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Festivals are an integral part of Japanese culture, there’s never a shortage of things to do here. Different festivals take place year-round.
A long time ago, Tokyo was a small fishing village called Edo. Now, however, it’s a giant city, sometimes referred to as the “Eastern Capital” or as any of the other hundred names, such as “most densely populated city in the world” and “the world’s most expensive city”.
Tokyo is one of Japan’s prefectures, located mostly on the plains of Kantō. Even though it’s the most densely populated prefecture in the country, it’s only third from the bottom in terms of total area. Tokyo has it all – from avant-garde architecture and contemporary art to wooden houses and cosy inns.
And let’s not forget the oodles of high-rise buildings, massive crowds of people, a mixture of many different languages and the flickering neon signs – all of this is enough to drive most anyone mad. Don’t rush to conclusions, though, as these are only superficial things – even this “forest” of skyscrapers is home to many green meadows and cosy parks where you can find yourself a quiet corner with traditional pagodas, ponds and blooming gardens. Some of these can be found near the Imperial Palace and the ancient monasteries.
Tokyo extends for 90 km East to West and 25 km North to South. The city is divided into three main areas: 23 city wards and the Tama-Area, located on the mainland, and the islands. The Tama-Area is home to a number of little towns and smaller settlements. Here you’ll find two archipelagos: the Izu and the Ogasawara, with some individual islands located as far as 1,850 km away from mainland Tokyo.
The city, inhabited by over 12 million people, is home to the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace. Tokyo is characterised by a warm and humid subtropical climate – hot and humid summers, and milder, dryer winters.
The city’s travel guides recommend visiting the following objects: the Gallery of Tenri, the Bridgestone Museum of Art, the National Art Centre, the Tokyo National Museum, the Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park, the Ogasawara National Park, the Imperial Palace, the Ueno Park with the wooden belfry (built in the 17th century), the Rikugien Garden and the Yasukuni Shrine, erected in 1919.
Tokyo is also known for its traffic jams, which take place both day and night. So keep that in mind and make sure to plan your time in the city in advance. Tokyo is full of life and noise, making it rather unpleasant to those who value tranquillity and solitude.
Those who enjoy festivals and dancing, on the other hand, may find it quite intoxicating. Considering that festivals are an integral part of Japanese culture, there’s never a shortage of things to do here. Different festivals take place year-round. Therefore, no matter when you come, you’re quite likely to find yourself in the middle of a true Japanese celebration: a festival of “flowers”, “the moon”, “fertility”, “children”, “the stars”, “remembrance of the dead”, or “longevity”.
The easiest way to explore Tokyo’s attractions is by going on a free tour, offered by the locals on a regular basis. These tours, usually led by students, housewives and people in retirement who like to spend their free time by showing foreigner around their beautiful city, are very popular here.