When some people imagine Japan, the image of a beautiful Japanese woman from Memoirs of a Geisha, written by Arthur Golden, appears in their minds. The modern Japan has little resemblance to the traditional geisha world, and the last Samurai has long since perished from this world. The new modern Japan has tall buildings, hard-working Japanese business men, simply known as “salary men”, girls in short catholic school uniforms; and entire parts of the city are dedicated to Anime, which is like stepping into a surreal parallel world of cartoons. However, even though there is quite a lack of resemblance to traditional Japanese images from old books and movies, modern Japan leaves no less of an impression. After having spent some time in Tokyo, I can claim that it’s been a wonderful experience.
Tokyo is Japan’s capital and the world’s most populous metropolis. Very crowded, active and energetic. I believe there are a million things about Tokyo that will surprise even the most experienced traveler. My favorite part of the city was Akihabara, a district where you can find electronics, computers, games, anime and manga goods. Bright colors and tall figures are made to look like the most popular manga characters – and it can be slightly shocking. One can also enjoy a meal at a “maid café”, while interacting with girls dressed in maid-costumes. From a European perspective, it is a very fun experience to be entertained in one of these cafes.
Shinjuku is another part of Tokyo worth a visit. In Shinjuku one can find Golden Gai, a district filled with more than 200 small bars and restaurants – generally serving around 6 customers a time. Important to remember: these bars are for locals, and foreign guests are not always appreciated in the bars because they are designed as a haven for salary men after work hours.
Another must see in Tokyo is Shibuya, where you meet the pretty dolls – Japanese girls with blonde hair, colored lenses and fake eyelashes. Shibuya is colorful and busy, packed with shopping malls, dining areas and nightclubs. On a Saturday afternoon, the place to be in is a Starbucks located just around the corner from the station viewing the Shibuya Crossing, where an insane amount of people cross every time the light turns green. If you are a fashion-lover, you could be interested in visiting Shibuya 109, a fashion center that is a trendsetter for young women – fashion is extremely important in Japan.
The Japanese have come up with an interesting idea for lonely people: Neko-cafés (or cat cafés) where people can not only order meals, but they can also pet cats. It is quite popular in Japan, because cats provide a relaxing companionship in what may otherwise be a stressful and lonesome urban life for many men and women.
In addition to my daily experiences, I also happened to see a few women dressed in traditional kimonos. However, the streets were mostly filled with men in suits. The image of a restless and modern Japan is still in my heart and pictures, and I’m hoping to go back soon.