However this also includes nearby areas such as Yokohama (横浜), Saitama (埼玉) and Chiba (千葉). The 23 main districts of Tokyo alone still amount to over 9 Million people.
Tokyo is also one of Japan’s 47 prefectures and part of the Kanto Region (関東).
Back in the 19th century, before 1868 to be exact, Tokyo was called Edo. It became Japan’s political center in 1601 as Tokugawa Ieyasu established his government in the city. It therefore rose to big influence and was one of the most important cities on a global scale.
More History & Facts about Tokyo
In the Meiji Restoration in 1868 the emperor moved to Edo and made it Japan’s new capital, renaming it to Tokyo (‘Eastern Capital’).
Prior to that, Kyoto (京都) was the emperor’s home and the country’s capital. You can still visit the Imperial Palace and Gardens in Central Kyoto today, I highly recommend it!
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As a result, the Tokyo region is economically and culturally the most valuable sector in all of Japan. And you can tell: As soon as you leave the vast grasp of the Tokyo area, you will notice a substantial difference in the all-around atmosphere and its people. The only city that comes close to Tokyo’s standing is Osaka (大阪) in the West, as it is sometimes called ‘little Tokyo’.
Tokyo is one of the world’s biggest cities. As such, it is bound to have some kind of public transport system. And man is it amazing! While the broad subway and train network can be confusing at first, once you have understood the tiniest bit, you’re already good to go!
Seemingly every other street has access to a subway station and they are very well connected to one another. Trains and Subway are definitely the way to go in Tokyo.
For that I also recommend getting a re-chargeable prepaid card like Suica or Pasmo to make your travels that much easier (more on those and how to get them in a later article).
You can use HyperDia to check for the prices of a particular Shinkansen ride and calculate whether the pass would save you money or not!
So, why is Tokyo so amazing? What can you actually do?
The answer: Everything.
Well, maybe not everything, but almost.
Seeing as Tokyo is as huge as it is, I will split it up into 5 sections, one for Districts/Areas, Parks/Gardens, Temples/Shrines, Museums and Sightseeing respectively. This is my first post about Tokyo and my second in general.
This means that I will not have each individual page about the different districts and sites available immediately. But fear not! I will work hard to increase the list step-by-step and make this article here a nice guideline where you can quickly access and read more about your favorite spots in the city.
If you’re a fan of having an actual paperback guide in your hands and would like to get further information about the city, I recommend getting this 200+ pages Tokyo Guide from LonelyPlanet. Great visuals and good guidance, especially for first-time travelers.
Note: This link is an affiliate link from which I earn a small commission should you purchase anything. There are no additional costs for you.
And there you have it! With this, most of the attractions and sights in Tokyo should be covered. In the future I will of course also feature some lesser known areas in Tokyo, probably things I have, as of right now, not even seen yet!
Tokyo is undeniably the heart of Japan. With so many things to offer, you can easily spend 2 weeks there and still find things to do.
Information about getting to Tokyo from both airports down below.
Thank you very much for reading this article. Liked it? Drop a comment down below or share it with your friends!
I am always open for suggestions regarding topics to write about!
Have something that you really need to know? Hit me up and I will surely write an article about it!
Stay tuned for my next post which is going to be about my favorite city of the country, Kyoto!
How to get to Tokyo
Tokyo can definitely be portrayed as the door to Japan as most people will start their Japan journey here. From the two possible airports Narita (成田) and Haneda (羽田), I have so far only ever landed in Haneda, and I recommend it to you if your flight allows it.
Haneda is located quite a bit closer to the city, so time and money spent to get to Tokyo itself, will amount to about half if not less of what it would cost from Narita.
Also, there seems to be a rumor that flying into Haneda costs more, but in my experience this has not been true at all.
I will cover Haneda Airport and the Landing/Immigration process in great detail in a later post.
Getting to Tokyo Station
Fees and fares are subject to change. Exchange rates as of June 2018.
By Train (電車)
There are two different routes you can take here:
The Tokyo Monorail will take you to Hamamatsucho Station (浜松町駅). The ride will take around 20 minutes and costs 490 Yen (3,77€/$4.45).
After that, you transfer to the JR Yamanote Line towards Tokyo Station, which will take about 6 minutes and costs 160 Yen (1,23€/$1.45).
With waiting and walking times you should total at around 30 minutes.
Although the Monorail is not a JR Line, the section to Hamamatsucho Station is covered by various passes like the Japan Rail Pass or the JR Tokyo Wide Pass. The JR Yamanote Line is of course also covered.
Keikyu Railways leads to Shinagawa Station (品川駅). This section will take around 20 Minutes and costs 410 Yen (3,15€/$3.72). From there you again change to the JR Yamanote Line towards Tokyo Station. That will take another 10 minutes and costs 170 Yen (1,31€/$1.55).
Overall you should be there in about 35 minutes.
By Bus (バス)
You can also take a limousine bus if you have the time. This allows you to see more of the environment. Depending on overall traffic, there are 1-2 connections per hour with a travel time of 40-60 minutes.
The bus leads directly to Tokyo Station, there is no need to transfer. The fare is about 1,000 Yen (7,70€/$9.10).
By Taxi (タクシー)
You can reach every area of Central Tokyo via Taxi. I do not recommend this though as it can get pretty expensive. Depending on destination and time of the day (more expensive during the night), it can cost anything from 5,000 (38€/$45) to 11,000 Yen (84€/$100).
You also do not really save time, as it takes about 30 minutes to Tokyo Station depending on traffic.
The fastest way to get to Tokyo. About 40 minutes with a fare of 2,500 Yen (19€/$23). All seats are reserved. It departs every 20-40 minutes with its only slightly bad part being, that it only connects to Ueno Station (上野駅) (North Tokyo). If your hotel is more towards the center, you will need to transfer here.
Don’t want to go through the hassle of getting the tickets after you arrive from a long flight? It also works the other way around, from Tokyo to Narita Airport. Voyagin offers you to book the Keisei Skyliner through them which will allow you to board the train immediately. Very convenient!
Keisei Limited Express
The cheapest option in terms of money. The fare is only 1,000 Yen (7,70€/$9.10) but takes around 75 minutes. Again this is a normal commuter train which can get crowded during certain times. Seat reservations are not possible.
JR Narita Express
Probably the most convenient method. This train departs every 30-60 minutes and takes about an hour to get to Central Tokyo. One way fare is 3,000 yen (23€/$27) and it is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass and other passes. All seats are reserved. There is also a special ticket for 4,000 Yen (31€/$36), which lets you travel both ways within a period of 2 weeks.
JR Sobu Line
The other JR alternative, also covered by the pass. Significantly cheaper at around 1,300 Yen (10€/$12), but also takes 85 minutes to Central Tokyo and only departs once per hour. As it is a normal Commuter Train, it can get crowded during rush hours.
Quite a few bus companies offer connections to many places in central Tokyo. The journey takes about 60-90 minutes, depending on destination. Limousine buses with a little more comfort will cost around 3,200 Yen (25€/$29), but there are cheaper alternatives for as little as 1,000 Yen (7,70€/$9.10).
Please only take the taxi if you can afford it and absolutely have no other alternative. It takes just as long as a bus ride but can cost 20,000 Yen(154€/$184)
Have a safe journey!
See you next time!