I Dream of Tokyo: Sites that are a Must-See!

Going to Japan has always been one of my fondest dreams, which I hope comes true sooner rather than later. With that in mind, one my new year’s resolutions this year is to save more so I can travel more. If I can’t make it to Japan later this year, then I’m open to making that trip happen next year. Originally I was thinking of taking the Osaka route as it passes by Kyoto, which is a historical must-see in Japan. But Vanessa, a close friend of mine who has experienced living in Tokyo for a couple of years, talked me out of it.

Though Japan is relatively safe for solo travelers, the language barrier can be a difficult obstacle to overcome. My friend told me to go straight to Tokyo, where some of my friends are, so they can help me navigate the sights and sounds of Japan. To convince me why I should go to Tokyo, she gave me a list of wonderful scenic sites that are a must-see.

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Tokyo Tower
Tokyo Tower is a popular icon that is frequently featured in many Japanese animations or manga (comics). Inspired by Paris’ Eiffel Tower, this lattice-designed tower is actually a communications and observation tower, which is also a favorite location for climatic battles in films featuring kaiju or giant monsters like Godzilla or King Kong. I’ve always wanted to go to Tokyo Tower and thought it was the only tall site with a view of Japan when Vanessa suggested an intriguing new place that I was not familiar with, Tokyo Sky Tree.
Tokyo Tower
Image Credit: delo photo
Tokyo Skytree
With a height of 634.0 metres (2,080 ft), Tokyo skytree is the tallest tower in the world, replacing the original, which is Tokyo Tower. In fact, it is holds second place as tallest structure in the world after Burj Khalifa, which has a height of 829.8m or 2,722 feet. The highlight of this tourist stop are two observation decks with dizzying heights of 350 and 450 meters respectively, making them the highest in Japan and included in some of the highest in the world. Vanessa, who has no fear of heights, wouldn’t even dare to go here but still she encouraged me to try if I dared. She told me to make reservations a couple of months prior to visiting Japan since same day tickets can be sold out on extremely busy days.
Tokyo Skytree
Image Credit: Globetrotting

Imperial Palace
The Tokyo Imperial Palace is located in Edo Castle’s former site, which is where Japan’s imperial family currently resides. It is situated in a large park area in the center of Tokyo, where it is surrounded by moats as well as huge stone walls. It is also just a short walk coming from Tokyo station. Inner palace grounds are inaccessible to the public except only on January 2 and December 23. The former is for New Year’s Greeting while the latter is the Emperor’s birthday. On these dates, visitors may enter the inner palace grounds and actually see the imperial family. The Imperial Palace East Gardens, however, are accessible to the public all throughout the year excluding Mondays, Fridays and special occasions. There are also guided tours, although people are unable to enter the buildings.
Imperial Palace
Image Credit: phil harrold

If you are visiting the Imperial Palace, go northwest and you’ll be in the Chidorigafuchi moat. When I asked a distant relative about this place, she said there’s not much to see in this place. However, further research online revealed wonderful pictures of cherry blossoms, which makes this a must-see in my book. There is a pedestrian path where hundreds of varied species of cherry blossoms bloom in spring or late March to early April. Chidorigafuchi Park is also located nearby, which is another popular cherry blossom viewing site. If you want to experience more, you can also rent a rowboat or a pedal boat at Chidorigafuchi boathouse.  
Image Credit: akapensensei

More to Explore
One thing that Vanessa reiterated about Tokyo is that it offers me the modern japan experience while Osaka and Kyoto offer a glimpse of the old japan. Kyoto is a small city that you can tour in a day or two. Osaka is lovelier to visit in autumn. But Tokyo, there’s so much more to explore. Other places she suggested that I visit are Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo Dome, Tokyo Station, Ginza and Asakusa. The way to tour Asakusa is through a rickshaw ride or a river cruise. Both are entirely different experiences so it would be good to try both.

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As majority of Japan’s population do not speak English, it would be a good idea to get an English Japanese electronic dictionary. However, these gadgets can be expensive so the next best thing you can do is--if you have a smartphone--to download free apps that can help you navigate around Japan. Even better if your friend employed there can take a leave of absence from work to show you around. To be on the safe side, bring travel insurance with you, just in case the unexpected happens, and they can happen. You don’t have to worry about spending a lot since there are travel insurance agencies such as Seven Corners, that have budget-friendly plans that will not burn a hole in your pocket. In the case of medical emergencies especially abroad, it’s better to be prepared than sorry.
About the Author:

Based in San Diego California, Tiffany Matthews is a professional writer with over 6 years of writing experience. In her free time, she likes to travel, read books, and watch movies. You can find her on Twitter as @TiffyCat87.

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