24 hours in Tokyo
Written by Rob Goss Illustration by Patrick Hruby
The archetypal bustling Metropolis, Tokyo effortlessly blends contemporary wonders with traditional sensibilities.
It has become almost clichéd to say it, but this is a city where you actually do find ancient temples beside glistening skyscrapers; a city where family-run restaurants and traditional craftsmen still thrive alongside high finance and high-tech business. Although home to 13 million – 35 million if you count the entire Greater Tokyo area – there’s more to Tokyo than its trademark crowds and neon-lit streets. With city-centre parks and gardens such as Shinjuku-gyoen andHama-Rikyu, Tokyo does green and tranquil just as well as it does high energy. With sites such as the Imperial Palace and Senso-ji Temple, it wears its rich history with justifiable pride. Then there’s Tokyo’s position as the world’s culinary capital (sorry, Paris), the city’s restaurants having received twice as many Michelin stars as any other.
The upshot – blink and you will miss something special.
The two metro systems – Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway – operate 13 unerringly efficient lines that cover every part of the city. Fares start from ¥160.
On top of numerous private rail companies, Japan Rail (JR) operates more than 20 lines in the Greater Tokyo area. They go everywhere and rarely skip a beat. Fares start at ¥130.
Central Tokyo is at its sensory best on foot. It’s also extremely safe, and even if you get hopelessly lost, you’ll never be far from a taxi or station.
Taxis are plentiful in Tokyo and fairly reasonably priced, with fares starting at around ¥660 for the first 2 km.