Our trip took months of careful planning. Since I do not rely on travel agents and always attempt to find my own hotels in the best locations, I spent many evenings searching the Internet for good hotels or ryokans in the areas where I wanted to be. And for this trip, this is very important. To give you a little hand I will explain our trip in detail, bringing you to all the locations from YOLT in a two week holiday, hoping to make it easier for you to travel not just in our tracks, but more importantly in 007's tracks.
Tokyo: Entering a new world
During the Muromachi-period (1336-1598), Japan had politically fallen apart in many small regions, where local warlords or daimyo ruled. Based in Kyoto, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, both followers of the important shogun Oda Nobunaga, planned and executed the unification of Japan. They decided the new capital of the country would be the city of Edo. At the end of the 19th century, Edo was renamed Tokyo. By that time the city was already by far the largest in the world. Comprised from various smaller villages, the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan Area now houses about one fourth of the Japanese population. In an area of about 600 square kilometres, almost 32 million people live and work. This automatically means it can get pretty crowded during rush hours..
On September 1st 1923, Tokyo was struck by a massive earthquake, causing a great loss of lives. Since most of the buildings were made of wood, almost the entire city burned down when large fires broke out. After the city had been rebuilt, the recession and political climate caused Japanese Emperor Hirohito to choose the side of fascist Germany in WWII. Japan started its own war in the Far East and even attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbour. The U.S. immediately retaliated and Japan was extremely heavily bombed. Most major cities were completely devastated, Tokyo included (only the city of Kyoto and its many important temples and shrines was spared), and this should explain the total lack of truly old, historical buildings in Japan. When two U.S. atomic bombs forced Emperor Hirohito to capitulate, the Japanese population was left astonished and it took them many years to accept this defeat.
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This and much more can be found in the chapter 'Welcome to Japan Mr Bond' in ON THE TRACKS OF 007