Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tokyo, first day

We stayed in Tokyo for several days, but in few of these I spent in a scientific meeting (the excuse to get us all out to Japan). And so, unlike other locations, most of our interactions with the city where oriented toward seeing shopping districts rather than locations. 

Nonetheless, there are few things to tell about the place.

We stayed in a hotel that was part of a large complex of building called Shiodome. This complex included a subway station, a station for above-ground monorail, several hotels, shopping malls and offices.

Our hotel was walking distance to Ginza, the 5th Ave-like area of Tokyo. So we started our exploration by walking on foot toward the central part of this neighborhood.

Although this was a business area, we did find little jewels hiding on the corner.

We went to the Sony building. It had a large aquarium outside with tropic fish, of the types I am more used to see while diving. This large grouper seemed bored in.

We then went into the building to see various gadgets. We saw a 3D movie about an aquarium in Okinawa (seems like a nice place to visit with manta rays and whale sharks) and then went through floor that showed off Sony's attempt to reinvent the walkman in the iPod world, as well as other gadgets. Seems like 3D television will become a big thing in the very near future.

We then decided to go to Akihabara, the electronic's market place. To get there we had to figure out the Tokyo subway map.

Fortunately, we realized that the JR train, which appears very subtly on the subway map has lines going to most places, and better yet, we have a JR pass that allows us to ride freely. And so, we went on the JR green line.

The train is popular and full of people, but luckily we need to go only for three stops.

There are online TV ads on the train, as well as information about estimated arrival time to each station ahead of us.

Akihabara turned out to be a very busy area with large billboards.

Next to each restaurant there were young people, usually girls, advertising the place. Often they were dressed in interesting outfits.

We checked out few stores for discount gadgets. And then started searching for a puzzle store Yael heard about from her puzzle contacts. It took a while to find, as addresses in Japan are not that easy to decipher, but in the end we found the place.

It was on the fourth floor of a small building, and they had an impressive selection of puzzles.

We then decided to enter one of the big electronic stores. Roy wanted to check digital tablets and I wanted to look at cameras. Each of these stores was spread over several floors.

The impressive part about them was they seemed to have everything. Every camera, every lens I heard of, and moreover, every camera bag I heard of (which is a much wider range of selection).

After we got our share of stores, we decided to move on. The next destination was Harajuku, an area known as the center of hip population of Tokyo. We got off the station onto a pedestrian street teeming with people, stores and resturants.

Many of the stores had people standing in front calling customers to come check the merchandise.

The girls checked some of the hip clothing stores while Roy and I waited. This gave us a chance to see a fair share of colorful people going by.

We then searched for a place to eat, but all were tired, and so we ambled back to the hotel on the JR line and then found a nice restaurant in the food level of the building next to us.

At night we could see the Tokyo tower lighted up through the windows of the hotel lobby.

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