Back in the 12th Century, what we know as Tokyo today, was actually called Edo:
Japan’s political center.
When Ieyasu Tokugawa picked Edo as the site for his castle, it was just another
normal village. As shogun (a hereditary official who aided in the governing of Japan,
aside from the emperor), Ieyasu felt that with the building of a castle, after the
hundred-year long civil war, warlords would not be able to strip him of his power.
With the castle coming up, and daily necessities being brought over to sustain
everyday life, Edo slowly became the home of masons, merchants and artisans. Edo’s
foundation is still seen as part of the Japanese traditional culture.
Tokyo: The Eastern Capital
It wasn’t up until 1868 that Edo was renamed Tokyo, meaning eastern capital’.
Whenever most people hear of Tokyo, they instantly think of sumo, sushi and
adventure (at least I do). Tokyo is known to have a large populous. And while this city
might seem to be crowded, surprisingly, its crowds are orderly.
While crossing the street, literally everyone (I mean literally every single person) will
wait for the lights to go green, in order to cross. Pedestrians have a somewhat of an
unspoken rule: keep left.
The Shibuya Crossing
Even with this order, there is a sight that will make you get confused. The Shibuya
Crossing. It is said that this is the busiest intersection in the world, and people have
even gone further to give it a nick name: The Scramble.
It is called so, because people appear to come for every direction all at once.
Sometimes, over one thousand people will cross at a go.
Should you be lucky enough to get a seat the Starbucks across The Scramble’ (which
is highly unlikely because it is constantly full) you will be in for a spectacular and
The best time to observe the human traffic is just after dark. With all the neon and
giant screens, you will actually feel like you are in a movie scene.
The Scramble gets quiet after the last train pulls out.
The Tranquil Island of Odaiba
While some places are extremely overcrowded, others can be strangely quiet. These
quiet places are often century-old gardens near offices, holy temples right in the
middle of the city, and even parks found down residential streets.
If you want to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, one such place is Odaiba. It kind of
reminds me of a mini Atlantis, rising from the water. Odaiba is a huge artificial island
that is peaceful and quiet; the perfect place to wind down and escape the crowds. It
is home to the Fuji Television Headquarters. As one of the proposed venue locations
for the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics, and its accessibility from the airport, this
island definitely serves as a must-see.
To add to its tranquility, Odaiba offers a hot spring that goes by the name Oedo
Onsen Monogatari. Interestingly, they have made this theme park, look like it has
been taken from the Edo period, with its open air baths.
The Tokyo Tower
It is evident that this tower is an Eiffel Tower look alike. However, this steel tower is
13 meters taller than the Eiffel tower. It has been the tallest structure in Japan, but
only up until 2012, when it was overtaken by the Tokyo Skytree.
The Tokyo Tower is painted every five years, but re-painting it takes all of twelve
My personal favorite was the foot town’ building that happens to be directly below
the tower. With cafés, restaurants, souvenir shops, it is an adventure in its own.
While down there I got to see the One Piece Tower.
Get this. It is an indoor amusement park with shows that feature characters from
various Manga Series. How cool is that?
Ginza: Tokyo’s Own Fifth Avenue
Tokyo is to Ginza as New York is to Fifth Avenue. Designer retailers, the likes of
Cartier, have their presence in Ginza. Most people get carried away by Ginza’s long
boulevard of designer shops, but you will find that their prices are a tad bit higher
that you would find in the US. However I found the streets to be Manhattan-like.
This is a sweet spot for selecting the best duffle bags for travel. You need a light bag
to go around all these landmarks and be able to fit in all that you want to buy. You
will also need a duffel bag that will withstand Tokyo’s weather, especially because
umbrellas are the one thing that is mostly stolen in this city. So instead of an
umbrella, get a weather resistant duffel bag and you will be good to go.
While Tokyo’s departmental stores (Matsuya and Hankyu) dominate most of Ginza’s
landscape, I happened to find some of the best restaurants here.
This town never sleeps, but after 8:00pm, it tends to get quieter than earlier in the
Akihabara: Tokyo’s Tech Disney World
Gadgets of every kind are on display even on the side streets. The latest technology
will blow your mind, regardless of the fact that this district is not a discount district.
Electronics are pricey here and their stringent return policies make shopping here a
bit of a challenge.
You don’t need to be a geek to enjoy what Akihabara has to offer. Just learning
about the latest technology in itself, is a huge plus. Some of the gadgets in display
will out yours to shame.
After a few days in here, I found myself wondering what everyone was saying to me
as I stepped into an establishment.
Be it a restaurant, a bar, or a boutique, I always heard the same word.
On asking an English-speaking local, I found out that they were saying:
"Irasshaimase," which is a polite way of saying, "Welcome."
Instinctively, I wanted to start replying, probably with a version of thank you’, but I
was advised not to. A slight bow would be enough.
Another thing to take note of, is that while in Tokyo, do not tip. Even if you walk off a
restaurant and leave some money with the check, do not be surprised if a waiter
chases you down the street to return your balance.
It is no doubt that Tokyo is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Next time
you plan of taking a vacation, plan to visit the city that was built on the fishing
Plan your trip to Tokyo. It should definitely be on your bucket list, and definitely if you want to find the most selection of hotels at your budget, my recommendation is to check out hotels combined…that’s what I personally use for my travels.