The Tsukiji fish market is one of Tokyo’s most popular tourist attractions. It is the biggest fish market in the world. Beware though, as you need to get up very early to get a glimpse of the fish auctions.
To see the tuna auction, you need to arrive at the market around 3:45 am. There is a quota set for the number of people who can see the auction, so it is important to get there early, or you could miss out on a place. Currently the quote is set at 120 people. The subway is not running at this time, so if your hotel is not within walking distance to the market, you will need to take a taxi. The market is closed on Sundays.
Remember that the market is a place where business is being carried out and is not something just put on for tourists. It is important to respect the people working there and try to avoid flash photography.
If the auction is too early for you, the area is still worth visiting in the morning. There are many food shops and sushi restaurants surrounding the market.
If you’re looking for a great city break but are tired of visiting the same old European capitals and have a yearning to journey a little further afield, Tokyo could be the perfect destination for you.
Tokyo is a very lively, metropolitan city that retains the essence of Japanese culture and customs. It is a place of bright lights and skyscrapers, but wander away from the city life and you will find beautiful parks where you can take a break from the hustle and bustle. Take a trip further off the beaten track and you’ll discover local neighbourhoods, where there might be a little bakery, a traditional craft shop or a tiny but picturesque park to sit and eat a pastry.
On your bike
The easiest way to get around Tokyo is by bike. The pavements and terrain are ideal for cycling and this is how local people travel from A to B. There are probably more bicycles than cars here and when you wander into some of the smaller neighbourhoods you can see why. The roads outside the main city centres get much narrower, sometimes only wide enough for one car. A number of businesses have bikes available to rent and you can also find a tour guide who can take you on a bike ride through the city.
Hiking versus biking
Tokyo is a great base from which to take adventure tours into the mountains. You can explore Mount Fuji, which is about 60 miles from Tokyo and a train ride of around 60 minutes will take you into a quiet mountain location where you can take a hike. You’ll find a range of hikes that are as easy or as difficult as you like and many can be completed within a day, so you can return to city life refreshed and ready to try a great Japanese night out.
Food and culture
Tokyo has an astonishingly diverse culture, including world-famous art galleries and a thriving music scene. Whether your tastes are classical, pop, rock or techno, you’ll find a gig to suit you. If you are visiting Tokyo on one of your family vacations and want to see something a little more traditional and family friendly, there’s Kabuki theatre, a Japanese dance drama, where the performers wear elaborate make up and act or dance out a particular story.
For eating out, there are several reasonably priced traditional Japanese restaurants dotted around Tokyo and its suburbs. An izakaya, a type of establishment where food is sold to accompany the drinks, caters for groups of people and the dishes are shared, rather like Spanish tapas. The food served is not limited to one particular style, so the menu is quite varied. Prices are pocket friendly too, with a selection of 8 dishes costing around £14.
Ramen is a traditional Japanese dish of noodles and soup served together and there is something of a ramen trend happening in Tokyo recently, with ramen bars opening up all over the city. There is a whole range of ramen here, from traditional flavours like shoyu (soy), shio (salt) and miso, to wilder flavours like squid ink or lobster.
There’s also tsukemen, which is a bowl of noodles and a separate bowl of soup so that you can dip the noodles yourself. Both are extremely satisfying and tasty and are relatively cheap, at around £4 per dish. Japanese eateries tend to be very family focused and are therefore ideal for those on family vacations in Tokyo.
With a bustling city centre, thriving traditional and modern culture, great night-life and fantastic food, Tokyo is a perfect holiday destination for all the family. It can make memories that will last a lifetime.
Ramona Wilding is a retired travel consultant who specialised in adventure tours. She now writes on travel for a range of publications, websites and blogs.
Any travel around the world would not be complete without a stay in ancient Tokyo. The ancient temples and shrines are awe-inspiring and the memories will last a lifetime. This history-rich region of the planet is well worth the visit for anyone who loves experiencing history. There are many temples in the city, and we will explore just five of the best-rated temples. Here are a few that you should check out if you ever visit Tokyo.
The Magic of Bentendo Hall Temple
Bentendo Hall Temple, a Benzaiten temple was built in the early part of the 17th century. The builder of this intriguing temple was a feudal lord known as Mizunoya Katsutaka. The original structure was destroyed during WWII by extensive bombing. A replacement structure was completed in 1958 and is what is now regarded as of Bentendo Hall Temple. The temple is actually located on an island in Shinobazu Pond, which is part of Ueno Park Tokyo.
