Introduction

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Introduction

Post by mercuryfan on Tue 15 Oct 2013, 03:22

Although Japan is in the midst of a recession, Tokyo is vibrant and
alive. One of the world's main economic centers -- and most
populous metropolitan areas -- Tokyo is a city that presents a different
view of itself at every turn. Starkly modern, it becomes a jewel box at
night with a glittering display of neon and fluorescent lights. But you
can retreat to quiet cobbled lanes and sculpted gardens for the
harmony, scale and simplicity the Japanese have prized for centuries.
Look down one street and you'll see nothing but neon and concrete,
but around the corner you may find yourself in the bonsai-lined
courtyard of a traditional inn.

Several times in history, Tokyo has been almost destroyed -- by fires,
earthquakes, floods and war -- but it has always rebuilt itself. That
might explain why it retains only vestiges of Old Japan. You'll find an
amazing hodgepodge of old and modern architecture, often side by
side, and a maze of streets where even taxi drivers lose their way. You
can get utterly lost just a few moments' walk from your hotel. It is a
safe place, however, and a relatively good city to be lost in, with
_kobans_ (police boxes) interspersed throughout the metropolis and
shy but friendly people who almost always help if you ask.

Because of the expense and the language barrier, most travelers to
Tokyo have gone there for business. It has been a place to do things,
not to see things. But given the current economic situation, hotel and
tour prices have dropped, making the city more attractive to leisure
travelers. With some planning, these days it's possible to visit Tokyo
on a reasonable budget.
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