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Classic Tokyo, Modern Tokyo

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This itinerary is intended as a general introductory tour into what Tokyo is all about. This is close to an itinerary followed by the traveler writing this article upon his first full day in Tokyo in June of 2004. If you are not ready to go through the full-blown whirlwind tour found in the One day in Tokyo itinerary, then consider this simple route.

classic tokyo, modern tokyo Travel Guide :

Classic Tokyo, Modern Tokyo

Understand

The following tour starts and ends at Tokyo Station, contrasting the Tokyo of old with the Tokyo of new. In this tour you will visit the following major destinations:

Classic Tokyo, Modern Tokyo

Prepare

You will need to get a Passnet card worth at least ¥1000(available in any subway station). For travel over JR lines, you can purchase individual tickets at the station, or if you have a Japan Rail Pass when entering the country, you can just walk through the JR barriers and flash it to the guard.

Classic Tokyo, Modern Tokyo

Go

You can do this itinerary on any day except Mondays, Fridays, and major holidays, when the East Gardens are closed.

Classic Tokyo, Modern Tokyo

Begin: Tokyo Station (??)

Time yourself to arrive at Tokyo station at around 10:00 AM. If you wish, arrive earlier to experience the end of the morning rush hour. Exit towards the Marunouchi North Exit, where if you are lucky, you will see one of the many special exhibitions that are constantly put on display.

Exit the station to your left and walk until you are at the center of the exterior of the station. Here is where the first stark contrast between old and new can be seen: On one side you can see brand new skyscrapers... and on the other side, the red brick facade of Tokyo Station.

Classic Tokyo, Modern Tokyo

Imperial Palace

Kitanomaru Park, Imperial PalaceKitanomaru Park, Imperial Palace
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Kitanomaru Park, Imperial Palace

You will see a very wide street that proceeds straight out from the center of the station, this is Miyuki D?ri. Proceed walking down the right side of the road until you reach the moat, Wadakura-bori. After walking through what is certain to be a lot of vehicular traffic, it is a slow transition into serenity as you pass the moat and come across the Wadakura Fountain Park.

After spending a few moments at the fountains, continue across the final road, Uchibori D?ri, to the Imperial Palace Plaza. Walk around the edge of the plaza, and you will soon find everything rather calm, as the transfer into old Tokyo has been made. Standing at one of the large gravel intersections, look around and see the contrast once more.

Backtrack yourself to where you entered, and turn left, walking north on Uchibori D?ri until you reach the ?te-mon Gate (???), which leads you into the public East Gardens.

Browse through the main path of the gardens, picking up a beverage from a vending machine, purchasing a gift, and if lucky, hearing the screams of the Imperial Guard practicing kendo close by.

Continuing on the main path, you will reach a flower garden, where you should be able to see a large sign pointing you to Hirakawa-mon Gate (???), the north exit of the East Gardens.

With your jaunt through the Imperial Palace complete, turn right as you exit Hirakawa-mon and walk a short distance to the entrance to Takebashi station (??) and take the Tokyo Metro T?zai Line one stop to ?temachi station (???).

Follow the underground arcade towards the JR Lines until you reach Tokyo Station. Purchase a ¥150 JR ticket to enter the Tokyo Station area, or flash your Japan Rail Pass. This is a nice opportunity for a quick snack at one of the many food stands before continuing on.

Classic Tokyo, Modern Tokyo

Sens?ji Temple

Kaminarimon, Sens?jiKaminarimon, Sens?ji
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Kaminarimon, Sens?ji

A quick entry to Modern Tokyo can be found as you walk up to Platform 4 for the northbound Yamanote Line. Here, board one of the green-colored trains that arrive every 2 to 3 minutes.

The Yamanote Line is the most prominent rail line in Tokyo, with quick service, and a loop that runs around the entire city. All announcements on the Yamanote line are in both Japanese and English, with computer monitors that show information such as connections at the next stop.

Take the Yamanote Line to Ueno (??), then walk out and down the stairs, where you'll whip out your Passnet card once again and board the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, taking it to the terminal stop of Asakusa (??).

Proceed out of Exit 1, 2 or 3, and look for the large Kaminari-mon Gate (??), which is your signal to the road that leads to Sens?ji Temple. This road, which is Nakamise D?ri, includes a covered arcade of specialty stores and food shops. Pass these initially, and the usual crowds that form around them, and come back to visit a few upon returning.

