1. The world’s most sophisticated railways
With 13 subway lines and more than 100 surface routes run by Japan Railways and other private companies, Tokyo’s railway system seems like it was designed to win world records. It’s rare to find a location in the metropolitan area that can’t be reached with a train ride and a short walk. Now, if only the government could devise a way to keep middle-aged salarymen from groping women onboard.
4. Street crossings are like a battle scene from “Braveheart”
The scramble street crossing outside of Shibuya Station is easily the world’s busiest, with a thousand people running into the middle of the street, weaving together in a huge organic mass. The scramble perfectly summarizes the essence of Tokyo’s true tourist landmarks: not old buildings, but lots and lots people coming together in celebration of culture.
9. The electronics stores are like theme parks
The Japanese have taken their love of the latest electronic gadgets and modern appliances to a new level with Yodobashi Akiba, the largest electronics store in a section of Tokyo known for being the center of gadget, video game, and anime culture in the city. Going into any electronics store in Akihabara is like stepping into a wonderland of flashing lights and monstrous screens, but Yodobashi ups the ante by offering six massive floors of televisions, stereos, appliances and game consoles, with three more floors dedicated to restaurants, juice bars, bookstores and music shops.
22. You can spend every waking hour surrounded by comics
At a manga-kissa, or “comics cafÃ©,” a few hundred yen per hour nets you a tiny booth with a reclining chair, Internet-enabled PC, an endless supply of all-you-can-read comic books, and bottomless soft drink refills. Ostensibly created for manga freaks, these miniscule rent-a-chairs are fast becoming popular for another reason: they offer young couples and salarymen alike a super-cheap place to kill time and catch some Zs. The extensive Manboo! franchise (despite a name and logo that border on copyright infringement) is the most recognizable manga-kissa, and its flagship storefront in Kabuki-cho is perfect for hostess-club Lotharios who’ve missed the last train home.
41. The world’s best service
Sure, at some stores around the world, the staff are experts in their field, hoping to wait on your every wish and command. Japanese department stores such as Mitsukoshi and Isetan have that, of course, but they add in a few other perks: an army of uniformed women running automated elevators, and bowing greeters at the door. The time-consuming, multi-stage gift wrapping is also unparalleled, perhaps justifying the premium prices.
44. Monumongous supercute mascot characters
Talk about hiding in plain sight. When Tokyo’s Bureau of Waterworks decided to paint its official PR mascot character “Mr. Earth” atop the roof of their Shibaura facility, they didn’t mess around. Although you can’t see it from street level, it’s actually visible from several kilometers above the Earth’s surface.
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