To many people in the West, Tokyo IS Japan. The culture, the food, and the unique style radiate to all corners of the world. Visiting here, it is most certainly easy to see why. The city seems to stretch forever, and every district seems to pop with its own style. Tokyo, meaning "Eastern Capital", officially refers to both the very small central district containing some skyscrapers and the Imperial Residence, and the entire metropolitan area that, together with downtown area, houses close to 20 million people. Below are some of the more well known districts and sights in and around Tokyo.
Shibuya, Tokyo at dusk. [HDR]


       The term "neon jungle" is often overused as a catch phrase, but to sum Shibuya and the other shopping mega-districts of Tokyo, there isn't a better description. The number of lights and advertisements and the variety of images and colors on one street is more than you'd see in a month outside of Tokyo.  This street in Shibuya (one of the more "hip" districts of Tokyo) could keep a shopper contained for weeks. Advertisements abound for everything from shoes to comics, to fuzzy stuffed pets.
          Though generally a popular shopping and night life district for all ages, on any given Friday or Saturday night you might think that it was inhabited solely by the under 25 generation. Its a little expensive for my tastes, but I'm confident that you could buy any designer item in the world without ever leaving Shibuya.
       One interesting story about Shibuya is the story of the dog named Hachiko, who waited for his master every day in front of Shibuya Station for 12 years, even though his master had died. The dog was loved and fed by locals and grew to become a legend. The photo in the reel at right shows the statue in tribute to him, and it remains a very popular meeting point in Shibuya to this day. Check our the walk through a busy street in Shibuya in the video below.


     Harajuku is Shibuya's dirtier, more punk rock little sister. Harajuku has a culture that is similar to Shibuya in its youthfulness but different in that it has a more punk/rebel feel. Stores throughout the main walkway sell everything from pink sparking fluffwear to spike studded shorts and belts. If you need clothes to stand out from the crowds in Tokyo, then Harajuku is your place. Although the heavy tans and dyed blonde hair are largely gone, the punk/hipster spirit is still there.


      Less punk than Harajuku and more uptight than Shibuya, Shinjuku is both the department store mecca and the skyscraper district. On the west side of the tracks there is the Sony Building, full of the latest released and yet to be released gadgets, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government offices, interesting only for the free view of Tokyo from the 50th floor. In order to see the sunset from the top floor, get in line early, as the wait for the elevators to the top can be as long as 30 minutes. On the east side of the tracks there are the massive department stores, and the infamous entertainment district Kabukicho.


     This was personally my favorite part of Tokyo. Full of electronics mega stores, DVD and comic stores, and maid (cos-play) cafes, Akihabara has one of the more unique vibes of anywhere in Tokyo. Whether its a Monday afternoon or Friday evening, you can be sure to find thousands of otaku (roughly "nerd", although nicer in meaning) jumping from video game centers to manga shops and back. If you're looking to buy a new big screen 3D TV or a state of the art rice cooker, or just looking to kick back and play some video games, then this is the place to do it.

Some other Cool Spots & Shots around Tokyo

Imperial Gardens - As a whole the gardens were very nice, but there was nothing particularly amazing to see, as most of the Imperial Gardens are closed except for 2 days out of the year. The Imperial Land occupies a massive area in the center of a business district in Tokyo that I'm quite sure is worth millions upon millions of dollars. Although the Emperor doesn't hold any power in Japan, he is still highly revered and thought of as a national symbol.

Tokyo Bay - This is one place that could be skipped if you only have a few days in Tokyo, but if you have some time to spend then there are some interesting sights on this little piece of reclaimed land in the ocean. Most notable is the giant lifesize Gundam (from the cartoon series), and a miniature Statue of Liberty.

Senso-ji (Asakusa Shrine) - As Tokyo's oldest temple, it is heavily touristed, but definitely well kept and easy to get to. The shops leading up to the the temple also sell any quick souvenir you could think of from Japan.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think of the pictures.

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