2 July 2008
We started our second day in Japan exploring Ginza. First we walked through Ginza to the Tourist Information Center in order to buy tour for the next day and hear their suggestions for a day. Tourist Info did not sell any tours, they suggested a place where to go (downstairs same building). About what to see and do in Tokyo – Tourist Info did not add much to the information we have already read from Lonely Planet. It seemed that Tourist info is good in helping to find a hotel.
An interesting place to step in was Sony building. It had hands-on displays of Sony latest products, some of them yet to be released. We found video camera section to be most interesting. If somebody has in mind the idea of buying a video camera, this should be a place to try different options.
The weather was good, sun with small clouds and temperature about 25-26 degrees. It was very good for walking. Although the distances between different areas of interest were quite big, so we needed to take a subway to our next destination Roppongi.
Subway (Japanese people call it metro) is most convenient way to get round the city (subway map is great help, you can get in any station). Single ticket cost 150 yen and buying the ticket from machine with the coins is easy, English instructions are available. After entering the subway gates and slippig the ticket through the machine, do not through it away, you will need it when exiting subway.
The subway train from Ginza to Roppongi Hills station took about 5 minutes. Roppongi Hills is very modern area. The developer Mori Minoru envisioned it to be a microcosm of a city, centralizing home work and leisure. Here, in this shopping-dining-housing and entertainment center, we found again very modern architecture, clean streets, fashionable people.
We also visited Mori Tower. Entry fee 1500 Yen per person included the city view from 270 meter high open-air observatory and modern art museum. At the time the exhibition of Retrospective of Turner Prize was to see in the museum. The view from the sky observatory was great, it gave a picture how big Tokyo really is. Twelve million people live in the city, it can be said that the land is very effectively used. The biggest green area to see was Imperial Palace with its gardens, other houses do not have big gardens. The 360degrees view is definitely worth to look at Mori Tower.
We had a sushi lunch in Roppongi Hills. The sushi-bar was picked from the area map we got from information center. Sushi lunch including Miso soup and drinks for two cost 4500 Yen. The sushi was fresh and delicious, although here we did not see taisha (the sushi chef) making the sushi.
After lunch we took a subway to Shinjuku, the sprawling business, commercial and entertainment center with high concentration of skyscrapers. Shinjuku subway station is the busiest in the World, every day three million people pass through this station. The skyscrapers in Shinjuku are somewhat different from Shiodome and Ginza area. I seemed that Shinjuku skyscrapers have longer history and as here are also Metropolitan Government offices, the area is more conservative.
We visited Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building observatory, about 200 meters high. The entrance here is free and it was said that at clear days Mount Fuji can be seen. The day was not that clear, but the views were good. Although, after visiting Mori Tower observatory did not impress so much.
We walked in the are to see Kabukicho – famous red-light district. We followed the streets at the map (at least we thought so), but at some point we realized we are not getting closer to the destination. We realized that best help can be got from policemen, there are plenty of them at the streets and since the level of crime is very low they have time and will to help. So, finally we found Kabukicho. The district was different from what we have seen so far. The hourly rates were at the billboards, we saw several massage salons, strip shows, love-hotels, peep-shows etc. The freeters (street advertisers) mostly approach local men, foreign men, especially with female accompanies, are not their targets. So the walking in Kabukicho is totally harmless, but interesting as a different experience from Tokyo.
Although we have already seen a lot for the day, interesting experiences were still ahead. Next (and last) stop for a day was Akihabara – Tokyo’s discount electronics neighborhood. We visited two biggest electronics shop Sofmap and Laox. Both duty-free shops have several floors full of well priced electronics, in our opinion Sofmap has larger variety of goods. The prices are good, but not comparable to electronics in United States.
Aftter shoping break it was time for dinner. We asked from policemen, where is closest sushi bar, they suggested to go to Sushizanmai. This was great place. As we already learned last night the whole group of taishas welcomed us loudly. The sushi was just great made under our eyes and when we praised sushi, the loud thank you in Japanese was heard. The whole dinner with soup, drinks and desert cos 3423 yen. This was best sushi, so far.