View Full Version : Tokyo

February 25th, 2004, 01:32 AM
Hello. My name is Rick and I am a second-generation Japanese-American. I usually travel to Japan once every two years, and doing so I observe the culture, architecture, and many other things. I have relatives in the Kanagawa, Kagoshima, and Miyazaki-prefecture, but no direct contacts in Tokyo. Due to the costs incurred with staying in Tokyo, our family usually stays only for a night or two, or passes Tokyo during a transfer flight.

Thus, my opinions about Tokyo may be highly biased because I haven't stayed in the place for an extended period of time. But, I can point out some observations.

PEOPLE- Considering over ninety-six percent of the country is Japanese, there were many similar faces and fashions. Youngsters wore something that mixed Western and Eastern flavors; some converse-shoes and traditional Japanese festival clothes, so to speak. Personally not my taste, but I respect their stuff.

While on a line in McDonalds, one teenager girl ran up to me and placed her shoe adjacent to mine, exclaiming "Such big shoes!" in Japanese. I grinned and forced a laugh, but was somewhat surprised by the sporadicity. When I ascended to the second floor, it was filled with teenage school girls with their cell-phones ringing, one another other talking. When I ascended to the third floor, it was still filled with the same genre of people but there was one space in the corner, where my mother, younger brother and I opted to sit. Yet we found no solace, instead, got to observe first-hand the furies of not nature, but youngsters.

Many boroughs in Japan are referred to as "Waka-mono-no-machi," which means "Youngster's Town." These towns are filled with stores that cater toward the youth in terms of fashions, fads, trends, etc.

I'm a pretty patient, persistent person. But I thought I was going to faint this summer when I was inside a train station while a festival event was taking place in Tokyo. There was so much people; Times Square doesn't even come close to emulating the experience. But again, that was the peak times, not normal times (although the morning and evening train rush scene is quite interesting to observe through a passive viewer's eye, to see the people pushed and packed into the subway via "pushers").

I whipped out my only-works-in-US Motorolla cell phone and fake-talked as I was talking with my friend. An experiment, so to speak. And I wasn't depicting flamboyant body language, but just a general, normal talk. But aside from my Japanese looks my behavior must've been somehow incongruous to that of the typical teenager; this one guy sat down directly across the road from me, onto the steps of a store. Then more came. Some girl whipped out her cell phone and was adjusting the position in mid-air; my guess is taking a picture via cell digital camera. One group of girls formed about two, three-feet away from me, and they were talking in Japanese about the topic of English translation. Maybe my suitcase beside my feet gave it away. By all means, I wasn't doing this to instigate: it was to experiment and see what would happen.

Personally, I loved the "Ikebukuro" borough the most because it was the most comparable to that of New York City. But again, I haven't visited all of Tokyo yet so it may be slightly biased. I loved "Ikebukuro" because of several reasons. First of all, the area had a more mature, metropolistic (if there is such a word) atmosphere. There were no ringing cellphones or large swarms of teenage girls; I could mind my own business and just walk and observe. Secondly, the area was well-developed in terms of architecture; the buildings and subway system and wires created a sophisticated, complicated scene which wasn't overflowing with color and vibrancy as was with Shibuya or other Wakamonono-Machi's, but was unified, had solace, and you could just look around and observe that it was a clean, organized metropolis.

I don't know, sometimes it's interesting to visit Shibuya or Harajyuku. But you see an array of youngsters who look entirely the same in terms of attire and conduct. Youngsters are usually in groups, because in Japan if you walk alone, "you are considered a nonconformist," as said by my mother, although that may be a bit too far; I did get stares when walking alone in malls in Japan. Youngsters are usually in hot, flashy colors with their hair bleached, but sometimes that's prohibited because many public/private schools don't allow such attire. I think that I would enjoy Shibuya or Harajyuku much more if I had an American friend with me, to sort of explore and experience the culture so to speak. But when with a Japanese friend, I felt as though everybody and everything was just swarming around you, making you dizzy: I guess it's that feeling you get when you're watching for the Millennium Ball to go down, among the crowd in captivity, but this differs from person to person. So I'm ambivalent. Maybe I will enjoy the Youngster Towns more if I actually visit more often to adjust. And the fact that space is precious in Japan adds to the whole compactness thing. So as of now, Youngster Towns are towns that I can wholeheartedly handle, but are stressful. I wonder if there are any places in New York that evoke a similar feeling... I don't think so, because I've never felt dizzy in a crowd in the City. Has anybody ever visited Tokyo before, can anybody provide a personal perspective?

Freedom Tower
February 25th, 2004, 07:19 AM
I've never been to Tokyo but it sounds like the people there sure thought of you as a spectacle. You don't also happen to be 7 feet tall or anything do you? If you're just an average looking person then it's odd so many people would notice you. This makes me want to go to Tokyo, just to have my own "experiment." :lol:

February 25th, 2004, 12:51 PM
When I went to Tokyo, I was almost completely ignored. I realize that it's considered bad manners to make eye contact, but as a New Yorker, even I was amazed.

November 7th, 2004, 07:47 PM
I think I know the reason why Tokyo is so modern. It's been rebuilt over and over again, because of repeated visits by Godzilla, Mothra, and Ghidra. Gives urban redevelopment a whole new "scale," if you get my drift.