Tokyo, the largest megalopolis in the world, is a unique destination where travellers can commune with nature, appreciate ancestral traditions, and take in today's most advanced technology. The capital of the land of the rising sun offers a cocktail of flavours and sensations in implosive and uncommon tastes.
Established in the 16th century with the construction of the Shogun imperial palace, the city of Edo came to be known as Tokyo in 1868. Today the city has nearly 13 million inhabitants, with 38 million in the Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan area, the largest ever recorded. Everything and its opposite can be found here side by side: skyscrapers with Shinto or Buddhist temples, alleyways creating mazes across the city, buildings of eclectic design and minimalist construction. Zen gardens and parks lie amidst the sound and fury of the city, and artisan workshops rub up against stores selling the most advanced technology. All of this exceptional mix is for the better... and only for the better.
Eclectic and unique, Tokyo provides settings for infinite experiences from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. We come across the avant-garde in Aoyama and unbridled fashion on Takeshita Street in Harajuku. In Akihara, the otaku (the Japanese term for ‘geeks') are seen gaming in arcades. In Roppongi, the Art Triangle has multiple museums and other night-time places to live it up until the early hours of the morning. In Shibuya, the salary men and women throng at the crossroads of the eponymous street and, after work in the evening, sing out in the nearby karaoke bars.
In Marunouchi, the historic heart of Tokyo stops you in your tracks, and the memory of the former Tokyo reigns, mixed in with buildings from the new era. In Ginza, Chuo Dori Avenue is lined with buildings of bold design and fills up with pedestrians on weekends. At Kichijoji, the latest trendy district, one travels in time among artisans and designers. In Asakusa, residents of Tokyo perform their ablutions in the Senso-ji temple, the oldest sanctuary in the city. Wandering in Tokyo means exploring a vast city in which most of the 23 districts retain the feeling of a village.
In Tokyo, where ‘respect' is the key word and a significant part of the way of life, the modern city has not denied its origins and ancestral culture. In Tokyo today, travellers can still witness an appreciation of a more gently paced existence, as well as a consideration of nature that is omnipresent, in spite of the equally ubiquitous forward-looking character of the city. In the mid-1930s, the author Junichiro Tanizaki evoked the delicate and nuanced subtleties of Japan with his essay, ‘In Praise of Shadows'. Travelling to Tokyo is not just a voyage; it is a life lesson.