Cities on Sunday – Tokyo
Wham bam thankyou Mam! Tokyo is a city with everything. It’s an incredible combination of skyscrapers, neon lights, parks and shrines, salary men and cosplayers in the Harajuku area. It has Maid Cafes, a Robot Restaurant (still to visit for me!), two Disney theme parks, a tower, a Skytree, and incredible metro system, brilliant museums, a great zoo (on reputation haven’t visited), the most varied choice of Japanese and foreign restaurants in the country, in some ways you could say Tokyo is the ultimate city.
It’s a hell of a place to visit for anyone, and although the metro almost needs a degree to decipher it, there are English signs a plenty and people around who will bend over backwards for you. It’s population in the metro part exceeds 13 million, and the greater area something like 36 million. Yep, that’s 50% more than the population of Australia! But don’t let that put you off, Japan and Tokyo are as ordered as any place on the planet. That means people wait quietly in queues and don’t push in, they respect each other on the train (where you shouldn’t make a call on your mobile), and there are attendants around to help you out.
What to do in Tokyo? Well, loads and loads really. There are several districts to visit which can feel very different from each other.
Ueno, which I wrote about a few weeks back, is a great district with enough there probably to fill two days of hardcore sight-seeing. There are a list of museums and temples. I really liked the Shitamachi Museum – an old house set out as it was in the day.
But I also visited the Tokyo National Museum and the Museum of Nature and Science – that one is HUGE. And lots of fun for adults and kids alike. Then there is the Museum of Western Art, the Edo Museum and the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. You are spoilt for choice.
The Shitamachi Museum is by this amazing lake, with a temple in the middle and zoo on the other side. All in all, you won’t be bored!
Akihabara is the place for electronics, for the ‘geek’ culture of Japan to go, and to see the strange ‘Maid Cafes’. It’s an interesting area, very busy, you’ll see girls dressed up as maids on the road trying to get people to visit their Maid Café. It’s not really something I fully understand but you spend a bunch of money on food and depending on the café the maids will treat you in different ways. I never actually went inside one, it all seemed a little weird to me. There are some aimed at tourists.
Shibuya is a very busy district, loads of tourists go there (and loads of Japanese too). There is this amazing intersection where everybody crosses at once regardless of the direction you are going, and there’s the most famous meeting point in all of Tokyo, just outside Shibuya station next to this statue of Hochiko the Dog. A famous dog who for years after his owner died would return to this spot waiting for him to come off the train as he used to do.
You are not too far from Yoyogi Park and Harajuku where you might see a number of people dressed up as anime characters. On Sundays they might go into the park and pose for photos. If you’re lucky! And in the depths of this amazing park with huge trees is the Meiji Shrine, one of Tokyo’s most famous temples.
And if you like your temples, Asakusa is the place to go for the famous Senso-ji. Tokyo’s oldest temple always has loads of visitors, a line of shops on the path to it, and a five-storey pagoda next to it.
Last time I was in Tokyo I went to the Miraikan, another Science Museum. To get there I took the Waterfront line, which is a very interesting ride to get there and you pass over this huge bridge. The Museum is great, and the highlight is the incredible robot – Asimo.
So there you are, in a nutshell – Tokyo. An incredible city with so much for the visitor! Thanks for reading, come back again, and…. May the Journey Never End!