Tokyo is the largest city on the planet. It is the city of cities. There are over 35 million people in Tokyo Metropolis. This is almost twice the number (20 million) of the next most populous metropolitan areas (Seoul, Mexico City, New York City, Mumbai). As a resident of Chicago, I feel like I live in a big city. But when I came to Tokyo, Chicago seemed tiny to me.
In my opinion, Asian cities look a bit different than European cities. European cities often have had some urban planning done, so the streets flow well and landmarks are easily accessible. Asian cities don’t seem to have this. Tokyo is no exception. Tokyo is a sprawling concrete jungle. You see tall buildings everywhere you look. The streets are hard to navigate. There’s no “downtown” to look for. There really aren’t any iconic landmarks for Tokyo either (Arc de Triomphe, Tower Bridge, Coliseum, etc.) . Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to insult Tokyo; I’m just trying to explain that the city is different.
Instead of looking at landmarks, you need to go where the locals go to see Tokyo’s beauty. The photo above is of the Shibuya district. No, there was no festival going on. It’s just an average weekend afternoon, with thousands of Japanese people flocking to the shops and restaurants. There is no shortage of places to shop and eat in Tokyo – big or small, cheap or fancy, it’s all around you.
Perhaps the most well-known feature of Tokyo is its neon lights. They are everywhere. We Americans are proud of the lights in Times Square. Brits like their Picadilly Circus. In Tokyo, there’s a Times Square equivalent in almost every district. Every street with shops seems to be lit up by bright neon lights. Here are some photos from the Ginza (also the top photo in this article), Shinjuku, and Roppongi districts.
The neon lights are even more interesting in the red light areas 🙂
Tokyo seems to pride itself on the beauty and ingenuity of its modern buildings. The following two skyscrapers are really nice, and you can go up to their observation decks to admire the view. The first is the Metropolitan Government Building, the tallest building in Tokyo, in Shinjuku. The second is the Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills.
There are a number of buildings in Tokyo that are well-known for their architectural beauty. Here are photos of the Tokyo International Forum, located next to Tokyo Station, and the Prada Building in Aoyoma.
Here’s a lovely sunset from the top of the Mori Tower.