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Travel: Tokyo

Neon nights and eccentric sights in a foodie's paradise



Tokyo, the city that never sleeps. It’s famous for its zaniness, intense nightlife, fantastic food, weird fashion, beautiful temples and cute cat cafes. Every year, millions of tourists trek to the Japanese capital to enjoy the hot ramen and fresh sushi offered in a city pulsating with life 24/7. Most tourists want to tick off the Tokyo Tower and the Shibuya Crossing, but there is also much more to see off the beaten path. Ghibli devotees won't want to miss the excellent Studio Ghibli museum, a place of wonder where you can indulge your inner anime enthusiast. Or, a cheap way to soak up the city is to simply grab a drink in one of the countless convenience stores, known as a conbini in Japanese, and roam the neon streets of Tokyo after dark.




The mecca of Tokyo fashion is Shibuya. From Swedish high-street brands to obscure independent Japanese micro-stores, there’s something for everyone here. If you want to see some crazy Japanese fashion, then Harajuku is the place to be. On the weekends, it can get extremely packed, but nowhere else will you see as many distinctive and wacky outfits. If your scene is students and the arty crowd, take a look in Shimo-Kitazawa. Just southwest of Shibuya, this little neighborhood is filled with quirky shops, vintage stores, and tiny bars.




When thinking of Japan, many people picture trees laden with pink cherry blossom flowers. During a short period in March, the cherry blossom trees will be in full bloom, giving Tokyo a beautiful pink and serene appearance. The best place to go for hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, is Yoyogi Park—located near the center of Tokyo. It’s a massive sprawling park, well worth taking a stroll through. Just keep in mind that it gets incredibly busy during cherry blossom season!




A short paragraph cannot begin to do justice to Tokyo’s food scene. The city is littered with excellent restaurants from Michelin-starred fine dining establishments to traditional hole-in-the-wall ramen joints. The noodle-obsessed traveler should check out Ichiran for heavenly ramen that won't break the bank. If food quality isn’t important, but entertainment during your dinner is, then try the Kabukicho Robot Restaurant. Located in Kabukicho, Tokyo’s red-light district (although it really isn’t that shady anymore), it’s a restaurant that offers one of the craziest shows in Tokyo. Think giant robots, scantily-clad Japanese ladies, and laser lights. The food might not be great, but honestly, you will hardly notice it.




For a taste of authentic Japanese hospitality, try staying at a ryokan. These are old-school guesthouses, often inexpensive and distinctly Japanese. The interior varies per ryokan, but think tatami mat floors and low tables. The capsule hotel is another unique option. However, skip contemporary capsule hotels and go straight to the original, the Nagakin Capsule Tower. Originally a residential and office tower, this imposing grey and blocky building have a couple of rooms available through Airbnb. The rooms aren't spacious at all, but then again, that’s the point! 



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