Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Taking on Tokyo - First Stop Shinjuku

So in my first full day in Tokyo (10/1/08) I got a late start. I must have been really tired from waking up early for my flight because I slept for 12 hours. I did not get out of the hotel until 1 PM. Oh well, that's kinda nice too you know.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

The first place anyone visiting Tokyo should go to is Metropolitan Government Building because it contains the best tourist information center in the city. There are free maps of nearly every district in Tokyo in a variety of different languages. These maps are better than anything I saw in any of the guide books I looked through. You can also take a free elevator up to the observatory level to get a bird's eye view of the city.

View from Municipal Government Building

Electric Street

Electric Street is just a small area with some electronics shops. It's not quite Ahkihabara, but there is a Yodbashi Camera there. Yodabashi Camera is famous for being the largest retailer of cameras and other electronics such as computers, mp3 players, TVs, radios, etc.

Yodabashi Camera at Electric Street

The nicest garden in Tokyo is in Shinjuku, it's called Shinjuku Gyoen, but by the time I learned about it the time was nearly 4 PM and the garden closes at 4 PM. That reminds me, much of Tokyo's cultural icons close very early, as in 4 PM. This is fairly annoying for someone like me that's trying to see as much as I can in a day.

I also dropped by Studio Alta and Kabukicho. Studio Alta contains theaters and arcades, and of course lots of shopping. It's a favorite meeting spot in Shinjuku and gets very crowded. It's also some what like Times Square in that there's a large TV screen on a building showing ads and what not.

Studio Alta


North of Studio Alta is Kabukicho where you can watch musical and drama performances at Koma Theater. Bars and restaurants line this area. The south side is quite fine but the northern part of this area is Tokyo's red light distrct. There are all sorts of host and hostess bars. Essentially you pay for the company of the opposite sex. Interestingly there are tons of host bars for women who pay for the company of men that look like they're straight out of a final fantasy game. All you perverts don't get your hopes up, these bars are pretty much for Japanese only. If you are mistaken for being Japanese the Yakuza (men in suits that try to persuade you to come inside) will very politely ask you to come in – in Japanese of course. Just say in English that you're not Japanese. They will bow and applogize and stop bothering you.

There are rumors that if you are in Kabukicho late enough the vending machines that are boarded up during the day are unvield and you will find all sorts of strange perversions for sale. I did not stay in the Kabukicho area past 8 PM (I went off to Akihabara) which is certainly not late enough to find out for myself. I will say that after walking around I think there are some very strange fetishes the Japanese are into. As this is a public blog for everyone I'll leave it at that.

Hey UCLA! That's my undergraduate school! What are you doing in Kabukicho?

Go Bruins!

UCLA! GO Brui..... what the hell?
It looks like a school girl themed hostess bar. UCLA needs to sue these guys. Anyway, I didn't want to do anything with the Yakuza so I did not satisfy my curiosity and check it out. Besides they were not open at the time.

As far as the subways go. people do wait for people to leave before entering the subway but they will push and shove to get out. That's considered normal and you shouldn't get upset about it. Also you might see people openly pick their noses in public (I saw quite a few) and think nothing of it but do not blow your nose in public. That is considered quite rude.

No comments: