FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Tokyo: A Twirl Through Tokyo

Feb 1, 2010
2010 / Feburary 2010

The pace is lightning-quick in Tokyo, but there are islands of serenity folded into the fabric of this urban maelstrom that preserve the essence of Japan. Rising early, I followed several of its most interesting threads, first into the stalls of the cavernous Tsukiji Fish Market (Tsukiji Metro Station), always at its busiest before 9 a.m. Boatloads of frozen tuna were being unloaded and auctioned as I downed the freshest sushi breakfast on Earth.

Then, armed with a map and a one-day unlimited pass on the Tokyo Metro, I headed north for Ueno Park and the Tokyo National Museum (www.tnm.go.jp), the premier repository of all things Japanese. Cutting short its delights after a mere hour, I ambled next door to Tokyo’s oldest, most vibrant temple, Sensoji, with its golden statue of the Goddess of Mercy. At the temple gates I consumed what remained of the morning by surveying Nakamise Dori, Tokyo’s most celebrated pedestrian lane, overflowing with vendors of traditional crafts and scrolls.

After ascending to the summit of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office Building No. 1 in Shinjuki, where on a clear day you can see all the way to Mt. Fuji, I descended into the trendy boulevards in Harajuku and Aoyama, sipping coffee at a sidewalk café and putting in another round of people-watching. To recharge my sightseeing batteries,I paused at the Meiji Jingu Shrine and toured its Iris Garden. Then I worked my way through the crowded upscale shopping corridors of Omotesando Dori to the Oriental Bazaar (5-9-13 Jingumae, www.tokyo-bazaar.com). This souvenir hunter’s paradise is renowned for its reasonable prices on everything from kimonos to kitsch. After filling a shopping bag, I drew a breath at the Hasegawa Saké Shop (www.hasegawasaketen.com) in the Omotesando Hills Shopping Center, where I sampled several cups of fine rice wine.

Come dark, I checked out the neon-lit entertainment districts of the Ginza and Roppongi before settling in at the Imperial Hotel (www.imperialhotel.co.jp) for the Kamon restaurant’s supreme open-grill teppanyaki dinner.

My wanderings concluded with an immersion in the essence of Japan — not in a geisha bar, but in a bath. In the wee hours I crossed over the Rainbow Bridge to Ooedo-Onsen-Monogatari (www.ooedoonsen.jp/higaeri/english/), part of the vast Odaiba amusement complex on Tokyo Bay. This Neo-Edo-era bathhouse village is replete with sand baths, footbaths, hot-spring tubs (onsens) and other soaking pools that defy description but soothe the senses supercharged by a Tokyo whirl.

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FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

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