enigmatic's Reviews

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  • Cafe 246 (Bookstores / Akasaka)
  • 2009/01/29
  • Yummy chicken tenders and creative choices on the menu. It's always really loud, except at lunch time, of course. They have an outdoor patio area, perfect for evening beers in spring and summer. They've also got computers for you to use if you simply HAVE to check your email.
  • Kotoku In (Temples / Yokohama)
  • 2009/01/29
  • First and foremost...you've made the trip all the way out there...shell out the pocket change to go inside the buddha. It's really interesting to see how such a large sculpture is constructed and after visiting hundreds of temples in my lifetime I've only ever been inside one buddha. There are a lot of kids on school trips in this site and of course, a lot of tourists (not just foreign ones). They have a great bookstall right near the buddha statue, so you can pick up some lit to improve your knowledge of boddhisatvas and symbolism. Also, don't forget to check out the giant straw sandals. All I know is that if they can make shoes that big, why can't I ever find any in my size?

    Oh, and if you're traveling with a kid (or a grown man who thinks he's a kid) be warned that there is a really "cool" giftshop outside the temple selling weapons. You've been warned.
  • Tsukiji Hongan Ji (Temples / Tsukiji)
  • 2009/01/29
  • When I first went here I was unsure if this was a university lecture hall or a temple. But once you start paying attention to the details....oh wow. It is breathtaking. The architecture is amazing and reminded me of the great European cathedrals. You can see a variety of influences from around the world play out in the details of this temple. If you're in the area, you simply must stop by. But keep in mind that it is quite an active temple (actual religious ceremonies, not just coffee break prayer).
  • Sensoji (Temples / Asakusa)
  • 2009/01/29
  • The approach is lined with stores and shops. This traditional shopping area/mall is just wonderful. When you think of traditional Japan and what you see of Tokyo in movies, this is what you get. Large temple grounds with a pagoda, beautiful lit walk for the evening.

