Take in Tokyo
The capital city of Japan always mesmerises visitors with its futuristic vibe, tempered with tradition, ritual and ancient history.
Time travel becomes a reality in this most extraordinary of cities – a metropolis that’s home to a population of over 12 million people. While strobing lights flicker and dance over modern boulevards of fast-paced activity, and towering buildings dazzle as they soar skywards, there is another side to Japan’s capital, showcasing fascinating reminders of the past, from important historic buildings to cultural rituals. All waiting to be discovered on a Japan cruise with Cunard.
It was Emperor Meiji who transformed the country from a medieval to a modern state, and it was during his reign (1868-1912) that Edo became the country’s new capital, and was renamed Tokyo. On a tour taking in the city highlights, you can visit The Meiji Shrine and its expansive park that are dedicated to him. Enter through the famous 40-foot-high Torii gate – one of the largest in Japan – to stroll through the peaceful gardens and forest that surround the city’s most famous Shinto shrine.
Another historic must-see on your list of things to do in Tokyo is a visit to the ancient temple of Sensō-ji in Asakusa – a district in Tokyo. Founded in the 7th century, this colourful and vibrant Buddhist temple is recognised as the oldest existing temple in the city. Enter through the Nitenmon Gate, which displays a huge red paper lantern, then wander among the rows of traditional shops and stalls known as Nakamise for traditional souvenirs.
After your visit, you can take in the sights of the ancient town of Asakusa, where an atmosphere of the past still exists. As you return to the city centre, The Imperial Palace Plaza, the historic and current home of Japan’s emperor and the imperial family, is another opportunity to make your Tokyo holiday memorable – with its moats and bridges, it’s also the perfect photo stop for visitors.
Back in the present day, take a big exhilarating gulp of the modern city with a ride up the 2,080-foot high Tokyo Skytree – the world’s tallest free-standing broadcasting tower – to the observation deck suspended 1,148-feet in the air. Here you’ll be able to fully appreciate the scale and spectacle of this mesmerising city – plus, a glimpse of Mount Fuji on a sunny day. An alternative option is to wait until darkness falls when Tokyo, famous for its dazzling neon lights, becomes an illuminated spectacle, a ‘city of lights’ never to be forgotten.
Perhaps the most instantly recognisable symbol of the country is Mount Fuji – Japan’s highest peak with its perfectly symmetrical cone. There are plenty of opportunities to view it during your visit, particularly beyond the city.
Hakone, for instance, lies within the crater of an extinct volcano, boasting hot springs and the beautiful Lake Ashi, which reflects the mountain in a picture-perfect vista. Enjoy a short, never-to-be-forgotten boat cruise across the lake to take in the spectacular scenery. Similarly, a ride in a cable car – known as the Hakone Ropeway – offers some of the best views of Mount Fuji on a clear day as you travel up to the ‘Valley of Hell’.
Japan, quite rightly, prides itself on its cuisine, created with artistry, precision and flair. On a port call with Cunard, there’s an opportunity to enjoy everything from sizzling teppanyaki in an authentic Japanese restaurant to street food snacks, along with more familiar Western-style dishes. This is all in addition to the many dining options available on board. We at Cunard pride ourselves on giving our guests a delicious dining experience, whether it's in our stateroom restaurants, using our 24-hour complimentary room service, or in our alternative dining venues.
Not to be missed, however, is the traditional Kaiseki – a dinner of perfectly balanced small dishes, enjoyed during an evening spent with the iconic Geisha. These graceful entertainers decorated with cherry blossom on their kimonos and in their hair, represent a quiet elegance that is sadly being lost amid the frenetic pace of modern Japan. Geisha translates as ‘artist’, and these women with their paper-white faces and red lips to symbolise the flag of the rising sun, spend many arduous years perfecting their craft as they study poetry, calligraphy, dancing and music.
After dinner, the Geisha entertain their guests with traditional music and dance: an opportunity to witness a cultural phenomenon before, perhaps, it disappears forever.
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