Tokyo is really the most fascinating, dynamic, and futuristic city that I have ever been to. The city is huge and filled with amazing neighborhoods, each one drastically different from the next. For 6 days we wandered through the city using their excellent subway system. We stayed at the beautiful Hotel New Otani that was located in Akasaka, Tokyo. It was very comfortable and was on the property of a 400 year old traditional Japanese garden. The garden was absolutely gorgeous, complete with red bridges and a waterfall. The hotel was also really centrally located so we could zip around all over the city.
Our favorite neighborhoods were Shibuya, Harajuku, Asakusa, Shimokitizawa, and Meguro. Shibuya is a large neighborhood that is packed with tall department stores and the famous Shibuya crossing. But it also has many small narrow alleys that wind around through a hilly area, there are a million bars, shops, and restaurants. Harajuku is the center of female teen/young adult culture and was really fascinating. So many amazing shops and it was a great people watching neighborhood. Asakusa is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Tokyo, it is home to a beautiful shrine and lots of small traditional restaurants and shops. Shimokitizawa was a bit farther away from the center of the city, but was truly one of the hippest neighborhoods I have ever set foot in. Every shop was beautifully designed and full of amazing stuff. There were also a million adorable bars and cafes. It was not full of big buildings and had more of a a young locals feeling, I could see Josh and I really liking living there. Meguro is also a hip neighborhood though maybe for the slightly more affluent. It lives along a canal and is very Parisian.
Josh and I really enjoyed our time in Tokyo. Josh especially loved the ramen, and we were amazed how different it was from place to place. I had a bit of trouble with the food, but was always able to find something to eat. Tokyo though has SO many choices though that we often got analysis paralysis and would get frustrated when we couldn't decide on a place.
The main activity in Tokyo is truly shopping. I was amazed at how everything was made so much smaller - tailored for me! Unfortunately I didn't really have a lot of cash to burn on new clothes that I didn't need (and didn't want to carry around with me). Tokyo shopping is quite pricey. One of the surprising things was that their second-hand shops were more expensive than many of the new boutiques. I think it is because they ship in vintage/used clothes from the US. But in any case it was very fun to look around - every shop is completely adorable and filled with the cutest designs.
The whole city was very inspiring, especially for me as a designer. The Japanese know design. Hoping I can incorporate some of what I observed into my work.
Ok - now here is a photo diary of my time in Tokyo. Feel free to leave comments if you have any questions!
Next up: Kamakura and Japan Travel tips!