Fifty-six years after holding the Olympic Games, the Japanese capital will be hosting a Summer edition for the second time, from 24 July to 9 August 2020. The Games in 1964 radically transformed the country. According to the organisers of the forthcoming 2020 event, the Games of the XXXII Olympiad of the modern era will be “the most innovative ever organised, and will rest on three fundamental principles to transform the world: striving for your personal best (achieving your personal best); accepting one another (unity in diversity); and passing on a legacy for the future (connecting to tomorrow)”.
Originally, Tokyo was a small fishing community named Edo; the city is now nearing 400 years old. The city began flourishing after Tokugawa Leyasu established the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1603 from there Edo grew into the thriving city it is today. Now the Capital of Japan; it is currently home to nearly 10 million people.
Tokyo mixes ultramodern neon-lit skyscrapers and traditional historical temples. From the traditional culture to the latest technology Tokyo exudes a truly unique vibe. Tokyo has an extremely diverse variety of experiences to offer.
Some must-see areas of Tokyo include:
Ginza district - the city’s most famous shopping, dining and entertainment district
Shibuya Crossing - the world-famous intersection where 2,500 pedestrians cross at once.
The Tokyo Tower is an iconic landmark - at 333 meters it is hard to miss.
A Taste of Tokyo
Japanese food is a unique part of all travellers cultural experience in Tokyo.
The most iconic and familiar Japanese dish which is loved all over the world is sushi. Tokyo is thought to be the home of modern day sushi, with a range of options available at Michelin star restaurants to local markets, including nigiri (hand-formed sushi), and maki (seaweed-wrapped sushi).
Several other dishes unique to Japan include:
Kare Raisu – a Japanese-style curry
Sashimi - raw fish or seafood
Yakizakana is fish grilled over an open flame
Noodle dishes including ramen, soba and udon
Shabu Shabu - a hot pot dish cooked at the table and a very popular, Japanese experience (the summer version of this dish is called hiyashi shabu or rei shabu)
Izakaya are considered Japanese-style pubs, serving tapas/small plates designed to be shared, and usually offer an extensive alcoholic drinks menu including nihonshu, shochu (distilled liquor made from corn, sweet potatoes, rice or buckwheat), cocktails and wine. Some izakaya offer all-you-can-drink menu plans.
Eki-ben is a special type of bento (boxed meal), found at train stations where long distance trains depart, and are great for a meal on the go. Eki-ben are often well-balanced, with a main dish and smaller side dish portions served with rice or onigiri (rice-balls).
Tea is the most popular drink in Japan. the tea ceremony is a cultural ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea called Matcha. The ceremony represents harmony, respect, purity and tranquillity.
With the Olympic Games falling in Japan’s summer, it is a great opportunity to get out and explore some of the surrounding prefectures, as the locals celebrate with festivals and fireworks.
A couple of our favourite day trips from Tokyo are Nikko and Hakone.
Nikko means sunset and just a 2 hours train journey north from the heart of Tokyo, is an tranquil place to escape the city and see more of this beautiful country. Nikko is best known for the World Heritage Site temples and shrines.
Attractions such as the Shinkyo Bridge are breathtaking, it is found at the entrance to the Toshogu Shrine and Taiyuinbyo of Nikkozan Rinnoji Temple. The bridge is regarded as the most beautiful structure in all of Japan. The Kegon Falls are nearby to, located in Nikko identified for their beauty; visitors can be amazed by the 100-metre spectacular drop off of rushing water.
Alternatively, you can head to Hakone for the day to explore the majestic Mt. Fuji area. Hakone is a short 1 hour 30 min train journey southwest of Tokyo. There are many activities on offer in Hakone, including a cruise on the pristine Lake Ashi, exploring Mt. Fuji and visiting the Miyanoshita Onsen. These hot springs have been an attraction for tourists and pleasure-seekers for centuries. Finish off your day with a cup of Japanese tea before returning to the busy city.
Our travel consultants are accredited Masters of Japan Travel Specialists, certified by the Japanese National Tourism Organisation, and can help you plan the ultimate experience both in Tokyo and beyond.