When you get back to the area around Asakusa station, don't forget to look across the river for a look at the Golden Turd, also known as the Asahi Beer brewing factory.

Classic Tokyo, Modern Tokyo

Odaiba

Fuji TV, Fuji TV,
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Fuji TV, Odaiba

Now after a totally classic experience, it's time to head in a completely opposite direction. Enter Asakusa station and follow the signs for the Toei Asakusa Line, which is another subway line. Take any train to Shimbashi (??) and then transfer upstairs to the Yurikamome (?????) light rail line. (You'll need your Passnet for both.)

After skimming past some skyscrapers, you will see the Rainbow Bridge on your left side. Then the train makes a 270-degree right turn and enters the bridge for the crossing into Odaiba, the man-made island that boasts a completely new scene in Tokyo.

One of the main attractions here is the Fuji TV Building. But one of the more interesting ones is the Toyota pavilion, which can be reached by getting off the Yurikamome at the first stop, Odaiba Kaihin-Koen (???????), then taking a nice walk on the bridge across the expressway. Eventually you will come upon the complex, a part of Palette Town, which includes Toyota, as well as a Lawson convenience store. Inside the Toyota pavilion you can test-drive new Toyota vehicles if you have an international drivers license, or simply push a button and have automated elevators and conveyors present a vehicle to you. The other end of the Yurikamome is on the other side of the complex; board it here and take it a few stops to Daiba (??) to access the Fuji building. (Note: At this point in the trip, it may be time to recharge your Passnet card or purchase another one.)

The Tokyo Teleport station (???????) of the Tokyo Waterfront Railway, aka Rinkai Line, is located within the vicinity of the Fuji building.

Classic Tokyo, Modern Tokyo

Traveling to Shinjuku

If you've progressed at a steady pace, it should be close to dusk by the time you enter the Rinkai Line. The last stop on the tour is a place which shines with nightlife, Shinjuku.

How you proceed to Shinjuku from Tokyo Teleport depends on your situation. Although Rinkai Line trains continue directly to Shinjuku station, you will travel over two separate railways (Tokyo Teleport to Osaki on the Tokyo Waterfront Railway, then Osaki to Shinjuku on the JR Saikyo Line). Under no circumstances should you use your Passnet card, since Passnet cards are not yet accepted on JR lines.

If you do not have a Japan Rail Pass, you will need to go to the ticket machines and purchase a combination ticket which will let you travel to Shinjuku (this will cost ¥480).

The Tokyo Waterfront Railway is not covered under the Japan Rail Pass, so if you DO have a pass, you could do what this traveler did, and purchase a ticket for Osaki from the ticket machine (¥320). Consider this short-distance ticket a souvenir, since at Osaki, control of the train switches to JR, and therefore, is covered under the pass. Just flash the pass when exiting Shinjuku.

Have a bite to eat in the station, if you want, or see what kind of eateries you can find, cheap or expensive, in Shinjuku itself!

Classic Tokyo, Modern Tokyo

Shinjuku

Head to the east exit of Shinjuku station to begin in front of the giant television monitor at Studio ALTA, one of Tokyo's major meeting places. If you are courageous, follow the train tracks north and attempt to plunge into Tokyo's red-light district of Kabukich? (????)... you'll see bright signs for it just to the right of the Shinjuku Prince Hotel.

If you've had enough, walk south to K?shu Kaid? (????) to enjoy the panoramic views of the rest of Shinjuku at ground level overlooking the train tracks, including the large Takashiyama Times Square building.

Classic Tokyo, Modern Tokyo

Returning

Saikyo Line platform at Shinjuku during the evening rushSaikyo Line platform at Shinjuku during the evening rush
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Saikyo Line platform at Shinjuku during the evening rush

Shinjuku is the country's busiest train hub, but don't stray in Shinjuku too late, as, like the rest of the country, train services stop at midnight!

To return to Tokyo Station, you can take the JR Chuo Line across, or do the same using the Marunouchi subway line with your Passnet card.

If you are returning elsewhere, you can take the JR Yamanote Line, or several subway lines, including the Marunouchi, Toei Shinjuku or Toei Oedo line.

Classic Tokyo, Modern Tokyo

Straying

If you want to stray a bit from the route, take a moment to inhale the world's largest pedestrian crossing, which can be found at Shibuya station.


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