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Massive Tokyo lacks big sights but is still fascinating

As of 2018, Greater Tokyo ranked as the most populous metropolitan area in the world with 38  million people; surprisingly, it's easy to find peaceful places in the city to escape the masses

As of 2018, Greater Tokyo ranked as the most populous metropolitan area in the world with 38+ million people; surprisingly, it's easy to find peaceful places in the city to escape the masses

World War II wrought widespread destruction of Tokyo due to persistent Allied air raids; the bombing in 1944 and 1945 is estimated to have killed between 75,000 and 200,000 civilians and left more than half of the city destroyed

World War II wrought widespread destruction of Tokyo due to persistent Allied air raids; the bombing in 1944 and 1945 is estimated to have killed between 75,000 and 200,000 civilians and left more than half of the city destroyed

The Full Moon Bridge at Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens; Tokyo has many serene spots like this garden located right in the heart of the city

The Full Moon Bridge at Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens; Tokyo has many serene spots like this garden located right in the heart of the city

Tokyo National Museum at Ueno Park; there are several other excellent museums in the park as well as the Tokyo Zoo

Tokyo National Museum at Ueno Park; there are several other excellent museums in the park as well as the Tokyo Zoo

The Sensoji Kannon temple is dedicated to Kannon Bosatsu, the Bodhisattva of compassion, and is the most widely visited spiritual site in the world with over 30 million visitors annually

The Sensoji Kannon temple is dedicated to Kannon Bosatsu, the Bodhisattva of compassion, and is the most widely visited spiritual site in the world with over 30 million visitors annually

Rumored to be the busiest intersection in the world (and definitely in Japan), Shibuya Crossing is like a giant beating heart, sending people in all directions with every light change (this photo was taken mid-day)

Rumored to be the busiest intersection in the world (and definitely in Japan), Shibuya Crossing is like a giant beating heart, sending people in all directions with every light change (this photo was taken mid-day)

This huge torii gate leads to Meiji Jingu which is a Shinto shrine; it is the largest wooden torii in Japan and is made of 1500 year old cypress

This huge torii gate leads to Meiji Jingu which is a Shinto shrine; it is the largest wooden torii in Japan and is made of 1500 year old cypress

Bonsai tree at Meiji Jingu Inner Garden near the crowded Shibuya neighborhood; this was a garden as far back as the early 1600s and became an Imperial Garden in 1868

Bonsai tree at Meiji Jingu Inner Garden near the crowded Shibuya neighborhood; this was a garden as far back as the early 1600s and became an Imperial Garden in 1868

Tokyo Metropolitan Govt Bldg; as of 2018 Tokyo ranked as 2nd-most expensive city for expatriates, according to Mercer consulting firm and the world's 11th-most expensive city according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's cost-of-living survey

Tokyo Metropolitan Govt Bldg; as of 2018 Tokyo ranked as 2nd-most expensive city for expatriates, according to Mercer consulting firm and the world's 11th-most expensive city according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's cost-of-living survey

I was amazed that you weren't even allowed to smoke outside in some areas of Japan; there would be a dedicated smoking area (similar to a jail) but it could be blocks away and not protected from the elements

I was amazed that you weren't even allowed to smoke outside in some areas of Japan; there would be a dedicated smoking area (similar to a jail) but it could be blocks away and not protected from the elements

It makes sense than a company based in Atlanta would have a peach flavored version of their product; I tried it and can see why it is in Japan and not in the US

It makes sense than a company based in Atlanta would have a peach flavored version of their product; I tried it and can see why it is in Japan and not in the US

Koishikawa Korakuen, built in the 1600s, is one of Tokyo's oldest and best gardens; like traditional Japanese gardens, it attempts to reproduce famous landscapes in miniature, using ponds, stones, trees and man-made hills to replicate Japanese scenery

Koishikawa Korakuen, built in the 1600s, is one of Tokyo's oldest and best gardens; like traditional Japanese gardens, it attempts to reproduce famous landscapes in miniature, using ponds, stones, trees and man-made hills to replicate Japanese scenery

Nakamise-Dori, leading from the Thunder Gate to the Sensoji Temple, was the most touristy street I found in Tokyo; the shops are part of a living tradition of selling to pilgrims who walked to Sensōji

