Tokyo - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Tokyo

Tokyo makes even New York seem like a sleepy, laid-back town. (©istockphoto/Kateryna Govorushchenk) Tokyo makes even New York seem like a sleepy, laid-back town. (©istockphoto/Kateryna Govorushchenk)
  • More on WCAX.comMore>>

  • Autumn in Tokyo: Japan at its best

    Autumn in Tokyo: Japan at its best

    Indulge in the changing of the leaves and the flavors of the season during Tokyo's most underrated time to visit.More >>
  • Osaka

    Osaka

    Osaka has a reputation as an international and progressive business center and is known for its food, castle, port, shopping arcades, and Bunraku puppet theater.More >>
  • Kyoto

    Kyoto

    Kyoto is the most historically significant town and was the only major city spared from the bombs of WWII. Due to this, Kyoto is home to 20% of Japan's national treasures.More >>

Describing Tokyo to someone who has never been here is a formidable task. After all, how do you describe a city that -- as one of my friends visiting Tokyo for the first time put it -- seems like part of another planet?

To be sure, Tokyo is very different from Western capitals, but what really sets it apart is its people. Approximately 12.36 million people reside within Tokyo's 2,100 sq. km (840 sq. miles), and almost one-fourth of Japan's total population lives within commuting distance of the city. This translates into a crush of humanity that packs the subways, crowds the sidewalks, and fills the department stores beyond belief. In some parts of the city, the streets are as crowded at 3am as they are at 3pm. With its high-energy, visual overload, Tokyo makes even New York seem like a sleepy, laid-back town.

And yet, despite its limited space for harmonious living, Tokyo remains one of the safest cities in the world, with remarkably little crime or violence. No matter how lost I may become, I know that people will go out of their way to help me. Hardworking, honest, and helpful to strangers, the Japanese are their country's greatest asset.

With Tokyo so densely packed, it comes as no shock to learn that land here is more valuable than gold, and that buildings are built practically on top of each other, shaped like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle to fit the existing plots of real estate. More than perhaps any other city in the world, Japan's capital is a concrete jungle, with a few parks but not many trees to break the monotony, and it stretches on and on as far as the eye can see. Fires, earthquakes, wars, the zeal for modernization, and the price of land have taken their tolls on the city, eradicating almost all evidence of previous centuries. It's as though Tokyo was born only this morning, with all the messy aftermath of a city conceived without plan and interested only in the future.

Thus, first-time visitors to Tokyo are almost invariably disappointed. They come expecting an exotic Asian city, but instead find a megalopolis Westernized to the point of drabness. Used to the grand edifices and monuments of Western cities, they look in vain for Tokyo's own monuments to its past -- ancient temples, exquisite gardens, Imperial palaces, or whatever else they've imagined. Instead they find what may be, quite arguably, one of the ugliest cities in the world.

So, while Tokyo is one of my favorite cities, my appreciation came only with time. When I first moved here, I was tormented by the unsettling feeling that I was somehow missing out on the "real" Tokyo. Even though I was living and working here, Tokyo seemed beyond my grasp: elusive, vague, and undefined. I felt that the meaning of the city was out there, if only I knew where to look.

With time, I finally learned that I needn't look farther than my own front window. Tokyo has no center, but rather is made up of a series of small towns and neighborhoods clustered together, each with its own history, flavor, and atmosphere. There are narrow residential streets, ma-and-pa shops, fruit stands, and stores. There's the neighborhood tofu factory, the lunch-box stand, the grocery shop, and the tiny police station, where the cops know the residents by name and patrol the area by bicycle. There are carefully pruned bonsai trees gracing sidewalks, women in kimono bowing and shuffling down streets, and wooden homes on impossibly narrow streets. Walk in the old downtown neighborhoods of Asakusa or Yanaka and you're worlds apart from the trendy quarters of Harajuku or the high-rises of Shinjuku. Neighborhoods like these make Tokyo lovable and livable.

