Things to Do in Kanto - page 4
If you're burned out from sightseeing and just want to kickback and have some fun like the locals do, you'll find what you're looking for at Tokyo Dome City, a massive entertainment complex in the Bunkyo district. The area's centerpiece is the Tokyo Dome: the world's largest roofed baseball stadium. The dome, also known as The Egg, is the home stadium of the Yomiuri Giants and Nippon Ham. It can seat up to 55,000 people, and often fills up for popular matches. If you have a chance, catching a game offers a uniqe insight into Japanese sports culture.
Also in the area you'll find a small but fun amusement park (the roller coasters are a highlight), an arena for boxing and martial arts known as Karakuen Hall, a 43-floor hotel, bowling center, shops and eateries. A recent addition is the LaQua Spa onsen complex.
Tokyo City View Observation Deck may be the sleekest of the city's many observation centers. You can find it on the 52nd floor of the Mori Tower, which is the centerpiece of the new and modern Roppongi Hills building complex. The Sky Gallery is a 360 degree panoramic observation room split into three separate sections. Gallery 1 offers a view of Tokyo Tower and Odaiba, Gallery Two showcases Yokohama and Mount Fuji and Gallery 3 overlooks Sibuya and Shinjuku. The cost of admission allows you to enter all three. For an extra fee it's possible to visit the Sky Deck, an even higher open air rooftop observation center.
Also included in the price of admission is entry to the adjacent modern art museum which spotlights a rotating series of exhibitions. If you have more money to spend there is a planetarium show as well as several bars and restaurants.
Even if you don't have a burning interest in Japanese architecture this open air museum of restored Meiji period buildings is a fun and offbeat way to spend an afternoon.
The buildings, spread out over many acres of parkland, are all authentic historical buildings either relocated or reconstructed from various places in Japan. This is one of the only places to see buildings of this style as most have been destroyed by redevelopment and earthquakes. There are middle class homes, bathhouses, working shops and restaurants, even the former residence of a prime minister. It's possible to explore both the inside and outside of many of the buildings, which are full of historical artifacts. The effect is surreal. Film buffs may find some of the buildings look familiar; Hayao Miyazaki visited here for inspiration when making the famous film Spirited Away.
Kasai Rinkai Park, Tokyo’s largest park, opened in 1989 on Tokyo Bay, a beautiful area that overlooks the water and the city beyond. Built on reclaimed land, the park was developed with conservation and preservation in mind.
The Diamond and Flowers Ferris Wheel is by far the park’s most famous site, an iconic behemoth that sits 383 feet (117 meters) tall. Any trip to the park is incomplete without the 17-minute ride on the famous structure, as the views from the top encompass all of Tokyo and the surrounding areas, including Mt Fuji on a clear day.
Also on site is the Tokyo Sealife Aquarium, which features an all-glass dome that transports visitors straight into the sea with fish and other aquatic life swimming above, around and below them. There is also the Sea Bird Sanctuary, an outdoor preserve that takes up nearly one-third of the park.
Located just north of the Imperial Palace grounds in Tokyo, Kitanomaru Park was once the site of the northernmost section of Edo Castle, where members of the Tokugawa clan lived. In 1969 in celebration of Emperor Showa’s 60th birthday, the area was opened to the public as a woodland park.
Today, Kitanomaru Park is home to the Science Museum, National Museum of Modern Art and Nippon Budokan indoor arena, as well as two castle gates now designated as national important cultural assets. Tayasu-mon gate at the northern end of the park was erected in 1636, making it the oldest gate remaining in the Edo Castle complex. In springtime, the 330 trees lining the castle moat passing through the park burst with cherry blossoms; it’s one of Tokyo’s most popular sites for hanami, the Japanese custom of enjoying the annual blossom display.
It's not the biggest or most modern baseball stadium in Tokyo, but Meiji Jingu Stadium in Shinjuku is worth visiting for it's unique atmosphere and history. Opened in 1926, it's one of the few stadiums still in existence where Babe Ruth played (along with Lou Gehrig on a 1934, 22-game tour of Japan).
Today it's home to the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, as well as a popular host of many college match-ups. If you have time, it's an excellent place to watch a game. Because it is rather small nearly every seat is close to the field. Unlike in the US, Japanese baseball is a very rowdy interactive game for fans with organized chants, dancing and cheerleaders. The traditional way fans cheer for the Swallows is to open their umbrellas and sing a song, so be sure to come prepared!