Nakamise-Dori, leading from the Thunder Gate to the Sensoji Temple, was the most touristy street I found in Tokyo; the shops are part of a living tradition of selling to pilgrims who walked to Sensōji

This 5 story pagoda, built in 1639, is at the Ueno Toshogu Shinto Shrine; 5 story pagodas are Buddhist although this particular shrine was built on the site of a Shinto shrine demonstrating the strong ties between the 2 religions

This 5 story pagoda, built in 1639, is at the Ueno Toshogu Shinto Shrine; 5 story pagodas are Buddhist although this particular shrine was built on the site of a Shinto shrine demonstrating the strong ties between the 2 religions

Ueno Toshogu, a Shinto shrine dating from 1627, has survived through wars and earthquakes; its gorgeous buildings are trimmed in gold leaf and contain beautifully intricate carvings

Ueno Toshogu, a Shinto shrine dating from 1627, has survived through wars and earthquakes; its gorgeous buildings are trimmed in gold leaf and contain beautifully intricate carvings

I was just astounded that public bathrooms were strategically located around the city and they were amazingly clean!; you'll notice no graffiti and they even had toilet paper

I was just astounded that public bathrooms were strategically located around the city and they were amazingly clean!; you'll notice no graffiti and they even had toilet paper

There are 50  stone lanterns made between 1628 and 1651 lining the entrance to Ueno Toshogu; like many other elements of Japanese traditional architecture, it originated in China

There are 50+ stone lanterns made between 1628 and 1651 lining the entrance to Ueno Toshogu; like many other elements of Japanese traditional architecture, it originated in China

The five-storied pagoda at Senso-ji, built in 1648, is one of the most famous in Japan; its the second highest pagoda in Japan at about the height of an 18-story building

The five-storied pagoda at Senso-ji, built in 1648, is one of the most famous in Japan; its the second highest pagoda in Japan at about the height of an 18-story building

The Japanese language was impossible to decipher; we were told there are 30000  characters so reading and writing would seem to be much more challenging than speaking

The Japanese language was impossible to decipher; we were told there are 30000+ characters so reading and writing would seem to be much more challenging than speaking

Between 1940 and 1945, the population of Japan's capital city dwindled from 6,700,000 to less than 2,800,000, with the majority of those who lost their homes living in ramshackle, makeshift huts

Between 1940 and 1945, the population of Japan's capital city dwindled from 6,700,000 to less than 2,800,000, with the majority of those who lost their homes living in ramshackle, makeshift huts

Tokyo has efficiency down to a science; there are signs indicating which side of the sidewalk, staircase, etc you should walk on and they are dutifully followed improving traffic flow

Tokyo has efficiency down to a science; there are signs indicating which side of the sidewalk, staircase, etc you should walk on and they are dutifully followed improving traffic flow

The Tokyo Dome is next door to Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens; it is famous for hosting NFL and MLB games as well as sold-out concerts by Michael Jackson, Madonna, Mariah Carey, BTS, Taylor Swift and Mick Jagger (and 2 Mike Tyson fights)

The Tokyo Dome is next door to Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens; it is famous for hosting NFL and MLB games as well as sold-out concerts by Michael Jackson, Madonna, Mariah Carey, BTS, Taylor Swift and Mick Jagger (and 2 Mike Tyson fights)

Our GAdventures tour leader was 71 years old which is middle aged for the Japanese; life expectancy is 5  years more for Japanese compared to Americans

Our GAdventures tour leader was 71 years old which is middle aged for the Japanese; life expectancy is 5+ years more for Japanese compared to Americans

The Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) is the outer of two large entrance gates that ultimately leads to the Sensōji Temple; a giant red lantern hangs under the center of the gate and is 3.9 meters tall, 3.3 meters wide and weighs 1,500 lbs

The Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) is the outer of two large entrance gates that ultimately leads to the Sensōji Temple; a giant red lantern hangs under the center of the gate and is 3.9 meters tall, 3.3 meters wide and weighs 1,500 lbs

The Hōzōmon (Treasure-House Gate) is the inner of two large entrance gates that ultimately leads to the Sensōji Temple; the Hōzōmon's second story houses many of the Sensōji's treasures

