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Tokyo: The City of a Thousand Secrets

Founded in the sixteenth century with the name Edo, and ruled over by a succession of Japanese imperialist rulers, the city was the center of command of the Japanese army. Tokyo has, since its beginnings possessed a rich culture, boasting theaters, renowned pleasure quarters, cherry blossoms and the ancient Japanese tradition of woodblock prints as far back as the 16th century. It was renamed Tokyo in 1867, after which the city saw a dramatic transformation, being converted almost overnight to a dynamic, bustling modern city. Tokyo has seen its fair share of tribulations, being nearly completely annihilated by an earthquake in 1923, which killed a fair share of its population, to WWII’s destructive path. Since the Second World War, the city has showed some of its resolve by rising back up and establishing itself firmly as a world-class destination. It is now a complex labyrinth of neighborhoods and districts, which can leave even the locals perplexed. Millions come to revel in downtown Tokyo, vibrant with loud, traditional festivals, cinemas, karaoke, bathhouses and bars. Fabulous ballet performances, opera and the traditional kabuki theatre, along with baseball, football and sumo wrestling—the area never sees a quiet moment. Popular spots include the Roppongi Hills, the Ueno Park, Asakusa, Meiji Shrine, Shibuya, Odaiba among others. The world’s largest fish market is within the vicinity of the city, supplying fresh fish to its 60,000-plus eateries. The best time to visit the city is in the spring, during the months of March to May. Although the many Japanese signs and the usage of the language can get daunting for the international traveler, it doesn’t take long to get accustomed to the city and its people. Besides, due to rapid globalization, more and more are shifting to English, whether by signage or verbally. However, it is advisable to carry a Japanese handbook and deciphering street signs and menus when required.

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