Saturday, 24 October 2015

Tokyo Top 10

Originally published 15/11/2012 on Chunk.ie

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As some of the crew know, I’m just back from a week long trip to Tokyo. They say New York is the city that never sleeps, well compared to Tokyo, New York is comatose! I had planned on writing on my adventures in Tokyo, but then I figured that self incrimination was not the way to go. Instead, you get this Tokyo Top Ten list.

Brozers Burger

Is there a tastier burger in all of Tokyo? I don’t think so! I have no idea how they cook their burgers, but they just melt in your mouth. The best burger I have ever tasted and worth going off the beaten path for.

Tokyo Skytree

What’s 634m tall and towers above Tokyo? No, not Godzilla, its the Tokyo Skytree. It’s the tallest tower in the world and the second tallest structure after Burj Khalifa. You can’t go all the way to the top unfortunately, the highest point visitors can get to is the 450m floor, not too shabby I think you’ll agree, you are almost .5km above Tokyo city! It’s well worth a visit and you truly get a feel for just how big Tokyo is as you look out the observation windows and see the city fade into the distance.

Skytree

See those tiny buldings down there? They're tower blocks!

Oh and don’t forget to visit the aquarium at the base of the Skytree too!

Bullet Train

Ever since I was a child I wanted to ride on a bullet train. There is something about the bullet train that captures the imagination… The speed of the train, the look of the train, the way the train banks around a corner at full tilt. If you like speed, take a trip on one of these trains, you won’t regret it.

bullet

Uptown Bar, Ginza

Tokyo seems to have more bars in one street than the whole of my home town. There are hundreds, if not thousands of bars throughout the city, some large, some small, some good, some bad… This one just happened to be the bar I visited most often. Good food, good craic, good people. Need I say more?

Shinjuku Robot Restaurant

Are you fed up with normal waiters and waitresses? Is your typical Japanese restaurant too quiet for you? If so, get yourself along to the Shinjuku Robot Restaurant. I’d try to explain, but I’m struggling for words. Take a read of this article on the Daily Mail website, they do a good job of explaining it.

robot

Gonpachi Restaurant

Remember Kill Bill? Remember the scene where the Crazy 88 met their demise in a restaurant? Well that set was actually based on a real restaurant! You’ll be stunned when you slide back the wooden door into the restaurant, it’s like walking into the film, apart from the complete lack of murderous bastards that is… Depending on which review you read, the food and service is either awful or good. At 2am in the morning, both were fine for me.

Gonpachi

Kobe Beef

Any steak lover out there will have heard of Kobe Beef. Depending on who you talk to, the cattle are massaged regularly and fed on a quality diet that includes copious amounts of beer. I don’t know and don’t care how they do it. It’s an incredible piece of meat that tastes like angels dancing on your tongue. I paid approx. €115 for a 100g fillet, yes you read that right, but don’t let the price of it put you off, if you are in Tokyo, it’s a must do!

kobe

Yodobashi-Akiba

Six floors of high tech goodness. It’s like Toys R’ Us for gadget freaks. Everything and anything you could possibly need from the tech world can be found in this store. Take your time, don’t rush this store otherwise you will end up freaking out and buying nothing, just like I did!!

yodobashi

Yoyogi Park

What a strange place this is… From the Cos play boys and girls near its entrance, to the Rock n Roll Dancers and on to the drummers… You could spend hours just sitting and watching people go by in this park. Think of St. Stephens Green, but larger and without the junkies or the risk of getting mugged. I sat and watched the drummers beat out a rhythm for an hour, a great way to wind down from the night before.

drum

rock

Akiba Cultural Zone

No trip to Tokyo would be complete without a trip to a Manga shop. There are far too many to list, just pop down to Akiba and take a walk around. you’re sure to find something to interest you! Be warned though, the comic books range from the nice happy family stories to the weird world of an octopus with very very strange tentacles!

manga

One major omission from the list is Roppongi, the party area of the city… Think of Temple Bar except louder, ruder and even less safe. I paid a visit one night and couldn’t wait to get out of the place. It just felt dangerous. Too many drunken tourists falling around, packed into bars like sardines in a tin. You can get the Roppongi experience in almost any city anywhere in the world, so why bother with it? On the other hand, if you like bad strip clubs and girls with, and I quote, “Big ass titties, bigger than your head”, then do pay a visit, but be careful with your drink and leave your credit card at home!

So, that’s my Top Ten in no particular order. There is plenty more to see and do in Tokyo obviously. If you can, I’d suggest a visit to a Hostess Bar, its a very interesting experience. Maybe a trip to the New York Grill Bar in the Park Hyatt hotel, or how about having a drink and a chat in one of the many Maid bars scattered throughout Akihabara. Oh and how could I forget the magnificent Imperial Palace, shame on me for that!

Don’t be put off by the language. By all means try and utter some local phrases just out of politeness, but when you get stuck, and you will get stuck, use English. Someone will understand and will be more than happy to try and converse in English with you. Oh and as I found out, try to have a cúpla focal also, it breaks the ice and differentiates you from Americans and British (not that there is anything wrong with being either, but…). One last bit of advice, Tokyo has a lot of steps, a lot!! Bring comfortable, sturdy shoes or boots, you will be doing a lot walking!

I’m looking forward to Round Two with Tokyo, hopefully next year. So much done, so much more to do over there!

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