City Overview, Tokyo
Odaiba-meaning 'fort', a man-made island at the eastern end of the Rainbow Bridge being construct to protect against attacks from the sea in history. Among the attractions of Odaiba are several shopping and entertainment centers, theme parks and museums.To get there, walk across the Rainbow bridge, take a water bus from Hinode Pier, or ride the Yurikamome monorail and get off at the Daiba stop.
Fondest memory: Odaiba Seaside Park – This park has a real beach where kids can play in the water or build their own shogun sand castles.
Please note that all information written here is valid for September 2011. Due to the events of the major Earthquake roughly 200-300km north of Tokyo and the problems with the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant 240km north of Tokyo, Tokyo had experienced several effects. This is a 5th and hopefully final revision. I will probably remove this page by the end of the year.
All information is for September 2011. Things should only get better.
JR Lines: All lines are running normally. There are occasional strong aftershocks that still affect the east cost, but that is between Fukushima and Iwate. Tokyo has had no disruptions due to any aftershocks. The Shinkansen may be affected, but they are short disruptions that will cause only minor affects.
General Train Info: Virtually all trains have returned to regular service (September 9). Due to the summer energy saving efforts, train service was reduced in the summer, but that has been suspended. There shouldn't be any problems with regular train service.
While there was a huge power saving campaign in Japan during the hot summer months, the supply of power has returned to a stable rate. No one should be affected by power saving measures, although some areas may still be a little dark at night.
There were problems with food supply problems immediately after the earthquake, however that has stopped. There has been concerns with radiation in the food supply. Meat from northern Japan had been suspended, however they have resumed that supply. There can be concerns with food however the government has said that they are testing the food and continue to monitor the food supply for any changes. It is up to the individual to decide if they feel the food supply is safe or not.
Shopping has returned to normal. No shops are affected by power problems or infrastructure problems. (Note: There may be a few exceptions, but it is very rare)
Nightlife is normal. All shops are back to their regular operating hours
Having lived in Tokyo since the earthquake, I have to say that I feel safe here. I still have concerns over the food supply but I choose to trust the government.
To specifically answer the question of, is Tokyo safe? In terms of radiation, that is a personal choice. In terms of being able to get around and enjoy yourself, yes. Tokyo is no longer experiencing any problems related to the earthquake.
Tokyo has over 12 million people or 10% of Japan population.
Many of the buildings are low in height due to the seismic consideration. There are several more stable parts of Tokyo which allow skyscrappers to be built.
Tokyo has over 23 wards each run as a small municipality. Together with other neigboring towns in the Kanto plain, Greater Tokyo is the unrivalled place of choice of place to live for many young Japanese professionals. The commute hours can be as long as 2-3 hours one way by a combination of train, bus, bicycles or walking.
Tokyo is the place to be.
Let me confuse you a little bit with regards to finding an address in Tokyo. If you venture out anywhere from the city's main district, don't count on finding an address from the address given. This is the main reason, that directions given by the extremely helpful Japanese people, are very difficult to follow..
Addresses have their own system. First is the name of the "ward". There are 23 wards in Tokyo. In the ward there are many "districts". The district name would be next. Lots of them have the same name so they add a number. Then to find a "block" within the district. This can be difficult. Many of them have no name at all. And if this was not confusing enough, - if you actually find the block, then you have to find the house/building. They are not numbered like you are used to. They are numbered according to when they were built. So number 1 can be in the middle of a block, number 2 down on the corner and 3, up the block three quartes of the way in the other direction.
Do not let this discourage you. Rest assured you will have a great time finding your way around.....d;o)
Fondest memory: I once got on a train in Tokyo, with the intent of getting lost. I stayed on the train for 40 minutes and then simply got off. I was working in the Entertainment Staff on a cruise ship for Chandris Lines at the time. It took me two wonderful days to find my way back. The gentle and enthusiastic helpulness of the Japanese people was astounding. I asked one person for help, who would then ask another person, and pretty soon I had 20 people, all talking at the same time, trying to direct me. A family insisted I spend the night at their house, which was wonderful in it self. It was surreal and exhilerating at the same time. Needless to say, I missed the ship, and had to take the Bullet Train to Osaka to catch up. The experience was worth all the yelling I received from the Captain of my ship.
A vending machine is around every corner of Tokyo selling just about everything you need!
It was very convenient when you are sight seeing to grab a drink from the vending machine. Saved going into a shop! The coffee from the vending machines was actually nice!
Favorite thing: Tokyo is not only the high skyscrapers of Shinjuku. It is a picture you often see when it is about Tokyo, high skyscrapers. But even though the ones in Shinjuku are impressive, we preferred the areas where the buildings are a little lower. The small and winding streets with the colorfull lights, or the hidden temples.
visit Shinjuku, Ginza and Roppongi. These are all centers of nightlife. Shinjuku is where the average Japanese person goes to have fun; there are tons of low-class dives in Kabuki-cho. Ginza is for high-class romping; bring lots of money. Roppongi is the gaijin (foreigner) center; you will find many bars and the premier dance club, Velfarre (sp?). I also like Hiro'o, which also has a ton of gaijin since it's near the embassies, but isn't as decadent as Roppongi. Other important spots are: Toranomon, Asakusa, Akasaka Mitsuke, Akihabara, Odaiba, Kichijoji.
