You’re new to the country, but you want to be ‘in-the-know,’ yet you’re not into carrying around bulky travel books, nor oversize magazines. You’d like to find out where the heck you are among the tangle of backstreets, and how to get to the event across town. The language barrier is becoming too much and you need a backup plan. You’d love to even just have an online connection, to find out the entertainment and culinary hotspots without consulting concierges. Well, fret no more. These common issues can easily be resolved by what’s in the palms of our hands. All it takes to alleviate those travel worries is, a mere
Before we were all equipped with dazzling, glass-encased smartphones, meeting up was based on the trust system – and knowing how to navigate a city with ease by using landmarks. People used restaurants, streetcar-lines, and stones bearing markers for directions. Today, you can arm yourself with a trustworthy GPS system (compass included, so you’re never late, or worse – lost, for your date!). Know your destination and which signs to look for along the way (109 Malls, Marui, Apple, Disney Store, and Tokyu Hands are all notable, monolithic stand-out places to keep in mind). But where do you start? Usually at a place called, Hachiko (Hachi-Ko). Hachiko was, and remains
Holding the title as the biggest urban metropolis in the modern world, Tokyo certainly presents awe-inspiring skylines that can rival famed cityscapes around the globe. Furthermore, it might be hard to fully appreciate the sheer size of this mega-city, without personally experiencing its sleek towering sculptures first- hand. I’m not talking about merely standing at the foot of these cement beasts, then gazing upward toward infinity inflicting cervical spasms only shots of saki can quell. Conversely, one of the more comfortable and eye-opening experiences you can encounter during your visit (no neck strain involved) is to hop on over to one of the many towers’ observation decks throughout the area.
Yoshitomo Nara studied art in Aichi and Dusseldorf, loves punk rock and was an exceptionally imaginative boy. He’s known as the father of the Japanese Neo Pop movement, having had exhibitions everywhere from New York to Berlin. We’re talking minimalist portraits of wide-eyed girls, standing around and sometimes holding magic wands, cigarettes, small knives, etc. A lot of people are unnerved by their strong sense of mischief, but there’s something undeniably relatable about Nara’s kids, whose dreamlike silence leaves you wanting more. So surely it’d be cool if you could enter into their world? It is and you can. “I do painting because I can’t express myself well in words”
Experiencing the internationally renowned, bustling Shibuya station and crossing the road, is a sprightly way to get a sense of its culture, and become part of it for ten seconds. Keep in mind though, its ten seconds you’ll never experience anywhere else! After concept creator, Henry Barnes (mid 20th century US cities’ traffic commissioner) introduced the diagonal crossing to his hometown, a reporter proclaimed, “Barnes has made the people so happy they’re dancing in the streets.” And in Shibuya today, they’re still dancing, ever so neatly and at times, in kind of business-like fashion. See if you’ve ever seen an intersection like this in your travels. Tokyo has over 9
You’ve just touched down. Immigration and luggage pick-up was a breeze, and the taxi ride is going smoothly. You’re overwhelmed with glee marveling at the unbelievable array of new cool amenities, restaurants, bars, lights, sights and sounds, which envelope you right from the airport. You’ve just got to share with these visual treats with friends and family back home. Your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts are pleading with you to upload photos and send text messages. You’re just dying to click, tap and swipe a device like a rabid surfer. But, you stop in your tracks with a jolt in pulse rate, thinking: “Wait a minute! How do I do
In the middle of Tokyo there’s a forest, where people go good naturally on a winters day to talk to gods and listen to them. Meiji Shrine in Shibuya-ku was constructed in honour of, and enshrines the souls of, two most beloved deities. The Emperor Meiji (1852-1912) was responsible for the re-opening of Japan following 200 years of isolationism, and gingerly manoeuvred its passage into the modern world. He introduced Western ‘civilisation’ whilst fastidiously preserving the identity and integrity of traditional Japanese culture. The Empress Shoken – the beloved mother of our nation – “assisted the Emperor behind the scenes during this eventful and difficult Meiji period” says the pamphlet.
Forget words. When it comes to mediums for expression, Japan is ultimately more about aesthetics. Whilst this is played out spectacularly on the kabuki stage, there’s really no slicker way to explore Japanese culture than to head to Tokyo and dive head first into its art scene. It’s a lucid, throaty articulation of modern Japan, meal for the city’s creatively carnivorous residents; plus there’s something for everyone. It deals in the contemporary and traditional, the Japanese and foreign, and it’s spread out all across the city. So if you love art, getting acquainted with Tokyo’s art scene gives you the perfect angle to infiltrate Tokyo’s flawlessly designed, culturally packed landscape.
Tokyo’s train system is very complex with numerous lines owned by multiple companies. There are both trains and subways with sometimes multiple transfers just to get across town. Having said all this, the system may be crazy but it is a very strategically organized crazy. This article will help provide you with the general know-how on both being prepared for what to expect when you arrive and how to get help if you find yourself lost or stuck finding the right line to get on. Don’t be afraid to ask When you arrive at the airport, I recommend you visit the information desk. They most often speak English and can