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Tokyo Trip Report, 1/11-1/18/06, Day 1 Part Two (in Tokyo)

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Tokyo Trip Report, 1/11-1/18/06, Day 1 Part Two (in Tokyo)

Day 1 Continued (1/11):

                            

                            With a 14 hour flight + 15 hour time difference between Houston and Tokyo, I arrive at 3:30 the day after I leave.

                            

                            The flight lands at an area of gates that's connected to the main terminal via a small shuttle. The airport isn't very busy (odd), and it only gets better towards Immigration, almost no line.

                            

                            The immigration officer takes about 10 seconds to examine my passport, stamps it, asks "first time to Tokyo?" and gives me a small smile as I breeze on through. My checked-in bag is in good shape off the conveyor (minus one zipper dangly-thing, stupid cheap bag), and Customs has no issues with it, so off to arrivals.

                            

                            I had already changed some currency into yen prior to leaving the US, so I can't comment on convenience of currency exchange or ATMs at Narita, but looking at a map and guidebooks earlier, it seems pretty easy.

                            

                            Outside the Customs hall are a LOT of people, milling around, finding connections, etc. Very few non-Japanese (a recurring theme during my trip except at a couple of places). A couple of convenience stores, baggage fowarding places, and the ground transportation desk.

                            

                            3000 yen buys a ticket to the Park Hotel in Shiodome (my initial hotel); the woman at the counter asks if I want the 4:15 or 4:20 bus. It's 4:13. I opt for the 4:20 bus. Japanese efficiency.

                            

                            The bus stands are right outside the terminal,easy access. I see the 4:15 bus being loaded (maybe I should have taken it), but the extra 5 minutes lets me look around a bit and let it soak in: I'm in Japan! Wow!

                            

                            Lots of vending machines, dispensing sodas/ teas/coffees. The names are sometimes on the cans (Coke, Pepsi, Pocari Sweat, Nestle), but I have no idea to this day what some of these drinks were. Maybe next trip I'll sample some more.

                            

                            The 4:20 bus pulls up and within 5 minutes we're off. There's some traffic within the airport grounds (there's construction on what appears to be a massive new terminal or terminal upgrade, looks great, hopefully it will open soon), then off to the highway. Japanese roads are designed to drive on the left.

                            

                            The ride to the hotel is endless. It's dusk when we leave, so initially we pass a lot of cheap-looking hotels/motels, some driving ranges, small towns. As it's getting dark, I start noticing more development. There's a huge furniture store on the left when you ride in (don't remember the name and didn't take a picture), followed by signs for Tokyo Disney (really can't see much of it from the road).

                            

                            The development is incredible. Every square foot of land seems to have a building on it, and every second square foot seems to have a neon sign. I'm Korean, so Seoul has the same kind of population density, but (so far) not the same amount of sheer urban buildup. I think this is the one thing that's really impossible to truly describe, you have to go and experience it for yourself.

                            

                            We get stuck in traffic for a long time after entering the city center. My shuttle stops at the TCAT (City Air Terminal), and a couple more hotels before arriving at Shiodome. Total travel time is about 2 hours.

                            

                            Shiodome on first impression seems to be all office towers and concrete. It's crowded, so orientation is a little confusing. The Park Hotel has a clear sign, but it's not on the ground floor.

                            

                            There's a bellman on the ground floor, though. The lower floors are of an office tower, there's an elevator tucked into one of the corners that takes you directly to the hotel lobby. Up to 25 and we're in the hotel lobby.

                            

                            It's very chic. Lots of dark wood, live music, a central atrium that the rooms surround. Very quiet, no hustle and bustle. The reception and concierge desk are in one corner of the lobby, with a large picture window behind it, a good view of Tokyo Tower in the background.

                            

                            Check-in is relaxed, no problems with finding my reservation, room rate, etc. My room is on the 33rd floor, the bellman takes me up (no tipping, that's also weird if you go to NYC or Vegas a lot, where tipping is so ingrained).

