For those of you ready for an exciting, hi-tech experience put on
your funky wear, charge your digicams and make a dash for Tokyo.
Theres no doubt that youll feel the strength of the
Japanese right in Tokyo.
This major metropolis used to be a small fishing village, called
Edo, back in the sixteenth century.
Imagine flimsy wooden houses cramped side-by-side and fires spreading
swiftly, leaving it in cinders many times over and always being rebuilt.
The Emperor Meiji, in the
nineteenth century, made Tokyo the capital and opened the doors of Japan after 250 years
The Japanese were in a frenzy to modernize realizing that they were
straggling far behind the other already industrialized countries. But an earthquake, in
1923, and the air raids of World War II, in 1945, left Tokyo needing to start from scratch
Since then Tokyo has become the largest city in the world and in the
forefront of technology. Tokyo was built with the future in mind while still holding an
essence of the old Edo.
Tokyo is new, unlike Japans many other historic cities like Kyoto and Nara, where you can
see intricately built temples and castles.
Tokyo is crowded, lined with skyscrapers and neon lights, ramen houses
and store workers screaming irashaimase! (welcome!). It is nearly too
overwhelming and yet it is overwhelmingly fascinating.
Tokyo For Tourists
Perhaps the first most important thing to do, when visiting Tokyo, is
pick up a city guide and a map. You may also want to arm yourself with a travel guide to Japan,
or at least one for Tokyo.
There are many tourist information counters around where you can pick
up a train and Tokyo subway
Prefecture is the nearest sightseeing area to Tokyo, with nine different information centers.
You can also get more information on Tokyo at Narita airport.
If you run into problems, call the Japan Helpline; Japan's only 24 hour
non-profit, nation-wide emergency assistance service.
There are several districts that all act like smaller cities
within the major metropolis.
There is a handy train that loops around the center of Tokyo called
the JR Yamanote Line.
Hopping on and off this line is highly recommended for first timers.
or Shibuya are
both great places to start.
Step off a train, even at 11pm, in the heart of Tokyos Shibuya
district and youll probably be greeted by hoards of people. Fortunately, however,
the Japanese are perhaps one of the most polite people in the world; save the obasans, or
older women, that wont mind shoving a few pointy elbows to make their way.
A busy train station is an interesting place to peak into todays
Aspiring J-pop stars like to seek exposure and a few yen around a
station. Perhaps you'll see them singing live with small mikes and acoustic guitars; or
maybe youll hear a violinist playing Mozart, solo.
Stroll along, listen to the music, try some takoyaki or fried octopus
balls, and soak it all in before setting off to more adventures.
As you dive into the city, dont get disgruntled by the cacophony
of cars honking, advertisements over loud speakers, and music coming from several stores.
Instead, look for the idiosyncrasies in all the bustle. Women in
two-toned uniforms and hats thrusting the latest Internet promotions your way; or crowds
of Japanese teenyboppers with cute ponytails, dyed hair and pop-wear pounding away at
their cell phones.
You may even see a geisha girl on her cell phone running to catch a
Keep your eyes open and have fun because Tokyo has it all: shopping,
eating, drinking and best of all eccentricity.
By Janet Nakano.
About The Author
Janet Nakano has taught English at a primary school and middle school
She's also a freelance writer, loves travelling in Japan and is
fascinated by modern day Japanese culture. Janet writes about anything from big cities to
small rural towns, interesting aspects of Japanese culture, as well as things to do and
great places to visit around Japan.
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