For a city obsessed with the technological marvels of futuristic robotics, Tokyo is somewhat of a wonderfully archaic society. It has been more than ten years since my last visit, but some things have, despite all odds, remained the same, which can be a comfortable realisation for me. Here is a list of reasons why you too should be enamoured with the varied charms of Tokyo.
Variety is the key of life
Unlike other Asian cities like Singapore and Hong Kong, where ever rising rental meant that only the biggest franchises will survive, Tokyo has somehow managed to retain a vibrant diversity in the kind of retail, dining and entertainment outlets in its midst. Step into any Singaporean mall, and you are likely to find retail homogeneity, as REITS managers tend to bank on the safe bets. Sure, there is the ubiquitous Starbucks in Tokyo too, but you are just as likely to find a unique, one of its kind boutique or café in the crowded streets of Tokyo.
Retail music is still big in Tokyo
Tower Records may be a distant memory in the rest of the world, but somehow it is still thriving in Tokyo and possibly other parts of Japan. The same can be said of Tsutaya, a chain of shops that specialises in rental of movie, music, games and manga. It is as if torrenting, ITunes and Spotify never happen. From what I gather, the Japanese take a lot of pride in their physical collection of records and movies. For a music lover like me, where music retail is more or less dead in my own country, a visit to the many Tower Records in Japan is frankly like finding Nirvana.
Tokyo loves Gundam
As evident by the life-size statue located at Odaiba, protecting the cities from boring, non-mecha monuments.
Yes, you read that right – robot cabaret. Despite being situated in the somewhat seedy Kabukicho district, the robot cabaret can only be described as good, clean fun that somehow manages to be suitable for all in the family. There is an outlandish thrill in seeing heroines clad in anime-inspired outfits kicking the asses of space monsters, set to a soundtrack of techno and Japanese drums, while you dine on sushi and beer. It is an in-your-face experience that you should not miss.
Heart-warming Hachiko stories
While the Tokyo youths may be in love with all the colourful, arcane stuff, there is still room for heart-warming traditional stories such as that of Hachiko, the faithful Akita dog that waited at Shibuya Station for his master’s return day after day for ten years, not knowing that his master had died at work. A statue of Hachiko can be found at Shibuya Station.
Peace and serenity
For those who would like to have a reprieve from the busy streets of Tokyo, there are a couple of nice serene places, such as Yoyogi Park and the Meji-Jingu shrine, that are located within ten minutes-walk from each other.
Japan embraces diversity
On exiting Yoyogi park one Sunday, I happened to come across a Gay Pride parade and Cambodia Festival located in the same area. Talk about embracing diversity.
Godzilla roars his approval each day at lunchtime in the Kabukicho district. Enuff said.