Explore Japan's Mysterious Metropolis
If you take the elevator to the top of the Shinjuku Metropolitan Government Building, the highest point in Tokyo, all you will see is bright lights, chalky apartment buildings, green parks, and shiny office towers - a panoramic view of urbanity as far as the eye can see. New York is bordered by the suburbs of the tri-state area; barren desert fringes the edges of Cairo; but the Tokyo metropolitan area seems to go on forever, a vast sea of humanity flooding across the Ezo plain. Within this megalopolis, however, lies a wealth of tiny neighborhoods, hidden corners, and narrow alleyways that lead to cozy pubs and mysterious shrines. One could spend a lifetime exploring Tokyo and still encounter surprises every day. There are the places everyone knows well -the statue of a dog in front of Shibuya station, the pleasant paths of Ueno Park - but Tokyo is ultimately a city of secrets. In this great mass of urban jungle, everyone has his or her refuge, a favorite place known only to a select few. This makes Tokyo's atmosphere an odd blend of overwhelming stimulation and cherished pockets of intimacy and calm. It's fitting that the heart of the city is the ultimate secret garden - the grounds of the Imperial Palace, surrounded by moats and high walls -- a fixed point in the surrounding chaotic swirl. One can glimpse inside the Imperial grounds but never actually enter, just as one can experience Tokyo but never truly claim to comprehend its scope.