Tokyo, February 2016

Tokyo, what did you see during your marathon visit? I was asked.

Not much to see, I said, but this could be for another reason, marathon focus.

Tokyo downtown, esp. around the Central Station, takes a while to discover. Above ground their are few people and the traffic is fine, not heavy.

Where are all the people?

Simple, in the vast underground system. Here it feels like entering the tunnels of an underground ant hill, many individuals rushing by or occupying every square meter of an endless tunnel system. Still, it never feels claustrophobic with too many push and shove types like in China.

Transport and convenience

The transport system is very comfortable and clean, despite being busy. For marathon runners like us, with an upset internal system after the run due to dehydration and excessive bowel massage, panic toilet stops are no problem. Clean toilets are everywhere and like in the hotels, the toilet seats are heated, which does accelerates number two's.

Downtown area sightseeing

When you stay in the downtown area, there is indeed not much to see.

The imperial palace is disappointing, no visitors area except for the garden. The Asakasu temple is crowded, very crowded, and I feel very distant from the serious worshippers that fill every square meter. Hibiya park is just like any other small park.

The Ginza shopping district is mostly underground and claustrophobic.

The main highlight in downtown Tokyo was the 600 m high Tokyo Tower. As a foreigner, you are privileged to pay extra, avoiding a 2 hour cue. The view at 300 m is spectacular. Pollution and haze restrict the view to 10 km only.

We did not visit the fish market.

Poor walk

Lots of women have a very poor walk, most noticeble those with “O” legs and feet turned inward. The captain explained that this was due to lack of vitamine D, “English Disease”, caused probably by the hysteric behaviour of Japanese women to avoid sunshine and stay inside. Drugstores have a rack full of Shiseido whiteners.

Men have a noticable darker skin and rarely “O” legs.

View from Tokyo Tower at a height of 300 m towards the Asukasu District. Click on all pictures for full view.

Tokyo Tower. Lower plaform is at 300 m, higher one at 400 m. Height 600 m.

Asukasu temple, small park


The sharp dark dress of many women on the street stand out, provided you are a connaisseur. Japanese women dress well, stylish with high quality fabrics and apparently modest, but don't be deceived, these are expensive garments.

For the right occasion (or inside) they wear colorful dresses. I saw them in shops, not on the street.

Most men wear a dark grey suite, there seem to be 10 million strong army of cloned “dark grey” office workers in the Tokyo region, 30 of the population.

Young girls tend to be more shabby looking, often with typical long vests and sweaters.

Kawaii girls with their pink and white fluffy or baby outfit are rare. You meet them more often in airports, spoiled youth, getting a trip to Europe paid by daddy.

Art, inspired by yong girls who scream: “I like Kawaii!”

Art, inspired by “I like Kawaii!”

Another trend for young men is a trampy look with typical shabby hats and middle brown dyed hair as seen on the plane to Tokyo but again extremely rare in Tokyo.

Discipline, safety, clean and private space

A definite highlight is discipline, present in every aspect of life. Clean streets, feeling very safe outside, well behaved in crowded spaces, e.g. by honouring a half meter radius of private space, good service everywhere and the well-known extremely polite greetings, hai, hai, hai, bending your head ever deeper, until, our joke, “bang”, you hits each.

The first week after returning to Holland from a foreign trip, I always bump into pedestrians, because they don't honour the minimal 0.25 m private space on a side walk. I assume they move over, they don't and keep on walking in a straight line.

Solution in the first week, turn your body 45 degrees and the rucksack will create it.


Lunch time in reasonable restaurants like in the park near the Tokyo Museum and Modern Art Museum (we saw a Caravaggio Exhibition) seems to be dominated by house wife's and their female  friends.

Young girls with one baby and a female friend without or their mother, dominate,.

Groups of well to do old ladies stand-out. They answer the dominant talker every few seconds with sonore huh, huh, huh.

When you see a group of men at lunch, for business, you decipher the hierarchy right away. The alpha type talks, the beta types sit straight and are quiet, looking bored.

For such a big city, the lunch areas are not crowded, so many workers must be taken their lunch from home or use fast food stands.

Greater Tokyo

We did not explore greater Tokyo. There must be a lot more to see. Also, as February is relatively cold, visiting the mountains surrounding Tokyo was not possible. Mount Fuji is closed in winter.

An option is to go outside Tokyo for the day, on a long day, from 7 to 9. The Shinkazen could take you to winter resorts to the North-West of even Kyoto, 600 km West, a 2h20m train ride. Kyoto is a few degrees warmer.

Caravaggio Exhibition

Tokyo Museum tea garden, closed in winter.

Doll festival, Tokyo Museum.

Doll festival, La Dabai Hotel

View from the 30th floor of the La Daiba Hotel at downtown Tokyo. Note the helicopters.

Comfortable living, close to the office but extremely expensive.

Expo area, heavy rain approaching.