Life keeps taking me back to Tokyo. I’ve been to the city four times, including a visit on an incredible trip to Japan in January. Now I’m back to see more, which is good because this city is enormous and there’s so much to discover. Today’s focus is on culture, which is one of the things Tokyo does best.
I’m here as a guest of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which has sponsored my trip and set me up with two taxi tours of Tokyo. I’m excited to see the city by taxi, not least because it’s a comfortable and convenient way to get around. On previous trips I’ve spent ages navigating the metro and train systems, and I can’t wait to relax and let someone guide me through the city this time.
My first taxi tour of Tokyo is called Cultural Edo. It involves visiting shrines and gardens from the Edo period—which lasted from 1603 to 1868—wearing a kimono. My driver, Yoshi, meets me at my hotel in the morning and whisks me off to Asakusa to get outfitted. He speaks good English and provides an overview of the day as we make our way to the kimono rental shop.
Once there, I pick out my kimono and accessories and let the ladies at the shop dress me and do my hair. It’s a lot of fun, and I love the end result.
Comfortable in my kimono, Yoshi drives me to the Hama-rikyu Gardens. Established in 1704 as a secondary residence for Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, these gardens are some of the most famous from the Edo period. I take a tour and walk around the grounds, admiring the ponds and tea houses while posing for photos on the bridges.
After visiting, I hop back in the taxi and Yoshi drives me to have lunch with a view over the city. A mix of sashimi, soup, salad, and other Japanese specialties goes down a treat, and soon I’m back in the taxi for more sightseeing.
Yoshi guides me through glitzy Ginza to get to the Kabukiza, Tokyo’s famous kabuki theater. Founded in 1889, it’s the only theater in the world that shows solely kabuki.
We spend a few minutes watching a live performance from a special viewing gallery, then take a self-guided tour of the museum to learn about the history of the performing art and get interactive with the musical instruments and props.
After the Kabukiza, my taxi tour of Tokyo culminates at the Sensoji Temple. Dating back nearly 1400 years, it’s the oldest temple in the city. It sat at the center of Edo culture and continues to play a role in Japanese life today.
I walk by the Kaminarimon Gate, from which a giant lantern is suspended, then head down Nakamise Road, which is lined with shops dating back to the Edo period. At the end, the temple swirls with incense.
I get my fortune told—it’s a good one—then walk a few streets over to return my kimono and revert back to my Western self (although my hair has largely done so already. The up-do didn’t stay up for the whole day).
It’s been a great day discovering Tokyo, and when Yoshi drops me off at my hotel, I can’t help feeling spoiled that I got to see the city in such comfort and ease (which is to say nothing of style!).
I also feel excited for my next taxi tour of Tokyo, which will focus on historical Edo Tokyo. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about how to take a taxi tour of your own, you can visit the website here: http://www.taxi-tokyo.or.jp/english/kanko_taxi/.
This post is sponsored by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
Tokyo sightseeing taxi tours are only available in English.
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