Western Toyko: Red lights, Robots and Harajuku girls

The next stop on our trip was Tokyo, Japan’s capital and the most popular metropolis in the world. There is just so much to see within this massive city and outsides its borders. It’s one of the most modern cities that I’ve ever seen, yet you can also find pockets of old world Japanese culture. Tokyo was definitely not as clean as previous Japanese cities, but we found it easy to navigate and were spoilt for choice for where to shop and dine.

We allocated two and a half days to explore the city and one day for DisneySea. The following posts on Tokyo are not in order, but have been split up into west, central and north Tokyo. We stayed in Shinjuku, which is on the west side, so I thought I’d start there. The highlights were the nightlife of Kabukichō, the crazy Robot Cabaret, colourful Harajuku and busy Shibuya. The west side was definitely the crazy, eccentric Tokyo that I imagined. We were lucky to just stumble unexpectedly to these sites. They probably aren’t for everyone, but I’m so happy we got to experience the quirky side of the city.

 

From Osaka to Tokyo we took a bullet train (2.5 hours). It was quick, clean and definitely less stress than flying. Before we left we had some soups at the station. It seems no matter where you are in Japan, you can get a good meal.  Tokyo it was just as colourful, loud and lite up as I imagined. It already seemed much different where we had been.

 

We stayed in Shinjuku, which is probably one of the seeder neighbourhoods. We weren’t far from Kabukichō, which is the entertainment and red-light district in Shinjuku and is known as the “Sleepless Town”. It has many host and hostess clubs, love hotels, shops, restaurants, and nightclubs. During the night it was so alive. The shops were open late and there were so many places to eat. However, in the morning it was a ghost town.

 

On our first night we were wandering through Kabukichō and came across the Robot Restaurant. This restaurant is actually a Robot themed cabaret. I had heard about it on a tourist show and was interested to see what it was all about, but wasn’t expecting it to be great.

After we bought out tickets we were shown to this psychedelic waiting room/bar. We were given this little dinosaur robot, which responded to being patted. There was also a robot driving through the centre of the room. I’m not sure if it was a real robot or someone in a robot suit. We weren’t really sure what we were doing in here since we weren’t given any menus, so we didn’t end up buying any drinks. Eventually, they took us down to the restaurant.

 

Before the show, we were given our dinner. It was a truly horrible bento box and probably the worst meal we had in Japan. Everything was so cold and tasteless. I don’t think people come for the food though, so I recommend eating before you come.

The show was a 1-hour spectacle of crazy, fun and unusual. There was flashing lights, taiko drums, techno music, glitzy girls, giant animals (suits), dinosaurs, ninjas and robots. I really enjoyed the show. If you don’t mind seeing seemly clad girls, it’s quite entertaining. The best part was probably the end when all the robots came out. I assumed that some of the robots were people in suits. I think the biggest ones were real robots and we were able to get photos with them at the end of the show.

 

On our last day, we finally found the Tokyo we had been looking for.  Harajuku is the centre of extreme Japanese fashion and teenage culture. There are many fashion boutiques here that are unique and fun fast-food outlet. Takeshita Dori is the heart of Harajuku. This 400-metre narrow street is lined with shops and fast food, targeted at Tokyo’s youth. This strip was really crowded when we visited. The fashion was really unique compared to what we had seen elsewhere.

For lunch, we were recommended to visit Shanti on Harajuku Dori. They make the most amazing Sapporo style curry soups. I had a Gyoza and Vegetable Curry Soup that really hit the spot on such a cold day. Afterwards, we went for dessert at Santa Monica Crepes, in Takeshita Dori. I  was really excited about this place because usually bubble tea is only made from cows milk. I had the Strawberry Coconut Milk Tea and Marco had a Banana Choc Icecream Crepe.

 

Our next stop was the other place I had been looking for and stumbled across by accident. Shibuaya is another popular place for shopping, dining and nightclubs. It is also another fashion hub for Tokyo’s youths fashion trends. The reason I recognised this place is the famous large intersection that is often depicted when representing Tokyo. It is thought to be the busiest intersection in the world, as it can cater for up to 2500 people at once. You would think that we would have been mowed down, but no Japanese people are too polite to push and shove their way through.

 

 

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