                            

                            My room is very small (in a previous post I compared it to a really, really nice dorm room). Light wood, a good view out the window, and internet access (wired) for free. The room itself is sparkling clean. Bathroom amenities include a toothbrush, toothpaste, and various aromatherapy products. It's a tub (standard American size) with shower and your typical ingenious Japanese toilet with bidet function included (for those who may want to be fresher than in the States).

                            

                            I spend a little time catching up on email, calling people back home (Important Tip #2 (#1 being renew your passport early)-- if you plan on calling anyone from Japan and you're bringing a laptop, get Skype for yourself and any contacts with computers (it's a free VOIP program that lets you call (or video chat if you have a webcam). It also has low rates to land lines in the States as well. Sound quality is excellent even without headphones or microphones. I can't recommend it highly enough), and unpacking some things.

                            

                            Finally, time to go out and get lost! I make my way down to the lobby, ask the concierge where the subway station is (and receive a map of the subway lines and a map of the office complex itself (it's that big), with directions from the hotel lobby to the subway station.

                            

                            Getting to the station from the lobby doesn't take very long but is a little bit convoluted. After getting off at the lobby, another bank of elevators takes you to the B2 (basement 2) level; there's an arcade of restaurants and shops on this level if you fancy a quick bite. A walkway leads you out of the building (briefly) to a small outdoor garden with tables that contains a convenience store (which is in fact very convenient) and on any given hour a number of Japanese smoking salarymen. Directly connected to this is the subway line.

                            

                            Culture shock again; the Japanese subway is huge. Repeat: the Japanese subway is HUGE. Tons of stops, and more importantly, the stations themselves are massive. Forget NYC as a comparison. Many of the stations are self-contained cities in and of themselves, with shops, stands, restaurants, and connections to major offices and department stores within the station. It's more like Montreal's "Underground City", except much more spread-out.

                            

                            It take some time to figure out the subway line, but luckily most of the signs are in English, and there's lot of computerized ticket machines that have an English option. Otherwise, figuring out the subway is the same as in any other city, the signs are clearly marked as to which direction the trains are heading, which stations are transfers, etc. The only tricky thing is that there are two main subway companies (Toei and Tokyo Metro), and they don't accept transfers on fares between lines. If that sounds confusing, it is a little, but it shouldn't really come up that much.

                            

                            Fares range between 160 yen to 260 (or 290?) yen. Not too bad.

                            

                            The trains and stations are clean. There's no litter in Japan to speak of; walk around the city sometime and then just take a look around the sidewalks, there will be no litter to speak of. There aren't many wastebaskets in Japan either. If you have litter, you carry it around until you can throw it away. This is made somewhat easier by the fact that the Japanese don't eat while they travel. The Japanese I saw during my trip (at least during the week) were all stylish, skinny, and neat. Lots of black clothes for men and women. Polished shoes, short skirts, stylish coats. The women all wear medium-length heels (how they get around and go up and down the stairs, I don't know). Not many people wearing jeans. In fact, the only people I really saw deviating from this fashion formula were younger Japanese and tourists. Note: if you wouldn't be caught dead in slacks/dresses/ heels, and are a pullover/jeans person, you will look sloppy. I sort of struggled with my attitude towards this during my trip. I guess that if you're not Japanese, you're going to look foreign no matter what you wear, so be comfortable. On the other hand, the tourists I saw looked like complete slobs. I'm Asian, and was forewarned, so tried my best to blend in anyway.

                            

                            I take the subway on this evening to Shinjuku (might as well get maximum crowdedness and sensory overload over with soon, right?) Shinjuku Station is so big, I forget about exploring it right off the bat. There's over a dozen exits, countless passageways leading to shoppping arcades, connections to multiple other lines... forget it. Just get out when you can.

