This is my last trip to Tokyo, the largest metropolitan area in the world. During my five years in Japan, I’ve visited Tokyo on numerous occasions, both for work and fun. The immense size of the city, both in area and number of people is hard to comprehend. It is a nice place to visit but would not be a good place for me to live. It has a much different vibe than other world cities like London, New York, etc. In many ways, it is much quieter and closed due to the highly rigid and contextual Japanese culture. They do get a lot of tourists, but essentially, Japan is extremely homogenous and it gives the city and nation, a distinctiveness that you do not find in other places.
For this visit I stayed in Akihabara, the district famed for electronics and manga/anime. Walking through the streets to my hotel, I passed many young girls dressed in maid or cosplay outfits, advertising various manga-themed restaurants and clubs. There were also many bright lights advertising gaming stuff. I had a quiet night, walking over to Ryogoku kokugikan, the sumo wrestling arena. A grand tournament is taking place there this week. I was rewarded for my efforts by seeing three sumo wrestlers getting a bite to eat in a restaurant district. In Japan they build restaurants and bars often underneath elevated train lines.
I love hosting meetings in Tokyo. Kwansei Gakuin University, the foundation that owns our school, rents offices on the 10th floor of Sapia Tower, a huge building that overlooks Tokyo Station. The offices are like a corporate board room and with the luxurious meeting space and huge windows overlooking the city, it gives educators the rare opportunity to see what it would be like to be in the corporate world instead of the non-profit sector. The school heads also appreciate the convenience of meeting steps away from Tokyo Station. Tokyo Station however is only the fourth most busy station in the metro area with “only” over 900,000 passengers daily.
I am leaving Japan next month forever, but will remember fondly my time in the nation’s capital and all of the people I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with during my five years.