General Tokyo

Tokyo.  When I booked my flight and started to realize, “wow, I’m going to Tokyo,” I didn’t really know what to expect other than sky scrapers and a lot of Asian people.   My expectations were definitely met because, well, there are indeed sky scrapers and a lot of Asian people.  What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was the vastness of the city.  Tokyo is enormous – it feels as if NYC could fit into a corner of Tokyo, and Oscar and I must have walked the whole thing.  It’s interesting, though, how user-friendly Tokyo is.  No one really speaks English, but everything from the street signs to menus is in both Japanese characters and in English.

Smog Observation Deck

Street Sign

Just about all the restaurants had either an English menu or had pictures of each dish that you could just point at.  The subway is impeccably clean and easy to use, the street signs are clear, and there are maps on the street every 3 blocks or so showing you where you are.

Along with the vastness of the city, there were a number of other things, little things, that I wasn’t quite prepared for.  The first I have mentioned in my post on the Imperial Palace – the toilets.  Weird.  Second thing would be the amount of fast food they have.  Yes of course they have a lot of McDonald’s but they also have Starbucks, KFC, Denny’s, and, surprisingly, Krispy Kreme, a real one, that turns their sign on when they’re making fresh donuts.  We found Krispy Kreme right next to Time’s Square, which was even weirder.

Not Far From Home

The third thing I was definitely not prepared for was the frequency of the man-purse.  Yes, the man-purse, also known as the murse.  The murse is rampant in Tokyo.  They range from small shoulder bags to things that could pass as a briefcase but really aren’t to designer totes, and just about every guy carries one – young to old.  Yikes.

THE Man-purse

The last thing that I really wasn’t expecting was the smog.  I’d heard about it, read about it, but didn’t really think about it until I was in the observation deck on the 50th floor of some skyscraper looking in the direction of Mt. Fuji, which I could have seen if not for the thick smog.

That’s about it for general Tokyo comments.  The only thing I found slightly off was the architecture.  I wouldn’t call Tokyo the prettiest city on earth – the buildings are mainly awesome ultra-contemporary next to 80s-esque buildings that were not built for aesthetics.  Instead of building up, like how you would think of NYC, Tokyo is built out, with maybe two or three 50 story towers in the middle of a district with mostly 4-7 story buildings- giving the whole city a kind of lonely, futuristic feel.  If I actually lived there, I think I would be depressed all the time.

Really Cool Building

However, I generally liked the city – the food was terrific, getting from one place to another was amazingly simple, the people were friendly (I think?  They were speaking Japanese so who knows what they were saying…), but 3 days was definitely the perfect amount of time to see the city, despite its size.  It would be great to go back in the spring, when all those gardens are in bloom!

Last comment – the statistics are true, there are SO many people in Tokyo.  We were wandering around just looking at all the lights one night and came upon one of those mass intersections.  Think of your stereotypical Tokyo street crossing scene in a movie – that’s what it was like.  There must have been hundreds of people crossing the street at one time.  And it’s not like that happened for just one crossing – every time pedestrians could cross the street, the intersection would be filled with hoards or people.

Street Crossing 3

Street Crossing 1

Street Crossing 2

Too many pictures for the post!  Check out the gallery:

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