Monday, April 20, 2015


I was wanting to write a bit about what I thought of Tokyo, but a busy week back and then a bit of a cold has kept me fairly tired. But I thought I would try now, despite the head cold.

Tokyo is truly a world city. I am not sure exactly what makes a world city. London certainly is one such city. New York is another. Chicago? Toronto? Sydney? Not as sure. It is a city that, while very Japanese, is also global in reach and influence. Shibuya or the Ginza are as iconic as Times Square or Picadilly Circus. People from all over the world congregate there for business, culture and cuisine. The only other Asian city I can think to compare it to is Hong Kong.

Also, much like Hong Kong the major tourist sites can be easily visited in a day or two. It is a city to experience rather than a city to visit. My personal opinion is because, unlike London, Tokyo is not the historic capital of Japan, and before 1600 it was a fishing village of 300 people. Also, the city has been completely flattened by the 1923 earthquake, the bombings of WWII, and multiple Godzilla attacks. If you want the ancient history akin to the Tower of London or St. Paul's Cathedral, head west to Kyoto, an equally amazing city that holds the Japan many western people look for. Tokyo has risen from bombings and very few places in the city date to before the 1950's or early 1960's.

Tokyo then, is a place to go out, enjoy some sake and Suntory whisky, and eat ... and eat and eat and eat.

Luckily for me, the yen is down against the won (and most other currencies) so it wasn't AS expensive as it might have been. It seemed to me the amount of food or transportation your money bought you was the real problem. I can deal with a sushi roll for $5, but not one that is essentially four small pieces. $8 quality whisky is expensive but a treat, but I expect at least a shot for that much. I can only imagine Tokyo when 800 yen equalled $10USD, versus the $7.50 it currently trades at.

With the possible exception of Thailand, Japan is my favourite country to be a tourist in (I have never really been a tourist in Canada or Korea so it is hard to say how they would compare). Hong Kong and the Philippines are up there too, but Japan is just a place that you experience, and modern Japan is best experienced in Tokyo. I hope to head back one day, to Tokyo and other cities in Japan that I have yet to see.

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