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  1.  (10456.1)
    Hey folks, how's things?

    I'm off to Japan for 16 days (19 February - 4 March) and I'm not ashamed to say I'm just about peein myself with excitement. 6 days of snowboarding in Niseko with my partner followed by Tokyo and Kyoto for the remainder. We'll be staying in Shinjuku and have a (very) rough outline of what we're keen on in Tokyo. I've trawled the interwebs for info, pointers, things that we really shouldn't do, etc and I'm pretty comfortable that we won't make any outrageous social blunders or get ourselves into too much trouble.

    That being said though, there is nothing like picking the brains of those that have personal and up to date knowledge of our destination. To wit, I implore the Whitechapel community to bombard me with first hand (second hand is also good, though pure hearsay not so much) knowledge, hot tips, what not too, little known sights, experiences and the like. I'm super keen on anything and everything, from awesome drinking holes and eatery's, Haikyo and weird architechture, local bands and live houses, to any of the random bibs and bobs that really make up a city.

    My thanks in advance.
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2012
    Been nearly ten years since I last went to Tokyo.

    As a gamer I had to visit Akihabara, but that's not something that appeals to everyone. I quite liked Odaiba, plenty of weird architecture down there like the Fuji TV HQ and the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition centre.

    The main national museums in Ueno park are pretty cool too if the weather is shitty.
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2012 edited
    how i miss that city. only spent 8 days total there in september 2009, but i friggin' loved it. felt like coming home.
    anyway, i can't really tell you any hot spots, because 8 days isn't much to explore a city that big and versatile.

    that being said, here're a few pointers:

    -=- avoid kabukijo after midnight, unless you've got streetwise locals with you.
    sounds totally cliche, but it's true. that area is full of con men of the slickest sort and if you don't know what to say or where to go, you'll be out of money and id pretty fast.

    -=- mandarake: if you're into manga and anime you HAVE to check it out.
    several levels full of mangas, animes, collectibles, figures and rare video games and what-have-you. biggest outlet is located somewhere in akiba (also known as akihabara).

    -=- avoid the main streets in harajuku, when fashion shopping. er, in harajuku.
    there're tons of interesting smaller boutiques in shibuya and shinjuku (and probaly also in the other city quarters), but i've found the most interesting gear and the alleys of harajuku, where you'd expect them.
    you'll have to wander around a bit, but you'll eventually find some. there's a cluster of local designer outlets near the design school cafe/bar.

    -=- palace, ueno park and the lot.
    yes, do 'em. lovely, huge public gardens and greeneries.

    -=- jingu bridge, yoyogi park and meiji shrine.
    yeah, i know, these are in every tourist guide, but really worth it. gothlolis and visual kei dudes and dudettes galore on weekends at jingu, japanese rockabillies dancing it out in yoyogi and the absolutely breathtaking meiji jingu and surrounding greeneries...

    -=- womb. if you can.
    it's probably nothing like in its glory days anymore, but it should still be a fascinating club. unfortunately it was closed when i wanted to check it out.

    -=- gamer bars are a must, even if you're just having a look.
    there are several of these in tokoy, i've only been to one: 8bit cafe. it's in shinjuku and feels like your game geek friends have pimped out their living room. i spent 7 hours there.

    can't think of anything anymore, but if you can read german you might want to check out my clog (column/blog) posts with my japanese experiences.
    starts here, and the last part has some tokyo info as well.
  2.  (10456.4)
    I live here...
    What are you interested in specifically ?
  3.  (10456.5)
    thanks Flabyo and werewolf, exactly the kind of thing i'm after.

    oscillateur, i'm into skating and punk/rock music, so anything related to those (good bands or live houses) i'd try to slip into my schedule. on the other hand i find just about any "geeky"/"nerdy" subject topic fascinating so i'll definitely be checking out Mandarake and gamer bars (cheers werewolf). aside from that i'd love suggestions on stuff like:
    - good bookstores (preferably ones that have some english language stock)
    - good eats (from the classier joints to street vendors and junk food. my partner is mostly vegetarian, but i'm willing to have a crack at nearly anything)
    - a half decent tattoo parlour (i've got plenty of random tats and refuse to leave Tokyo without a bit of commemorative ink)
    - art and architecture (anything that could loosely come under those headings, i enjoy it all)
    -any of the the weird and wonderful things that you would consider a must see.

    im sure i'll think of additional specifics, but that covers the majority of it for the now.
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2012 edited
    For music, check Tokyo Gig Guide, it's in english and it lists many concerts in Tokyo. Be warned though, concerts are really expensive here (at least compared to Europe). There are usually some cool things happening all the time, so it's worth having a look in case you find something that suits you.

    Also, I avoid Kabukicho not because it's dangerous (let's be honest, there might be rare exceptions but Japan is the safest country I've ever seen) but because it basically sucks :).

    For bookstores, unless you read Japanese your best bet might be the 7th floor of the Tower Records in Shibuya (i.e. for english books).
    If you want japanese books, there are bookstores all over the place.

    For food, you're in luck : food is usally quite good here so if you see something that looks interesting just by walking around, try it and chances are that it'll be very nice.
    You can also check for adresses of specific restaurants.
    I'm vegetarian too, and you can find vegetarian stuff here but be warned that meat is sometimes not indicated in items in the menu (happened to me last week :).
    Useful to know : "nikku nashi" means "without meat" and "sakana nashi" means "without fish" (just tell that to people in the restaurants). It might be worth it to check Tokyo Vegetarian Guide for restaurants adresses that explicitely have vegetarian stuff.

    For tattoos, no idea... I suppose there should be things in Shibuya/Harajuku/etc. for example but google is your friend here :).

    Architecture : just walk around the city. It's wonderful for this. Really different from anything else, lots of unique buildings, etc.
    Art : the Mori Art Museum usually has interesting exhibitions (modern art) and if you go there try to do it early so that you can take the ticket with the panoramic view from the top of the Mori Tower at the same time. The National Art Center is 10mn (walking) from there, also interesting stuff there.

    Weird and wonderful : once again, this is all over the place :).

    My advice if you're here for 16 days would be to manage to spend some time outside Tokyo too if you can.
    Go to Mt Fuji, go to see the sea (visiting the temples at Kamakura for example, it's easy and cheap to go there), maybe even spend one day or two in Kyoto...

    Hope this helps :)

    EDIT : Ooops, just re-read your first comment and saw that you'll be spending time in Kyoto and Niseko too. So ignore my last point ;).
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2012
    This may be covered by the research you've already done but be prepared for squat toilets.

    The Yamanote loop is a cheap way to kill a couple of hours.

    Avoid Ueno zoo if you love animals.
  4.  (10456.8)
    I've been living in Tokyo for more than 2 years and never encountered a single squat toilet... I never tried to use the toilets in the train stations though :).
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2012
    Funny, I was in Japan for all of about two weeks and ran into them three or four times - includign at the aforemnetoned Ueno zoo.
  5.  (10456.10)
    Hahah, might be one of those things that are really different depending on if you actually live there or not :) (and that really makes sense, I only use toilets at home, at work and in restaurants/bars).

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