    If you can only visit one temple while you're in Japan, you should visit this one. This truly is a memorable site, and not just because of the serious number of people all in one place.
  • Grail: Roppongi (British pubs / Irish pubs / Hiroo)
  • 2009/01/29
  • It's your basic pub with a ton more options for fans of hard liquor. The food is pretty typical of most bars in Japan...both pub food and izakaya food. The staff is friendly and it usually isn't crowded (but that may just be because I typically go there on weekdays). If you really have a desire to try out some quality whiskeys they can help you with that, too.
  • Subway (American / Roppongi)
  • 2009/01/29
  • It's a Subway. Seriously, don't expect any water to wine dietary miracles. If you've been to a Subway, you know exactly what you're going to get. They usually have tables of pre-made sandwiches stacked up outside the store for the lunch rush, so if there's one near your office just stop by and grab one quick. But if you're not interested in a sandwich made that morning, be prepared to stand in an epic line.
  • Gusto (Family Restaurant / Shibuya)
  • 2009/01/29
  • Although my opinion of this place is not strong enough to warrant a small novel, either for or against, it was a pretty decent place. Reminded me of Saizeriya - cheap food, cheap drinks, and an ok environment. Good spot for that week before payday.
  • astral lamp (Cocktail Lounges / Shibuya)
  • 2009/01/29
  • Aside from the really cool name of this place, it is a nice little hole-in-the-wall location with friendly staff, and good food. It just has the feeling of being your nice little local place...cozy and welcoming. As with many spots like this, though, you really can't take a large group.
  • St.Mary's Cathedral (Churches-Catholic / Waseda)
  • 2009/01/28
  • While I'm all about checking out churches and religious sites in other countries, this one was kinda over my head. I mean, I can appreciate the beauty and architectural ingenuity from the outside. But the inside seems almost sacrilegious as far as cathedrals go, in terms of it's austerity. The dark interior seems like something out of a dystopian hallucination. It is definitely a modern take on an old idea.
  • National Diet Building (Landmarks & Historical Places / Tameikesanno)
  • 2009/01/28
  • An architecturally curious building, it is the site of some serious government head-scratching. Hey, at least they don't have all-out fist fights here like they do in some countries. I would suggest signing up for a tour...just know that you have to be there on a weekday to be able to do that. Oh, and like other serious/official buildings in Japan (Imperial Palace) the guards who work here don't have much by way of a sense of humor.
  • Tokyo Stock Market (Landmarks & Historical Places / Nihombashi)
  • 2009/01/28
  • If you're expecting to see a re-enactment of the NYSE in the Pacific, keep looking. Here, despite market volatility, people are still polite to one another. The increasing use of technology in trading also means that fewer people make a living waving their arms around and shouting. You really can't feel the true energy of a place like this from above. You have to get down in it. Unfortunately, for you to do that you'll have to start by submitting an application.
  • Hakone (Landmarks & Historical Places / Machida)
  • 2009/01/28
  • Like some other places close to Tokyo, this is a site that books up fast. But if you manage to get a last minute trip through a travel agency like JTB you can score some really rockin' deals. The onsens in this area are fabulous and you can enjoy the quirky onsens that keep Japan in the news globally: the red wine, green tea, and coffee baths you sometimes hear of are located in this area. Beautiful of Mt. Fuji from here as well.
  • Nikko (Landmarks & Historical Places / Kita-Senju)
  • 2009/01/28
  • By far one of the best weekend retreats from Tokyo I've ever had. The train ride out there is pretty short and there are tons of hotels with both western and Japanese style rooms. The onsens in this area really are stellar. Just keep in mind that Nikko is not exactly a well-kept secret...places book up pretty far in advance. But if you go to JTB and get a lucky last minute booking, you can save a ton of cash on your trip, and still score an awesome travel package.
  • Tokyo International Forum (Landmarks & Historical Places / Tokyo Station)
  • 2009/01/28
  • There isn't much you can say about a convention space. I mean, it's basically a big box with ever-changing contents. The sections of the building set up for their architectural beauty are a lovely sight to behold. But the real reason to head over here is for the food trucks that magically materialize during lunch time. Every day there is something different, but there are usually at least a dozen choices. Get there early, as most places run out of food. It really is that good.
  • Omotesando Hills (Landmarks & Historical Places / Harajuku)
  • 2009/01/28
  • Very luxurious. Shopping, fashion, night life... the same basic ingredients for any popular spot in Tokyo. But this one is special because all the stuff is really expensive. Trust me. That makes it better. All of the beautiful people everywhere make this a visually pleasing experience, too. Store displays are more like art so you can at least appreciate the gorgeous things the stores know you'll never be able to afford in your wildest dreams.
  • Rainbow Bridge (Night View Spots / Hamamatsucho)
  • 2009/01/28
  • With respect to the other reviewers, I find the best place to view this bridge is from the deck of the booze cruise leaving from Hammamatsucho. Other that how it looks from the deck of a boat...what can you say...it's a bridge. It goes across the water and cars drive on it. There are lots of pretty lights. But honestly, all the coolest cities know that you aren't really a city without a rockin' bridge. And considering this one revolutionized the commute and flow of traffic for millions of people, it is worth a look.
  • Imperial Palace (Landmarks & Historical Places / Jimbocho)
  • 2009/01/28
  • What is there to say...it's a big wall. With a moat. A moat that recently had a naked European man with a saggy bum in it. There are a couple of beautiful swans living in the moat, but the gardens are probably the best part. It is one of very few places in all of Tokyo you can just lay out on the grass and read a book. The city scape from this location is quite nice, too. The security guards don't have much as far as a sense of humor goes, though, so don't push it. And watch yourself in the early morning and the evening...the trail around the palace is thick with joggers.
  • Omoide Yokocho: Shinjuku (Landmarks & Historical Places / Shinjuku)
  • 2009/01/28
  • Crammed one on top of the other, the little local places serving everyone's favorite grilled meat on a stick will make you feel like you've stepped out of modern Tokyo and into some mythical parallel dimension of exactly what people who have never been here expect Japan to be. Friendly staff, don't expect any service whatsoever in English. Take the Japanese friend assigned to you upon processing through customs and have them help you order.
  • Louisiana Kitchen Bourbon Street (American / Roppongi)
  • 2009/01/28
  • The best words to describe this place are "a little bit of southern hospitality" and by hospitality, I mean bourbon, spicy food, and rockin' music. Oh, and by "little bit" I mean a lot. This place really is a taste of the Big Easy. Really great chill place. Have to agree that it is, indeed, very non-Roppongi like.
  • The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Night View Spots / Shinjuku)
  • 2009/01/28
  • The building itself is a beautiful example of architecture. And this building is a one-stop shop of anything bureaucratic. Literally any government function you can dream up can be found here. Very popular tour destination in the heart of the skyscraper district in Shinjuku. But if it's a view you're after, Roppongi really is a better bet. Especially since there is usually a pretty lengthy line for the elevator up to the top.
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