                            

                            So I just pick a random exit that will take me close to East Shinjuku (away from the skyscraper district). To this day, I don't quite know where I ended up, I wasn't able to find it again on subsequent trips. As I emerged from the station (as previously posted, Tokyo is hell for people with disabilities, stairs everywhere and many withohut elevators), I was assaulted by miles of neon, people, noise; once again, if you haven't experienced it, there's no way to adequately describe it.

                            

                            At this point I'm starving, and the area I'm in looks promising. Lots of electronic stores (so so many cell phones, and cell phones coverage is incredible in Japan. They even work on the subway (although no one speaks on their phone in the subway). I can't even get Cingular to work in my house!), small clothing stores, and a McDonald's and Wendy's. It's so crowded... people walking home, walking to the subway station, strolling... I spend 30-45 minutes just navigating the streets. There's a lot of people in parkas handing out flyers for something. Karaoke? Porn shops? I never find out.

                            

                            This area also has a lot of pachinko parlors and DVD stores. Finally, I pick a sushi place where it rolls by on a conveyor. I speak no Japanese but the hostess doesn't seem to mind. The place is crowded with salarymen and some families, so it seems like a good bet.

                            

                            I've been to "sushi-boat" or "sushi-train" places a lot in the US, but not conveyor belt places (which is the original concept). These places have a reputation for serving less-than -optimal sushi, and I'm sure that's true, but it's still much better than most of the sushi you can get in the US. The setup is the same at the restaurants I visited. There's a canister of loose green tea mix, you take a small scoop of it and add hot water spigots that a located near every seat. Another canister of grated ginger, a little container of soy sauce for your little dish (you don't add wasabi to soy sauce in Tokyo), and you pick plates off the belt and go to town. Prices are clearly marked.

                            

                            This place was pretty inexpensive. I eat a considerable amount of sushi for less than 1500 yen. Now fortified and pleased with my first "Japanese" meal, I emerge from the restaurant and walk some more, just soaking it all in. After some consultation with maps and my guidebooks, I walk to Kabuki-cho (Shinjuku's red-light district). Everything is done behind closed doors, so there's not much overt content on the streets, but there are scores of Nigerian touts soliciting pedestrians on the street. They'd start in Japanese with me; some would realize I wasn't Japanese and then switch to English. "You want to go to st*** club? Only 5000 yen! White girls!" and numerous variations on that theme. There are also some Japanese girls in parkas, asking if I'd like "massage". Generally, though, as stated by every guidebook I've ever read, it's really safe. No one is overly solicitous or really bothersome. The neon in this district is if anything even more pronounced than my original stop. I also pass by restaurants serving sushi, udon, ramen, tempura, rice bowls... everything advertised with plastic food models, everything smelling so good.

                            

                            Finally, exhausted by jet lag, walking, and being overwhelmed by modern Japan, I find my way back to Shinjuku Station, back to the hotel, and off to bed. Tomorrow morning Tsukiji fish market awaits, I ask for a wake-up call for 5:45.

                            

                     

              

       

Aoyama Dori and San...
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1. Re: Tokyo Trip Report, 1/11-1/18/06, Day 1 Part Two (in Tokyo)

Pocari Sweat is isotonic, like Gatorade. Nestle is most likely iced coffed or tea. There are quite a few isotonic drinks in Japan.

>>>Lots of vending machines, dispensing sodas/ teas/coffees. The names are sometimes on the cans (Coke, Pepsi, Pocari Sweat, Nestle), but I have no idea to this day what some of these drinks were. Maybe next trip I'll sample some more.

First, you're going through rural Chiba when leaving the airport. The development you're seeing is basically suburban sprawl into central Chiba Prefecture. You eventually enter the Shuto-ko (expressway) where much of it has to concave metal walls around it so you really can't see anything except the cars around you.

