Tokyo had long featured on my hit list of places to visit so I arrived to this city with high expectations - all of which have easily been surpassed.
With 33 million people, Tokyo is one of most populated metropolitan areas in the world. Tokyo may not have the number of striking historic landmarks that London, Paris or New York boast but there is by no means any shortage of things to do or see or experience in this bustling city. Our trainee flats are located just minutes from the famous Shibuya crossing, one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in the world and a playground for people watching.
The Herbert Smith Tokyo office just celebrated its tenth anniversary this year. I am currently sitting in the corporate M&A team and have worked on several multi-jurisdictional matters for Japanese multinational corporations during my seat. The office is located on the 41st floor of Midtown Tower – the city’s tallest building. The views are truly spectacular. On a clear day, I can see a snow-capped Mount Fuji from my desk (which, in my view, absolves me from actually having to climb it).
Any description of Tokyo demands superlatives. It is one of the busiest, noisiest, cleanest, safest, hottest and most hectic places I have ever been. From the moment you land you feel you have been transported to a different world – gadgetty toilet seats you practically need a manual to decipher, taxis with automatic doors, massive TV screens to entertain you while you wait at traffic lights and outlandish fashion sense. It is impossible to be bored in a city that has so much to offer.
Tokyoites are obsessed with food and the city boasts more Michelin starred restaurants than London or Paris. Food here is sublime and with over 300,000 restaurants there is something for every budget. It is almost as cheap to eat out as it is to cook in which hopefully justifies why I have not “cooked” anything other than toast since I arrived.
Tokyo is a city that never sleeps. An endless list of restaurants, bars, clubs and karaoke joints means that you are constantly trying out new places and discovering new parts of the city. Half the fun of Tokyo is deconstructing the neon, concrete jungle which surrounds you. Every corner has something different to offer – often weird, always wonderful. It is also a city full of contrasts – the traditional Meiji shrine is juxtaposed with futuristic Harajuku girls dressed in eccentric costumes and congregations of dancing Elvis impersonators. Japan’s famous bullet trains (shinkansen) also provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and allow you to explore the rest that Japan has to offer.
Tokyo is a city that quickly gets under your skin and leaves you yearning for more. It will be difficult to leave but I have no doubt that I will be back – and qualification leave will certainly help to ease the pain!