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Tokyo After Dusk

After the sun sets and the electric lights turn on the city of Tokyo changes its form. While during the day the seemingly endless sea of concrete and glass is roamed by people it gets surprisingly quiet by night. Unlike New York or other so called world capitals Tokyo generally sleeps at night. Japanese people work a lot and additional office hours are common, so sleep is valued highly. Hard to belief but even the sprawling subway system is shutting down service for night time, so it can be cleaned and maintained for the upcoming day. Of course there are exceptions as no city with the size and proportions of Tokyo can truly go to bed. Like in a fever dream people continue playing and gambling in places like the entertainment district Akihabara or go to Izakayas, a kind of Japanese pub, to meet people, eat and drink. And of course there are the lights illuminating the allies and streets of Tokyo, bringing day into the night.

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Tokyo 2

The inherent beauty of Japan is how it first seems to contradict itself constantly but the more you get to know the country and its people it shapes into a whole and harmonious picture. Why are the streets so clean you may wonder yet there is no concept of public bins. Well people don’t really produce waste on the go and if they do they take it with them because it ain’t the business of the public. There is a strong idea of the collective, yet there is enough place for individuality and creative expression. Most and foremost Japanese culture is both strongly rooted in the past but also very forward looking. This may seem like the biggest contradiction of them all, but trust me it all makes sense when travelling this intriguing and fascinating country and getting to know it’s many inhabitants.

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The Far East

The most astounding thing about the far east as I experienced it in Japan is that it is a busy place with people and cars everywhere you look, but still it is impossibly quite and calm at the same time. There is hardly any shouting on the sidewalks and beeping on the streets. Even cyclists won’t beep when passing by closely, but will rather slow down. There is an important sense of courtesy and carefulness in play here that can seem very foreign to a Westerner. Of course the culture is closely linked to the religions of the region, mostly Buddhism and Shintoism in Japan. So the feeling of quietness and serenity can be best understood in and around religious temples and shrines, which also tend to be beautiful places overall.

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Tokyo

Tokyo is one of the largest cities on earth. It is a megacity in every sense of the word, where you can get easily lost in the masses of people, where motorways pile level upon level and the skyscrapers seem to touch the sky. A marveling sculpture of steel, concrete and glass. Also the place where you get amazing sushi, buy robots and visit cat cafes. Last but not least Tokyo is the home of fourteen million humans. Faces you merely pass by, which tell stories of lives in this strange but enchanting megacity.

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Holy Deer of Nara

The city of Nara once used to be the proud capital of Japan. It is well known for temples from the 8th century and large Buddha statues. But the most famous sights of Nara are not built of stone or wood but rather of flesh and blood. Among the temples, parks and tourists there are around 1,200 Japanese deer (or sika deer) sleeping, eating and running around. They are all but shy and like to eat corn from the hands of visitors and like to be pet by children. The animals have a symbiotic relationship with people for a long time already and are seen as holy. The legend says that once a mythological god arrived in Nara on a white deer and began to guard the new capital. Since then the animals are regarded as heavenly and are protected by the city and the country.

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Streets of Japan

Walking the streets of urban Japan some things strike you immediately. First and foremost it is busy! People everywhere, many in a hurry while walking to the office or buying some quick lunch. There is a constant flow of people and traffic and not just on the main roads. Despite this there is no mess and there are hardly any jams. Of course Japan is known to be very organised, but still it is surprising to see it by yourself. So for example at the metro stations or at the bus stops people are lining up calmly well before the train or bus arrives. Also the streets are incredibly clean, you hardly see any garbage. And this again despite the masses of people and maybe even more surprisingly without there being any public bins.

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