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Tokyo: A Bombardment of All Senses

Walking through the streets of Tokyo, I often didn’t know where to look: flashing neon signs, crazy poster ads, plastic food samples in restaurant windows, and commercial jingles playing from every corner all compete for one’s attention constantly. But each one of Tokyo’s districts has its very own character, making it possible for each one of the city’s 10 million inhabitants to find their niche. Even those who like it quiet once in a while.

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If Tokyo were a pizza …

Japanese people value order, cleanliness, and punctuality. Their capital Tokyo reflects this perfectly: imagine Tokyo like the pizza that I once caught my roommate making, with all the toppings neatly organized and arranged in rows (picture on the left—I just couldn’t keep this from you). If Tokyo were a pizza, that’s what it would look like. Everything is clean and organized, and even stores are sorted according to what they sell: you’ll find kitchenware and catering supplies in Kappabashi Street, discount clothing in the Ueno district, and electronics in the streets of Akihabara.

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On Kappabashi Street in Tokyo, you can buy anything from restaurant furniture and kitchen staff uniforms to plastic food samples, which are on display in almost all restaurant windows in Japan.

Akihabara is also the district that covers a Japanese geek’s every need with its manga and anime shops and capsule toy vending machines and game arcades.

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Akihabara is the colorful district that covers the Japanese geek’s every need.

My favorite parts of Tokyo are the more traditional ones that don’t constantly bombard all the senses. Narrow streets with small, old houses lined up next to one another, tangled electricity cables in between wooden poles, Shinto shrines of all shapes and sizes, and tiny shops selling food, clothes, and paper goods. They may look quite boring at first sight: they don’t shine like the neon signs of Akihabara and they’re not mouthwatering like the surprisingly realistic plastic food samples on Kappabashi Street. But this is where the daily life of Tokyoites happens. You can see them riding their bicycles on their way to the shops or the neighborhood shrine, and meeting their friends at the local izakayas, traditional Japanese pubs, to enjoy too much food and beer together.

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