Monday, March 13, 2017

Finding those hidden secrets

Japan is full of hidden mysteries and one of the key points about being hidden is that, by definition, it makes your mystery particularly hard to find. But in these days of the inter-web there are both human and digital hands to help you beyond the scope of a much loved but well thumbed and dog eared copy of The Lonely Planet. Oishii Tokyo (Tasty Tokyo) which arrange tours for groups or families who definitely are looking to get past the JTB Reference Guide and see where locals go to eat and all the while make merry. And all in English too. So, if you want three Michelin stars then go to Paris, if you want local, localise. It's the way to go. And, spoiler alert, I'll be at Ebisu Yokocho Friday night. Apologies in advance...

Another new resource I wish had existed all those years ago when I thought that TGIF's was the height of Tokyo's offerings has recently come to life. Digitally designed to answer your questions whilst at the same time passing the Turing Test, I swear it's psychic. Want to go for dinner in the little shop around the corner, find an onsen friend or simply hangout in an idyl after dropping your bags on the floor of your Airbnb home for the next two weeks? All available through Levart. Even a tricky question it'll politely ask you to wait while it works out the answer. Just awesome.

And, focussing more closely upon the cultural aspects of Japan, is My-Taiken (My Experience) which uses real guides to take you by the hand and explore this ancient land of Amaterasu. And if you were wondering who Amaterasu is, they can probably answer that for you too. 

Then of course there are the Users; for every guide there are the guided (except for Confucianism, but that is a different story). It's easy to forget that magical pleasure of stepping off the Narita Express and finding yourself five floors below street level at the start of the busiest escalators in the world when you've been here so long. But these four guys from Scraptown dropped me a video of their eleven day visit to the country. And for those who still can't work out ramen dispensers, kleptomaniac monkeys and inappropriately attentive deer, you're in for a treat. Thanks for sending guys, I'm glad you enjoyed your experience.

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