The top tip is: just go. It won’t be the futuristic Babylon that you expected but more the projection of the 80s which dreamt of it, and it will be unparalleled (also might not stay this way forever).
Walking down some well-documented neighborhoods -Shibuya, Akihabara, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku and the like- is enough to dose you on vertical neon, food stalls, high fashion, sararimen, shrines, crazy trinkets, nylon umbrellas. Assuming you’ll evening stroll through one or two of those, here are a few extra, focused, things to look up or under for.
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Alleys jammed with tiny izakayas, real sararimen nests.
Celebrated ones: Piss alley in Shinjuku, Nonbei in Shibuya, around and under the railway bridge at Shimbashi.
The artificial islands and the bay
Where you realize that everything solid in your field of vision is manmade.
Radio Center electronics mall
Radio Center is a sensation. A small passage close to Akihabara metro station (35.698316, 139.771861). And an old, half-used, three-storied narrow building next to it. Grab it while you still can.
Read on for artificial skies, vanishing rivers and more bittersweet fluff.
I remember days spent in constant awe of beauty,
now with memories of people that I don’t know.
I remember the afternoon pulse through a whole city — the corners of countless small izakaya.
Leaving Japan and the far east, inconsolable, following the setting sun…
“At least” the two-and-a-half days’ trip gives one something to keep busy with.
And, right on cue, as the office in the clouds was all about the sun,
the windows without blinds start shunning it spectacularly by changing their transparency.
The rest is lost in a haze of jet lag…
In the campus of RIKEN, Japan’s largest science research center … in the streets of the Brain Science Institute…
…a monument to the innumerable lab mice who lost their lives for science!
I remember a July of a feverish breeze — and in Kappabashi, the tanabata festival, celebrating the yearly reunion of the celestial lovers separated by the milky way.
Outworldly whispering decorations of stars (no, they are really whispering, or rather floofing gently in the wind).
Tons of people, fans, goldfishes, wish-writing, food stands, watermelon selfies…
…and parades by local professional associations. Plus the stars personified by two young people on the left.
The rickshaw drivers I believe, taking turns with swirling their heavy staff.
Lighter stuff swirling happily on its own (well, like the celestial lovers on this night).
Idoru festival; fans waiting for face time with their idols.
Ice cream is the only food that can be eaten in public, ergo vendors on subway platforms.
Fab Cafe, coffee shop with 3D printers and space plants.
Refreshing cucumber on a stick.
Shooting a backstreet fashion shooting.
Harajuku station bridge plus summer afternoon. (Not really many, or even a few, cosplay girls, other than pros or tourists in grossly made rent costumes.)
Entrance to Takeshita-dori: the number one tourist site in Japan to safely skip and save time. Unless you’re there for the fake plastic touristy stuff, of course. (The plastic crepe samples do look good, though.)
Uru-Harajuku: where the actual fashion hides.