Visitors can set their watches by Tokyo's metro

Ask the Expert The Japanese capital offers inexpensive and punctual mass transit to everything from the Tsukiji Fish Market to the upmarket Ginza district.

We're going to be stopping over in Tokyo for two nights next month before heading to Osaka for a friend's wedding. What is the best way to get around the capital and what are the main shopping districts?

The fastest way to get around the Japanese capital is by the metro. The service is fast, comfortable, efficient and usually punctual to the nanosecond. It's also affordable - a single-day open ticket costs 710 yen (Dh34) per person. Remember that trains on most lines stop around midnight so make sure you're not caught out. For details, call the English-language information line on 03 3423 0111.

In central Tokyo, Akhibara, or Akiba, is known as the city's "electric town". The main Chuo Dori street has more than 500 shops that stock everything from home appliances to second-hand phones. In some shops, bargaining is expected. Here is also where you will find a large dose of anime culture. If manga is your thing, stop at a kissaten (comics cafe) for a cup of coffee and settle down to read a comic or watch the cartoons that play on television all day. Don't miss an early-morning trip to the sprawling and famous Tsukiji Fish Market for its staggering variety of freshly caught seafood. Its tuna auction, which was discontinued after the earthquake, reopened to tourists last month. Visitors are limited to 120 per day and are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Ginza is the city's upmarket shopping district, with several old and well-known department stores, such as Mitsukoshi, that sell the latest in designer wear and accessories.

Shibuya in western Tokyo is filled with chic boutiques and fashion stores and home to the Harajuku district. Wander down Takeshita-dori, a narrow street opposite Harajuku station, for shops whose walls are lined with clothes representing the latest in Japanese street fashion.

For a relatively inexpensive and colourful shopping experience, visit Ueno Ameyoko near Okachimachi station. Here you'll find more than 300 booths and stalls selling everything from vegetables to clothes and watches.

Most shopping districts open at around 10am and close by 8pm.

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Published: August 20, 2011 04:00 AM


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