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Mike's Japan


5 Tokyo
I have friends who left well-paid jobs in Tokyo for a more relaxed lifestyle
elsewhere but they make frequent trips back. It’s a great place to visit. Whether
you are a teenage tearaway or a serious-minded intellectual, you’ll not be
disappointed. There’s a lot to turn you on so long as you have time to enjoy it.
When my wife and I go to Tokyo we generally stay in one of the many inns that
specialise in taking foreign guests. You can look them up on the internet at
japaneseinngroup.com and www.itcj.jp. Most inns have rooms with beds as well as
rooms with tatami mats and futons on the floor. If you book into a hotel, you get a
room with a bed. Our preference is for something in the old style.
On our last two visits we stayed in Asakusa. That’s a famous temple area (photo,
above) and it has a lot of character. I’m reminded of parts of London that have
retained something of their Cockney heritage. There are stalls selling things, guys with
rickshaws touting for customers, priests and nuns, flower markets and lots of temples.
During the day, Asakusa is overrun with tourists . When night falls the tourists leave
and the atmosphere changes. Side streets light up. Shutters are opened. Tables are
brought out onto pavements and suddenly it’s like a small town where everyone knows
one another and every night is party night.
Getting around in Tokyo is easy. You go to the nearest Metro station and take a
train. Timetables and maps are in Western (ABC) script as well as Japanese. You
can buy a ticket from a machine or use the ticket office. Many railway staff know
enough English to tell you what to do. If you look suitably lost, there's a fair chance
some nice person will come to your aid.
If you want to take a look at top apartment stores and chic restaurants then the
Ginza is the place for you. For the latest in electronic wizardry, go to Akihabara . If you
want to see where the kids have their rave parties, try Shibuya and Harajuku. The
photo on the cover was taken at Shibuya .
The nation's top art galleries and museums are at Ueno. You will also find the
ancient shrine of the Tokugawa family (of Shogun fame) in the park there. The famous
Ueno markets are next to Ueno station. Hang on to your wallet and see if you can spot
any Yakuza.
 
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