Central Tokyo is usually defined as the areas in and around the JR Yamanote Loop train line.  The loop is bisected west-to-east by the JR Chuo/Sobu line from JR Shinjuku Station to JR Tokyo Station.  The Yamanote Loop is also served by a matrix of subway lines.

First, to get your bearings, locate the Imperial Palace, an important landmark and attraction.  The Palace is located right in the center of Tokyo.  Divide the city into two main areas using the Palace as a reference: Yamanote (uptown), which spreads to the south and west; and Shitamachi (downtown), which lies to the north and east.  

Generally speaking, uptown reflects the country’s rich cultural heritage and is the area that contains the majority of cultural and  historic attractions.  Downtown reflects the 21st century with its many shops, restaurants, nightclubs and hotels.

The city of Tokyo is vast and there is a group of special wards which comprise of 23 distinct municipalities with elected mayors and limited autonomy from the city of Tokyo.  These wards make up the most populous areas of Tokyo.

Hibiya -  The financial center of Tokyo that also features the Imperial Palace and tourist information centers. 

Ueno – Located on the northern edge of Tokyo, this district is known for its many cultural attractions including the Tokyo National Museum and the National Science Museum.  

Ginza – This is modern-day Tokyo with its many exclusive shops, department stores, restaurants, nightclubs and blazing neon lighting up the sky at night.  Take note:  the sophisticated nightlife in this district is considered one of the most expensive in the world.

Shinjuku -  If your wallet can’t stand the stress of the Ginza, this district offers a crazy variety of nightlife with its many massage parlors, strip joints, peep shows, rowdy bars and nightclubs.  By day, this district is known as a busy business center with its skyscrapers and posh hotels.

Akihabara – For shoppers looking for the best deals in electronic and electrical appliances, this district is home to more than 600 stores displaying the latest (and most cutting edge) gadgets.

Roppongi – Considered the most fashionable place to hang out for the under-30 crowd.  Its bustling streets are lined with discos, pubs, live-music houses and restaurants.

  Shibuya - The Times Square of Tokyo, this is where the fashionable younger people enjoy their free time.  There are three huge video screens on buildings right near the "Hachiko" exit of Shibuya Station, and there are smaller screens scattered elsewhere.  There are many great restaurants and stores, ranging from high end to hole in the wall.