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Tokyo - Japan
If a contest were held for the World's Most Entertaining City, Tokyo would certainly rank among the finalists. Night and day, on a shoestring budget or with a big expense account, you can find fun on every corner.
Those who enjoy sightseeing may want to begin their Tokyo experience with a view from the top. The best observation decks are located at Sunshine 60 in Ikebukuro, the Municipal Government Building in Shinjuku, the World Trade Center in Hamamatsucho, and Tokyo Tower in Shiba. Whether to view the city's magnificent, sprawling landscape by day, or dazzling light-covered visage by night, each of these places offers a very different view of this iconic metropolis, but all are sure to have an equally stunning panorama that you won't soon forget.
Perhaps more than any other Japanese city, Tokyo is jam-packed with famous landmarks, each of which offers unique insights into the culture, history and heart of the Japanese people. Among its most notable spots for sightseers are the seismically active island nation's first modern skyscraper, the Kasumigaseki Building, that houses the heart of the nation's government, and the Tokyo Dome (the so-called "Big Egg") at Korakuen, home of the national champion Yomiura Giants baseball team, as well as the popular Tokyo Dome City. At night, the colorfully lit Rainbow Bridge that spans Tokyo Bay is also not to be missed.
For those looking for sightseeing that's a little more cultured, the Imperial Palace grounds are located at the very center of both the city and Japanese cultural identity, while the 100-year old Ueno Zoo to the northeast is great for kids and adults alike. And, of course, always on the southwestern horizon is the picturesque Mt. Fuji, the most iconic feature of the Japanese landscape.
Gardens & Parks
If you're looking to get away from the city, there are many beautiful parks and gardens to visit, even in this most densely packed of all major Japanese cities. The Hama Rikyu Garden and Kiyosumi Garden are both beautifully ornate and dotted with ponds, sculpted bonsai trees and exotic flowers. Hibiya Park is located just outside Ginza, while Tokyo's largest, Ueno Park, is home to several museums, temples and even a zoo that is popular with children. Even amidst the brightly lit districts and thoroughfares, finding a spot for quiet repose in Tokyo is not a problem.
For those who require more active entertainment, the city teems with amusement parks and recreation centers. Tokyo Disneyland is the biggest attraction to the east; Toshimaen with its water park and carnival zone stakes out the west. At mid-town is Korakuen, featuring roller coasters, parachute rides, off-track betting and much more.
For family adventure indoors, there is an enclosed amusement park at Sanrio Puroland in Tama City, or take the kids out to the National Children's Castle in Omotesando.
Thanks to an incredible array of museums and galleries, Tokyo can be extremely entertaining even on a rainy day. The two major museums are arguably the National Museum of Western Art and the National Museum of Japanese History. Both will keep you occupied for the day. There are also a number of small museums that specialize in unique artistic forms. From the Bicycle Culture Center and the Museum of Tin Toys, to the Iris Button Museum and the Kite Museum, each houses an interesting collection of pieces that will teach you something new.
Cinema & Theater
Of course, there are cinemas all around the city, some new and many old, each different and interesting. Cine Front in Shibuya, Nichigeki Plex in Yurakucho and Tower Hall Funabori all show first-run road-show films, as well as art movies and classics.
Tokyo also has its own opera house, a Shakespearean playhouse, and many venues for dance, such as the beautiful Spiral Hall, or the more modern Session House and Space Zero. Huge concert halls like the Ariake Coliseum, On Air East, Tokyo Opera City and Zepp Tokyo have a regular schedule of live acts ranging from rock bands to orchestral quartets. In the evening you can sample some unique indoor relaxation at the National Noh Theater in Sendagaya, Kabuki-za in Ginza, the Puk Puppet Theater in Yoyogi or the Theater Tram for contemporary dance and dramatic performances.
Sports buffs will be happy to find all their favorite pastimes here. Professional baseball, sumo, soccer and volleyball are the major spectator sports in Tokyo, and betting is allowed on horse races, cycling and speedboat racing. Toshimaen is a water-themed entertainment complex, where visiting teams from the USA come regularly for exhibition football, basketball and baseball.
Rugby and tennis, ice hockey and boxing, all have their seasons here, and many of the world's top athletes make regular stops in Tokyo for track and field events. There are marathons for amateurs and pros alike, and locations abound for bowling, golf, billiards, darts, mah-jong and even ballroom dancing; check out the Shinagawa Prince Sports Complex and Tokyo Dome City to get started exploring the city's many sporting options.
Additionally, what would a metropolis be without an exciting club scene to party the night away? Serving up various kinds of popular and underground music, an array of different clubs around the city are open all night on the weekends to give clubbers a healthy dose of nightlife action.
Located on the outskirts of Tokyo and certainly the most sizable in comparison, Ageha is one of the top venues for fans of the electronic genre. However, if you're looking for something closer to the heart of the city with the same taste of music in mind, Womb is an excellent place to catch top notch DJs and sounds, while anyone who's looking for a good hip hop club should step over to Club Harlem. Alternatively, clubs such as Flower and Muse are good spots for all-mix selections and international crowds. Don't like dancing the night away, when you could be playing video games until late into the night? Sega Joypolis in Odaiba is for you.