Tokyo: First Impressions

I felt that for my first post it would be appropriate to write about my first impressions of Tokyo. When I wrote the light-hearted piece, I was still very new to Tokyo but had lived in Osaka for over 7 years, and loved it.

Somehow, coming to Tokyo was like experiencing culture shock all over again. Now it’s six months later and most of my impressions hold true. I will however, make some additions and revisions in the near future. For now, please enjoy an American’s view of Tokyo from an Osakan perspective. Does that even make sense?

1. “Tokyo Zombie” is not a work of fiction, it’s a documentary.

Never before have I seen a group of people so devoid of emotion and expression. It’s as if I am living in a George Romero film. Unless you know one of these zombies personally, everyday encounters with them will be limited to random crashes. They ride the trains and walk the streets, as if piloted by an otherworldly source. We all know that zombies aren’t polite, so you can expect that you will almost never get apologized to after they crash into you. If Osakans get a bad rep for being loud, Tokyoites should have one for being dead.

2. (Related to number 1) Tokyoites are extremely slow.

Whether it’s walking or running, buying a ticket or making a hard decision, my 94 year old grandfather with alzheimer’s could do it faster. It only makes sense that zombies would walk at a snail’s place, but apparently this breed of zombie is cognizant enough to make store purchases and walk up stairs, just not coherent enough to do it quickly. The paradox here is that Tokyo is known for it’s hard working populace. But how can things get done if it takes so long? Wait a minute…

There is one instance when these zombie go from Romero to Snyder, and that is when train doors are about to close. Watch out, when they speed up, they really fly.

3. (Possibly related to number 1) A significant number of people in Tokyo have bad skin, at least enough to make it noticeable.

I have no explanation for this other than the fact that they are zombies. The bad skin ranges from acne to pock marks and knows no age boundary. Is it the water?

4. The women in Tokyo are master illusionists.

Tokyo is home to some of the most beautiful women in Japan. Unfortunately, I don’t ever get the chance to see them. All I see on the subway are zombies. And sometimes when I think I have finally found a gem, I realize that it’s just the clothes that look good. One look at what these girls are sporting and you realize soon enough that Tokyo is indeed the fashion capital of Japan. They really know how to dress. Add to that the fact that Tokyoites tend to be thinner than their Osakan counterparts and you can see how easy it would be to be enchanted by these sorceresses’ spells. Unfortunately, from my casual observations, it seems that although there are some incredibly beautiful women here, the majority of them fall into the mediocre but dress well category. Supernatural deception?

5. On just about every occasion that I have been out, whether it be with the CEO of a company, a friend, or someone I just met, someone will invariably mention how cheap the food/drink is.

I can only think of this as some sort of self-affirmation. Tokyo is so expensive that maybe we can trick ourselves into thinking something is cheap when it’s not. Or maybe if we remind ourselves when something is cheap, we won’t feel bad when we do have to spend money. This seems to happen regardless of price.

6. Tokyo is extremely expensive. Sure if you look hard enough, you can find things at reasonable prices but overall, to enjoy Tokyo to the fullest, one needs a good amount of cash. Zombies and sorceresses are apparently well paid.

7. (Here comes a positive observation.) Tokyo has something for everyone and stores are open late.

There are definitely tons of places to drink, eat, and hang out here. This place houses so many areas each with their own distinctive style and flavor. In terms of coolness, nowhere in Japan holds a candle to Tokyo.

1 Comment so far

  1. James Hart (unregistered) on March 2nd, 2007 @ 5:36 pm

    Have 6 months changed your initial impressions at all?
    I would concur with all except No2. I think people move too fast for me at times. I feel like I have to try to keep up and end up walking faster & faster.
    The only way to avoid that is to turn on my iPod and become one of the zombies, oblivious to my surroundings…



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