For Real!? Eight Tokyo tips that may blow your mind.
A visit to Tokyo is like walking onto the enormous set of a futuristic, high-budget sci-fi movie.. A neon wash of countless geometric skyscrapers huddle impossibly close, as millions flow through the city’s arteries to the rhythm of an anime casino soundtrack. Now all we’re missing is a few flying cars!
1. In all actuality, it is the future here..
Really, it’s true, and it’s kind of difficult to wrap my mind around, but I’m actually contacting you from the future. Let me try and explain: As you know, when traveling west, we typically lose an hour with each time zone passed. The thing is, when flying over the International Date Line (at 180 degrees longitude, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean between Alaska and Russia), YOU GAIN TWELVE HOURS, IMMEDIATELY. This means that although I’m writing this blog post on Tuesday morning in Tokyo, you might just be finishing lunch on Monday in America. (WOAH. MIND BLOWN!)
2. There are sooo many people in the future!
When thinking of big cities, my mind usually drifts to the hustle and bustle of New York City. 18.6 million people loudly moving in every direction, and it’s quite a scene. But Tokyo: 37.8 million people!? There are actually 13 million MORE people that live here than any other city in the world.
3. And yes, there’s hustle and bustle, but the truly incredible thing? It’s QUIET.
With almost 40 million residents, this seems an impossibility, but it’s remarkably quiet throughout Tokyo. Really, we were more likely wakened by a strange sounding morning bird than anything else.. Undoubtedly, credit is due to the amazingly well-mannered people of Tokyo, but one could also point to a lack of noisy street traffic.
4. So, where are all the cars?
Why drive when Tokyo public transport is so awesome? Said to be “the most comprehensive in the world. cleaner, safer, and more punctual than that of any other metropolis.”, it’s also relatively cheap and really easy to use. Many stations come complete with high-end food courts and some of the best people watching anywhere. For a real rush, check out Tokyo Station right around rush hour, a magnificent ballet of human traffic that is reminiscent of starling murmurations.
5. Speaking of traffic..
A proper introduction for a Tokyo first-timer might be the Shibuya Crossing. Surrounded by neon lights and video billboards (think Times Square, fewer cars, more people) this intersection has been called the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing. One moment, the crossway is an arena of 3000 spectators. The light turns green and BOOM!, a simultaneous rush of humanity, filling the streets for only a few moments, before turning red once more and reloading for the next “Scramble.”
6. On to other arenas..
One of Japan’s age-old traditions is performed in one of Tokyo’s most famous arenas: Ryogoku Kokugikan. The world’s highest ranking Grand Tournaments are held in this Sumo Hall, and it’s a great way to absorb some Japanese culture and tradition. Not to mention, it’s quite fun to watch those big boys toss each other around!
7. Need to be entertained?
Head over to Tokyo’s largest entertainment district, Shinjuku. The neon covered high-rises are a spectacle of light and sound, with clubs, bars, and karaoke for miles. Truly something for everyone, you can even visit “hostess bars,” offering such exotic services as spoon feeding and ear cleaning. For us, it was the legendary show at Robot Bar.. Indescribable really, a crazy mixed-up hybrid, somewhere between Power Rangers from Space and a Mardi Gras parade, complete with lasers, robots, and giant lizards, and we were clearly blown away.
8. In the end..
Tokyo was utterly amazing, butt the thing we’ll miss most? The public toilets! Honestly, I’m generally a bit shy about these things, butt after a bit of coaxing from Krissy, I took a seat. Heated porcelain thrones? An amplified faux running water recording and an air freshener button to mask things when the going gets rough? And of course, a bidet for easy cleaning. Who knew those things were heated!?