Tokyo Travel Blog› entry 37 of 41 › view all entries
September 28th, 2008 – by: semiperipatetic
When looking for accommodation in Shinjuku, I had two low-budget options: a dorm in a hostel or a capsule hotel. Not fancying the idea of spending my night in a hole in the wall, I chose the hostel dorm. Well technically speaking, it was a dorm. A collection of beds in a room. At the same time I could say that I also had my own room.
I decide to start exploring Tokyo.
When I finally exit the subway I stand in awe. The view of Shinjuku at night is one of the most impressive urban experiences in the world. Thousands of people dressed in the latest fashion crossing what is the busiest crossroad in the world. Skyhigh glass buildings all around. Neon lights as far as the eye can see. Simply put, Shinjuku and Shibuya make New York and London look rural. Tokyo is futuristic.
Realising that I'm not in a country of eternal summer anymore I go in search for some warm clothes.
The next day is spent sightseeing in the midst of pouring rain. We visit the Hamarikyu gardens and take the ferry up to Asakusa. The view isn't that great, but sailing up the river is just one more thing you can do in Tokyo! We go through the Nakamise arcade and visit Sensoji Temple and the 5-storey pagoda. Tokyo is traditional.
A visit to the museum of modern art reminds me that I havent been in a gallery in ages. The Tokyo MOMA has a very interesting display of Japanese contreporary art, does not tire and is definitely worth a visit.
Art may serve as food for the mind and soul, but what about the stomach? Back in Hoi-An, my Swedish friend, the chef at Hai San restaurant had told me the following story to illustrate Japanese obsession with fresh fish. Given that Japan is responsible for over a third of the world's total tuna consumption, the Japanese need to import it from other countries, Vietnam being one of them. When the Vietnamese fishermen go out to the sea for tuna, it usually takes 3-4 days for them to come back. However, the Japanese cannot wait that long so they have a special arrangement where they meet the fishermen out in open sea and transport the tuna back to Japan the following day! Tokyo residents get to taste fresh tuna from Vietnamese water before the fishermen's families even get a chance to glance at it.
My first and last night in Tokyo I ate in Shumi Kitazawa which is full of shops and restaurants.
Last but not least, the Manga Kisa. The Japanese version of an internet cafe offers something more than a decent pc with broadband access. These are places where people pay money to sit on a chair and read a comic (Manga). You can also rent dvds and of course you can browse the internet. You get to pick the type of chair you sit in, whether you want your own booth and whether you are spending the night there or not. There are showers, free drinks and plenty of comics. If you feel like a hotel is too much of an expense for you or you have just missed the last train and dont want to spend $50 on your taxi back home, consider a Manga Kisa!
Other interesting observations about life in Tokyo? Japanese REALLY like videogames, the signs on the metro are really funny (see pic) and it is true that you can buy almost everything from a vending machine, from noodles to Radiohead tickets! Tokyo is a very unique place.
I advise everyone to visit Tokyo in their lifetime. It's like nothing you've ever seen before.
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