Last weekend, I had 2 guests from Osaka and I was showing them around town in the afternoon. They enjoyed dim sum very much and after our sumptuous lunch, we decided to go walk off some calories. Out of nowhere, the wife Ayurin asked me... which city in the world do you like best? My answer? Tokyo! No, it wasn't said to please the Japanese but I've always love Tokyo as a city both for a visit and to live in too. The only thing that's stopping me from doing so is, it is an expensive city! Highly expensive!
I've lived in 6 cities now (in 4 countries). Not too many for someone who travel as much as I have had. However, I have yet lived in a city in Japan. I must find some way to get there ;-) Why do I like Tokyo that much? Well, since the age of 10, on my 1st visit to this big city, I was totally enthralled by everything that's Japanese. Sometimes I think I must have been Japanese in my past life.
I've often told friends that I've a Western outlook in life, a Chinese palette & a Japanese taste. Japanese design is a big attraction for me. Be it traditional Japanese decor or the most modern piece of design. I love them all. There is another less tangible asset this country possesses which many countries in the world lack, that is... Quality Control (or you may call it goodwill). Whatever I've bought or used in this country, I can be assured of its fine quality. No other country has maintained this consistency throughout the last 3 or 4 decades. Perhaps coming close to second is the Swiss or the German. For me though, being in Asia, I'm exposed more to "Made in Japan" than anything else. (Except for "Made in China" in the last decade. However, "Made in China" may be cheap but things are actually a lot more expensive in the long term as products don't last and quality is on passable.)
Bright Lights, Big City
How's this for a subway map? Interesting? ;-)
Akihabara An entire street of the latest electronic gadgets. What more could anyone ask? This is my kind of place. Cameras, laptops, compueters, cellphones models which you've never seen of anywhere in the world etc... they are the latest and the trendiest around.
Shinjuku Busiest train station in the world! For tourists, it's interesting to get one's bearings here. It's exciting as well. In a foreign place with most Japanese not speaking much English, well, this is as difficult as it gets. If you managed to navigate around this station without missing your train, you've got it made. You are ready to live in Tokyo!
Ikebukuro I like staying around Ikebukuro. With some of my favorite stores here, namely Seibu & Tobu departmental stores and lots of fanciful restaurants, this is the place to begin one's exploration of this mega metropolitan city.
Ginza Chome & First Class Shopping experience If you're into the high end retail scene, this is where you ought to head with many boutiques in the Ginza area. Mitsukoshi, Matsuya and Matsuzakaya are the leading stores on Ginza 5-Chome with Louise Vuitton, Dior, Ferragamo and Chanels boutiques all on the same street!
Sushi Galore How about having sushi for breakfast? Yes, I'm not joking. This is the only place in the world where you can have sushi at 5 am! Tsukiji is where you should be heading! The Japanese certainly starts their day early! It shall be a good influence for me; I sleep way too much ;-)
Shinkansen & Narita Express Speed is the name of the game. Bullet trains began operation in the 60s! The Tokaido Shinkansen carries more than 150 million passengers annually! Is that amazing or what?!
Kabuki & Kimono The most amazing thing about being in Tokyo is that despite it being at the forefront of technology, it is also a city living in history. Kabuki, kimono, tea ceremonies are some of the living past of Japan. These are not for the benefit of tourists like many other countries which choose to preserve their cultural assets. Instead, the Japanese themselves are blending and living history in their present lifestyle. That's so marvelous, as far as I'm concerned. Being a part of this city is like creating history yourself. Just great!
I do believe that even with speedy progress, it is imperative a city (& country) keeps its cultural assets alive and practice them as much as they can in their daily lives. That way, we don't forget our heritage and the legacies our ancestors have left us with. Tokyo is one city has done this amazingly well!
Tokyo, officially Tokyo Metropolis, is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan and is located on the eastern side of the main island Honshū. The twenty-three special wards of Tokyo, each governed as a city, cover the area that was once the city of Tokyo in the eastern part of the prefecture, totaling over 8 million people. The population of the prefecture exceeds 12 million. The prefecture is the centre of the Greater Tokyo Area, the world's most populous metropolitan area with 35 million people and the world's largest metropolitan economy with a GDP of US$1.191 trillion at purchasing power parity in 2005.
Tokyo was described by Saskia Sassen as one of the three "command centres" for the world economy, along with London and New York City. This city is considered an alpha+ world city, listed by the GaWC's 2008 inventory and ranked fourth among global cities (first in the eastern world) by Foreign Policy's 2008 Global Cities Index. In 2009 Tokyo was named the world's most expensive city for expatriate employees, according to the Mercer Human Resource Consulting and Economist Intelligence Unit cost-of-living surveys and named the third Most Liveable City and the World’s Most Livable Megalopolis by international lifestyle magazine Monocle.
Tokyo is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family.