Tokyo, Japan

Written by Rachel Arieff
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Tokyo, Japan is a mix of contrasts: old and new, slick and timeless, personal and alienating. The physical space of Tokyo is a sensory experience in itself. Downtown Tokyo is a throbbing center of commerce and humanity, where crowds of pedestrians move en masse amongst gridlocked traffic under a canopy of ultramodern skyscrapers and neon billboards.

Tokyo is the capital of Japan and home to over twelve million people, making it one of the most populated cities on earth. Originally a small castle town in the 16th century called Edo, over a few centuries, Tokyo became the metropolis it is today--in spite of the periodic destruction of large sections of the city by earthquakes and World War Two air raids. For this reason, Tokyo is a city that is constantly regenerating itself.

Visiting Tokyo

Tokyo is an international business and tourist center, which means that most people in the service industry will speak good English. Tokyo service is incredibly friendly and polite, and hotel staff will generally go out of their way to accommodate you. This is a generalization, however; all hotels vary in quality and helpfulness of their staff, so before booking, check consumer ratings and client feedback if this aspect is important to you.

It's always advisable to bring along one or two language guides when traveling to a non-English speaking country. These guides should include a dictionary and an up-to-date phrase book. I say "up-to-date" because using a phrase book printed before 1990, for example, will not contain words and phrases essential for today's computer-connected world. If you're on the street and away from your English-speaking hotel, for instance, and you suddenly need to find a place to check your email, your phrase book will prove an indispensable tool.

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