Embark on a journey across olden days Tokyo; take a rickshaw tour in traditional Asakusa; immerse yourself in centuries-old culture at temples and sanctuaries; slow things down with a cup of green tea at a sumptuous traditional Japanese garden; meander in centuries-old narrow Tokyo streets. You will be impressed to discover a part of Tokyo that still lives in the past, just moments away from the hustle and bustle of ultra-modern life and towering skyscrapers.
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In a city where there are very few buildings older than 50 years because of the wartime bombing, Asakusa has a greater concentration of buildings from the 1950s and 1960s than most other areas in Tokyo do. There are traditional ryokan (guest-houses), homes, and small-scale apartment buildings throughout the district. In keeping with a peculiarly Tokyo tradition, Asakusa hosts a major cluster of domestic kitchenware stores on Kappabashi-dori, which is visited by many Tokyoites for essential supplies.
Next to the Sensō-ji temple grounds is a small amusement park called Hanayashiki, which claims to be the oldest amusement park in Japan. The neighborhood theaters specialize in showing classic Japanese films, as many of the tourists are elderly Japanese. Cruises down the Sumida River depart from a wharf only a five minute walk from the temple. Asakusa is Tokyo's oldest geisha district, and still has 45 actively working geisha. Because of its colourful location, downtown credentials, and relaxed atmosphere by Tokyo standards, Asakusa is a popular accommodation choice for budget travelers.
Ueno is also home to some of Tokyo's finest cultural sites, including the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Western Art, and the National Museum of Nature and Science, as well as a major public concert hall. Many Buddhist temples are in the area, including the Bentendo temple dedicated to goddess Benzaiten, on an island in Shinobazu Pond.
The Kan'ei-ji, a major temple of the Tokugawa shoguns, stood in this area, and its pagoda is now within the grounds of the Ueno Zoo. Nearby is the Ueno Tōshōgū, a Shinto shrine to Tokugawa Ieyasu. Near the Tokyo National Museum there is The International Library of Children's Literature. Just south of the station is the Ameya-yokochō, a street market district that evolved out of an open-air black market that sprung up after World War II. Just east is the Ueno motorcycle district, with English-speaking staff available in some stores.
Ueno is part of the historical Shitamachi (literally "low city") district of Japan, a working class area rather than where the aristocrats and rich merchants lived. Today the immediate area, due to its close proximity to a major transportation hub, retains high land value but just a short walk away to the east or north reveals some of the less glitzy architecture of Tokyo.
The main road of Kagurazaka was once at the outer edge of Edo Castle, opposite the Ushigome bridge over the castle moat, and has always been busy because of this privileged location. In the early 20th century, the area was renowned for its numerous geisha houses, of which several remain today. Currently, Kagurazaka is experiencing a popularity boom due to its traditional, sophisticated atmosphere on the edge of modern Shinjuku ward and proximity to Waseda University.
While it retains a traditional Japanese atmosphere, Kagurazaka now boasts a significant French presence with many French expatriates living in the area due to the proximity of l'Institut Franco-Japonais de Tokyo and the Lycée franco-japonais de Tokyo's primary section. Kagurazaka also boasts Tokyo's largest concentration of French eateries.
Kagurazaka is also widely regarded as an important center of Japanese cuisine within the Kanto region. Several old and famous "ryôtei" are to be found in the winding back streets, often accessible only by foot. These ryôtei provide expensive "kaiseki" cuisine, which is generally regarded as the pinnacle of Japanese food. Ryôtei also allow diners to invite geisha to provide entertainment during the course of the evening.
Yoyogi Park is one of the largest parks in Tokyo, located in the center of Shibuya directly south of Meiji Shrine. In the years preceding its designation as a public park, Yoyogi Park's site was used as the location of the first successful powered aircraft flight in Japan, an army parade ground, a post-World War II US military installation, and the location for the opening ceremonies of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Yoyogi is composed of ten districts.
- Yoyogi 1-chôme (代々木一丁目): Home of the juku chain Yoyogi Seminar as well as other college preparatory schools and technical institutions. There are also several businesses catering to those who use Yoyogi Station.
- Yoyogi 2-chôme (代々木二丁目): The Nishi-Shinjuku skyscraper district is directly north of this area. There are numerous offices and shops due of proximity to the south exit of Shinjuku Station.
- Yoyogi 3-chôme (代々木三丁目): This area was once called Yamaya-chô (山谷町) and is mainly composed of small apartment buildings and houses.
- Yoyogi 4-chôme (代々木四丁目) and Yoyogi 5-chôme (代々木五丁目): Close to Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park, these districts are quiet residential areas with a varied topography.
- Yoyogi Kamizono-chô (代々木神園町): This district covers Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park; as a result, there are few actual residents.
- Moto-Yoyogi-chô (元代々木町): Close to Yoyogi-Hachiman and Yoyogi-Uehara stations as well as Yamate-dôri, this district is a hilly residential area.
- Uehara (上原), Nishihara (西原), Ōyamachō (大山町): These three districts together with Tomigaya are often referred to as "Yoyogi-Uehara".
While widely recognised as the district of Harajuku nowadays, it was formerly referred to as Onden, a low-lying area close to Meiji Street and Old Shibuya River (Onden River. Currently a promenade (Old Shibuya River promenade) also known now as ‘Cat Street.’) Up until 1965, the town name ‘Harajuku’ referred to the northern end of Omotesando, the tableland around Aoyama, currently known as Jingu-mae block 2, a large area of Jingu-mae block 3, and the tableland extending behind Togo Shrine in Jingu-mae block 1. On the other hand, the area from Harajuku station to the area surrounding Takeshita Street was called ‘Takeshita-cho’. After 1965, this whole area in the Japanese addressing system was unified to ‘Jingu-mae’ and the name ‘Harajuku’ was abolished.
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