What's more, once visitors get to know Tokyo better, they learn that you can't judge Tokyo by what it looks like on the outside, for this is a city of interiors. Even those concrete monsters may house interiors that are fascinating in design and innovation. In the basement of that drab building could well be a restaurant with wooden beams, mud walls, and thatched ceiling, imported intact from a farmhouse in the Japan Alps; on its roof could be a small Shinto shrine, while the top floor could house a high-tech bar or a tony French restaurant.

And beneath Tokyo's concrete shell is a thriving cultural life left very much intact. In fact, if you're interested in Japan's performing arts as well as such diverse activities as the tea ceremony or sumo, Tokyo is your best bet for offering the most at any one time. It is rich in museums and claims the largest repository of Japanese art in the world. It also gets my vote as the pop-art capital of the world, so if you're into kitsch or anime (Japanese animation), you'll be in high heaven. I can't imagine being bored here for even a minute.

Content provided by
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Winooski man killed in motorcycle accident

    Winooski man killed in motorcycle accident

    Thursday, April 17 2014 11:12 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:12:18 GMT
    There's been a tragedy on the Burlington beltway Thursday night. Police confirm that a 24-year-old Winooski man was killed in a motorcycle crash that shutdown the beltway. The name has been releasedMore >>
    Burlington Police confirm that a 24-year-old Winooski man was killed in a motorcycle crash that shutdown the beltline.More >>
  • Stowe couple dead in murder-suicide

    Stowe couple dead in murder-suicide

    Thursday, April 17 2014 11:08 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:08:04 GMT
    Police say two people found dead at a home in Stowe are believed to have died in a murder-suicide. Police are still not releasing their names or the cause of death, but they say the victims are adults. StoweMore >>
    A Stowe couple is dead after what police say was a murder-suicide. The news came as a shock to neighbors who say they never noticed any red flags.
    More >>
  • Leicester man charged with shootings appears in court

    Leicester man charged with shootings appears in court

    Thursday, April 17 2014 6:58 PM EDT2014-04-17 22:58:26 GMT
    A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury. Timothy Foley did appear in court Thursday in Middlebury. He wasn't there last time,More >>
    A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury.More >>
  • Woman sentenced in Vt. crash that killed motorcyclist

    Woman sentenced in Vt. crash that killed motorcyclist

    Thursday, April 17 2014 11:26 AM EDT2014-04-17 15:26:34 GMT
    A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to...More >>
    A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to 12 months.More >>
  • Man charged in Vt. cruiser crushing has June trial

    Man charged in Vt. cruiser crushing has June trial

    Thursday, April 17 2014 12:34 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:34:06 GMT
    A Vermont man accused of crushing seven sheriffs' vehicles with a farm tractor is scheduled for trial in June.More >>
    A Vermont man accused of crushing seven sheriffs' vehicles with a farm tractor is scheduled for trial in June.More >>
  • Teen arrested in St. Albans bomb threat

    Teen arrested in St. Albans bomb threat

    Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:16 GMT
    A teenager has been arrested for making a bomb threat in St. Albans. Police say the threat was made to Project SOAR, an alternative school, Wednesday morning. The building was searched and no bomb wasMore >>
    Police say a teenager has been arrested for allegedly making a bomb threat to an alternative school in St. Albans.More >>
  • Missing Rutland woman found safe

    Missing Rutland woman found safe

    Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:01 GMT
    A missing elderly woman from Rutland has been found safe in Burlington. Police say Grace Maddaloni, 88, disappeared Wednesday after what they called a "disagreement." Because of her age and being in theMore >>
    A missing elderly woman from Rutland has been found safe in Burlington.More >>
  • Big buyer for Big Blue?

    Big buyer for Big Blue?

    Thursday, April 17 2014 7:07 PM EDT2014-04-17 23:07:19 GMT
    IBM and chip production may soon be parting ways. The Wall Street Journal reports that Big Blue is looking to unload three chipmaking plants-- two in upstate New York and its Vermont plant in Essex Junction.More >>
    With indications IBM may sell off its chipmaking plants, we talked to the company experts say may buy them. GlobalFoundries already has employees working at IBM in Essex Junction through a partnership, and experts say that could help the company decide whether the plant is a worthy investment.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.