>>>The ride to the hotel is endless. It's dusk when we leave, so initially we pass a lot of cheap-looking hotels/motels, some driving ranges, small towns. As it's getting dark, I start noticing more development. There's a huge furniture store on the left when you ride in (don't remember the name and didn't take a picture), followed by signs for Tokyo Disney (really can't see much of it from the road).

This is the risk of the limousine bus into Tokyo, especially where you were going. You'll be driving along and then suddenly, you hit the northwestern part of Chiba and get stuck. Did you notice the lighted message signs? It's all in Japanese but it tells you the average KPH (kilometers per hour) that are expected up ahead. The blue and white road signs are also in romaji (roman characters) in that area so you can get an idea of where you are. This doesn't happen with the bus to Yokohama because it bypasses this area and uses the bayside expressway (more expensive for the bus company but worth it in saved time).

>>>We get stuck in traffic for a long time after entering the city center. My shuttle stops at the TCAT (City Air Terminal), and a couple more hotels before arriving at Shiodome. Total travel time is about 2 hours.

Very good point about using Skype. I use it everytime. It's a little expensive to call Japanese keitai (cellular), but otherwise, I talked for hours from Japan and hardly spent anything. I call home and everyone says I sound like I'm next door, hardly any latency. If you're web browsing while talking, sometimes there is a drop out but if the laptop is idle, the sound is pretty good.

>>>I spend a little time catching up on email, calling people back home (Important Tip #2 (#1 being renew your passport early)-- if you plan on calling anyone from Japan and you're bringing a laptop, get Skype for yourself and any contacts with computers (it's a free VOIP program that lets you call (or video chat if you have a webcam). It also has low rates to land lines in the States as well. Sound quality is excellent even without headphones or microphones. I can't recommend it highly enough), and unpacking some things.

Yes, it's quite vast and often daunting. Some stations are not so big, Shiodome is new and modern and very large. Ditto for Tameike-Sanno. But some of the old stations on the Ginza or Yurakucho lines are not very big, barely large enough for the platform and machines. Most of the underground self-contained shopping areas are tied to major train stations. I'm not sure if there are any that are tied exclusively to the Metro or Toei stations only.

>>>Culture shock again; the Japanese subway is huge. Repeat: the Japanese subway is HUGE. Tons of stops, and more importantly, the stations themselves are massive. Forget NYC as a comparison. Many of the stations are self-contained cities in and of themselves, with shops, stands, restaurants, and connections to major offices and department stores within the station. It's more like Montreal's "Underground City", except much more spread-out.

One very important point about litter and waste. Public wastebaskets are harder to find than chicken molars. The latest ones in stations actually have plexiglass windows in them to thwart terrorism. A Japanese news show awhile back explained that they've been totally removed from public places because they found that when they were removed, litter disappeared. When they were around and always overfilled, there was litter everywhere.

>>>The trains and stations are clean. There's no litter in Japan to speak of; walk around the city sometime and then just take a look around the sidewalks, there will be no litter to speak of. There aren't many wastebaskets in Japan either. If you have litter, you carry it around until you can throw it away.

These are called "kaiten sushi" in Japan. They are far superior to the sushi-boat places in the US. They are usually cheap and all self-serve so Japanese language is not required. The cost is usually about 1/2 of what you pay at a sushi-boat place in the US. If you choose carefully or call to the chef to make stuff to order, they are a true bargain. The fish is not the highest quality but you're still in Japan and it's going to be adequate for a quick and cheap meal.

>>>I've been to "sushi-boat" or "sushi-train" places a lot in the US, but not conveyor belt places (which is the original concept). These places have a reputation for serving less-than -optimal sushi, and I'm sure that's true, but it's still much better than most of the sushi you can get in the US. The setup is the same at the restaurants I visited. There's a canister of loose green tea mix, you take a small scoop of it and add hot water spigots that a located near every seat. Another canister of grated ginger, a little container of soy sauce for your little dish (you don't add wasabi to soy sauce in Tokyo), and you pick plates off the belt and go to town. Prices are clearly marked.

