5 alternative things to do in Tokyo
Tokyo is a city of extremes. A city with ultra modern skyscrapers that are next to ancient temples. The politest city dwellers anywhere on the planet that also have a strange kinky side to them and traditional restaurants next door to maid cafes. You will see more weird and wonderful things in a day in Tokyo than you would in many other cities combined. There are many guides on Tokyo suggesting that you go and see Tsukiji Fish Market (which is moving very soon), Shibuya Crossing and Akihabara Electric Town (Denki-Gai) which we recommend you do too but we also wanted to share the things we discovered during our stay in this amazing city.
Advanced Technology Exhibition Hall @TEPIA
This place blew us away. It was recommended to us by another traveller at our hostel and it is a must see when you come here. The exhibition displays advanced technologies in a hands on approach in 5 fields: telecommunications, health, medical care, the environment and energy. We were lucky enough to have our own personnel tour guide as we arrived really early. So get out of bed if you want the same! She went into great detail on what each exhibit did. Some of our favourites were:
The meal assit robot: A robot that assists sufferers of diseases such as Parkinson’s where the patient can not control their movement. The robot controls the movement and the patient then can feed themselves as opposed to the robot feeding them. Genius.
Vibrating walking sticks: Walking sticks that have a camera at the end that detects when colours change on the pavement. They are using this system instead of the bumpy system that we use at the moment as the bumpy pavements are not very comfortable to walk on. Basically the pavement will be painted green and near the end it will be red. The walking stick will alert the user that they are near the end of the pavement. Simple but brilliant.
Robots that make you feel guilty: Yes you read that write. Every robot we met, (that sounds mad doesn’t it?) made us feel guilty when we walked away. They would say things like “don’t go” or “I am lonely now”. We wanted to take one with us in the end!
Sleep in a manga cafe
We did this on our first night in Tokyo. We left our backpacks at the vast Tokyo train station which has a floor devoted to leaving your luggage. When I say a floor I really mean a car park sized space for leaving your luggage!
We then headed to Roppongi to find ourselves a manga cafe. People stay the night in them when they miss their last train out of Tokyo. Instead of paying a fortune for a taxi or hotel, they can stay in these places. You can also rent out a thing called a DVD room which as it says on the tin, is a room that has access to thousands of DVD’s. We preferred the manga cafe though as it felt more Japanese. I apologise for the sound quality on the video clip above but everybody is so quiet in Japan that I felt I had to talk in whispered tones to be respectful.
You will not actually sleep much in this place especially if you are like me and overdose on e-numbers from the free ice cream but it is well worth the experience. There are manga books in English for you to read and in your little booth you will have a game console, computer and T.V.
Visit Tokyo Bay
A lot of visiters forget that Tokyo is actually a city on the Pacific Ocean. You can get so wrapped up in the Blade Runner-esque surroundings I can see why. But stop looking up and get some fresh air! It was a pleasant change walking next to the sea on the man made island in the middle of the bay. There are plenty of things to do on the island but we were content to be just outside soaking up the sun.
Tokyo apartments are notoriously small which means that when people want to do any kind of activity they head for the outdoors. Yoyogi park is a perfect example and a great place to people watch. Whilst we were there we witnessed exercise classes, play rehearsals, dancing, painting groups, rockabilly gangs, many, many Elvis lookalikes and much more. The atmosphere was brilliant. Head there on a Sunday to witness the whole kaleidoscope of talent.
This is the best place for “street food” in Tokyo. The Japanese don’t really do street food. They consider it rude to eat on the go and with the finest food on the planet (in our humble opinion) who is to blame them. If you want a quick bite to eat, this is for you. The authorities hate the name Piss Alley and are trying to rebrand it “Memory Lane” but everybody still calls it Piss Alley. The name comes from when the area was a lot less built up and shady characters would be drunk staggering about. There were no toilets in the area so they went where they could. Hence the name. It is hard to imagine now in ultra clean Japan. Most of the places to eat are so small they can only cater for 4 people. The alley itself is so tight that only 1 person can really walk down. It’s a great place for food, beer and watching drunk Japanese businessmen stagger home.
If you are going to Tokyo or are already there, let us know if you have visited any of the places on our list and tell us what you think. Send us other suggestions too, we would love to hear from you.
love & peace,
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