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Akihabara – known colloquially as Akiba – is the heart of Tokyo’s electronic district and is something of a Mecca for otaku of all stripes. Which shops to visit depend very much on what you’re looking for, as some specialize in one thing only, while others have nearly every electronic device imaginable. Coming out of…

Type: City districts  |  Category: Tokyo  |  Tags: , ,


At the base of Kyoto’s western hills, Arashiyama and Sagano are most famous for their bamboo groves, which are spectacular (the most impressive grove is outside Tenryū-ji’s northern gate), but the area is also full of temples and gardens. Although there are many temples to visit, we especially recommend Tenryu-ji, Jojakko-ji, Gio-ji and the Nenbutsuji…

Type: City districts  |  Category: Kyoto  |  Tags: , , ,


Asakusa is as close to the old shitamachi downtown atmosphere as it’s possible to get in modern day Tokyo. Centring on Senso-ji Temple, Asakusa is vibrant, festive, and somewhat nostalgic: very little has changed from the 1950s when the area was re-constructed. Senso-ji Temple, red, and pleasantly crowded with pigeons and sight-seers, is the oldest…

Type: City districts  |  Category: Tokyo  |  Tags: , , ,


Ginza is the traditional heart of Tokyo shopping with department stores, art galleries, and breathtakingly expensive cups of coffee. The Mitsukoshi Department Store, the first to open in Japan, still operates here as do the Hankyu, Seibu, and Matsuya. With the fascinating food halls in the basements and their impressively priced melons, through clothing and…

Type: City districts  |  Category: Tokyo  |  Tags: , ,


Called geiko in the Kyoto dialect, geisha are disciplined artists under an elaborately-coiffed exterior, and Kyoto geisha’s famously rigorous apprenticeship as maiko ensures that the women who choose the lifestyle are talented and dedicated musicians and dancers. Geisha have, for many years, entertained at the most exclusive and important gatherings in Japan, and are proud…

Type: City districts  |  Category: Kyoto  |  Tags: , , ,


Harajuku is a stunning example of how the traditional and the modern coexist in Tokyo. A short walk from Harajuku Station leads to a massive torii, welcoming visitors to the forested compound of Meiji Jingu Shrine, which is a popular site for Japanese Shinto weddings on weekends. Head only a few minutes’ walk in the…

Type: City districts  |  Category: Tokyo  |  Tags: , , ,

Higashi Chaya-gai

One of only three chaya-gai (geisha districts) in Japan to be listed as a cultural assets, Kanazawa’s Higashi Chaya has changed little since its heyday in the early 19th Century. Not only are the buildings a beautifully preserved remnant of the old Japan, geisha still live and work here, and occasionally can be seen out…

Type: City districts  |  Category: Central Honshu  |  Tags: ,

Nagamachi Samurai Quarter

Kanazawa’s old samurai district, Nagamachi is characterized by earthen walls which surround the historical residences. Many of the houses can be visited, and we particularly recommend the Nomura residence, which is now a museum and well known for its verdant garden, the Ashigaru Shiryokan Museum, which features reconstructed houses of samurai foot soldiers, and the…

Type: City districts  |  Category: Central Honshu  |  Tags: ,


Built on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay, Odaiba is ultra-modern, boasting wonderful shopping and entertainment. High on the list of activities here is the Ferris wheel. One of the world’s largest at an impressive one hundred and fifteen metres, it is an excellent way to look out over Tokyo. Odaiba is best known for its…

Type: City districts  |  Category: Tokyo  |  Tags: , , ,


A broad, straight street lined with an avenue of zelkova trees, Omotesando Dōri is where sub culture meets high fashion; should you need to pick up any high-end brand goods, this is the place to do it. Omotesando also offers wonderful people-watching, any number of excellent cafes and restaurants, and there are a few architectural…

Type: City districts  |  Category: Tokyo  | 

Sanmachi Suji

San-machi Suji is the heart of Takayama’s old town, and the traditional houses lining the streets – many of which are open as museums – are well worth visiting. We particularly recommend the Takayama Yatai Kaikan (festival float museum) which houses the superb yatai between festivals. The old merchant houses of Yoshijima-ke and Kusakabe Mingeikan…

Type: City districts  |  Category: Central Honshu  |  Tags: , , ,


Shibuya is known for fashion, shopping and entertainment, and it’s easy to see why when you arrive at the busy station area. The Hachiko exit, with its statue of a famously faithful dog, is a popular meeting spot, and if you follow the crowds across the famous intersection you’ll find no shortage of shops of…

Type: City districts  |  Category: Tokyo  |  Tags: , ,


Shinjuku is a large ward in Tokyo, Japan. It is a major commercial and administrative centre, housing the busiest railway station in the world and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, the administration centre for the government of Tokyo. Shinjuku Station handles more than two million passengers every day. It is served by about a dozen…

Type: City districts  |  Category: Tokyo  |  Tags: , , , ,