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Big city

Tokyo Travel Blog

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So Tokyo is about the biggest place I've ever been.  I couldn't believe the people (and I've been to some big cities) - I'm still not too sure how I felt about it.  Walking down the street on a Sunday afternoon in Shibuya was like being in an ant colony but all the ants are going in different directions.  There were days when I could cope with the throngs, and days when I couldn't, but what an incredible experience.  I think Tokyo is the first non-English speaking country I've been to where English is not widely spoken.  Only visiting for 12 days,
and because I was there on business, I hadn't felt the need (or had the time) to learn any Japanese - and boy did that make it difficult.  The number of retailers and restaurants whose staff spoke no English really shocked me (a Belgian girl I met in Thailand had mentioned that English was the 'traveller's 
language'), yet I knew that it was decidedly arrogant of me to expect them to speak anything other than Japanese. I guess coz everywhere else I've been to in Asia spoke English has set my expectations
too high!

So back to Tokyo, it is everything you've heard and more.  The amount of people freaked me out, I'll admit, New Zealand has 4 million people in the entire country and I was faced with that many wanting to cross the street - or that's what it 
felt like anyway. But
what really shocked me is how safe the city is. I was walking down alleyways at midnight and it might as well have been 10am.  There is an underlying feeling of respect for other people, and it's apparent in everything the Japanese do - even when you've only had a week long introduction to their culture.

I'd have liked to have been able to get out of Tokyo, it was just a little too much like every other big city (though awesome, don't get me wrong) but as I was there for work it wasn't possible.
I did manage to get to the Meiji-Jingu shrine, and a shrine in the park in Ueno, but that was about it for sightseeing. I found it sad that a lot of the sights in Tokyo are recreations of what was bombed to
oblivion in WWII, but there were heaps of unexpected little bonuses - like houses shaped in 
the old Japanese style with bonsai trees out front and women walking the streets in kimono. 
For me, those things,  and the people I meet, are what I remember the most about the travels I've had. 
And Tokyo has plenty of both.

lisa says:
welcome to tokyo! my family lives in the shibuya/aoyama area so i know what you mean about the crowds.. i avoid the city on the weekends and go to more low-key areas like daikanyama and ebisu, or go out of town. good job braving the crowds in shibuya!!! it is a lot to take in, especially since the people are so isolated.. even with thousands of people around you, you still feel alone. i'm glad you met some nice people though. take care!
Posted on: Jun 01, 2007
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