Even though this was only my second visit to Tokyo I can easily say I will be back for a third visit soon, hopefully in the next few months. There are some tough things to get over as a non Japanese speaker. When it comes to being a foreigner I find it a little easier to get around Taipei than Tokyo. From what I have read many Japanese speak English quite well, but are too embarrassed to use it.
Finally, with the help of Dave from Shoottokyo.com, I have conquered one big hurdle, the Tokyo subway system. The best tip of the weekend, if in doubt, just buy the cheapest subway ticket (120yen) to get you on a train. Then, when you are about to exit the station go to the left or right side of the turnstiles and present your ticket to the attendant. The attendant will scan your ticket and you simply pay any difference right there on the spot. The alternative is to pick up a Suica card from a machine. I believe it costs a minimum of 2000yen, but that includes 1500yen worth of travel. With the Suica card you just swipe it entering and exiting the station and the deductions are automatic.
Neighborhoods. There are a lot and I cannot even begin to explain the differences between them all. I can tell you that this time I stayed in Akasaka at the New Otani and it was clean, comfortable and conveniently located to shopping and restaurants. It is pretty close to the American embassy so the restaurant area did seem full of expats. That is helpful when you are looking for an English language menu. I would be happy to stay in Akasaka again.
The only other neighborhood I have stayed in was Shinjuku. Shinjuku is home to the busiest train station in the world for a reason. The area is dense with shopping, restaurants and entertainment seems to be the crossroads from several of Tokyo’s subway lines. The amount of neon in this part of Tokyo is phenomenal. Shinjuku would be on my list of places to stay as well.
As a photographer, Tokyo ranks up there with Paris, New York and Hong Kong for photographic opportunities. The beauty of the temples, the masses of people, the colorful lights, the people, oddities like a cat and dog rental shop, rooftop soccer, and again, the people make it ripe for photography.
Good night Tokyo, see you again soon.