Ladies in central Tokyo are usually very well dressed and groomed. It's a national pastime for them. A Japanese friend of mine pointed out that in the suburbs, it depends on which line you're on as to the level of grooming that people have. All of the Tokyu Line trains have very well dressed ladies on them. In contrast, the Keikyu Line tends to be more frumpy and inexpensive. He said it all has to do with income level of those along the train lines. Anywhere in central Tokyo will have on display exquisitely tailored and coiffed ladies of all ages, including most older women. If I'm working, I'm usually wearing the uniform (tie and coat, leather soled shoes which are a rarity in Japan and nicely tailored trousers). If I'm not working, I'm usually wearing jeans and polo shirt with clean sneakers or leather shoes. I don't feel out of place with the overly casual look, but then I'm not going to Roppongi to score a date, either. I'm just trying to be comfortable and I could care less what they think of me. I agree with you that you shoul be comfortable but not sloppy. Sloppy is reserved for the teenagers who consider it high fashion.

>>>The women all wear medium-length heels (how they get around and go up and down the stairs, I don't know). Not many people wearing jeans. In fact, the only people I really saw deviating from this fashion formula were younger Japanese and tourists. Note: if you wouldn't be caught dead in slacks/dresses/ heels, and are a pullover/jeans person, you will look sloppy. I sort of struggled with my attitude towards this during my trip. I guess that if you're not Japanese, you're going to look foreign no matter what you wear, so be comfortable. On the other hand, the tourists I saw looked like complete slobs. I'm Asian, and was forewarned, so tried my best to blend in anyway.

This is a perfect description of Kabukicho. As perfect as it gets. I couldn't do better. The Nigerian touts are everywhere. The ladies asking "massagee" are not Japanese, usually illegally trafficked Chinese and are really trouble and should be ignored. You are right, the area is very safe, albeit a little wild and crazy. You are absolutely right about the high concentration of small restaurants offering all sorts of good food. For a little subculture, if you walk around Kabukicho, there are a few Yakuza club houses. They're easy to spot. Look for a less travelled block, usually connecting two streets with "action" on them that looks more residential, extremely clean and well kept and largely devoid of anyone standing around, just people passing through and walking by. Then look for the covered garages (a rarity in Tokyo) behind a nice building (the club house) full of usually white foreign cars (Benz for most Yakuza, the highest leaders prefer Cadillacs and Lincolns for some reason). Don't stare too long or take pictures because you're on closed circuit TV camera but it's really interesting to see.

>>>After some consultation with maps and my guidebooks, I walk to Kabuki-cho (Shinjuku's red-light district). Everything is done behind closed doors, so there's not much overt content on the streets, but there are scores of Nigerian touts soliciting pedestrians on the street. They'd start in Japanese with me; some would realize I wasn't Japanese and then switch to English. "You want to go to st*** club? Only 5000 yen! White girls!" and numerous variations on that theme. There are also some Japanese girls in parkas, asking if I'd like "massage". Generally, though, as stated by every guidebook I've ever read, it's really safe. No one is overly solicitous or really bothersome. The neon in this district is if anything even more pronounced than my original stop. I also pass by restaurants serving sushi, udon, ramen, tempura, rice bowls... everything advertised with plastic food models, everything smelling so good.

Nice report, looking forward the more...

Inverness, Scotland
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2. Re: Tokyo Trip Report, 1/11-1/18/06, Day 1 Part Two (in Tokyo)

Whoah, you really know how to write a trip-report, Traveljunkie! What a terrific read.

(For some unknown reason, up until this post I assumed you were female, but after reading about your Kabuki-cho experience, I guess not ..!)

Route246, your comments/answers/contributions are very enlightening.

Thanks to you both :-)

PA
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3. Re: Tokyo Trip Report, 1/11-1/18/06, Day 1 Part Two (in Tokyo)

Traveljunkie, your writing has an immediacy as though you're speaking into a recorder! Very interesting...

