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Tokyo – The Grand Finale

December 28, 2011 by Chelsea Slone

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Tokyo is vast, full of energy, overwhelming, spilling over with neon, exciting, and constantly moving at a frenetic pace. At over 12 million people in the official metropolitan area alone, Tokyo is the core of the most populated urban area in the world, not to mention Greater Tokyo’s population of 35 million. This huge, wealthy and fascinating metropolis brings high-tech visions of the future side by side with glimpses of old Japan, providing a little something for everyone.

As I stated just above Tokyo is vast. So vast in fact after our first day of wondering around in this neon wonderland I learned it was best to think of it as a constellation of cites grown together rather than a single city. With this perspective we spent our days exploring through each district and learned how each of them vary wildly by character, from the electronic blare of Akihabara to the Meji Shrines hidden peacefully in the teenybopper haven of Shibuya. So if you don’t happen to enjoy where you are just hop on the train because in only a metro stop or two you will find yourself in the midst of something entirely different.

We stayed in Shibuya, aka the hyperactive youth culture mecca. Other than the crazy cross walk I told you about in the first Japan blog post, this neon lit wonderland is full of young teenyboppers in some of the craziest outfits I’ve ever seen. This is one of those districts they tell you to spend a day in wondering around and people watching, and I can definitely say Shibuya was one of the highlights of our trip. Only a few blocks away from here was a trendy sub area by the name of Harajuku, which quickly became our favorite place in all of Tokyo. The little shops and funky vibe took me straight back to Soho New York. We also found the most amazing sushi restaurant here, Midori Sushi. Thank goodness we were close to this place because even though there is a huge line every night and no reservations we found it to be our favorite sushi in the city!

Just beside Harajuku lies a relaxing getaway in the mist of the chaos, the Meji Shine and Yoyogi Park. Meiji Jingū Built in commemoration of Emperor Meiji in 1920, is Tokyo’s grandest shrine. Like all of Japan’s major shrines, it’s large in scale but simple in structure, entered via a winding path and through a giant torii gate. A short walk through the gardens of the Shine and you find the popular Yoyogi Park. Sunday’s are the best day to visit this park while it is used as a meeting ace for local musicians and martial arts practice.

Another one of our favorite areas was the Ginza district. Ginza literally “Silver Mint”, is in the Chuo ward. It is considered the high fashion center of the city and contains many upscale shops and har beautiful Christmas decorated department store fronts while we were there. At night the streets are lit with Christmas lights and a tree sits outside the Mikimoto store to celebrate the Holidays. Just north of this district is Tokyo’s famous electronic city, Akihabara. With Tyler being an electronics fanatic he was in paradise. We spent the day wondering around discovering all their crazy gadgets, trying to figure out the Japanese obsession with gaming and comic books, and browsing through the mass amounts of Hello Kitty accessories. It was quite the experience!

Another part of this district and one of our very favorite stops was the famous Tsukiji Fish Market. This market is the largest fish market in the world handling two thousand tons of fish daily. This place was worth the visit just to explore through the 1600 stalls of bizarre sea creatures, including large blue fin tuna, live shell fish, deep sea crabs, eels and salmon. They market holds the infamous early morning tuna auctions which behind around 4:30 in the morning and are supposed to be amazing to see, however they shut down visitors views this time of year so unfortunately we weren’t able to watch this, but we did get to see the vendors rush back to their stalls and begin preparing their freshly bought high quality tuna from the auction. I swear I had never seen tuna the size of this in my life, it was fascinating.

Roppongi was another district we loved spending a day. It is home to the beautiful area of Roppongi Hills where you can go to the top of the Mori Tower with the breathtaking 360 degree view of Tokyo. The enclosed 360 degree view has a heart snapped ice skating area where you skate with a view of the infamous Tokyo Tower. However, a few visitors at a time can also go to the rooftop helipad to see the view with no windows. We of course had to visit the rooftop, and it really was incredible to stand on top and look over and out onto this enormous city and all of its structures. We also found one of our favorite Parisian chefs, Joel Robuchon, had a restaurant and bakery here, then went on to discover this was the first international location he ever opened. They surprisingly has two seats open and we were lucky enough to tr some of his Japanese speciality dishes only served at that location. We spent the entire afternoon in this area and when night fell we saw that the popular shopping street outside lit up with beautiful lights and a view of the brightly lit Tokyo Tower peaking through the end of the street.

Another district i cant go without mentioning is the Shinjuku district which is home to luxury hotels, futuristic skyscraper, and Tokyo’s crazy nightlife and red light district. This is the district that never sleeps, and I would definitely say a visit to Tokyo is not complete without at least one night in Shinjuku… Talk about mass amounts of neon!

Tokyo is an unforgettable city. I have honestly never been to a place quite like it. The sheer size is an experience in itself and when mixed with a time square effect on every big corner it brings a whole new meaning to what I always called a big city life. Japan makes my top five countries to see in the world list without doubt and I will never forget all of the incredible and unique experiences we had.

Thank You For Reading,


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