A day in Edo: walking around ancient Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan

9 places

Eugenia Dorozhkina

Edo is the ancient name for Tokyo. During the three-century reign of the Tokugawa Shoguns it was the real center of power and became known as Tokyo after Meiji Restoration (Japanese for the Northern Capital). The old city almost vanished in the 1923 quake and WW2 bombings. Here you have a day-long route with an option: sumo or Kabuki.

Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

This open-air museum is a huge park with recreated houses, tea rooms and public baths of the Meiji period period (late 19 - early 20th century). Visitors can explore all buildings both outside and inside.


Shinjuku is Tokyo's major transport hub, where Shinkansens and international buses (both day and night) stop and is actually three large transport facilities for JR, Odakyu and Kei lines linked via underground tunnels with exits to all big skyscrapers in the neighborhood. If you have a meeting or a transfer here better come half an hour earlier and check the gate you need not to get lost. The venue is enormous.

Lion Beer Hall

This Shinjuku venue serves chankonabe, protein-rich stew eaten by sumo wrestlers to become strong and big. The place is a tabehodai "all you can eat” buffet so you have all chances to become a sumoist. Their chanko contains tsukune chicken meatballs, pork and Chinese salad.

Edo Museum

This huge dinosaur-looking venue brings you two centuries back through its exhibits and interiors (ancient stairs, bridges and passages). You can get in the palanquin, ride an old bicycle, try to lift a heavy shoulder-yoke or visit a typical Japanese house. Taking the elevator up note that the fourth floor is missing – in Japanese four sounds similar to the word for death and is usually avoided.

Kokugikan Arena

Kokugikan is a Tokyo sumo arena. The city hosts three two-week stages of this national champs – in January (first or second Sunday of the month), May (second Sunday) and September (second Sunday). Daily events at running from morning to 6 pm and better come at 4 – the most famous wrestler take it to the ring at that time. Bring or buy inside some snacks and drinks as the average length is two hours. Tickets are sold online (http://www.sumo.or.jp/en/) and on the spot.

Ginza Station

Though the station is huge, navigation is easy – it is the crossroads of Ginza, Marunouchi and Hibiya lines. To exit to Ginza Street walk through Takashimaya store or find exits to Ginza 4-chome (A2, A3, A5, A6, A7).


Kabuki-za has one big advantage compared to other such theaters – for Y 700 ticket you'll get English-language comments to the show – but you can try being like local and switch them off. The text is century-old so most Japanese don't understand the language too.
Usually the show comprises four plays four hours each – you can arrive whenever you like but better book tickets in advance – sales start mid-month so hurry up to secure the best seats.

XEX Daikanyama

The place has three terraced zones – Bali offers South Asian fusion, Salvatore is for Italian cuisine and An is all about sushi. On your first time, go for Japanese stuff – you'll enjoy helpful waiters, trays of fresh fish and streams of sake.

Ooedo Onsen Monogatari

Ooedo Onsen Monogotari is the town of Japanese traditional baths where you can get lost for a day. Take breaks wrapped in cotton traditional yukata kimono in the patio, chat with friends, have a bite, buy souvenirs or watch a show. And get back to pools with silk and herbs, enjoy sauna, hamam and massage. Take a free shuttle from Tokyo Teleport Station to get there.


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