March 15, 2019
Imperial Hotel, 1404, Tokyo
After intensely going around Tokyo for the last two days, my impressions are that this large and crowded city covered with skyscrapers is a much cleaner, quieter and polite version of the New York City. But not as cosmopolitan as New York. Quite homogeneous. It is not as charming and pleasant as Shanghai either.. The reason for all this is that the city was bombed flat in the Second World War and that every centimetre square of space in the city was destroyed. Historical sites have been completely destroyed. Even the monuments and temples were rebuilt. Tokyo has got an air that sucks a man's soul. It doesn’t feel like a good place to live. I think Kyoto is much nicer.
On my first day in Tokyo, since my partner was in meetings, I tried to go on my own, to places where tourists don’t usually visit first. My first stop was the teamLab Borderless Digital Art Museum. Fortunately, I bought my ticket online. It was definitely worth coming here. This place offers the perfect space to see first-hand Japanese technology and digital art. It is also ideal for children because it has great activities for them.
My next stop was the Shinjuku Gyoen Park. In Tokyo, you have pay in cash to visit parks. The skyline views of the city from this pretty spacious park look pretty.
I'm sure it's much nicer in the sakura period (two weeks later). But now the lawns are tainted. Trees are leafless.
After wandering a bit in the Shinjuku area where there are office buildings and entertainment venues, I went to Harujuku Street upon recommendation. I was told that I could see interestingly dressed Japanese people (such as in Hello Kitty) and shops, but it is like Cihangir of Istanbul or Camden of London. It's not a very different or remarkable place. It can be very crowded.
From here I went to the Shibuyo Crossing, the largest crosswalk in the world. Yes, it is big and crowded but that's it. Maybe it's more interesting with night lights. There's a dog statue in front of the Shibuyo Station. The true story of the faithful dog waiting for his deceased owner in front of the train station for years was adapted to a Hollywood film. I also had the opportunity to meet with my university friend Harumi for 15 minutes in Shibuyo, 16 years later, on the other side of the world.
Then I visited the Ginza area, which is considered to be the most elegant district of Tokyo. These types of places are the same everywhere in the world. They have the same kinds of brand stores.
In the second touristy day in Tokyo, we followed more typical trips. The garden of an ancient Shogun (Samurai) and the Meiji Temple, which was built in the name of the present emperor's grandfather. It is believed that the spirit of this former emperor is in this temple and is assumed to have religious power. While we visited this temple, we came across a ceremony held by Shinto priests.
We boarded a ferry on Sumida, Tokyo's main river. A good option to see the city through the river. Of course it is not like a Paris or Bosphorus trip.
Asakusa is Tokyo's oldest district. It is one of the most interesting places to visit in the city, but the great shrine was rebuilt from the ground up with concrete because it was completely destroyed by the Second World War bombs. If you want to see Tokyo panoramic views, you can climb the Tokyo Skytree Tower. The grey and high rises of this gigantic and vast city can be better understood. Instead of climbing this tower, you can see the night scenes from the bars of places such as the Park Hyatt Hotel. This was you would also get to visit the hotel where the movie “Lost in Translation” was filmed. Tsutkaya is a bookstore and café, in a pleasant neighborhood with embassies and a beautiful place to visit.