Disneyland is to Mickey Mouse what Sanrio Puroland is to Hello Kitty. The indoor theme park on the western edge of Tokyo attracts 1.5 million visitors a year with its attractions, themed rides, restaurants and musicals based around the Sanrio company’s characters. Westerners may only be familiar with Hello Kitty, but Sanrio also came up with Jewelpet, My Melody and Cinnamoroll among others.
Sanrio Puroland opened in 1990 to mixed reviews, but with a boom in Hello Kitty’s popularity, it’s now one of the most popular attractions in Japan. The park’s hypercute highlights include a life-size version of Kitty’s house, a boat ride filled with Sanrio characters and three theaters with daily live stage productions. Most attractions are aimed at a decidedly young demographic, so if you’re traveling with teenagers, you might be better off at Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea.
Happo-en means "beautiful from every angle." When visiting the Happo-en Garden in Tokyo, you’ll see that the name doesn’t even begin to describe this Japanese garden and teahouse.
Take a stroll through tree-lined paths of century old bonsai, cherry, and maple trees. Take in the lush gardens and budding flowers surrounding a tranquil pond. Enjoy a traditional tea-ceremony served by women in elaborate kimonos. Then, enjoy a romantic dinner at Enju or Thrush, one of the two restaurants overlooking the lovely gardens.
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Located in the Kichijoji neighborhood of Tokho, Inokashira Park (more specifically the pond found within) was the first water source for Edo (now Tokyo) until a new water supply system was completed in 1898. The public park was established in 1917 and today is one of the city’s most popular and lively green spaces.
The long Inokashira Pond stretches east to west through the park, and tree-lined paths meander around it. Locals and visitors come to the park to picnic in the shade, rent paddle boats for a trip around the pond, feed the ducks or visit one of the park’s bigger attractions, a small zoo or the Ghibli Museum. On the weekends, local artists are often seen selling their wares while buskers perform for tips throughout the park. During spring, some 250 cherry trees surrounding the pond provide a stunning display of blossoms.
The Beni Fuji no Yu Onsen offers some of the best vantage points in the area. The large public bathhouse has both indoor baths and two rooftop ones, but no matter which pool you’re in, the views of Mt Fuji are stunning. The ones on the roof boast views of a zen garden and trees, as well as the majestic cone-shaped peak of Fuji in the distance. The outdoor baths are arguably best in the winter, when the hot, therapeutic water complements the cold air and snow-capped peak.
The onsen offers guests a multitude of services in addition to the baths. A restaurant serves local cuisine, while visitors can also purchase massages and beauty treatments. There is enough to do within the onsen that many people choose to spend an entire day here, making the unassuming onsen a true highlight of a trip to the Mt Fuji area.
If you are looking for love, make your way to Tokyo Daijingu Shrine. Two sun goddesses and three gods of creation and growth are enshrined here. Together, these deities are known to play matchmaker. Famous, too, for serving as the location for the first traditional Shinto wedding ceremony, Tokyo Daijingu is believed to bless marriages. On weekends, Tokyoites and Japanese from all over the region line up here to worship and ask the deities for blessing in love and marriage.
Tokyo Daijingu Shrine was founded in 1880 in the resemblance of the famous Ise Jingo Shrine located in Mie Prefecture. The original Ise Jingo was a famous pilgrimage for Shinto Japanese in the 17th century. Today, still, many make the pilgrimage to this famous shrine. Emperor Meiji deigned the creation of Tokyo Daijingu to facilitate worship of the enshrined deities without making the long trip to Mie. Today, Tokyo Daijingu remains one of the five great shrines of Tokyo.
Seaside Top is the observation deck of the World Trade Center Tokyo, a towering 40 story building. The Hamamatsu-cho subway station exits directly into the building making it easy to exit, pay the ¥620 fee and hop in the elevator.
At the top you'll find a unique view of Tokyo Bay, other skyscrapers like the Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Sky Tree and even Mount Fuji on a good day. Display screens with light up buttons help you to determine exactly what you're looking at. The deck is usually not crowded so you can linger and enjoy the 360 degree views. The night view is considered particularly romantic, but keep in mind that the deck closes at 8:30.
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