GenkiJACS' Guide to Tokyo
Tokyo by itself has a bigger population than a lot of other countries – up to 38 million for the greater Tokyo area! As a result, the city has multiple “centers”. Your favorite Japanese school GenkiJACS is of course located in the biggest and best of these centers, Shinjuku, just a few minutes’ walk from the world’s busiest train station. However, it’s definitely worth visiting some other areas while you’re in Tokyo, regardless of which Japanese school you’re studying at. Here’s a guide to a few of the most notable areas of Tokyo.
Shinjuku is the entertainment center of Tokyo, with thousands of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, karaoke joints, game centers, and much much more! While West Shinjuku has mostly expensive hotels and high-rise office buildings, East Shinjuku has huge department stores, interesting back streets (including Japan’s largest gay nightlife area), and the still slightly seedy Kabukicho nightlife area. Don’t miss the crazy show at Robot Restaurant! And of course, in between learning Japanese at school, take time to visit the lovely Hanazono Shrine.
Famous for the giant “scramble crossing”, Shibuya actually contains a few completely different areas. The fashion mecca of Harajuku is a great place for people-watching, as well as finding clothes that’ll be fashionable in 10-20 years’ time in other countries. Omotesando is an incredibly upscale shopping area that can be fun to pass through, but we wouldn’t recommend looking at the prices on things. And of course don’t forget to say hi to the famous Hachiko dog statue beside Shibuya Station!
The epicenter of geek culture in Japan, Akihabara has thousands of electronics shops selling every kind of gadget you could imagine, as well as a huge variety of manga, anime, and related products. Come on Sunday to see cosplayers out in force. Visit a maid café. And don’t miss the awesome arcades too!
A little further afield, Odaiba is an artificial island built in Tokyo Bay. A lot of entertainment options for visitors are situated here, so it’s definitely worth making the journey out here. Of particular note is Oedo Onsen Monogatari, a lovely hot spring that even has outdoor bathing, and is laid out like a little traditional town inside, with a charming old-world atmosphere. Other fun places to visit are the tourist viewpoint of Rainbow Bridge, the giant Gundam robot, and of course the beach at Odaiba Marine Park.
The world’s second busiest train station (after Shinjuku, above), but there’s not too much to see here. Namja Town is a fun theme park/game center, and there is a good variety of shops, but watch out for the largish red-light district.
This area contains some of the most important buildings in Japan: the Imperial Palace and gardens, the Diet (seat of government), the prime minister’s residence, and other government buildings. The controversial Yasukuni Shrine is also here, although not on most tourists’ shortlists.
~Explore Tokyo... Learn Japan~
There are of course many other important “centers” in Tokyo, but we’ve covered most of the major ones here. Now you know where to go on days you’re not studying Japanese with Genki Japanese School Tokyo!
And when you're done sightseeing, why not check out our handy guide to things to do in Tokyo?