There is so much going on and it’s all free. See the old forty-something rockabillies dancing to rock’n’roll and the young kids dancing to northern soul. People practising their tap-dancing or tai chi, not to mention the new bands hoping to be spotted by a record company giving it their all. Take a picnic and enjoy the atmosphere, that seems to be what most of the rest of Tokyo does!
If you want to know what the Japanese do on a Sunday afternoon, then head off to Yoyogi Park. The whole of Tokyo seems to descend on this wonderful park. Families come for a picnic, unsigned pop bands play inpromptu gigs, theatre groups practise their latest plays and people just hang out letting the world go by! Everything seems to happen in this one place! When I went there a year ago, I felt like I saw the real Tokyo - seeing the Japanese at play.
Don't miss it!
Adjacent to Yoyogi-koen and Meiji-jingumae Stations on the subway Chiyoda Line, and Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line
Kiddy Land, one of Tokyo’s largest toy stores, is a shrine to all things “kawaii” (cute). Spread over six floors, the shop features all major global toy brands and characters, including Dick Bruna’s Miffy, Disney and of course Hello Kitty. Character-branded stationery, cards, stickers, stamps, and gift wrap can be found in the basement.
The first floor offers an eclectic mix of fancy dress gear, watches and accessories. The second floor features a fabulous array of stuffed animals, while the third floor concentrates of American characters such as Barbie and Spiderman. The fourth floor is geared towards pre-school kids and toddlers, and the fifth is full of games and gadgets. With such a fantastic range of toys, this Tokyo institution will win over even the most jaded of shoppers.
ADDRESS: 6-1-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
PHONE: +81 (0)3 3409 3431
WEBSITE: www.kiddyland.co.jp/index2.html (Japanese language only)
In Tokyo the vast majority of people live in apartments and pets are not allowed or possible. Nekobukero is a response to this. It's a cat petting "house" where lots of Tokyo families and couples go to stroke and play with lots of lovely cats. The set-up itself is worth looking at with cat-themed decor including a cat-shaped TV and a cat-train where some of the moggies spend little holidays away from visiting hands.
There are plenty of toys to tempt the cats with but they also have the opportunity to jump up onto some high shelves to snooze or just to ignore all comers. It's a lovely way to spend a few hours with plenty of people watching points as well as the obvious joy of stroking cats at the top of a Tokyo highrise.
Nekobukero can be found in the Tokyu Hands department store in Ikebukero. (Ikebukero Station) Everyone knows where Tokyu Hands is so ask at the station. Once you get to Tokyu Hands Nekobukero is on the top floor, you enter through the pet department.
Look for the starship that appears to have landed next to the sumo stadium, and ascend the umbilical escalator into the belly. The next thing you know you're crossing a wooden bridge and a couple of centuries back to old Edo within this fascinating museum that brings the history of Tokyo to life. The displays range from entire city districts with thousands of miniature city-dwellers that you can examine through bincoluars, to a life-size kabuki theatre to be explored. Witness the changes in the life of the city brought on by increased contact with the world outside Japan, and finally by war.
Ryogoku on the Oedo or Sobu lines.
A theme park dedicated to Hello Kitty and a host of other supporting Sanrio cartoon characters. Young children will enjoy the (basic) rides and attractions; visitors with an appreciation for Kitty kitsch will be in seventh heaven.
This is a collection of houses and buildings saved from various locations around Tokyo which in the UK would be classed as listed buildings. The buildings include pre-Meiji period farms houses, an old sento (bath house), izakaya (bar), photography studio and houses of past luminaries. If you want to capture a condensed image of what Tokyo looked like before and during its many traumas and incarnations this is a good place to start. (As is the Edo-Tokyo Museum proper at Ryukoku Station on the Sobu line).
Take the Chuo Line (Orange train) west out of the city from JR Tokyo or Shinjuku Stations and get off at JR Koganei Station. It's about a 15 minute walk from the north exit, walking north away from the station. When you reach the Tamagawajosui (Tamagawa Canal) you are almost at Koganei Park. The museum is in the park. Koganei Park is a pleasant enough place to pass time if you aren't in a major hurry.
Stunningly stylish and high-tech hotel close to Tokyo Station and major shopping areas. (The chain has two hotels in Tokyo, and this one at Marunouchi is easily more convenient for access.) You are not supposed to nick the handsome kimonos and pyjama suits but you will no doubt take home a few ideas about modern interior design, and so its worth the extra money. Friendly and faultless service. Try the Four Seasons Executive Suite.
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