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Travel, Teach, Live in Japan

I'm Dressed to Thrill Because I'm Traveling to Japan
By:Neil Simon

Travelers like me know that April is the time to see the cherry blossom in Tokyo, the largest city in Asia. I see Tokyo as the most western face of the east. The buildings are tall and modern western style.

For me Tokyo is so fascinating. Even I have only a few days in this city, I experienced everything, from the mystique of the old eastern world to the techno-crazed life of the 21st century. Tokyo is a must see coz' I see it as a treasure trove of things to see and do. Here are a few ideas to build on during our visit to Tokyo.

Classical Japan: After the rush of jet travel, with my sister Susie, we spent our first day unwinding in the gardens adjoining Imperial Palace. Since the month is April, the cherry blossoms are at their best and it is a sight that I never tire of. We took the time to admire the floral displays of magnolias, azaleas and irises that we saw as we strolled through the gardens on our way to the Museum of the Imperial Collection. This is the home to the Imperial family's treasure-trove of art. Our travel was well worth the experience.

Shopping. We started in Tokyo's Ginza district by standing in front of the Sony building. I've found some of the world's best shopping here. My funds are too limited for a serious retail therapy. Spending a little is a treat on its own. When I reached Takeshita Street, It has the latest fashions from around the world with specialty shops and designer boutiques. At the next intersection is Mitsukoshi department store at Harumi Avenue. Also at Harumi is Sake Center. I sampled the various rice wines and I have no doubt you will come across that too during your stay in Tokyo.

DINING. One of the great things about Japan is that I would have to be very unlucky to find any food stall or restaurant that isn't spotlessly clean. A taste of sushi, one of renowned dishes, I tried the Restaurant Sushi-ko. Here I discovered that they have been serving sushi for more than 120 years. Huh! The next day, we tried Robata Honten, coz' we're looking for the meals that the average Japanese enjoy. We ate mixtures of dishes like stews, fish and vegetables.

Nightlife. Ginza, Shibayu, Akasaka and Shinjuku are the city's lively places that I find the most interesting restaurants, bars and clubs. Many establishments are offering a range of entertainments depending on the crowd. Some bars copied the interior of an English pub, a Spanish style salsa bar and even a Wild-West Salon bar. We specially enjoy the Japanese pubs that serve a good range of drinks and bar-snacks. Open from 6 p.m. to around midnight. Modern hotel bars with great views are always popular .

The Intercontinental, New Otani, Park Hyatt, Hilton, Nikko and the Akasaka Prince are just few of the excellent ones I find in Tokyo. It's good that we brought some stuff that makes it appropriately to mix comfortably with the well-educated, elegant crowds that we found in the hotel.

On our way home we tried our luck at the national obsession - a game of pachinko at one of the many pinball parlors. Just a few minutes or so, we feel like local, a good feeling.

Read more of Neil Simon's Travel tips at Travel Nooks http://travelnooks.wordpress.com/

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