Things to Do in Tokyo - page 5
The symbol of the Asakusa neighborhood in Tokyo, Japan, the impressive, large, red Kaminarimon, or Thunder Gate, gives visitors a grand welcome to Senso-ji Temple (Asakusa Temple). Standing 38 feet tall (11.7 meters), Thunder Gate gets its powerful name from Raijin, the god of thunder, one of the two deities it honors. Four statues guard Thunder Gate: at the front, the Shinto gods of wind and thunder attract the most attention. The other two – a Buddhist god and goddess - rest at the reverse side of the gate. Under Kaminarimon, a giant red lantern draws the eye next. The fragile piece was restored and donated to the temple complex in August 2003 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the start of the Edo period.
Kaminarimon’s history dates back to the year 941, when a military commander constructed the now iconic gate. Over the centuries, it has been destroyed by fire at least three times, and has always been rebuilt on the same ground. The current structure dates to 1960. Today, locals gather at the imposing gate to pray for peace in the world, fruitful harvests, and protection against natural disasters.
The Beni Fuji no Yu Onsen offers some of the best vantage points in the area. The large public bathhouse has both indoor baths and two rooftop ones, but no matter which pool you’re in, the views of Mt Fuji are stunning. The ones on the roof boast views of a zen garden and trees, as well as the majestic cone-shaped peak of Fuji in the distance. The outdoor baths are arguably best in the winter, when the hot, therapeutic water complements the cold air and snow-capped peak.
The onsen offers guests a multitude of services in addition to the baths. A restaurant serves local cuisine, while visitors can also purchase massages and beauty treatments. There is enough to do within the onsen that many people choose to spend an entire day here, making the unassuming onsen a true highlight of a trip to the Mt Fuji area.
With over 85 million annual passengers, Haneda Airport is Japan’s busiest airport and handles all of Tokyo’s domestic flights plus a smaller number of international flights. The airport is home to Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, as well as several low-cost carriers.
Tokyo's underground subway service is a major part of the city's enormous and efficient rail network. Two companies operate here—Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway—and they connect to above-ground lines in the Greater Tokyo metropolitan area. Getting around this huge city by metro is easy, especially if you avoid peak rush hours.
Travelers planning to enjoy a little classical music while in Tokyo should plan to attend a concert at Suntory Hall. This lavish auditorium in the Ark Hills complex in Tokyo’s Akasaka District enjoys the best acoustics of any venue in the city, and a variety of nearby restaurants and bars make it a convenient destination for a night out on the town.
The hall opened in 1986 as the brainchild of Keizo Saji, the then president of Suntory Ltd. It was the first concert hall in Japan to be constructed using a vineyard design with seating surrounding the stage, an arrangement that facilitates the audience and musicians sharing in an immersive musical experience.
Suntory Hall is divided into two separate performances spaces, the 2,000-seat Main Hall, home to one of the world’s largest pipe organs, and the smaller, more intimate Blue Rose (Small Hall). The space hosts around 550 performances each year and is one of the regular venues for the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra and the NHK Symphony Orchestra.
Located in Tokyo Midtown within the city’s Art Triangle Roppongi, 21_21 Design Sight opened to the public in 2007 as a museum and exhibit space dedicated to all forms of visual design. The major art venue, housed within a concrete and glass structure, was the work of Pritzker Prize winner Ando Tadao in partnership with fashion designer Issey Miyake.
The name, inspired by the English term “20/20 vision,” was chosen to express the aim of the museum to generate and inspire forward-looking design. The museum houses rotating exhibitions and regularly hosts talks and workshops.
The well-curated Japanese Sword Museum (Token Hakubutsukan) showcases the ancient art of sword making and is home to more than 150 artifacts. Swords, mountings, armor and metal work are beautifully displayed in this tiny Tokyo destination.
The four-story structure houses a gallery and bookstore, where items are available for purchase in a variety of languages. Displays offer visitors English translations with details on the design and use of swords, including some that date back more than 900 years.
Housed within a four story building in Yebisu Garden Place, the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography) displays an extensive permanent collection of some 33,000 photographs from around the world within its recently renovated galleries.
While the emphasis of the collection is on Japanese photography, visitors can also wander through three rotating galleries featuring historical and contemporary works from Japan and abroad.
Experience the thrills of one of Japan’s largest indoor theme parks at Tokyo Joypolis, in Odaiba. Spanning three floors, this SEGA-themed amusement center offers over 20 games and attractions, including virtual reality experiences, 3D attractions, amusement rides, simulators, arcade games, and even an indoor roller coaster.
Swap the modern streets of Tokyo for the red light district of the Meiji era during an evening of theatrical performances at Roppongi Kaguwa, a cabaret dinner show based on oiran (Japanese courtesan) culture. Acts blend classic and contemporary Japanese traditions by combining dance and acrobatics from samurais and geishas.
More Things to Do in Tokyo
Maxell Aqua Park is an aquarium with a difference. Combining tanks of marine creatures with LED illuminated displays and music, it offers an elevated entertainment element. Located inside the Shinagawa Prince Hotel complex, the park is best-known for its dolphin show in which the mammals jump into the air and perform acrobats.
Founded in 1924, Toyo Bunko is one of the five largest Asian studies research libraries in the world, and it's the oldest and the largest institution in Japan. The museum was opened to spark interest in the region's history and culture and has contributed to Asian studies through the acquisition of books and other materials.
Namjatown is an indoor theme park on the second floor of the Sunshine City shopping complex in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. The park is operated by Namco, the creator of Pac-Man and many other arcade games. Stop by to experience themed dining, carnival-style games, a haunted house, and a line of character mascots exclusive to the park.
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