Interested in traditional architecture? This Day Tour is a great to explore Tokyo!
Traditional Japanese Architecture
First made famous by Edo Period woodblock prints and early 19th century hand-painted photographs, traditional Japanese architecture is in a league of its own. That said, because of earthquakes and wars, very little still survives. So, without a specialist you could spend all day and never find some of Tokyo’s hidden gems.
|architecture tourism; heritage tourism, history tourism, tokyo history tourism|
Tokyo was utterly destroyed by an earthquake in 1923, and again by firebombing in 1945. Although famous for bright lights and skyscrapers, a handful of buildings — some dating back to the 1600’s and earlier — have survived or been rebuilt.
Besides many beautiful temples and shrines, we can see residences and shops spanning from the 1600’s to early postwar reconstruction years. A handful of merchant and samurai homes still exist, and believe it or not, an occasional farmhouse here and there. Also, there are kura, fireproof Japanese storehouses, and of course, the center of the city Edo Castle. Of course, we shouldn’t miss the postwar architecture spanning 1950-1980.
There is so much to see, but everything is very spread out and impossible to do in a day. So let’s prioritize your interests so I can curate the perfect day for you.
There’s a lot of Edo left in Tokyo. You just need to know where to look. Knowing the hidden gems is my specialty!Tweet
- Nezu Shrine
Dating back to the 300’s and expanded to its present size in the 1600’s, this is perfect example of gongen-zukuri architecture reserved for important shrines and the graves of the Tokugawa shо̄guns.
- Tokyo Station and the Mitsubishi Ichigo-kan
Two fantastic examples of the Queen Anne style from the 1890’s. Both perfectly restored to beautiful prewar condition.
- Edo Castle
The center of samurai government from 1600-1868, then later the imperial palace. This was once the largest castle in the world and boasts the most extensive and exquisite stone walls in Japan.
Originally a fishing village on an island in the bay, today it is home to many homes and shops from the prewar and postwar reconstruction eras, a real gem for traditional Japanese architecture.
- Setagaya Magistrate’s Residence
A samurai residence that also served as a regional court, holding cell, and interrogation center (read: torture chamber).
- Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum
It’s a bit far, but I like to keep all options on the table. This park is home to buildings from the 1600’s up until the prewar era.
- Hama Rikyu Garden
The former seaside palace of the shо̄guns, now a Japanese garden. Some seasonal teahouses (for tea ceremony) and hunting grounds are preserved. Surrounded by one of four extant tidal moats in Japan!
- Ueno, Yanaka, Sendagi neighborhoods
Many ancient shrines, temples, and traditional homes dot this fascinating neighborhood. The largest urban cemetery in the world is also located here.
- Izakaya (Japanese style pub)
Because we’ll be walking and hopping on and off public transportation all day, I really only recommend adding on a casual dinner & drinks afterwards, somewhere near your hotel.
- Electric assist bikes
I only recommend this if you want to spend a lot of time at the castle (it’s too big to walk), or are feeling really adventurous about exploring Tokyo via side streets and alleys.
Starts at ¥55,000
(covers up to 5 people!)
You Might Also Like
- My Tokyo Architecture & Design Tour which covers modern architecture
- Walk the Tokaido in Shinagawa (also covers a wide range of prewar and postwar architecture)
- Tokyo History Tour – Ueno (also covers a wide range of architecture)
- Tokyo History Tour – Shiba (also covers a wide range of architecture)
Choose Your Own Adventure!
Here’s a secret. All my tours are customized in one way or another. If you need a private tour or someone to make things smoother, or if you’re gathering contents and shooting video and need a fixer, I’m sure I can help out and get you sorted.