Tokyo’s unique beauty lies in the city’s ability to blend thousands of years of tradition with modern innovation and style, bringing old and new together in effortless harmony.
Though Japan was isolated in the past, modern Tokyo incorporates bits and pieces from many cultures, but in a fundamentally Tokyo-esque way. It’s a city that seems to absorb outside in uence and spit out something wholly its own. Perhaps the most striking contrast of old vs. new can be seen in Tokyo’s street fashion. The districts of Shibuya, Harajuku and Omotesando are hubs of Tokyo style. Shibuya and Harajuku exemplify Tokyo’s unique kawaii or “cute” culture, taking inspiration from early European fashion through the use of frills, corsets and pinafores and turning out over-the-top outfits full of colour and lace. Nearby, in Omotesando, chic, high-end shops modelling modern French designers cater to a more upscale crowd. But come summer, festivals abound with people dressed in breezy yukata—a lighter, less involved form of a kimono. Women wear beautiful flowery patterns complete with a bow at the back, while men opt for solid shades of navy-blue, black, grey or brown.
Nestled among the neon lights and glittering skyscrapers of the city are peaceful shrines and temples some thousands of years old, and lovely Japanese gardens that bloom with sakura (cherry blossoms) every spring. In Asakusa, Skytree tower, Tokyo’s latest marvel of modern engineering, looks down over Sensoji, the city’s oldest temple. Skytree is the world’s tallest freestanding broadcast tower, while Sensoji has stood the test of time since 645 AD. Tokyo is also the only place to see both giant statues, such as the striking 12.5-metre-tall Tokyo Daibutsu (giant Buddha) in Jorenji Temple, and giant robots, like the Gundam on Tokyo’s manmade island of Odaiba. And it’s not a stretch to imagine that the colourful wigs and costumes of today’s J-pop stars have their roots in the gorgeous kimono, masks and hairpieces used in traditional Noh theatre performances.
And finally, Tokyo is a foodie’s paradise with multiple Michelin-starred restaurants. From fresh sushi, sashimi and kaiseki (traditional multi-course dining) to world-class Italian and French cuisine, the chefs of Tokyo prove they can take any culinary tradition and master it.
Tokyo offers the perfect fusion of tradition and innovation.
Photo © TCVB
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