One of the latest landmarks to appear in this wonderful pulsating metropolis (or to be precise urban megalopolis) is the striking Tokyo Sky Tree.
Celebrating its second birthday this month, the 634 metre tall structure is the second highest building in the world and is the current World Record Holder for tallest tower.
Similar to the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the base of this modern monolith is festooned with a plethora of retail and food outlets than can strip you of your Yen in next to no time. This is particularly challenging when you realise that arriving at lunchtime on a Saturday means you are given a 3 hour virtual queue time!
After a few hours shopping that has us Googling BA’s weight allowances we return to a still lengthy queue, apparently caused by high winds reducing the frequency and speed of the lifts. We decide that another 2 hours is too much and bail out to enjoy more of this captivating city and find that for the second time on the trip that crossing the road can be a tourist attraction.
In Vietnam, particularly Saigon, the whole leap of faith and closing your eyes approach to road crossing was no doubt fascinating and one of the the enduring memories of the country. Tokyo takes the idea further with, as remarkable as it may seem, the interchange near Shibuya train station being actually listed in the Lonely Planet. It even suggests a location (Starbucks second floor) from which to observe.
There are 5 marked crossings (each exit from the junction and a corner to corner option), and at peak times over a thousand people cross in the 45 second break in the traffic. Watching from an elevated position they remind me of videos showing microbes swarming on a petri dish.
Film buffs will recognise it from the film Lost in Translation where Bill Murray’s head can be seen above the rest of the throng as he walks across. We decide that it would be fun to try and recreate a similar scene and therefore I set about making myself look a little bit odd.
Basically I half cross the road, stand in the middle for the duration of the green man and then rush back. I do this on a number of occasions. In the end the eccentric behaviour pays off with a great image for the album and any humiliation is quickly forgotten.
Wandering around nighttime Tokyo is a captivating experience, and it is definitely one of THE great cities of the world. The place just pulsates with life in a quirky way that only the Japanese can pull off.
Pimped Japanese sports cars rev louder at red lights, giant screens flash incomprehensible advertisements, J-Pop (that make One Direction seem talented) blasts out of music shops, weird and wonderful clothing is everywhere, bird song is piped into subway stations, train announcements are preceded by jingles that belong in a Nintendo game, and the chop stick shops would look at home on Diagonally.
Tokyo is one of the places I have always wanted to visit ever since reading games magazines as a child and being captivated by the reports from this distant, neon and technological pulsating city. Sometimes having such expectations can only lead to disappointment, but not this time.
We love Tokyo.