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4. Re: Tokyo Trip Report, 1/11-1/18/06, Day 1 Part Two (in Tokyo)

Traveljunkie2005,

Your report is awesome!!! Are you a professional writer?? How could you remember everything so well?!? You must have picture perfect memories unlike me.

>>>Lots of vending machines, dispensing sodas/ teas/coffees. The names are sometimes on the cans (Coke, Pepsi, Pocari Sweat, Nestle), but I have no idea to this day what some of these drinks were. Maybe next trip I'll sample some more. <<<

A couple of my American friends though “Pocari Sweat” was the bad name as it sounds stinking! (LOL)

>>>I had already changed some currency into yen prior to leaving the US, so I can't comment on convenience of currency exchange or ATMs at Narita, but looking at a map and guidebooks earlier, it seems pretty easy. <<<

Oh well, the currency exchange rates in Japan are better than the rates in the US.

>>>We get stuck in traffic for a long time after entering the city center. My shuttle stops at the TCAT (City Air Terminal), and a couple more hotels before arriving at Shiodome. Total travel time is about 2 hours. <<<

Sorry to hear that. In my opinion, one of the problems with the limo-bus for Shiodome was that the limo-bus had to go through TCAT in Nihonbashi/Ningyo-cho, which wasn’t exactly near Shiodome. By stopping at TCAT, the limo-bus had to drive through one of the busiest business district, the Nihonbashi/Ginza/Shimbashi area. I’ve taken the limo-bus many times, and mostly took about 1hr 30-45 minutes from Narita to the Ginza/Shimbashi area because the limo-bus could take more direct routes without going through Nihonbashi/Ningyo-cho. Hope they will change the routes for Shiodome to more direct in the near future.

>>>The lower floors are of an office tower, there's an elevator tucked into one of the corners that takes you directly to the hotel lobby. Up to 25 and we're in the hotel lobby. <<<

I think it’s getting the new trend in Tokyo to use lower floors for offices and upper floors for hotel rooms. Park Hyatt in Shinjuku is also the same way.

>>>Culture shock again; the Japanese subway is huge. Repeat: the Japanese subway is HUGE. Tons <<<

Yeah, I usually research, in advance, which exit to take to conserve my time and energy.

>>>The only tricky thing is that there are two main subway companies (Toei and Tokyo Metro), and they don't accept transfers on fares between lines. <<<

Most Japanese people think the subway companies are just trying to make too much money. Yup, NYC subways are much cheaper!

>>>The Japanese I saw during my trip (at least during the week) were all stylish, skinny, and neat. <<<

When I came to the US for the first time, I though many people were too heavy. I’m now a huge fan of “The Biggest Loser.” (LOL!)

>>>Not many people wearing jeans. <<<

Very true in Tokyo.

>>>I guess that if you're not Japanese, you're going to look foreign no matter what you wear, so be comfortable. <<<

I absolutely agree with you. Don’t worry about what to wear too much if you are non-Japanese. I’ve had to dress up in Japan since I’m Japanese and my Japanese friends/colleague/family/relatives expect me to dress nicely…

>>>Shinjuku Station is so big, I forget about exploring it right off the bat. There's over a dozen exits, countless passageways leading to shoppping arcades, connections to multiple other lines... forget it. Just get out when you can. <<<

You definitely did the right thing! Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Ueno stations are just too huge to figure out for first time visitors.

>>> I've been to "sushi-boat" or "sushi-train" places a lot in the US, but not conveyor belt places (which is the original concept). <<<

Kaiten-Sushi (or Kaiten-Zushi) has become very popular for the last 15yrs. It was originally just cheap Sushi restaurants, but we now can get pretty good quality Sushi as well.

