Thursday, June 23, 2016

Exploring Central Tokyo: Tokyo Tower and the Imperial Palace

After spending the better part of the morning at the Tsukiji Fish Market, we headed to the Tokyo Tower, one of the city's most iconic landmarks. On the walk there, we passed this alley that reminded me a bit of the laneways in Melbourne, although I couldn't tell if the shops down this road were restaurants and boutiques or something else entirely. In hindsight, we should have wandered down that way to check it out, but we were on a mission! I was hoping Google Translate could help me retroactively identify this alley, but all I got was the address and the word 'mall'. BTW, if you are ever traveling, especially to a country that uses a different alphabet, the Google Translate app is an absolute must. Its most useful feature on this trip was the photo translation tool. We could take a picture of a menu at a restaurant, highlight the characters we wanted translated, and see the English equivalent. It wasn't perfect, but helped us identify key words and we felt confident we knew what we were least most of the time.

Zojoji Temple

Just in front of the Tokyo Tower sits Zojoji Temple, which is the main temple of the Jodo-Buddhist sect. According to the sign (which we photographed for future reference- brilliant idea by Peter) the temple was built in 1393 and relocated to the current site in 1598. Most of the present-day buildings were rebuilt in the 1970s, so this temple was relatively new construction compared to most of what we saw in Japan!

Tokyo Tower

After visiting the temple, we walked over to the base of the Tokyo Tower, which you might recognize as modeled after the Eiffel Tower. We considered buying admission up to one of the two observation points, but held off in favor of the newer and taller Tokyo Skytree, which we planned to visit later in our trip. In hindsight, we should have just taken advantage of the clear skies while we were at the Tokyo Tower because it was too overcast the rest of the trip to go up the Skytree.

Imperial Palace

Next, we hopped on the nearest subway and made our way over to the Imperial Palace, home of Japan's emperor and family. The palace, open to the public twice a year, sits in the middle of a large public park and is guarded by a moat and stone walls. Peter and I were both more than ready for lunch at this point, and turns out it's hard to find food in the middle of a large park, so we really only stayed long enough to snap a couple of pictures. 
I finally took a turn with the camera!
Intense gate protected by an equally intense guard.
A shot of the beautiful park that surrounded the Imperial Palace.
After viewing the palace, we walked to the edge of the park, where we took a quick look at this statue of Kusunoki Masashige, a 14th-century samurai who is remembered as a symbol of samurai loyalty. Honestly, there were about 500 adorably fashionable babies in this park so I was a bit more focused on them than the statue. I swear 100% of the children in Japan were more fashionable than I am, which is faint praise, but you get the point.

Check out previous posts from our trip to Japan below!

Arriving in Tokyo/First Impressions 

Exploring Central Tokyo:


  1. Wow I love your picture !

    Japan is definitely my dream location and I'd love to discover it one day :)

    Kenza from

    1. Thank you so much! You should definitely visit Japan if you's beautiful and so interesting.

  2. This was a really great contest and hopefully I can attend the next one. It was alot of fun and I really enjoyed myself..



Welcome! I started Laura and Peter Down Under in July 2014 when my husband and I moved from the States to Melbourne, Australia for his job. I blog about expat life, our travels, food, and whatever else comes to mind. Follow along on our adventures Down Under!



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