A fishing village once called Edo, Tokyo has grown to be one of the world’s biggest cities. Until Ota Dakon built the Edo Castle in 1457, Edo remained a fishing village. Emperor Meiji moved the capital of Japan from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1869 and the importance of importance and expansion began.
Today, Tokyo has eight million inhabitants and GTA 35 – 39 million pending the way the counting is done, and the method employed. It is also one of the three most important financial centres of the world after New York and London. The stock exchange is the second largest in the world after New York.
has two airports – Haneda for internal flights and Nairta for international.
Arriving for the first time in Tokyo or Japan is an experience the western tourist cannot forget easily. Everything is crowded, whit people rushing everywhere, signs in Japanese and English.
Japan is approximately the size of California with a population of 120 million. Therefore you can imagine the density per square kilometre and you feel it on the streets of Tokyo and all other major cities of the country.
Japan is a homogeneous society. The overwhelming majority of Japanese look alike think alike, eat alike, and by and large, act alike. So after a while you can anticipate what to expect when talking with or asking a Japanese about directions or anything else.
English may be considered the second language but don.’ Expect to find many people who speak it although thousands or even millions learn English. For the Japanese it is easier to read English than to speak.
This makes navigating in Tokyo difficult, yet once you get your druthers you can find your way with a little help of well designed city maps, and maybe a friendly soul.
has an extensive subway system supported by an equally extensive bus network. Subways during peak hours are so busy and crowded that management employs people to pull passengers out of trains, and equally to push others into cars.
Don’t use the subway system during rush hours!
The climate is mild with hot and humid summers and mild winters.
You can stay in western style hotels or in a traditional Japanese ryokan. Accommodation in Tokyo is expensive, and should be booked well in advance.
Ryokans are fun, and are recommended for western tourists. A stay in a ryokan is an
The city has many museums all of which are well organized, highly interesting, and contain artefacts almost in mint condition.
The following are highly recommended – Tokyo natural Museum, National Museum of Western Art, national Museum of Science, national museum of Modern Art.
A walk in the famous Ginza is an absolute must to experience the hustle and bustle of shops, and Tokyo’s famous department stores – Wako, and Mitsukoshi are only two that come to mind. All have their “greeters” at the door who bow to every customer entering the store. Visit a few of the departments and don’t miss to take a look at the food department to at least admire world famous Kobe beef, and fruits that look perfect and are lovingly packaged, but frighteningly expensive.
Ginza at night is completely different experience. On side streets in basements of small
buildings, there are all kinds of night clubs where you can buy a bottle of whisky (Scotch or Japanese) and if you and your guests with a lot of help from female “guests” employed by the management cannot finish the bottle, it will put in a cage, then the cage will be locked and you be given the key. Anytime you feel like it, you can drop by and it will be waiting for you. The price is high, but all nightclubs are busy, even during recessions.
As everyone knows, Japanese eat a lot of fish and crustaceans, bivalves, and every other imaginable sea creature including sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and logically the world’s largest fish market is Tsukiji just outside of Tokyo. There is public transportation, but you must visit early and be very careful as water and ice are everywhere in the market.
Literally, thousands of tons of fish are sold daily from everywhere in the world.
Once in Tokyo, you must experience sushi and sashimi but you can also splurge in Chiku yotei on a table d’hote menu Y 50,000.00 at lunch (approximately $ 500.00 at 100 Yen to the US $), but a regular client must recommend you for a reservation, or you can try Ginza Shiseido Parlour where abalone and lobster curry will set you back $ 100.00 or the special menu $ 40.00
In Tokyo, space in any street restaurant at lunch is precious and serves expect you to eat, pay and leave quickly. Lingering after your meal is frowned upon, and you will be told in no uncertain terms to pay and leave since the next guest in waiting eagerly to take your seat.
The Imperial Palace north of Hibiya Park can be reached from Ginza easily, but you have to make a reservatin, better yet, join a sight seeing tour.
When in Japan, you can shop for electronic gadgets, and souvenirs (paintings, ceramics, lacquered decorations, glassware, china and fine silk prints).
A visit to Tokyo is an experience from many perspectives – living tightly, eating differently, and acting collectively.
These days, JAL (Japanese Air Lines) is offering bargains from North America. The flight is long but can be fun; arriving in Tokyo will change you.
You can also take a break in Hawaii.
Similarly flying form Europe you can break the long flight with a visit to Hong Kong and continue from there, or Moscow.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.