Tokyo - Inexhaustible City

Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
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Trip End Mar 28, 2010


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Flag of Japan  , Tōkyō,
Monday, February 15, 2010

My original trip was to do one weekend in Tokyo.  And, it could have worked.  However, it would have surely left me unsatisfied.  So rescheduling over the Spring Festival was a smart move... and besides being able to see many other places, I was able to spend 4 full days in Tokyo... which was about right.

Tokyo struck me as a seemingly endless city.  It has almost 20 different districts and a public transportation map which can make you dizzy just looking at it.  I remember taking 1/2 a day merely studying the map and trying to figure out in which order I could "conquer" the city.  Soon, I realized that I would have to pick and choose with the areas I wanted to see the most.

Here is a summary and my ranking of the districts:
1. Harajuku - My favorite of all the districts because... I spent the most money here, haha.  They are renown for hipster and other daringly fashionable clothes (not what I bought).  I had the luck of finding a Quiksilver-esque store and bought a nice Japanese designed hoodie.  They also have an inspiring place called the Design Festa.  I would have ate there if I had time.  I plan to highlight the place more in a following entry on art/design.
 
2. Shibuya - It has lots of good restaurants and places to shop.  Probably the most famous and frequented of all districts.  Tons to see and one could easily spend a night walking around here.  Amazingly I only spent money on food here.
 
3. Ueno - A hub for museums and is where I stopped in the Tokyo Met.  It was full of local artists (even children's work).  Nevertheless, I liked it because it was a change from the stuffy artists that I am used to seeing.  A short walk through the relaxing park surprised me with cherry blossoms in early bloom and a trip through the "traditional Japanese" Ameyoko street yielded many gifts for family/friends.
 
4. Ginza - I saw new 3D tech. in the Sony Building showroom which would be interesting for a PS3.  The Tsukiji Market was there too... a huge seafood market.  I woke up early morning ~6am to see it and eat ultra-fresh (and ultra-expensive) sushi.
 
5. Odaiba - I visited the National Museum of Emerging Science and caught of glimpse of Asimo... not in action, unfortunately!  I opted for an IMAX film on star gazing instead.  Later I went to the Palette Town mall which was had a kitschy Las Vegas-style European interior architecture... but other than that it was interesting to walk through.  Of course all the tourists had to take pictures.  Again, I didn't buy anything and instead enjoyed the free Toyota showrooms and explanation on universal design.  What made it also memorable was riding the metro across the Rainbow Bridge and catching a nice view of the city at night.
 
6. Shiodome - Here is the Eiffel Tower-inspired Tokyo Tower.  It was neat to see but not indispensable from an itinerary.  I heard going up is worth it if the sky is clear.  A bit tricky to find was the Advertising Museum (ADMT).  It contained the history of advertising in Japan and I found it fascinating... also the building itself had hundreds of designer chairs to sit in. =)
 
7. Akihabara - I went to the Electric City and Musical Instruments area.  Nothing too fancy but I was able to find a decently priced 30 gig portable HD.  Infamous for the maid cafes which I was convinced to visit.  See upcoming entry on food for details.
 
8. Shinjuku - Nothing but frees view of the city... I got mine at the Sumitomo building on the 52nd floor although somewhere in the gov't building it was possible too.  The station itself is massive and a maze to get through.  The district is mainly for businesspeople so I only stayed for as long as I had to.
 
9. Roppongi - Supposedly an expensive area which I only walked through to get to the metro.  I didn't like the place at all because it was ostentatiously marked for foreigners.

As I write everything out, I feel like I have seen all that I wanted.  Hope that it can help someone decide on where he/she might like to go! =)
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