"Tragedy in Japan" Top 5 Page for this destination Tokyo by Bunsch

Tokyo Travel Guide: 4,376 reviews and 11,163 photos

In the wake of the Great Earthquake and Tsunami

Tokyo is a wonderful city, but March 2011 is not an ideal time for a visit. The 9.0 earthquake on 3/11/11 has been followed by hundreds of aftershocks. Although the devastating tsunami primarily affected the northeastern coast more than 100 miles from Tokyo, the impact on the nuclear reactors, particularly at Fukushima Dai-ichi, has meant rising concern over the release of radioactivity in addition to the imposition of rolling electric black-outs. Commercial air and rail traffic were interrupted and many highways were affected. Supply chains to restock food and water supplies were disrupted. Please send aid through whatever means you prefer, but postpone your visit.

(Six months later.) Life in Tokyo has resumed a measure of normalcy, despite the continuing specter of radiation -- in the air, in the food chain -- from the crippled nuclear plants. And of course many cities in Japan were entirely unaffected by the mega-quake. So, tourists, feel free to return!

The many faces of Tokyo - before the disaster

Our family wanted to have the experience of staying in a ryokan, or Japanese inn. Finding such a place in the dead of night in a country which apparently doesn't believe in street addresses was quite a challenge, though we'd booked ahead of time and thought we understood the directions for arrival via the amazing Japanese subway system. The next day, we were up at dawn to go to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market. It is definitely worth the trip! Unfortunately, it started to rain as the day went on, so we decided we'd better go shopping...and found a street which looked a lot like the Champs Elysees in Paris. Later on we had a meal atop one of the many skyscrapers that surface in disparate places across the city. There is was, spread out before us, just HUGE. It was easy to imagine someone getting lost here, even if there were no language barrier.

Now it's home to part of the family

In 2008, my older son moved to Tokyo where he is part of a large law firm. That necessitated renting an apartment in Tokyo, which turns out to be quite a process. There are buildings that are specially for "gaijin" (white foreigners) and others which are almost entirely Japanese. Because my daughter-in-law also works, she felt more comfortable in a more cosmopolitan building. The place they chose is in Aoyama, a pretty district adjacent to large parks and the Imperial Palace, with excellent subway connections. From their nest high up in the building, there is a view all the way to Tokyo Bay. I finally flew out to see my new granddaughter in March, 2010 just in time to see the sakura...when I could tear myself away from beautiful Emi-chan!

The apartment also overlooks Tokyo Tower, which is illuminated at night (in fact, it was pink for sakura during my visit). But of course the entire city is a fantasy of lights. Some districts, like Shinjuku, are particularly known for the creative and even overwhelming use of lights. It can be a little surprising for someone who is used to nights being dark. The throbbing energy can also make one feel quite lonely, as the movie title suggested. It has been an interesting adventure for my son's family to live in such a different culture. Even though Christmas is a standard work day, the city is decked out for the Emperor's birthday, and the New Year.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Booming economy, exciting city
  • Cons:Humidity, expense, earthquakes
  • Last visit to Tokyo: Mar 2010
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (57)

Comments (4)

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    May 13, 2015 at 7:42 PM

    Hi im probably flying to Tokyo tomorrow for the first time! but will go up to Hitachinaka and maybe over to Ashikaga for the flower parks. then have a day or 2 in Tokyo. If youre online do you have recommendations for making the most of just a day or 2 in Tokyo - though ive found a few parks that are highly recommended that i would include in the time there.

    • Bunsch's Profile Photo
      May 18, 2015 at 8:49 AM

      I am so sorry to have missed your post; I had to travel up to Maine for a funeral, and was out of touch for several days. I hope you enjoyed a splendid visit to Tokyo!

    • angiebabe's Profile Photo
      May 18, 2015 at 4:23 PM

      hi sorry about the funeral...havent been into Tokyo yet - arrived at Nikko last night after 3 nights at Mito to see flower parks. to Fuji this evening and maybe Tokyo tomorrow evening for 2 days...looking forward to it! glad you are so positive about Tokyo! all the best

  • wise23girl's Profile Photo
    Nov 16, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    Would love to visit Japan some day. My grandson and his wife are hoping to go there to help with teaching English.

  • Oct 12, 2010 at 8:17 AM

    I loved the little girl at the Meiji-Jingu shrine! Beautiful photograph.

  • Toshioohsako's Profile Photo
    Nov 11, 2007 at 3:47 AM

    I just came back from my business trip in Tokyo but i missed Tsukiji again. Greetings.


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