Tokyo is massive. It’s size almost verges on ridiculous. Greater Tokyo is the largest city in the world and has a population of approximately 38 million; that’s almost seven times the number of people in Scotland!
For the naive tourist, it’s unwieldy size can transform even the simplest tasks into bewildering escapades. For example, we tried to walk to Shinjuku bus station from Shinjuku train station (about 500 m away). We ended up spending over an hour navigating an underground labyrinth of restaurants and shops (as if there aren’t already enough on ground level). On the bright side, I got at least 20,000 steps every day in Tokyo.
Tokyo is full of bright, flickering lights, a relentless barrage of competing jingles and swarms of people travelling in all directions. The cool thing about Tokyo is that each area or district within the city is completely different and unique.
In this post, I’m going to talk about some of the cool, and sometimes crazy, landmarks and parts of Tokyo that I visited. Since Tokyo is as big as I keep going on about (I’ve clearly spent too long in Aberdeen…) and there is so much to see, this will be a two-parter.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is the third tallest building in Tokyo boasting 48 storeys.
The observatory on the 45th floor is popular to visit as it is a great view point from where the city can be admired from all angles. Apparently in clear conditions, you can even see Mount Fuji. Although considering our luck with weather in Japan, we admired a bit of this:
An impressive sight nevertheless!
Akihabara Electric Town
The region of Akihabara became known as “Electric Town” because back in the day it was the place to go for cheap and pirate electronics and gadgets. It has since transformed into a paradise for consumerism.
Akihabara is still very much where everyone goes to buy anything electronic. We explored one of the bigger electronic goods shops, Yodobashi-Akiba. Inside was electronic insanity. There were floors upon floors crammed full of every electronic good you could think of. You can spend a really long time in there sampling the massive selection of laptops and tablets, testing the fancy cameras, watching the ultra high definition televisions or playing with the selection of electronic instruments. And all that’s before you even get near the weird and wonderful selection of kitchen appliances, sound systems, gaming equipment and beauty appliances.
In addition to the electronic goods, Akihabara is dotted with numerous maid cafes. There are girls dressed as maids all over the place handing out flyers. They don’t appreciate having their photo taken and have developed ninja-like reflexes, obscuring the view of cameras with their umbrellas or leaflets. Too bad I’m on a whole other level of ninja reflexes:
Akihabara is also very popular with manga and anime fans. In the evenings, it turns into a hub for cosplay as the streets fill with people dressed as their favourite characters (and even more maids). This shop certainly seemed like the place to go for your costume anyway!
Now Ginza couldn’t be more different from Akihabara. It is upmarket, chic and stylish, full of the most well-dressed people I have ever seen. It is the centre of high fashion in Tokyo with stores for all the top fashion and cosmetic brands, tremendous department stores and boutiques. Ginza also hosts many of Tokyo’s finest dining establishments.
Ginza is most spectacular in the evening when all the shops light up and glitter amongst each other.
Not really the kind of place I would go on a shopping spree but very lovely to visit. I would recommend a trip to one of the many department stores to have a browse of all the luxury goods, the impressive food courts, in particular!
Lastly for this post, and certainly not least, I fulfilled a childhood dream by visiting the Pokemon Centre.
A memorable part of my childhood was spent collecting Pokemon cards, watching the TV show and playing the Pokemon Game Boy game (I had Gold). Whilst there was no Nurse Joy or facilities to heal Pokemon at the Pokemon Centre, it was absolute Pokemon mayhem nevertheless.
There was an entire wall dedicated to Pikachu.
A ridiculous amount of Pokemon cards.
There are even stations where you can play the game!
I couldn’t resist picking up this little souvenir:
A Pikachu face mask!
Warning: the following image may cause nightmares.