Seems ages since I last posted up and since then I have visited Japan. The main part of my stay was for InterBee tradeshow with Vizrt where I was showing some of the new integration work for Viz software and the Viz|Video Hub. The show was in an area called Chiba (Greater Tokyo Area of Honshū Island). Then after this I moved into Tokyo proper to have a few days off and see Tokyo.
The first thing that I noticed about Japan was how good the food is there, it is just excellent. This apparently has a lot to do with the Japanese work ethic, where they just improve and improve on things and it really is apparent in the quality of the cusine. Folklore tells of cows being massaged and being fed beer, but apparently this is true and at up to $100 for 100 grams of prime quality Japanese beef you could believe this is true. The sushi, the ramen and of course the Sake is excellent. Even the Japanese rice is of high quality.
I also paid visit to Mitsukoshi, in Nihonbashi – the oldest department store in Japan to see the food store and it was quite amazing, the Chocolates in particular were amazing and everywhere I walked I was greeted by bows, quite disconcerting after the up-tenth time.
My hotel was close to Nihonbashi underground station, itself not far away from Tokyo main station. The room tiny, but it had the Japanese baths like the hotel in Chiba, great to relax in after a hard day of being a tourist.
Close to Tokyo station was the Imperial Palace with the East gardens proving worth a visit, though if you are looking for photos the mid day sun is probably rather bright. From here I went south down to Ginza, perhaps the most upmarket area in Tokyo, home to many amazing shops including most of the flagship stores for many well known designer labels such as Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton – who have gone to much effort to out do each others shop fronts. They certainly exceed the shop fronts I have seen in London, New York and other so called shopping mecca’s.
Moving on from Ginza I visited Shinjuka, another area with many shops and home to some of the famous sites seen in typical pictures shown of Tokyo. In fact the many retail outlets seem to point to the fact that shopping is one of the preferred past times in Tokyo. Its worth a visit and there are quite a few restaurants to pass the time.
If you are after electronics of any type then Akihabara is the place in Tokyo, not that the other areas are left wanting, but this is home to many duty free shops and places which offer items only available in Japan. I didn’t pick up much other than some more cables and some memory cards. Ebay and online retailing seems to offer just as much these days but it is interesting to see everything in store side by side anyhow. It is also the last bastion of gaming, with many long forgotten arcade games taking pride of place with their own fans excelling on the score boards. A playground indeed.
My favourite area was probably Shibuya. This was home to some excellent Anime stores, and is central to modern Tokyo youth culture with many unique clothing and items for sale. Walking up from here towards Harajuku on a sunday past the NHK television studios I was greeted by many kids on the street performing and hoping at their chance of fame. Indeed it seemed that many had already had their own fan base, whether they are performing Spice girls covers or just doing stand-up comedy. Closer to Harajuku their was Japanese Rockabillies dancing, and even closer the unique Cosplay girls – girls dressed up in maids outfits and more, emulating characters from Manga novels or computers games.
Roppongi had a more western feel to it due in part to the large number of ex-pats who have made their home and base here, I didn’t spend that much time here but there is definitely a large number of bars to explore!
For a more relaxed time Ueno park was great, home to the Toshogu Shrine the oldest in Tokyo, with the oldest tree in Tokyo. It also houses a large number of Muesems and Galleries though be aware that these are closed on Mondays. This is also extremely popular in the spring due to the Cherry blossom coming into flower.
All in all Tokyo was perhaps the most interesting place that I have visited this year, though Beijing was perhaps the most different but that was the second time that I had visited the place. The transport system although vast I found was decipherable after a couple of trips around, my top tip being buy from the ticket machine nearest the line that you wish to use. Now I am looking forward to drinking the Sake that I bought back!comments powered by Disqus