Shopping in Akihabara is hands down a must-do thing if you are a gadget or electronic lover. My recent trip to Tokyo in 2012 left me with choices of places to visit here and this was on top of my list as the last time I visited Akihabara was back in 1990. That was 22 years ago and I had to see how things have changed since my last visit here. To my surprise, the development of Akihabara left me speechless as from a mere few streets of electrical gadgets, it has extended into such a large place. I remember back then, I managed to cover most of the main places in under half a day. This time around, that same time only let me to see probably half of the entire place. While walking around the back lanes, I also noticed many Japanese Maid Cafes operating especially on the first floor of the buildings. Cute Japanese girls in maid costumes would be standing at the balcony clapping their hands and shouting some Japanese words to get customers attention. Well, that being one of the top novelties in Japan, I totally pushed that curiosity out of my head and continued with my fascination of the electric city here. Really, I did!
One of the most exciting shopping places in Japan, everyone that visits Tokyo will surely pay a visit to this amazing district. Well known as the fashion central and an abundance of nightlife. One of the popular places here is the Shibuya 109 Building which is a must-stop for Japanese young women. Another well known place here is the Shibuya is famous for its scramble-crossing where you see thousands of people crossing this intersection at all angles. It is located in front of the famous Shibuya Station Hachikō exit. I also flew in to Japan via AirAsia X which lands at the Tokyo Haneda Airport which is much nearer than Narita. If you are visiting Tokyo, you should make it a point to visit this place to get a memorable Shibuya photo.
Shinjuku Neon Lights are one of the must-experience things to do when you are visiting Tokyo, Japan. The incredible district is one of the 23 special wards of Tokyo and it is also a major commercial and administrative center, housing the busiest train station in the world which is the Shinjuku Station. Can you imagine two million people use the station daily and at least 12 different lines pass through here. One could easily get lost inside the station. Anyone and everyone that visits Tokyo will at least make a stop at this unique part of Japan and as for me, my last visit here was back in 1990. You can only imagine how it was back then. On my last visit here in February 2011, it seemed like nothing had changed. Below are pictures I took while I explored this place on foot. Please click on the pictures to see in full size. Walking around at night is probably the best way to experience Shinjuku, especially along the main roads at Kabukicho where you can get a good view of the neon lights that tantalize your eyes. Every nook and cranny was almost covered with all sorts of neon. Even walking pass lanes, you could see lights leading all the way deep into the lanes.Overall, if you like the vibrant nightlife, Shinjuku is one of the places worth exploring as they offer all kinds of shopping and entertainment. Luxury brand stores are also found around here. There are some excellent places with great Japanese food while specialty coffee cafes can be seen here too. Be careful of street promoters that approach and offer you good deals to special clubs and bars as once you are committed, you would most likely end up paying exorbitant prices. Note that various subway lines stop here but the train service stops at midnight so if you plan to stay late, you need to take a taxi back. Some of the best clubs in Tokyo are found here too.
Harajuku has been known as the capitol of fashion for many years. From the most trendiest fashion right to the most outrageous fashion can be found here. Apart from the main walking street which is known as Takeshita Street, there is also the high end shopping area known as Omotesandō (表参道) Street. Another highlight of this place is the famous Yoyogi Park where on weekends, the best of the best in Japanese fashion can be seen. Among the unique fashion observed here, you see defunct Rockabilly fashion right to the Punk Rock era. From here, the first thing you would notice is the massive crowds surrounding the entire area. A large majority would be mostly teenagers who come here to shop or just hang out. The weekend is the best time to visit Harajuku and you should spend at least half a day there. Go in the late mornings till the late afternoons.
Apart from the amazing shopping, there are cultural sites, world class entertainment places and also great street food found throughout the city. Just so you know, Osaka is also known as the Kitchen of Japan. Walking along this main street was an experience to remember as the covered walkways here stretches for over four kilometers. Can you imagine the amount of shops available here? Totally surreal and truly a woman's paradise. Then again, men would be pleased to know that there are male items available here too. Taking the subway here is a breeze as the ticket machines have dual language where English is one of them. Many of the directional signs are in English too.
Takayama Old Town or Old Quarter is located about one hour from Shirakawa-Go and about two hours from Nagoya city and this place sits in a basin surrounded by beautiful scenic mountains. Takayama is also well known for the famous Hida Beef, the Old Quarter of Takayama, the Morning Market and Takayama Jinya which is an interesting government house museum. The morning market is another exciting place to visit as the vendors here sell freshly picked fruit, homemade pickles, Japanese sweets and local Japanese handicraft. This place is also best visited in the spring and summer as it tends to be much more lively compared to the winter period. Among the other things found around Takayama are craft like pottery, ‘Ichii Ittobori’ wood carvings, Hida furniture and famous Japanese sake breweries.