The Hōzōmon (Treasure-House Gate) is the inner of two large entrance gates that ultimately leads to the Sensōji Temple; the Hōzōmon's second story houses many of the Sensōji's treasures

An all day metro ticket was only $5 and a great value as you could get across the city in just 30 minutes; there are hundreds of metro stops so no sight is very far from a stop

An all day metro ticket was only $5 and a great value as you could get across the city in just 30 minutes; there are hundreds of metro stops so no sight is very far from a stop

The Meiji Shrine is covered by an evergreen forest that consists of 120,000 trees of 365 different species, which were donated by people from all parts of Japan when the shrine was established

The Meiji Shrine is covered by an evergreen forest that consists of 120,000 trees of 365 different species, which were donated by people from all parts of Japan when the shrine was established

Ema are small wooden plaques, common to Japan, in which Shinto and Buddhist worshippers write prayers or wishes; the ema are left hanging up at the shrine, where the spirits or gods are believed to receive them

Ema are small wooden plaques, common to Japan, in which Shinto and Buddhist worshippers write prayers or wishes; the ema are left hanging up at the shrine, where the spirits or gods are believed to receive them

The Japanese tend not to adhere to a specific religion as much as live by the principles of a blend of religions; nevertheless, the level of religious participation remains high, especially during festivals and special occasions

The Japanese tend not to adhere to a specific religion as much as live by the principles of a blend of religions; nevertheless, the level of religious participation remains high, especially during festivals and special occasions

Barrels of sake donated to the Meiji Shrine to honor Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken; the shrine is located on 170 acres in central Tokyo

Barrels of sake donated to the Meiji Shrine to honor Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken; the shrine is located on 170 acres in central Tokyo

We were told that the city is mainly using existing facilities for the Olympics so we didn't see any big construction projects to prepare for the Games; I suspect all of the athletes will absolutely love Tokyo and the Japanese hospitality

We were told that the city is mainly using existing facilities for the Olympics so we didn't see any big construction projects to prepare for the Games; I suspect all of the athletes will absolutely love Tokyo and the Japanese hospitality

I always knew Coke Zero was healthy!; most all of the businessmen in Tokyo wear either solid blue or black suits which just added to the homogeneity

I always knew Coke Zero was healthy!; most all of the businessmen in Tokyo wear either solid blue or black suits which just added to the homogeneity

In 2015, Tokyo was named the Most Livable City in the world by the magazine Monocle; the Michelin Guide has awarded Tokyo by far the most Michelin stars of any city in the world amd was ranked first out of all sixty cities in the 2017 Safe Cities Index

In 2015, Tokyo was named the Most Livable City in the world by the magazine Monocle; the Michelin Guide has awarded Tokyo by far the most Michelin stars of any city in the world amd was ranked first out of all sixty cities in the 2017 Safe Cities Index

On the eve of new year, Japanese usually visit a Shinto shrine to prepare for the worship - hatsumōde - of the new year; Meiji Shrine is the most popular location in Japan for hatsumōde

On the eve of new year, Japanese usually visit a Shinto shrine to prepare for the worship - hatsumōde - of the new year; Meiji Shrine is the most popular location in Japan for hatsumōde

The Kiyomasa Ido Well is a natural spring that feeds the South Pond at Meiji Jingu Inner Garden; the superior water quality flows year round

The Kiyomasa Ido Well is a natural spring that feeds the South Pond at Meiji Jingu Inner Garden; the superior water quality flows year round

There were 7-11s everywhere in Japan with lots of ready-to-eat items and a small seating area with free wifi; some of the options seemed a little strange to this picky eater

There were 7-11s everywhere in Japan with lots of ready-to-eat items and a small seating area with free wifi; some of the options seemed a little strange to this picky eater

In TripAdvisor's 2014 World City Survey, Tokyo ranked first in its Best overall experience category (the city also ranked first in the following categories: helpfulness of locals, nightlife, shopping, local public transportation and cleanliness of streets)

In TripAdvisor's 2014 World City Survey, Tokyo ranked first in its Best overall experience category (the city also ranked first in the following categories: helpfulness of locals, nightlife, shopping, local public transportation and cleanliness of streets)

Posted by VagabondCowboy 23:53

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