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Tokyo: open your eyes to the future

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NP Magazine 43 - Digital and paper version

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tokyo honeymoon

A journey through time, where spirit, soul and tradition merge with good taste, technology and future. A fusion in the midst of synchronized chaos that still stops before the walk of some geishas, dressed in delicate silk.

Written by: Sergi Rebordero

If you open and close your eyes quickly, it will seem as if you have arrived in the future. However, if you dig a little you will see that all this has been forged without leaving aside the ancestral traditions.

The Ginza district is synonymous with luxury. A long avenue, with great similarities to New York’s 5th Avenue in New York or, without going that far, to Madrid’s Golden Mile. While it is true that this neighborhood has lost points to the detriment of Shinjuku or Harajuku, it is still a cosmopolitan neighborhood full of department stores, shopping malls and luxury stores not suitable for all budgets. And this is not a cliché, since not even fresh fruit is spared: bananas at 3 a piece, watermelons at 80 a piece and bunches of grapes wrapped in cellophane paper with a bow included, waiting for someone to pay an exorbitant amount and give them as a gift for Father’s Day.

Dior, Gucci, Armani, Bulgari buildings surround a Kabukiza Theater that stands as the only banner of traditional Japan in this Tokyo neighborhood. The exterior of the Kabukiza theater retains its traditional structure but the interior was renovated in 2010 losing the architectural interest, even so this theater is the best place to see a kabuki performance in Tokyo, but do not take your camera because it is forbidden to take pictures inside.

tokyo honeymoon

The Tsukiji fish market is the largest fish market in the world. It is located about 600 meters from the center of Ginza, exactly in Tsukiji and has become one of the most visited areas of the city, a spectacle. To see the tuna auction you have to get up very early because only 120 visitors are allowed daily in two shifts. Perhaps the most famous intersection in the world after Times Square is Shibuya, which holds the title of being the most crowded in the world and also the most photographed. Shibuya is the junction of no less than six streets, which is why it is also known as Scramble Kousaten (crossroads).

But Shibuya is also the center of youth culture, where gyaru girls, who are often made up, tanned and with the latest hairstyles, stroll through the department stores. Asakusa is one of the most historic neighborhoods in central Tokyo. The large illuminated signs give way to temples and makeup is replaced by more traditional attire. The entrance to Asakusa is through the ancient and beautiful Kaminarimon gate, “the gate of thunder”, from which hangs a huge red Chinese lantern and ornamented with wooden sculptures of the gods of wind and thunder.

Between this gate and the Hozomon Gate stretches the most famous street in Asakusa and one of the oldest shopping streets in Japan, Nakamise dori. On both sides of the street stand numerous stores with colorful fronts selling kimonos, fans, sembei (rice crackers) and sweets. At the end of Nakamise dori is Sensoji, the oldest, most famous, colorful and popular temple in Tokyo. Its construction was completed in 645 and is dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. Akihabara is the anime district. It is also known as Akiba or the electronic city, and is full of electronics stores, cameras, video games, computers and all kinds of anime accessories, manga, costumes, figurines … The new Skytree tower is the tallest structure in Japan with its 634 meters, besides being the tallest communications tower in the world. As you can imagine it is one of the best places to get a good panoramic view of the city.

tokyo honeymoon

Golden Gai is the best place to end the day, where to drink the last Sapporo beer of the day. It is a labyrinth of alleyways and narrow two-story wooden buildings in Shinjuku where tiny, quirky bars are crammed together. Each has a different atmosphere, though all have in common the eccentric decor that accompanies them. Just as the city exudes culture, tradition and modernity at the same time, the celebrations that take place there transport you to ancient times.

The Tsukji Shishi Matsuri is one of these events. Held every three years in June, it runs through the Tsukiji district early in the morning, very close to the fish market. Two huge giant lion heads walk in procession through the neighborhood. In the afternoon, another festival is held, the Torikoe Festival, also called “Torigoe”. It is another parade that also involves a mikoshi procession, or what is the same for the followers of Shinto, a portable chapel. It is much smaller than other large and famous festivals such as Kanda Matsuri or Sanja Matsuri, but just as noisy and boisterous. This one also has the largest mikoshi in Tokyo: the four-ton Senkan- Mikoshi.

A great example of tradition and modernity is the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo Hotel, located in a 192-meter tower designed by Argentine architect César Pelli in the historic center of the city, in the region known as Edo, which was the original capital of the Japanese empire. The entrance is on the first floor and three elevators ascend to the top on the 38th floor with the imposing Tokyo skyline as a backdrop. The design of its interiors uses wood treated in a traditional artisan manner as a differentiating element, as well as fabrics and remnants of decorative elements. It has more than a dozen culinary offerings, including three Michelin-starred restaurants: Signature, dedicated to French cuisine; Sense, offering Cantonese dishes; and Tapas, where molecular food is prepared using the most advanced techniques.

Of course, typical Tokyo food also has its place at Sushi-Sora, a restaurant where sushi is prepared in the Edo-mae style, typical of the capital. Luxury and tradition, two emblems of the Mandarin Oriental group, are at their most refined in this hotel, making a visit to Tokyo an unrepeatable and enriching experience in equal parts.

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