Ginza, Ueno and the Imperial Palace

Ginza is Tokyo’s prime, upmarket shopping district and is full of department stalls, boutiques and restaurants. According to google, one square meter of land here is worth over ten million yen which more than £65,000! This makes it one of the most expensive real estate areas in Japan which didn’t really surprise me as there are a tonne of designer label’s flagship stores here including the likes of Cartier having their own fancy building.

We went to a lot of the department store basements as that’s where the food halls are and they often give out free samples which allowed us to try a range of food such as breads, cheeses and sweets. It’s worth walking through them to see what you can get and can lead to quite a good feed (some more than others though!) Mitukoshi and G6 were just two of the many stores we went in.

Due to all of the flagship stalls here, there is lots to see and we got to see a giant hello kitty statues outside of the store at Sangrioworld, the robot Pepper which is a very cute robot outside of the SoftBank store and loads of very cool gadgets in the Sony building that also features a Nissan store that has a self driving car in it!

We spent all day in Ginza, wandering around the different flagship stores and sitting in Starbucks drinking hot chocolate. After dark the whole place is lit up but not in the same way Shibuya or Shinjuku is with their neon signs. It’s a nice district and when you’re walking around A LOT of money is being spent here!

It’s worth going to the district of Ueno just for its park which has tree lined paths, giant ponds and it’s own zoo! As well as this it’s the hub for most of the museums in Tokyo and is known as one of the cultural districts in Tokyo. We spent a few hours here sitting by the lake and walking through the grounds. We nearly went to the zoo as they have a new baby panda there but you can only see the baby if you won a competition so we didn’t bother. I don’t think it’s a particular big zoo but it was hard to tell from the outside.

We also didn’t go to the museums as they all cost money to get in and we didn’t really have it built into our schedule but the area they’re in with big fountains and old fashioned buildings looked very nice from the outside! We were happy to be outside and so made the most of that. Ueno also has markets and shops so really has a lot of things to see here. We walked down one of the market streets which was very busy selling everything from clothes to giant octopus tentacles that were bright pink! I think it would be one of the districts that would be good to live in if you were to ever move to Tokyo and it was also often where we had to get our connecting train to our hostel so had good connections to many places in the city.

Whilst walking around Japan we would sometimes come across a pet shop selling very cute kittens and puppies. Unlike the one in Kyoto we were able to take pictures and have a better look at these ones. They’re so cute but it is sad to see them in small glass containers where they will likely spend all their time until they’re bought (hopefully to a good home).

The Imperial Palace is located on the former site of Edo Castle which is a large park surrounded by moats and a massive stone wall. It’s located pretty much in the centre of Tokyo and has a pathway surrounding the entire place that was being used for some sort of fun run when we went to visit, with the entrance of the Imperial Palace grounds being the finishing line. The palace that we saw was the second to be built on the site as the original was destroyed during World War Two, this is still the home of the Japanese Imperial family and we only saw the palace itself from a distance as most of the palace is off limits. There were organised tours that are run a couple of times a day which show small aspects of the inside of the palace grounds but we didn’t make these so, instead, we just walked around the outside of the grounds and got to see the two palace bridges (Nijû-bashi and Megane-bashi) and strolled through the Imperial Palace East Garden (Higashi-Gyoen).

It was nice walking through the outer grounds with a row of city buildings lining the street and then vast open spaces that we imagined would be used for royal parade’s and military shows. The east gardens were also very peaceful and spacious and it wasn’t very busy when we went so we had a nice, quiet walk through the grounds.

After the imperial palace we went to the TokyoChristmas Markets (we were there in December) located by Hibiya station and were able to transport ourselves momentarily into a German Christmas market like you would find at home. There was even a giant wooden windmill that had come from Germany so it was actually pretty authentic! I love Christmas so enjoyed walking through the market just to soak up some of that Christmassy feel.

Sending Love x

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