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Kiddyland – Harajuku

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Kiddy Land is a pretty mainstream toy shop, and wouldn’t normally warrent a mention here – except that this is Tokyo, and mainstream means something completely different. Spanning five floors, of most interest are the anime and Ghibli sections. While the former caters for more kodomo and shonen level stuff, the latter is worth checking just for it’s huge selection and the over sized plush Totoro (pictured above) that sits as it’s centerpiece. Yours for just 676 quid. Worth a mention too are the hugely helpful (like everywhere so far in Tokyo) and mainly bilingual staff. Worth a visit, for sure.

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Shinjuku Gyoen

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Awaking to a surprisingly sunny and very hot November day, we decided to take a short walk down to Shinjuku Gyoen. While I’d been impressed with the serenity of the gardens around the Imperial Palace a couple of days previously, nothing had prepared me for the vibe here. The park is split into three main sections modelled after traditional English, French and Japanese gardens, with the latter of course being the most interesting.

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More images from Tokyo

As you can probably imagine, I’ve been taking a lot of photos while I’ve been over here in Japan. Due to time constraints and the way WordPress works, I haven’t been able to share as much with you as I’d like, but I have been dumping literally hundreds of them on Facebook. So it suddenly occurred to me – this is the interweb, and the power of the hyperlink is strong.

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Tokyo Imperial Palace and Gardens

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If you want to escape from the concrete and steel for a day, bizarrely one of the best places to head to is the centre of Tokyo, and the area surrounding the Imperial Palace. The gardens are huge, and took as a good five hours to fully explore yesterday. You can’t get in the Palace itself, obviously, but the architecture and gardens are beautiful. Even then you’re never far from the corporate futurism; the Palace lies in the middle of Tokyo’s financial district, and is circled by the usual skyscrapers and communication towers. Even though, its nice to have the usual background noise of crowds, traffic and electronics replaced by birdsong for a few hours.

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Shinjuku

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So we’re here. Finally.

Actually, we arrived about 48 hours ago, after what seemed like a week of travelling. Hellish. But, of course, with hindsight completely worth it. Shinjuku is everything all the cliches say it is – Akira, Bladerunner and Neuromancer all rolled into one, but somehow weirder for not actually feeling that futuristic. Or at least, it’s a kind of retro futuristic, a reminder of the that 80’s cyberpunk vision that it inspired but never quite happened anywhere else. Like all sci-fi, they got some things wrong. Example? Well, it seems damn near impossible to find any public Wi-Fi round here. But why would you need it when everyone’s had 3G capable phones for over ten years?

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Weapon of Choice

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Got out and about last night – dropped into “Weapon of Choice” – a live graffiti jam at Mr Wolf’s – a little bar here in Bristol. Couple of drinks, some nice beats and some, erm, entertaining rhymes from Nerdcore rapper MC Nucleuz – all whilst local graf talent Lokey and Cheo busied away making some art. Originally headed down there under the premiss of doing research for a short story I’m writing about near-future AR graf artists, but ended up having too much of a laugh to care about all that. Did fire off a whole bunch of photos though, so check the links below or hit the Flickr slideshow for even more…

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