Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tokyo Orientaion

Tokyo Metro Map. Tokyo Consult, TokyoConsult.
Tokyo Metro Map, from http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/index.html

Orientation of Tokyo city may be very challenging to first time travelers in Tokyo. I believe Tokyo has the most extensive metro system in the world, far beyond Manhattan and London in the western world. This post is to introduce a few of the simplified maps that I drew on Paint so that visiting Tokyo would be less intimidating.

-To read about how much to budget for your trip to Tokyo, visit Budget: How much does it cost to go to Tokyo?
-To read about how to plan your trip to Tokyo, visit Planning for your trip to Tokyo
-To read about where you can find the best Ramen in Tokyo, visit Best Ramen in Tokyo.

Come up with list of sightseeing spots, must-have experiences, and must eat dishes. Locate them on Google Map and find the closest metro station next to those attractions. It would become obvious that most of the spots will fall into certain corners of the map. Just remember that not all train and metro stations will be important with regard to travelers. The complicated routes can be simplified into a few train/metro lines and many of the stations could be omitted because sightseeing spots are no where near those stations.

The following are some of the simplified maps I came up with on Paint. The maps are not drawn to scale, but they will serve as the basis for newbies to venture around in Tokyo and also to orient you on the metro spider web.

The two major routes to the city from the two major Tokyo airports.
Access to Tokyo. Tokyo Consult, TokyoConsult.
Access to Tokyo.

Japan Railway Yamanote Line "The Loop"

The Yamanote JR train loop route is perhaps the most well known train route in Tokyo. Stations are above ground, located on special platforms. Many of the sightseeing spots, department stores, famous restaurants are all located nearby train stations on the Yamanote loop. I highly recommend first time travelers to stay at hotels nearby one of the train stations on the Yamanote line because of the convenience of access to other important parts of Tokyo.

Shinjuku is the biggest train station in the world with regard to the daily passenger number. (2 to 3 times of Grand central in NYC) I call it the "essence of Tokyo" If you have only one weekend in Tokyo, make it Shinjuku. It is also where the biggest red light district of Asia is located at.

Harajuku is a place made popular by the song "Harajuku girl" It is also where Meiji Shrine is located. Its nearby shopping area Takeshitadori is one of the most fashion forward district in the world.

Shibuya is known for the "109" department store and the famous Shibuya crossing where thousands of people cross the street everyday. It is also where the famous Hachiko statue is located at.

Shinagawa is a major transit hub with a bullet train station as well as the access to Haneda airport. It is where the mega chain Shinagawa Prince hotel is located at, just across the street from the train station. There is also a gourmet ramen food court called Shinatatsu next to the train station. 
Hamamatsu connects to Haneda airport by Tokyo monorail train line. It is also where Tokyo World Trade Center is located at.

Tokyo station is known for its famous architecture and underground gourmet ramen food court called "Tokyo Ramen Street" Bullet train also stops at Tokyo station. it is where the famous Imperial Palace is located at.

Akihabara, sacred ground for all the Otaku and Cosplayers in the world. It was known to be the electronics district where one can find absolutely anything that runs on electricity. Akihabara is also a place where Maid Cafe culture originates from.
Ueno station provides easy access to Narita airport. It is also where Ameyokocho shopping arcade is located at. Rumor has it that there are many inexpensive accommodations nearby Ueno station.

Toei Subway OEDO Line

The underground subway system is much more expensive in the Tokyo area as compared to the aboveground train station. The stations on the Oedo line connect to important stations on the Yamanotel JR line. It also links to one of the best night life spot, Roppongi.

Roppongi is an area where there are tons of bars and night clubs. It is also the most popular spot for non-Japanese to hang out at. Roppongi remained one of my favorite "sightseeing" spot to visit at night because of the mesmerizing view of the beautiful Tokyo Tower.

Tsukijishijo is where the biggest fish market in the world is located at. One could spend the early morning here to watch the live tuna auction or enjoying the best sushi of the world at the popular sushi restaurants such as Sushi Dai.(for breakfast!)

Ueno-Okachimachi is hub connecting location for people switching from Ueno JR stations to Ueno Okachimachi.

Shinjuku subway is a few stories under the above ground JR Shinjuku station. Again, it is the biggest station in the world and the most important hub of transportation in Tokyo.
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