The sheer level of energy is the most striking aspect of Japan's capital city. More than anything else, Tokyo is a place where the urgent rhythms of consumer culture collide with the quieter moments that linger from older traditions. It's hectic madness leavened by the Zennest of calms.
While it's true the exciting vibe has a somewhat depressing flip side - shoebox housing estates and office blocks traversed by overhead expressways crowded with traffic - Tokyo remains a glittering example of the 'miracle' of post-WWII Japan.
Despite mega-construction, the average Tokyo suburb hasn't fallen prey to supermarket culture yet: streets are lined with tiny specialist shops and bustling restaurants, most of which stay open late into the night. Close to the soaring office blocks exist pockets of another Tokyo - an ancient wooden house, a Japanese inn, an old lady in a kimono sweeping the pavement outside her home with a straw broom.
Facts for the traveller
Off the beaten track