Tokyo, a city always on the move, and a city of the future. Nowhere else on Earth will you find such modernity and culture shock. The Japanese people have figured out how to enjoy modern life, from Cat Cafes, to Michelin star restaurants, there’s something for everyone in Tokyo. Here’s my quick guide of must see’s that I find to be uniquely original to this amazing city:
- Harajuku: You’ve heard the name before. This is where people from around the world come to consume. I’m not a mall person, but Harajuku is so full of sights and sounds that you won’t feel like you’re trapped in a strip mall looking at the same shops you’d find anywhere else. To be fair, Japan is a consumer nation and Tokyo has many places to shop, but Harajuku dethrones them all. There’s stores dedicated to “Kawaii” or cute items, there’s fetish shops, there’s stores that are dedicated to Lady Gaga outfits. If you want different and special, this is the place to go. On top of that, you can’t go wrong with the numerous restaurants in Harajuku. This really is a place to wander and get lost in, think of it as a modern Souk.
- Have some Ramen: I’ll refer over to the Eater guide for the full list, but if you come to Tokyo, you have to try the Ramen. There’s national competitions here for this stuff, it’s the national dish and akin to Chili in the US – each region has something different to offer. Even if your connotation of Ramen is Top-Ramen noodle microwaved in a dorm room, you should get over it and check out some of the concoctions made in Japan. My personal favorite is Tanaka Second, where they serve a soup made with abalone. You’ll be having Ramen more than once if you’re a foodie, and Tokyo is the place to do it!
- Golden Gai: This is something that just shouldn’t be missed. Looking like a shantytown tucked away in a little corner of Shinjuku, Golden Gai is a cluster of small buildings leftover from old Tokyo, with merely six streets and alleyways so small they can only fit people walking through them. A magnet area for celebrities and artist types, this is the “cool spot” of Tokyo. Bars are hidden upstairs and are just a quick ladder climb away. Most of them are so small that they only seat 6-7 people, and many only serve regulars, but be nice, make some friends, and you’ll be sure to have an awesome night bar hopping in this area.