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One perfect day in Chiyoda, Tokyo

In the centre of Tokyo, manic activity and peaceful stillness find a unique balance

By Lexie Bucholtz |
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People walking at Shrine Tokyo Daijingu, Chiyoda
Photograph: CC/Daderot

Tokyo, the world’s largest metropolitan city, is made up of more than 60 municipalities. Just outside the famous Tokyo Station, Chiyoda, is an area of political importance, both imperial and contemporary. Amid the foliage of the Imperial Palace, you’ll find high-end shopping, classic architecture and around 150 international embassies.

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How to spend a day in Tokyo's Chiyoda neighbourhood

Outside Tokyo Station
Photograph: Manish Prabhune

Tokyo Station

Across Japan, many train stations are tourist attractions in their own rights. Tokyo Station is the one not to miss. Step off the train and into an organised chaos of travellers, locals, shoppers and people on the hunt for a meal. In the underground mall there are ramen, sushi, and udon restaurants, as well as convenience stores in between. On ground level, you’ll enjoy turn of the century architecture, grand brickwork on every surface and the rush of thousands of business commuters. You could really spend your whole day at the train station. Only in Japan!

Imperial Gardens Chidoya
Photograph: 鈴木 宏一

Imperial Palace Gardens

One block from Tokyo station, the Imperial Palace gardens are a lush inner-city oasis. If you take a stroll through the gardens or just along the moat, you’ll find yourself surrounded by greenery from every angle, including giant lily pads. Throughout the 110 hectares you can find 17th century Edo Castle gates, a glimpse of the palace and learn about imperial history. A pastry from one of the many French patisseries nearby would top off your peaceful leg stretch.

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The Nippon Budokan is an arena in central Tokyo, Japan.
Photograph: Mattia Panciroli

Nippon Budokan

Originally built for judo competitions, the Budokan is not your average martial arts hall. Since 1964, the Budokan has been a host to both world championships for wrestling and martial arts, as well as a celebrated concert venue for the likes of the Beatles and Eric Clapton. At 42m high and situated north of the imperial palace, it’s hard to miss. Step inside and if you’re lucky, you’ll chance upon a high school martial arts competition.

Dinner at Hoshinoya Tokyo restaurant
Photograph: Marcel van Someren

Hoshinoya Tokyo restaurant

Away from the city crowds, award-winning executive chef Noriyuki Hamada has curated a basement dining experience inspired by Japan’s hidden natural delights. Known as Nippon Cuisine, the menu features French techniques with in-season Japanese ingredients. With only ten private tables available, you will need to book in advance to enjoy the flawless craftsmanship. The price point is roughly $300 per person – this is haute cuisine, Tokyo style.

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Outside Hoshinoya Tokyo
Photograph: Masashi Kuma

Hoshinoya Tokyo

Arguably Tokyo’s one genuine ryokan is Hoshinoya Tokyo. From the outside the 17-storey black building appears to blend in with the skyscrapers of the financial district, but the inside is a traditionally furnished ryokan: futons, tatami maps, paper screens. You could easily spend your day in the rooftop onsen, or perhaps enjoy a comedic kabuki act at the sake lounge. Your private ryokan host will be happy to make suggestions.

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