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Bright lights, big city of Tokyo

For the first-time visitor to Tokyo, prepare for an assault on your senses. In a good way.

For the first-time visitor to Tokyo, prepare for an assault on your senses. In a good way.

Visually, Japan’s largest city is arresting, with brilliant colors and streetscapes that make Times Square and Las Vegas look tame.

Aurally, enjoy the Japanese language that differs so much from what we hear each day; the banter confirms you’re in a new land and culture. Add in the fun little jingles on the subway that help identify your train stops and you’ve got a soundtrack for your visit.

Your palate won’t miss out, either. One of the best food cities in the world, Tokyo cuisine ranges from the freshest sushi you’ll ever eat to casual noodle houses. Plus the five-star, world-class dining options, such as those at the luxurious Conrad Tokyo hotel. Don’t overlook the izakaya-style joints known for after-work drinks and food.

Tokyo is immaculate, polite and peaceful. There is no shortage of shrines and the general vibe really put this jaded journalist at ease.

Shopping districts

» Ginza is one of the most famous shopping districts in the world, with luxury department stores lining the wide streets and high-end shops in abundance — including Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel and Prada. Think of Times Square with the posh brands of Fifth Avenue.

» Shibuya offers a well-rounded shopping experience, as well as fantastic people-watching as thousands of pedestrians flood primary intersections. One must-see spot is Tokyu Hands. Think of it as Tokyo’s version of Target, with a little bit of everything on its eight stories.

» Small-stall markets are ever-present across Tokyo, especially near shrines such as Asakusa’s Sensoji Temple and Kamakura’s 750-year-old Giant Buddha. With a flea-market feel, mostly local vendors peddle goods from trinkets to kitchen goods and from clothes
to jewelry.

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