One of the biggest events in the Japanese Calendar is the Tokyo Cherry Blossom Festival which takes place from March 21st- 29th. Festival goers love to celebrate ‘Hanami’ (Hana’ in Japanese means flower and ‘Mi’ comes from the verb to watch) -put them together and you’ve got cherry blossom watching; which is what the festival is all about!
The most popular locations to join in the festivities are parks, castles, riverbanks, temples, and shrines. In Tokyo this means places like Ueno Park, Shinjuku Gyoen, the Imperial Palace, or Yasukuni Shrine, along with lots of smaller more local parties as well.
Although the flowers are main attractions of the festivals, a variety of traditional Japanese performing arts are hard to miss. Joining tea ceremonies held under cherry trees and checking out the vendors which sell various food and souveniors, including specialty food in the region is a must!
The city is an exuberant experience for visitors. It also hosts many museums and is the largest repository of Japanese art in the world.
Then, of course, it would take forever to exhaust the shopping possibilities in this megalopolis. The more one explores Tokyo the more it becomes obvious that one cannot judge a book by its cover. Inside the modern buildings, the cultural life of Japan is very much alive and well. Interiors reflect the tranquil minimalist Asian style and taste of Japan.
Tokyo’s public transport system is one of the most efficient in the world and is clean and safe, combining an extensive train network, 13 underground subway lines and a bus system. Visitors usually find the trains (JR) and subways the best way to get around although the complexity of the underground network can be intimidating. Most stations have English signs. The Tokyo Combination Ticket (Tokyo Free Kippu) is a day travel pass that allows unlimited use of the trains, subway and bus lines within the city. Taxis are convenient but never cheap, particularly in rush hour. Taxis can be hailed on the street, except in some central areas, where they only pick up from taxi ranks. Drivers speak little English so it is a good idea to have the destination written out in Japanese. Driving a car in the city is not advised. JR trains are free with a Japan Rail Pass.