There is no other city like Tokyo. With the population of more than 9 million people, it’s the biggest metropolis in the world. And you can feel that every step through the city. People always pass by in a hurry. From work to home and vice versa, and in the evenings they go out with friends to escape, just for a moment the corporate regime. It’s one of those cities that never sleep. At every hour of the night and day, you’ll find a place to eat a bowl of warm ramen or a cozy place to drink sake. Here you have a Tokyo in a nutshell. The best of the best places you can visit having at least one day to spend here.
(1) MEIJI SHRINE
Tokyo’s most famous Shinto shrine is remarkable ascetic and serene, opposite to other Japanese places of worship, which are usually rich in color and ornamentation, and is an excellent alternative to the big Buddhist temple in Asakusa – Senso-Ji. The entrance to the 200-acre park leads through the 40-foot high traditional tori gate made of 1,500-year-old cypress.
Behind the gate, you will experience a completely different world. The park with forest trees is so tranquil that you will probably forget that you’re in a middle of the busiest cities in the world. To get to the temple, you will have to pass through second tori gate. Don’t forget to stop at the cleansing station and take part in a Shinto purification ritual. As the tradition requires pure the water over your hands to purify your hands and mouth and mind before offering up a prayer.
(2) YOYOGI PARK
Yoyogi Park (代々木公園, Yoyogi Kōen) is without a doubt one of Tokyo’s largest city parks. You’ll find here much more than lawns and ponds; it also has some beautiful forested areas. It is brilliantly located between two busy city neighborhood – Shinjuku and Shibuya, just a 5-minute walk from Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line). Maybe there are not so many cherry trees, as in other Tokyo parks, that bloom beautifully in spring, but there is a ginkgo tree forest. And it looks impressive, while it turns fiercely golden in autumn. It’s a perfect example of reusing the Olympic Village (from 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics). Now it’s a favorite weekend spot for a lot of outdoor activities fans, like a frisbee throwing, playing badminton or simply picnicking… If you’re an athletic type, you can also take advantage of a jogging path or a cycling course. There is even a cycling center at the western end of the park, so you can rent one and have a ride through a park in the middle of the busiest cities in the world. The big part of the park is a street entertainment. In front of the Harajuku gate (the eastern part of the park), you can watch jugglers, martial art performers, and cosplayers. The biggest chance to watch something interesting is of course during weekends.
(3) NEZU MUSEUM
Opened since 1941, NEZU museum is located on the site of the former Nezu family residence in the Minami-Aoyama district of central Tokyo. It was re-opened in October of 2009 in a stunning building designed by Kengo Kuma. The modern and open-air architecture hosts the museum’s collection of more than 7,400 Japanese and East Asian works of art including works designated as National Treasures, Important Cultural Properties, and Important Art Objects. But there is more. Part of the museum grounds is a 17,000 square meters Japanese garden.
The expanse of this open, relaxing space is an enjoyable place to appreciate art. The lush 17,000 square meters of Japanese garden creates an oasis in the city where you can take pleasure in the passage of the seasons.
(4) FACE RECORD
Founded in 1994 and still cherished by Japanese audiophiles. They stocks jazz, soul, reggae and world music in 7- and 12-inch vinyl form. They also have a lot of CDs and DVDs worth a look. If you’re looking for some jazz vinyl, that’s one of the best places in town. The store is not too big, and the service is discreet but very helpful. If you have any question, these guys know everything about good music!
Just a short walk separates Yoyogi Park an upscale residential area called Omote-Sando. In addition to stylish apartments, you’ll find there cutting edge buildings designed by both Japanese and foreign renowned architects. Artistic buildings accommodate concept stores, restaurants, cafes, and art galleries. The architectural minimalism of this neighborhood is one of the most recognized city landscape of Tokyo.