I don’t know how much time you need to spend in Tokyo so that it would stop surprising you?
After a few days here, I was sure I’ve mastered the transport system around Tokyo. And I actually do, it’s pretty simple and straightforward. The only problem is that train/metro stations are huuuuuuuge. If you think that it’s enough to just hop off the train at the given station, you’re wrong. You also have to choose the right exit. Normally there are 4 options, north, south, west and east. Normally. Quite often though there are some additional exit possibilities as well, just to make things a bit harder. If you get out of the station at the wrong exit, you are… well, screwed. Let me try to put this into perspective… If I go out through the north gate, I end up in Siska / Takapuna, and if I choose the west gate, I find myself in Vic / Manukau. Now that’s quite a difference, don’t you think? I seriously believe that I have spent more time underground than outside over the past few days :).
Above each train/metro station, there is a shopping centre, spreading across the area of BTC / Sylvia Park. 8, 10 maybe 12 floors. If there is not enough shops for you here, there is another shopping centre (at least of the same size if not bigger) right next door, and another one just behind. I haven’t quite figured out how you actually choose which shopping centre you’re gonna go to, as they all seem to have exactly the same shops, with exactly the same stuff at exactly the same prices and discounts. However, in case (again, I’m not sure how this is possible) you cannot find what you are looking for in a particular shop (often spreading across the entire floor of a shopping centre), there are shopping centres dedicated just to this particular product/product family/brand somewhere nearby. 12 stories of stationary. 8 floors of tea products. A Pokemon megacentre and Tamagochi department store. You pick. I’ve read somewhere that you could easily spend the yearly salary just in few days in Tokyo. It’s true, and no matter how high your salary is!
Among shopping centres, there are also huge entertainment facilities. I’ve mentioned a few in my previous post, but would like to add a couple more: Tokyo Anime Centre for example or AKB48 Theatre. AKB48 is the most popular girls pop group in Japan (they are so popular that they even have their own theatre where they perform daily and tickets are most of the time sold out), consisting of 60 girls, some as young as 13 years old. It’s every girl’s dream to be part of this group and become a superstar. Now, you would think that their main audience are 10-15 year old girls. Well, you’re wrong again, grown up men are their biggest fans!
I have a slight issue here, as this all resembles of child’s pornography to me. But it seems to be something completely normal, well accepted and supported by Japanese. Walking up and down the streets there are heaps of ‘exotic’ clubs and ‘man only’ bars, however none of the girls on photos look any older than 15 to me?! When browsing through magazines in a magazine shop, you easily find a magazine with, again, super young looking girls half naked, and these magazines are not even in the ‘erotic magazines section’. I know that Japanese (like most Asians) look very young anyway. And the ‘school-girl-looking-style’ seems to be the ultimate beauty standard here. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if half of those girls are underaged (at least according to the western world).
I could easily continue with things that amaze me in Tokyo, but let me stop here. It’s time to go home. I’ve had an awesome time in Japan. I’ve seen a lot, learnt heaps, met some incredible people and gained new perspectives of the world we live in. I can easily say that Japan is the most interesting countries I’ve ever been to. And I’m looking forward to visiting it again one day ;).