Fondest memory: all-night karaoke, late-night ramen, snacks, izakaya, sashimi
Favorite thing: Unlike in the US, the Japanese do not have the concept of personal space. Bumping while in busy places like Shinjuku and Shibuya is common and not an "Act of war". If you are accidentally bumped, a simple "Sumimasen" will do and just go about your business. Just be prepared for a lot of bumping.
Stay a few weeks! This megalopolis is bigger then big and not for nothing the largest city in the world. It's agglomerations counts 30 million people and according to the landmass that it's one, the people must be packed in boxes (which sometimes indeed is like that. Still the business of Tokyo makes it's littel secrets even more special. The parks, the temples and some other places where you can find a miracelous peacefullness. The city kept it's balance, which on it's own can be considered to be a miracle.
Fondest memory: A drive over rainbowbridge at night gives you a breathtaking view of the million lights of Tokyo.
Here you can find a large Market, a park and a zoo, as well as the so called 'Motorbike Town'. In this area there are many motorbike and accessory stores. Prices are generally less than in many other countries also. The most famous store is Corin which had about 10 shops in the area including an 8 storey department stores full of motorbikes and gear. To make people want to stay in the shop longer there is a rest area and even a pretty good (and cheap!) curry restaurant in the basement. You can also buy bikes for export. Just about any part you want for any bike is available here. As always it pays to compare prices closely, but you can get some real bargains here.
Favorite thing: Contrary to popular belief it is possible to see a lot of Tokyo and not spend much money. I spent a whole day in Tokyo and didn't spend a dime on any attractions. I found the free things and soaked up the atmosphere! You will probably have to pay for train fares but these are pretty inexpensive compared to the rest of Japan. Be careful about where you go to eat also. Buying a bento at the convenience store will fill you up and save money. One of the more interesting places I discovered on my trek around the city was Harajuku (pictured)... go and see for yourself!
Explore the different parts of the city. The main neighbourhoods are (I think) Shinjuku, Shibuya, Roppongi, Ikebukuro and Ginza. But actually most of the stations along the Yamanote-sen are worth jumping off at and have a look at, even though they may not be best described as neighbourhoods. I personally loved a place named Kanda that has a lot of bookstores!
Fondest memory: I lived in Tokyo for one year, so I have difficulties finding one special memory. I think it is the sense of total freedom, though, that you can feel when you know there's a huge city waiting for you and you can go anywhere you want. Walking through the Kanda book store district were an absolute favourite, just as strolling around Shibuya or taking a walk from the Ueno station to the Okachimachi station, following the Ueno market along the tracks...
unlike in beijing where you have to pay 5 remimbi for an english city map, here in tokyo, the english city maps are free and are available everywhere, in englih speaking kobans (police boxes) and in japanese tourism offices and even in the offices of the travel agencies and tours like Sunrise or JTB or Hato Bus or Grayline Tokyo. thge maps are detailed as you can see in the pictures below and has a separate map of the subway system and the Railway system in and around the tokyo area and more importantly it has the corresponding japanese language equivalent of the english language word written in the maps so that if you feel lost, you can still ask any japanese for directions using these maps.
Fondest memory: get a free tokyo map whenever you can, it is also available at the lobbies of the big hotels in tokyo.
See Shinjuku, the bright lights, its so futuristic, its unbelievable!!! all the shops, and the electronic shops are filled to the brim in latest state of the art goods
Imperial Palace is excellent, walking through the Park area, but u cant go in!! u can only see it!!
Fondest memory: My best memory has to be meeting a person from San Fran in the hostel and going to a japanese restaraunt down a sidestreet in lidabashi, nothing was in english, and i was using my quidebook to help order the food. And of course we met some locals who had a little bit to drink, but when they get drunk they dont get violent so this is no concern. In fact the japanese open up out of their shyness and are really funny when they are drunk
go SHOPPING! Man, shopping in Tokyo is an adventure in itself. The things here are ULTRA-EXPENSIVE but you can't claim to have seen the BEST department stores until you come to Tokyo.
Let's see, their LARGEST department store - TOBU is housed over 29 different floors (yes, of pure blissful shopping!)... and their SECOND LARGEST department store - SEIBU has 22-storeys of pure shopping floors. And mind you, I'm talking about the LARGEST and SECOND LARGEST department stores IN THE WORLD!
Other great places to shop in Tokyo - without burning a hole in your pocket include: Isetan Department Store (in Shinjuku). Kinokuniya Bookstores (fantastic!). Takashimaya Times Square - This is a large shopping complex in Shinjuku. You can find video game arcades, theaters... everything here. Yodobashi Camera Store - One of the BIGGEST discount camera shops in Japan. It is located right in front of Shinjuku station. Oriental Bazaar in Harajyuku - You can buy reasonably priced (compared to most other shops in Tokyo, that is!) traditional Japanese clothing and crafts. They also sell souvenirs. Akihabara - There are over 500 shops here that sell electronic gadgets! The prices are about 30% lower than the regular prices AND you can BARGAIN too. Now, isn't this great news?! Even if you aren't intending to shop here, it's still a FUN place to visit. Check out and marvel at the latest Japanese electronic inventions! Awesome....
Fondest memory: Here's a little trivia for you:
TOBU closed its doors for an entire day when Michael Jackson (back in his hey days when he was the KING of Pop) decided to shop here.
Hm, maybe someday when you and I become reeeeeal famous, who knows... Tobu might just close its doors for us too. :-)
P.S. That's me (dressed in winter garb) attempting to find something that I like here in Tobu. But everything's just soooo expensive here! Or am I just poor?