Welcome to today’s lecture, class! You’ve seen these places so many times in anime that they seem like a second home to you: the Tokyo Tower, the bright lights of Shinjuku and Akihabara or the esteemed University of Tokyo. Tokyo is the hub of Japan and often the background for many anime set in the past, present and future. Let’s take a look at the Tokyo of today.
The capital since 1868, Tokyo is the largest city in Japan and home to over 12 million people. It is comprised of 23 city wards, 26 cities, 5 towns and 8 villages, making it a true metropolis and the most important city in the country.
Perhaps the most recognizable structure in Japan is the Tokyo Tower, rising 333 meters high into the sky. Built in 1958 and taller than even the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Tokyo Tower serves as a communication relay for television and radio stations around the city. It is also a popular tourist attraction. Inside, groups of students and tourists will find two observation decks, an aquarium, a wax museum and an art gallery. The tower is a symbol of post-war Japan, built to celebrate the economic prosperity following such a bleak time. It has remained a symbol of importance to the people of Japan, so you will often see it not only in anime, but in film (Godzilla fans, in particular, might remember it here and there). The tower itself is also featured in shoujo favorites Magic Knight Rayearth, Card Captor Sakura and Sailor Moon, just to name a few.
Another eye-catching area of the city is Shinjuku, where the glittering lights and neon signs draw both tourists and residents alike. A business and shopping district in west Tokyo, you’ve probably seen the large screen video displays and bustling crosswalks in more than one of your favorite anime.
Shinjuku is one of the busiest parts of the city. Large television screens adorn the sides of buildings and are a popular meeting spot for friends. Shinjuku is also host to the red light district, considered to be one of the best places to experience the nightlife of Tokyo. With offerings in entertainment, shopping, dining, a beautiful park, temples and businesses, it’s no wonder that over one and a half million people come to this district of Tokyo daily.
Similar to Shinjuku, Akihabara is another favorite tourist and shopping area in Tokyo. Nicknamed “Electric Town”, Akihabara is home to more than 200 electronic and appliance stores. Showrooms and store fronts display row after row of cell phones, personal computers and other electrical appliances.
On the quieter side of the city’s personality, several prestigious universities reside in Tokyo. The most recognizable, especially to Love Hina fans, is the University of Tokyo. Tokyo Daigaku, or Toudai for short, is 1 of 6 traditional universities in the city. Considered to be similar to the Ivy League universities of the United States, Toudai is one of the best schools in the country.
The few places mentioned here barely scratch the surface of Tokyo. Harajuku, Ueno, Shibuya and other districts are just as noteworthy but probably not as familiar to students of the Academy. I hope that you one day have the opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of the city and share them with your fellow students!