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Project 1 -- Tokyo

By Paul Padegimas


          Tokyo, or “The Toke,” as my friends and I referred to it, is certainly a fine example of a global city.  Staying at a hotel in the Ginza district, the Mitsui Garden Hotel, I believe that I experienced a part of Tokyo with a truly international feel.  Everything from the contemporary architecture to the food, the shopping, the businesses, clubs, and even the people exemplified Tokyo’s global city status.  The hotel that we stayed at offered the international Herald Tribune in a number of languages every morning.  The receptionists all spoke English, writing was in English, and the computers operated in English. 

        Going out on our first night in
Tokyo, on our way to find food we passed Burberry, Armani, Versace, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton, among many other truly international stores.  Citibank was the main bank on the particular avenue that we were walking along.  Finally, we found food at an incredible Italian restaurant with an international wine collection.  After dinner, looking for a good bar to hang out in, we stumbled across a music bar.  Inside was a group of what looked like Japanese businessmen, all listening to American classic rock picked out of the bar’s music catalog.  All in all, Tokyo displayed quite the transnational appeal, which really made the night quite interesting. 

        Little did we know that we would find a stark contrast in the type of urbanism in the area the next day.  Upon waking up in the morning, my friends and I decided to head out to the 
Tokyo fish market.  The Tsukiji Fish Market was a prime example of vernacular urbanism.  This market was absolutely incredible, with fresh fish everywhere, some small restaurants interspersed and trinket dealers all around.  There were so many people in this market, looking like mostly locals, that it was difficult to move at times through the streets and narrow alleyways.  Everything was written in Japanese characters, with very few people speaking any English at all.  Because we took a cab to get to the market, we really had no frame of reference as far as how far from the hotel we had to go, but it seemed like miles, even if not just from the feel of the market.  It turned out, however, that after walking around for a little bit that we found that we were only about five blocks from our hotel. 

        The Tsukiji Market with its very local, yet urban feel, was so close to the
Ginza district
with its very international feel, and blended back into the rest of the city so smoothly.  This aspect of Tokyo really impressed me, the transition between the vernacular and the transnational.  Not many cities in the world, I would imagine, could fit both of these aspects together quite so well as Tokyo has.  Not many cities in the world can take the place of “The Toke.”


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