Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tokyo Bits and Bobs

Walking from Asakusa to the Tokyo-Edo Museum was not one of my brightest ideas. I never really got lost, per se, but there was a stretch where I was a might bit bewildered. Luckily, I made it to my destination without too much trouble, and the museum itself was totally worth it. Split up into two halves, the first covered the founding and growth of the old Tokugawa capital Edo. The second was devoted to the modern history of Tokyo, from the late 1800s to the present day through redevelopment, earthquakes and war. I was very impressed with the displays and the contrast between old and new in Japan's capital.

The next day I want to do something free, so I started off at the Yebisu Beer Museum. The short trip through the history of Yebisu and Sapporo beer was interesting, but the highlight of course is the tasting room. I sampled a premium pilsner, which was quite delicious and had much more complexity than the standard issue Asian lager.

Tokyo can be an overwhelming city, even for those who are familiar with it, so I was glad to make a stop at Meiji Jingu. Right in the middle of the city, near the hip Harajuku shopping area, the shrine is an oasis of calm. While it is always busy with tourists and visitors, the area is large enough and green enough that you don't really notice.

Another thing I like to do when I am in Tokyo is stop by the Nikon office in Shinjuku. They offer a sensor cleaning service that is free if you are still under warranty, and only about 10 dollars if you aren't. As my precious D-80 does NOT have a self cleaning sensor, I find this an excellent way to make sure my photos are dust spot free. (Saves time in photoshop later)

After picking up my camera, I was just a few blocks away from the Tokyo Metropolitan Building. One of the tallest in the city, the building has two (free) observation lounges perched at the top of the towers.

I had never actually made it to the top before, and I find myself wondering why not. The view was fantastic, and it was far less commercial than Tokyo Tower to the south. Located at the bottom of the elevator was an excellent tourist information area, making the whole thing a must see for any first time visitor to Japan.

Looking out over Tokyo I am always struck by how massive a megaplex it is. I have more photos that I took from the Metropolitan building, but most are HDR, so when I have them processed, they will get a separate post. Also, people may notice a new tag, Free Japan. Posts with this label will point to something that is absolutely free, proving that while Japan may be expensive, there are wonderful experiences to be had even on a budget.


Mia said...

These pictures just make me wish I'd spent more time in Tokyo.

Travelingrant said...

Yeah, in the past I have been fairly dismissive of Tokyo, but over the past few years it has really grown on me. Its still pretty overwhelming, but there is a lot to like there too.