Exploring Tama (Western Tokyo)

April 22, 2023 9:25 am57 commentsViews: 121

Western Tokyo is home to 26 cities, three towns and one village which were not included in the former design of Tokyo. Occupying the space that was formerly Tokyo City, Western Tokyo is also known as Tama (separate from the city of Tama). Districts within Tama include: Akasaka District, Shinjuku (East and West), Harajuku, Minami-Aoyama District, Roppongi, and Shibuya.

Exploring Tama (Western Tokyo)

Akasaka District-Near the Diet Building, Akasaka has quickly become a favorite social hub among politicians as well as a religious and cultural area housing the Suntory Museum of Art (containing an unequaled collection of Edo-era screens, traditional decorative arts, ceramics, and tea utensils), the Tokyo Kawa Inari Shrine (also known as Myogon-jin, containing an array of red lanterns flags, and foxes-the messengers of Inari-a Shinto Rice Deity), Akasaka Prince Hotel, the Hotel New Otani (containing restaurants, a panoramic view of Central Tokyo and the Imperial Palace, as well as a 400 year old garden), and Hie Jinja (shrine originally used as a buffer for Shogun Ietsuna’s castle, dating back to 830. Matsuri-a Japanese celebration-is celebrated here.)

East Shinjuku-Shinjuku’s play district containing hundreds of shops and restaurants as well as large movie houses, Kabukicho (Tokyo’s notorious nightlife and red-light-district), Studio Alta, Golden Gai (an alley full of small bars), Hanazono Shrine, and a number of other hotspots such as: Kinokuniya bookstore, Excelsior Café, Isetan Department Store, and The Koma Theater.

West Shinjuku-Shinjuku’s office district containing skyscraper office blocks, hotels, and some of Shinjuku’s most expensive land. Often referred to as shin toshin (new capital), West Shinjuku is home to the Sumitomo Building (including a shopping center and a free observatory), Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices, The Washington Hotel, The NS Building (a thirty story building with a huge water-powered clock and rainbow-hued shafts), and The Yasuda Kasai Kaiji Building (one of the area’s most unique curved buildings).

Harajuku-the center of youth culture and fashion district in Tokyo. Sundays bring astronomical crowds with prices ranging from cheap to extreme. Hotspots include: Togo Shrine (with an antique market held on the grounds of the shrine on the first, fourth, and fifth Sundays of of the month), the Rock and Roll Museum, Omote-Sando (a beautiful place for walks with a number of fashion boutiques and sidewalk cafes), Ota Memorial Museum of Art, Laforet (a fashion center with five floors of shops), Hanae Mori Building (a clothing paradise resembling a stack of glass blocks), and the Oriental Bazaar (a collection of shops specializing in real and fake antiques).

Minami-Aoyama District-Enjoyed by many artists, writers, and entrepreneurs, this area includes the large Japan Traditional Craft Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art (Watari-um),the Nezu Art Museum, the Spiral Building (an epic spiral shaped building featuring a first-floor exhibition and performance space, a third-floor Spiral Hall also used for exhibits and performances, a French restaurant, a beauty salon, a stationary and housewares boutique, and an Italian café), and the National Children’s Castle (distinguished by a large moon-shaped sculpture, the National Children’s Castle includes quite a number of activities for young people as well as a hotel.)

Roppongi District-the nightclub and port (at least in name) district of Tokyo including Odaiba (an artificial island), the Shiodome skyscrapers, Almond (amando in Japanese-a famous place for gathering), Velfarre (Japan’s most famous nightclub), and the Square Building (full of nightclubs, including the renowned Birdland jazz club).

Shibuya- the fashion district of Tokyo encompassing the smaller areas of Harajuku and Ebisu, Shibuya is home to Meiji Shrine, Bunkamura (the cultural center of Shibuya including movies, rock and classical concerts, an art gallery and a theater), Dogen-zaka (a nighttime hotspot named after a thief who later became a monk which includes a number of old houses now housing art collections), Tokyu Hands (a housewares and handicrafts paradise), Center Gai (a hub for youth entertainment filled with karaoke bars, pachinko parlors, shops, and restaurants), The Tobacco and Salt Museum, Tower Records (a large music store), TEPCO Electric Energy Building (a museum illustrating the many uses of electricity), The Humax Pavilion Building (shaped as a cartoon rocket), Marui department store (a fashionable store popular among teens and young adults), and Statue of Hachiko (a popular meeting place featuring a statue of Hachiko, Japan’s most famous and loyal dog who continued to wait in the same place for his master at the station more than ten years after his death).



  • Most travelers to western Tokyo stick to a predictable route, either exploring sites along the well-trod JR Chuo Line or heading for the hills, quite literally, in the district s mountainous Mitake region. Those seeking something truly a bit more off the beaten path would do well to consider a visit to Higashi Murayama.

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