Planning visits to the Japanese city of Tokyo? Here are some recommendations on where to go*. To view all the photographs (with the captions in full) of each city, click on any image and navigate using the left and right keys.
1. I spent my first few nights in a capsule hotel, which is known for its small bed-sized rooms. My room is a little bit of an upgrade, because most rooms consist of just the beds without the desk or the small closet.
2. The view from the Tokyo City View and Sky Deck, an observatory which probably provides the best and most affordable panoramic views of the city. This is taken from the indoor City View and it is well worth the admission ticket.
3. And this is from the outdoor Sky Deck, which is one level up, with a clear view of the Tokyo Tower. An additional ticket is needed.
4. Together with the admission ticket for the Tokyo City View is entrance to the Mori Art Museum and its ‘Roppongi Crossing 2019: Connexions” exhibition. I had one of my most memorable art museum experience and did not expect to be as moved as I was, especially since I am not very art-literate. On display here is “Cat Olympics: In memory of Torajiro” (Nobuaki Takekawa), and two other pieces which I enjoyed were Time goes by” (Bontaro Dokuyama) and a montage of 24 scenes involving ringing phones by Sato Masaharu.
5. A few days later, I returned to the Sky Deck in the evening with the rest of group.
6. View of the Tokyo Tower from the Sky Deck. In the evening, one side of the deck offers a great scene of the setting sun behind a mountain range, while the other side the tower – which is lit up from 6pm onwards – is the highlight.
7. The Tokyo City View and Sky Deck is located in Roppongi Hills, developed as a “city within a city”. At the foot of the building is the small Mori Garden with a small pond, and in the night the cherry blossoms were illuminated.
8. Roppongi Hills in the background, with the cherry blossoms – in white and pink – in the foreground.
9. The Ueno Park – as the first public park of its kind in the country – houses a large number of attractions. Before the flowers were in bloom, I walked around the small pond, where there were picnic-goers, street performers, and this old man feeding pigeons.
10. A few days later with my parents, even though the weather was more gloomy, the cherry blossoms were in bloom.
11. When the cherry blossoms are in bloom, visitors should walk up from the pond to enjoy the many trees on display.
12. My parents posing with the cherry blossoms at Ueno Park. Along the walkways – and underneath the trees – it appears that groups could book spaces for elaborate picnics, where individuals dine on improvised cardboard boxes and feast on a variety of food items.
13. At the Shinjuku Gyo-en National Garden, which houses about 1,500 cherry blossom trees which bloom in the spring. Compared to the other sites for flower viewing, the garden is probably the best for visitors who want to take close-up shots with the flowers.
14. I visited the garden before the cherry blossoms were in full bloom, and even so the flora were a sight to behold. There are also a number of tea houses and large picnic spots – which we indulged in, as a group – and the garden is also very spacious.
15. Cherry blossoms in the garden. As always, the view is made better by blue skies and good weather.
16. A close-up shot of the flowers, upon which a bee has landed.
17. Yet even when the weather is less than ideal, because the garden is so picturesque, there are plenty of great spots for photo-taking. My parents – especially my mom – had a great time posing for shots and taking selfies with the overhanging flora.
18. Red and white cherry blossoms on display.
19. In addition to the flowers and the cherry blossoms, the Shinjuku Gyo-en National Garden is an excellent spot for a sultry stroll. One can easily spend up to half a day within the compound, crossing bridges, walking along the ponds, and people-watching too.
20. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Deck – which is near the Shinjuku Gyo-en National Garden – offers a panoramic view of the city. It is also free. I still prefer the Tokyo City View and Sky Deck, because in addition to the open Sky Deck and the more varied views, the Sky View observation deck is a lot bigger and offers many more highlights.
21. The Shibuya Crossing is said to be the busiest intersection in the world, and the best (an d free) view of the crossing – besides being a part of it at ground level – is available at the rooftop of Magnet by Shibuya 109. Go all the way to the rooftop for this.
22. In Asakusa, before walking through the traditional Nakamise shopping street and getting to the Sensō-ji – one of Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple – take in a panoramic view of both from the top of the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Centre.
23. The Sensō-ji in the background. At the start of the Nakamise shopping street is the Kaminarimon, or Thunder Gate.
24. A short walk from the Sensō-ji is the Sumida River and the Sumida Park, en route to the Tokyo Skytree.
25. Parents posing in front of a cherry blossom tree alongside the Sumida River.
26. The Tokyo Skytree is the second tallest structure in the world, and in addition to its observation decks it also houses the commercial facility known as Tokyo Solamachi, where there are plenty of dining and shopping options.
27. Parents posing with flowers alongside the Sumida River, with the Tokyo Skytree in the background. This was at the end of a Tokyo Cruise which started from Odaiba, a shopping and entertainment district sited on a man-made island.
28. Approach Odaiba via the Yurikamome line, which offers great views of the district. The Rainbow Bridge can also be seen.
29. En route to Asakusa from Odaiba, on a Tokyo Cruise ship. Views on the ship are not necessarily impressive, even though one would be able to spot the bridges, different landmarks, and spots of cherry blossom trees along the way. The ride takes about an hour.
30. With the group outside the Tsukiji Fish Market, which offers a wide variety of foodstuffs, souvenirs, and freshly cooked seafood.
31. We went on a one-day Mount Fuji tour, which included strawberry picking at an orchard. Fantastic for strawberry lovers.
32. View of Mount Fuji from Oishi Park, which offers the best view of the mountain from Lake Kawaguchi. All of us agreed that the one-day tour was a good break from our free-and-easy itinerary, since we could visit many sights without worrying about transportation.
33. Dad taking in the view of Mount Fuji.
34. Man fishing on an elevated stool, with Mount Fuji in the background.
35. After Oishi Park and a lunch – included in the one-day tour package – we made our way up the Lake Kawaguchi Mount Tenjō Ropeway, which offers views of Lake Kawaguchi and Mount Fuji. It started to get a little foggy and cold, but even so the experience was superb.
36. Finally, we visited the Mount Fuji 4th station, the closest we could get to the mountain.
37. For five nights, we stayed as a group in an Airbnb located in Kanamecho, one stop from Ikebukuro. There were many advantages – a more comfortable experience, having communal meals, and spending time together – and we had two subsequent nights in a hotel.
38. For some of the most spectacular views of the cherry blossoms in full bloom, the Meguro River Cherry Blossoms Promenade must be on one’s itinerary. There may not be as many trees, but they are packed tightly together for many breathtaking sights.
39. Cherry blossoms at the Meguro River Cherry Blossoms Promenade.
40. Cherry blossoms at the Meguro River Cherry Blossoms Promenade.
41. The shopping and entertainment district of Ginza. This was taken on a day when the streets were designated for pedestrians only.
42. Made a trip to Nippori, where I walked through Yanaka Ginza – which features some elements of old Tokyo – and the Yanaka Cemetery Park (where the Tennoji Temple and the ruins of the Tennoji five-storey pagoda are located).
43. View of the cherry blossoms at the Yanaka Cemetery Park.
* Not an advertisement, and also not sponsored (unfortunately).