The men’s basketball team did not make it to Tokyo for the Olympics, and it saddens me because I will miss the fun of competing for a title. Also, Tokyo is a beautiful place, and I would have loved to tour the city. There are fun things to do in Tokyo.
Tokyo is the capital and one of the major cities of Japan. Found in Asia, Japan (Nippon) is also known as “Land of the rising sun”, which is a name that originates from the late 7th to early 8th century, when the Chinese referred to Yamato (name of Japan before the 8th century) as the land where the sun originates. Japan is an island country and is one of the most influential in the world in terms of technology, culture, and economy. Still a very traditional and conservative country, the Japanese have managed to keep their cultures and protect them.
Whether you are in Tokyo for the Olympics, as a tourist, or planning your first-ever trip to Japan, here are a few tips and sights to have in mind:
VISIT SHIBUYA AND SHINJUKU
Tokyo was formally known as Edo, and the most famous swordsman and samurai in Japan walked the city’s ground. You may just be walking in his path. Shibuya and Shinjuku are two of the most tourist-heavy wards in Tokyo. Shinjuku is home to the world’s busiest station, the Shinjuku station, while Shibuya is home to the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing, the Shibuya crossing. If you want to experience nightlife with a touch of Japanese culture, the food stalls, shokudos, and fireworks, Shinjuku is the place to be, but if you want to be out in the light of day and fancy shopping in malls, then Shibuya is for you.
The good thing is that both wards are just next to each other and about five minutes apart by train, so you can have both sides of the coin.
DO NOT MISS OUT ON THE TEA
Tea holds a special place in Japanese and Oriental culture as a whole. The tea ceremony is known as Chanoyu, while the gathering to observe the ritual is called Chakai or Chaji. Tea ceremonies are not just for show in Japan; the tradition represents and emulates virtues such as harmony, tranquillity, purity, and humility. An actual traditional tea ceremony can take up to four hours, but it definitely will be worth it. A traditional dinner called Kaiseki-ryori is served and can be as long as fourteen courses, with no one dish or menu being the same.
Visiting any airKitchen around Tokyo should suffice to get a great experience. Still, if you want an authentic experience where you get to wear a kimono, then the Maikoya Kimono Tea Ceremony is what you need.
MAKE SURE TO VISIT THE RURAL AREAS
Everything in life needs a balance. It is the way of life, duality, yin and yang. The bustle of city life may not be for everyone, and even for those who love the sights and sounds of the city, a bit of time in the tranquillity of the countryside is beneficial to the soul. Takayama is a village west of Tokyo with buildings that have been standing since the Edo period. Sake is the traditional alcohol in Japan, made from rice. Takayama is home to the oldest Sake breweries in the country. Shirakawago is great if you want to get a glimpse of traditional Japanese rice farming and the splendour of nature.
A FEW DON’TS IN TOKYO
As I earlier mentioned, Japan is still a very traditional country, and one of the virtues the people hold dear is respect. Therefore, make sure to take off your shoes if you are entering a private home or visiting the interior of a shrine. Also, always ask before you take pictures of people or some places like shrines.
Remember that the left side of elevators in Tokyo are meant for people who prefer to stand, while the right is for those who like to continue walking. Choose your side.