Realm of the senses

Life in TOKYO assaults your eyes, your ears, your nose - and you'd be foolish

not to indulge your sense of taste.

‘."."0ics: Simone Baird and Peter Collingridge P"o:os: Peter Collingridge

Tokyo it's like nowhere you've ever been before. It almost seems familiar in a Blade Runner kind of way, with brand names and adverts in neon signs and on boards, plastered over every available surface. If the fact that they're often in Japanese (and that surprisingly few people speak English) seems a little intimidating, then head to Roppongi. One of the main nightlife areas, with its stripjoints, bars and clubs, it's almost like London's Soho, and there's far more English spoken around you than in other areas.

The one thing you must do in Tokyo is shop. The teenagers here are the defining edge of fashion: from the squealing schoolgirls to the perfectly accessorised urban young things, image is everything. Omotesando, a mecca for the stylish and painfully hip, is full of designers showrooms; even if you can’t afford to splash out on entire outfits, you will be inspired. The nearby areas of Harajuku and Shibuya are crammed with young

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Tokyo seeking out the latest must-have items. Just west of Shibuya is Daikenyama, a slightly funkier area full of small, exclusive boutiques.

The Japanese enjoy some of the world's most delicious and aesthetically pleasing food. Surrounding the Tsukiji fish markets are stalls selling arguably the freshest sushi you’ll find anywhere. Look out also for the ramen stalls (a type of noodle), as the tempura is outstanding. Toyko has a higher proportion of restaurants and cafes than anywhere else in the world, so you might feel a little overwhelmed by choice. If money is a consideration, and it usually is in Tokyo, there are stand-up noodle bars in train stations and practically on every corner, which dish out bowls of rice and noodles for very little yen. If you’re craving something that's not noodles or raw fish, there are thousands of places serving all variations of international cuisine.

Japanese gardens are justifiably world famous, and you’ll be spoilt for choice if you're looking for a place to escape the metropolis. Among the best are the Meiji- jingu Park and the Hama-rikyu Detached Garden, an enormous old garden with an abundance of calming water - which probably has something to do with the fact that it’s situated on an island. There is a small entry charge to get into the latter, but that helps keep the crowds down.

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The Tsukiji fish markets

Just about everything in Tokyo can be debilitating, so try B&B-style accommodation to save your yen. You’ll stay With local and hospitable families. Kotsu Ka/‘kan, b/dg 7.

Tsukiji fish market The biggest in the world get down as early as possible

to see it in all its hustling, chaotic glory.

Meiji-jingu (Shrine) Park A shrine to Emperor MGIJI, this thickly wooded park is full of traanIl paths and is an ideal escape from the city. Higashi-Ikebukuro The discounted computer and electronics centre of Tokyo; whatever it is, it Will be cheaper here than nearly anywhere else in the world.

Sumo wrestling Pretty fly for a big,

action, head to the Kokugikan in January, May or September for the fifteen—day tournaments.

The List alternative Liquid Room A trendy live music venue and club open until the wee hours, With a variety of styles on different nights. 7F. Shin/uku HUMAX Paw/ion. Capsule hotels You’ve probably seen them on TV the small capsules that act as a ’hotel room’ for the night, Very cheap (around Y4000) and located near main stations, they are a good way to save your money, although most are men only.

Comme des Garcons The showcase for deSigns by Rei Kawakubo, although it’s the architecture that most go to see, a

Sale of the century

STA Trave‘ ita\e teamed up with British l\.lidlafld and Virgin Aliantic to bring yot. some of the lowest fares of this century to a host of intei’nationa» destinat'ons

London £‘7

Amsterdam £18

Brussels £19

Paris £21

Frankfurt £22

Copenhagen £30

Nice £45

Prague £54

Warsaw £56

Athens £l05

New York £125

Los Angeles £169

San Francisco £l69

Kuala Lumpur £339

Johannesburg £ 3 59

Hong Kong £359

Al! departu"es are from ;onoon. —< except Cooennageh, \"JlTlCl‘. :s Glasgow or Edinburgh and are exclusive of taxes i£lO—£35 t'or Eurooe, £ZO—£55 .‘or worldwide, Fares are vaiio for travel until the end of March, most have fleXible return dates, are restricted to under 26s and students, are Subject to availability and must be booked before Friday 10 December. Non- students may still apply, but are restricted to fixed date travel only

huge open-plan space with crazy walls that turn the shop into a quasi-maze. 5-2-7 f/li’na/ni-Aoyama.

Boutiques YOu must, for absolute kudos before yOur return to Scotland, check out the Hysteric Glamour shop i6-23-2 Jingumaei, Issey lvliyake (318- ll Minami-Aoyama; and, for a bit of kitsch, Laforet (l-l l-6 Jingumae). which is teeming With schoolgirls and teens after the garish fashions American In Paris An absolute must when in Tokyo, check Out this post- industrial eating house and design showcase. ShifljU/(O.

Getting there

STA Travel offer return tickets to Tokyo for travel between January—June for £422 (tax approx £47,, fare valid for under 26s and students only

STA Travel are at 184 Byres Road and The University of Strathclyde, 90 John Street Glasgow. Tel: 0141 338 6000

27 Forrest Road, Edinburgh. Tel 0131 226 7747 0 30 Upperkirkgate, Aberdeen. Tel 01224 658222 -

154 THE lIST 2—l6 Dec 1999