Breathtaking Denzuin Temple
Denzuin Temple is a Buddhist temple that was built by Tokugawa Leyasu in dedication to his mother. The temple was originally known as Muryozan Denzuin Jikuji. The temple is situated in the Bunkyo region. The Denzuin Temple was the inspiration and story setting for the Japanese novelist Kafu Nagai.
The Wonder of Gokuku-ji Temple
Gokuku-ji is a located in Tokyo’s Bunkyo-ku. This is a Buddhist temple, first established by the mother of the Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. The temple is well known for being the central temple that presides over the practice of the Japanese tea ceremony throughout the country’s temples. Emperor Mejii, in 1873 declared the temple the imperial mausoleum. In fact several of his children and the emperor himself are buried within the temple. To this day it is still regarded as the Imperial mausoleum.
Intriguing Dempoin Temple
Another Buddhist temple, Dempoin is situated near to Sensoji Temple, within the Asakusa district of the Taito Ward of the city. There is a wonderful Japanese garden and pond that is free for the public to tour, but the temple itself is usually not open for public touring. The garden and pond site is similar in design to Katsura Imperial Villa located in Kyoto.
The Splendor of Higashi-Hongan-ji Temple
Centrally located in the Asakusa District, Taito Ward of the city is Higashi-Hongan-ji Temple. This Buddhist temple is of the Jodo Shinshu sect, and is defined as Jodoshin sect Higashi-honganji-ha Higashi-Honganji Temple. The Higashi-Hongan-ji Temple was first constructed by Kyonyo, the 12th Priest of Higashi-Honganji. During the period of around 1651it and was known as the Edo Gobo Kozuiji Temple. A fire destroyed the temple in 1657, forcing the temple to be relocated to the current location in Asakua, being then named Asakua Honganji Temple. In 1965 the name was again changed, now to Tokyo Higashi-Honganji Temple. In 1981 following a conflict known as ‘Ohigashi Sodo’, it became independent of the Otani sect.
When in Japan, a visit to ancient shrines and temples is a must. It will keep you spellbound and in a state of wonder long after returning to your home country. The country is rich in culture and history, but the biggest pleasure comes from the warm, friendly and welcoming people you will meet during your tour.
If you’re interested in visiting some of these amazing temples and shrines, Singapore Airlines offers flights from Los Angeles to Tokyo. For more information visit:
Contrary to popular belief, Tokyo should not be crossed off your destinations list on the basis of high prices. It is easy to stay there without parting with too much cash, as long as you are savvy with your spending.
The public transport system is excellent, hundreds of Tokyo hostels have opened up in recent years to cater to the increased number of visitors, food can be very affordable and most of the main sites are free to visit.
As Tokyo has the most extensive network of surface lines, the train is the best way to get around. The Yamnote line links all the major districts together, of which there are many including must-visits Akihabara (electronic city) and Shibuya (youth city).
Despite being established in the 15th century, Tokyo is a 24-hour modern city with fascinating technology part of everyday life. If, however you want to soak up some more historic culture, you can also take the train out of the city and visit places like Kamakura, where you will find the 2nd largest bronze Buddha in the country.
The cheapest option is a hostel; Tokyo hostels are located in every district of the city and usually comprise of dorm-style mixed rooms. It is very uncommon to find single sex dorms in Tokyo, so if you would feel unsafe in a mixed dorm, the best choice is to go for a private room. Only slightly dearer at a hostel, they usually have the added extras of an attached bathroom and free breakfast.
One of the important things to remember when booking a Tokyo hostel, though, is that many of them have lockout rules so if you’re planning a night out make sure you check their policy before you book.
A hostel that definitely deserves a mention is the Ace Inn in Shinjuku; its capsule wooden beds in a grid-like formation will add an interesting tale to your trip, even if you stay for just one night.
Although the city recently received 191 Michelin Stars (double that of its nearest competitor Paris) for its internationally acclaimed cuisine, there are still plenty of opportunities to taste the local specialties without having to fork out a lot of money.
If you can stomach it, a visit to the Tsukiji fish market early morning is an interesting way to see the local traders in action, just get on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line to Tsukiji station. Outside, the wholesale market is a mixture of wholesale and retail shops that sell groceries, seafood, and the freshest sushi you can buy.
As a huge part of Japanese cuisine, sushi is readily accessible on almost every street in the city. To try it on a budget, visit one of the many izakayas – popular informal bar/pub eateries. They are cheap and friendly to newcomers and travelers, with the staff often advising and informing your choices.