Japan is often described as being both ancient and modern, but Tokyo is the place to go for all things futuristic! Tokyo has been the capital of Japan since 1868 when it was called Edo, having been shifted from Kyoto by the reinstated Emperor. Since then much of the ancient buildings have been razed to the ground by earthquakes and US bombs in WWII, paving the way for the post war phenomenon that is the Japanese capital today.
Tokyo is split into 23 wards, each a mini city unto itself with distinct character and attractions, providing endless opportunities to explore huge varieties of shops, world class restaurants, fascinating markets and superb nightlife. Perhaps the most iconic area in Tokyo is the Shinjuku district, characterised by its streets of neon, huge public video screens, grand department stores and the famous four-way pedestrian crossing.
A comprehensive display of Japanese artefacts can be seen at the Tokyo National Museum, which displays historic costumes including samurai armour, priceless kimonos, swords, antique folding screens, tea ceremony utensils and Japanese paintings. For a sense of old Japan of the only Edo period buildings can be seen at and around the Asakusa Kannon Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in Tokyo. The surrounding streets and alleys are lined with shops and stalls selling an eclectic mixture of kimono, handicrafts, and a dazzling variety of street food. For a break from the pace of city life the Zen inspired Hamarikyu Garden is a tranquil oasis on the edge of the bay and flanked by the modern skyscrapers of the Shiodome district, where you can enjoy a Japanese tea in the wooden pavilion by the edge of the park's lake.