>>>After some consultation with maps and my guidebooks, I walk to Kabuki-cho (Shinjuku's red-light district). <<<

Welcome to Shinjuku! You’ve seen the most interesting part in Shinjuku though I’d recommend young women not to go there alone. (LOL!) :-)

New York City, New...
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5. Re: Tokyo Trip Report, 1/11-1/18/06, Day 1 Part Two (in Tokyo)

great trip report, thanks.

I am heading to Tokyo for a week in March. As a mid-20s white female, do you recommend not having a look around the red-light area? Is it only safe for men or people in groups? It sounds very interesting.

Aoyama Dori and San...
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6. Re: Tokyo Trip Report, 1/11-1/18/06, Day 1 Part Two (in Tokyo)

Kateoz:

If you're talking about Kabukicho, it's perfectly OK to walk around there. It's a red light district but it's also a legitimate dining and entertainment district, too. Stopping and gawking is probably not advisable, although you're perfectly welcome to do it at your own risk, but if you keep moving like you have a destination, I see no reason why you shouldn't have a look around.

Again, the area is extremely safe (uhhh, the outdoor areas are extremely safe, that is). Inside might be a different story but out in the crowds should not be any problem at all.

Just be aware that many of the people there, and I mean mostly couples in illicit relationships, are there and really prefer to remain anonymous and under all radar screens, so I wouldn't be out snapping pictures of the crowds, the love hotels or the adult businesses. That's bad for their business and if a local yakuza enforcer is strolling around watching over his turf, he might not like it if someone is out snapping pictures of his customers.

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7. Re: Tokyo Trip Report, 1/11-1/18/06, Day 1 Part Two (in Tokyo)

Kateoz:

One more thing, I just reread my message and I didn't want to alarm anyone regarding my comments about the yakuza.

First and foremost, yakuza are honorable businessmen. They are very conservative, polite, discreet, and gentlemanly. Ignore what you've seen in the movies or read in print.

I've met a few through friends who do business with them (they are great at facilitating the complex distribution system in Japan) and I've encountered more than a few members in public settings, including sento and onsen (where it's perfectly obvious) and in hotels and restaurants where it's not so obvious.

They are extremely well-mannered, well-groomed and polite to a fault. They can also be vicious with those who cause them trouble. If you ever see an altercation/fight or other disturbance at a club, pub or restaurant, the local enforcer will usually show up and settle things. The police show up after things settle down. A friend of mine owns a share of a pub in Kinshisho. He said they never call the police when there is a problem. They call the local "association" who sends someone out to take care of any problems. By the time the police show up, the parties have apologized and everyone is happy. That's what the "association fees" (i.e. protection) are for. They guarantee you will have no trouble at your business if you "join" the association.

It's my firm belief that this is one of the reasons that Japan is so safe. They have a certain order to things and part of it is local enforcement of that order.

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8. Re: Tokyo Trip Report, 1/11-1/18/06, Day 1 Part Two (in Tokyo)

Don't worry, I had no intention of gawking or taking photos of people, I just thought it would be an interesting area to walk through. And different to Melbourne.

I like to think I am a 'good' tourist who respects others and new cultures! I don't like to make myself an obvious tourist, either (although that will be difficult, being Anglo-saxon!)

Thanks for your advice, it's appreciated.

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9. Re: Tokyo Trip Report, 1/11-1/18/06, Day 1 Part Two (in Tokyo)

The only "danger" I saw at Kabuki-cho was the 3-card-monte and magic mushrooms.

Aoyama Dori and San...
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10. Re: Tokyo Trip Report, 1/11-1/18/06, Day 1 Part Two (in Tokyo)

I guess it depends on what you consider "danger" but there is plenty there only if you go looking for it. If you're just minding your own business and have money to spend, it's pretty safe as long as you avoid the hostess bar clip joints, the con-men as you mention and the illegal gambling joints.

>>>The only "danger" I saw at Kabuki-cho was the 3-card-monte and magic mushrooms.<<<