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Tokyo is the world’s largest metropolis; over 33 million people live within commuting distance. Plus, its status as a one-time fortress city under the shogun left it with a maze-like street pattern. Intimidated? Don’t be. With a little prep you’ll do fine. Most visitors spend the bulk of their time in and around the yamanote or “high city,” as the center of town is called. Once the province of nobles and their retainers, now it’s home to a different kind of nobility: corporations, government entities, and some very high-end real estate. The Yamanote Line train line loops around it; from Tokyo Station (east of the Imperial Palace), head north to Ueno (detouring by subway east to Asakusa) and continue counterclockwise to Shinjuku, with Harajuku and Shibuya in rapid succession along the city’s west side. Roppongi is back toward the city center.

Tokyo Neighborhoods

Marunouchi & Ginza

These neighborhoods east of the Imperial Palace bustle with corporate chieftains and department-store shoppers by day. At night, Ginza’s main street is the neon Tokyo you see in countless ads.


In this transit hub, come for a stroll through hilly Ueno Park, and stay for its museums and busy street market.


Though mostly rebuilt after World War II, Tokyo’s old shitamachi (low city) still feels nostalgic. The side streets around Senso-ji (Asakusa Kannon Temple) are packed with old-style merchants and tiny restaurants.


One side of Shinjuku station (the world’s busiest) is high-rise heaven; Manhattan has nothing on these office towers. Out the other side of the station are large department stores and the closest Tokyo comes to a red-light district.

Harajuku & Aoyama

The wide boulevard Omote-Sando connects these two neighborhoods, hangout of fashionistas from haute couture to young and edgy. The forests of Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park sit just to the side of Harajuku station.


Youthquake! Streets radiating from the six-way intersection outside the station take you to busy cafes, funky shops and some major department stores.

Roppongi & Akasaka

Known chiefly as Tokyo’s party place until a few years ago, Roppongi has also blossomed into a center for the city’s art scene thanks to three new high-profile museums and the towering Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown complexes. Adjacent Akasaka borders the Imperial Palace and government ministries.

Shimbashi & Shiodome

Back around the Yamanote line south of Tokyo Station and Ginza, office towers and hotels here have sprung up like sheaves on a rice field. Visit Hama Rikyu, an attractive feudal garden, and the amazing Tsukiji Fish Market.


Just east of the Sumida River and a quick train ride from the city center, sumo wrestlers in their patterned yukata bathrobes lend an old-town feel to this home of sumo stadiums.

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