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Tokyo – a City of Sushi and Samurai

The city, formerly known as Edo, rose to prominence in the 15th and 16th centuries when it became the capital of the Tokugawa shogunate. By the 18th century its population topped the one million mark and the Greater Tokyo Area is now home to a staggering 35 million people – the world’s largest metropolitan area. The city is so large that it has as many as three separate downtowns! Tokyo is an intriguing combination of the old and the new. Centuries-old sites, such as the Imperial Palace and the temples of Asakusa, sit side-by-side futuristic skyscrapers and all surrounded by some of the densest crowds anywhere on earth. The downtown areas of Shibuya and Shinjuku by night feature some of the most impressive and overwhelming congregations of neon signs and swarms of people you will find anywhere. To escape from the bustle of the city, Inokashira Park is a great place for a peaceful boat ride, while the cherry blossoms of Yoyogi Park reflect beautiful and tranquil ideals of Japanese society. As one of Asia’s main transport hubs, and as the capital of one of the world’s most advanced countries, there is no shortage of possibilities to get to Japan. Most international flights to Tokyo land at Narita Airport, located 70 kilometers from the heart of Tokyo. Domestic flights to Tokyo arrive at Haneda Airport, which, despite catering almost exclusively to domestic flights, is in fact Asia’s busiest airport. Visitors can get around on the efficient public transport system that includes an extensive subway system, although learning how to buy a ticket can be a challenge at first. Despite its reputation as one of the world’s most expensive cities, there are affordable hotels in Tokyo. In addition to conventional accommodation, which ranges from inexpensive hostels to some of the most luxurious hotels imaginable, more adventurous travelers may wish to stay in a capsule hotel. This uniquely Japanese concept involves a ‘room’ that is barely large enough for one person to fit in and lie down, but comes complete with a television and radio, with pajamas, slippers and basic toiletries provided. Food lovers are in for a treat in Tokyo. A common misconception is that Japanese cuisine is all about raw fish and seafood. In fact, Japanese food comes in many forms and, with a little experimentation, something can be found to suit every palette. If you are longing for a taste of home, however, Tokyo will certainly have a restaurant that can provide it, wherever ‘home’ may be.

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