Jangling neon and tranquil temples, radical fashion choices and quietly practiced traditions. Japan’s sprawling, chaotic capital combines cutting-edge technology with an age-old culture, generating a directed energy and graceful drive unique to Tokyo. See what some of the buzz is about with a local licensed guide. Start with a whiff of the miraculous at the Senso Temple, where sacred incense smoke is said to have curative powers, before moving onto the Imperial Palace. The complex houses the emperor and his family and is therefore closed to the public, but much of the surrounding gardens and museums provide a glimpse into the imperial history of Japan (as well as some of its pop history — in the martial arts hall in the palace’s park, a 1966 concert brought in The Beatles). Built to commemorate Emperor Meiji and his empress, the Meiji Shrine is one of the most important Shinto shrines in the country. Yearly festivals bring various groups to its iris garden and Treasure House, including the “Seven-Five-Three Festival,” in which young children arrive dressed in mini kimonos.
Sensoji Temple visit, Imperial Palace East Garden, Meiji Shrine, Harajuku District visit Shibuya Crossing
Batter up. Tempura tempts with lightly battered and deep-fried fish, meat, and vegetables. Originally brought to Japan by Portuguese missionaries, this method of cooking is now thoroughly Japanese.