In fact, Tokyo’s neighbourhoods are a source of adventure and discovery on their own. One can get off at just about any subway station and, armed with curiosity and a camera, discover picturesque streets, small specialty shops, unique Izakayas and bars, and the neighbourhood ambiance. We found this to be true on the narrow streets of Shimo Kitazawa, in the old shops along the main street of Ningyocho, and in Monzen Nakacho where we had dinner at Uosan, an inexpensive, extremely popular (line-ups begin at 4:00 pm) seafood restaurant. In Kappabashi, where you can purchase just about anything that relates to kitchens and culinary preparation, you can also find Wasuke, a small Izakaya with a friendly atmosphere and excellent food.
Getting actively involved in a destination inevitably involves the arts, and Tokyo has a wealth of excellent theatres and museums, from the Kabuki Theatre in Ginza to the Edo-Tokyo Museum in Ryogoku and on to traditional and contemporary art galleries spread throughout the city. One of the more interesting was a visit to the Mori Art Museum in Rappongi Hills where the featured exhibit was Takashi Murakami’s masterpiece, the 500 Arhats.
In Buddhism the word ‘arhat’ refers to a person who is far advanced on the path to Enlightenment. After the 2011 tsunami and earthquake that devastated the Tohoku region, Murakami wanted to do something to help people recover from the despair. His response was a 100 metre long painting, divided into four panels, that portrayed the 500 Arhats and emphasized 500 ways of healing human suffering, as was done in the old days, through stories, legends, mythology, spiritual beliefs and even humour.
The successful blending of the old and the new in art, architecture, cuisine, museums and neighbourhoods is the hallmark of a dynamic city. Keeping pace with the ever- evolving city of Tokyo is a pleasurable challenge and a boon for travellers who are searching for new, exciting and meaningful discoveries and experiences.