Let me begin by discussing just how wild Tokyo is in terms of population density. The city has about 13 to 15 million people compacted in a small area with about 4 times squares or so.
Anyways, there are about 23 wards in Tokyo and each one has a personality; some more distinct than others. Tokyo is spoke and wheel layout, with the Tokyo Station/Capital and some other buildings at the center and the wards fanning out from there. First, I'll highlight some of the more unique wards I saw.
Within the Chiyoda ward is basically most of the capitol (central) Tokyo stuff like the Imperial Palace and the Capitol itself. I wished I saw the Edo castle, but Nijo and later on Kanazawa's castles were good enough. I would have seen Himeji, but it was closed for restoration -thanks for that note hostel lady. Anyways, the main reason to head to Chiyoda is for Akihabara which is about as stereotypically Japanese as you can get. There are cosplay girls, some white girls even, handing out flyers - yes cosplay as in nurses, maids, Sailor Moons, Chun-Lis etc... For an otaku, someone obsessed with Japanese culture, like me it was glorious! There were 6 floor arcades; which were still heavily used and you could smoke in them. You already know I played at least one game. Also, there was lines for tournament fighting on some of the floors. It felt like a true arcade again and you could literally play anything there. There were tons of places to grab cheap electronics and anime, along with anime museums and no I didn't go to Miyazaki's museum =( . Side note, a little thing about Japanese DVD stores and porn; so there is porn on anything in Japan -yes all that weird stuff too. The odd thing is that it's all censored, the actual act has little black boxes over it. However, you can see everything else in the video even if it is animated. I was literally laughing the entire time in Akhibara from all the strange stores and stereotypes.
Also of note in Chiyoda is Yurakucho which has lots of izakayas, small menu places with little appetizers, that also have drinks. They also exist in the US and are known for the red lanterns (akachochin which literally means red light) and yakitoris that are outdoor places for the salarymen to grab some beer and grilled skewers. Yakitoris are also in the US and I ate gizzards here!.
Another ward of note is Shibuya, which is super populous and its Shibuya Crossing like Times Square is nuts. The main crossing is known from being that crosswalk with the umbrellas you see in Tokyo. When the walk symbol goes, people come from all directions in a big wave that some kids tried to time to see if they could lay down for awhile before getting up. This is where a lot of Japanese teens and young adults hang for the bars & clubs. They hang out here for the adult and for the fashion district of yes, Harajuku! Harajuku has Takeshita Street; with clothing from BAPE and BBC while Japanese and Nigeria guys try to get you to buy hip-hop clothing. Meanwhile, ladies try to get you to buy all those crazy Lady Gaga, solo Gwen Stefani and Madonna type outfits. It's a bizarre place and you've got to see the pics. Oddly right next to Harajuku is Yoyogi Park with its tranquil Meiji Shrine and the Olympic Stadium of the '64 Olympics. One other note in Shibuya, is Hachiko Square with the statue of Hachiko the ever loyal dog waiting for its owner. Nearby the statue are don't smoke and walk signs. These signs, used so people stay in one area, are hilarious for all the smokers in the city.
Next up is the Chuo ward, which is most famous for Ginza. Ginza is basically the Rodeo Drive of Japan. Apparently there's good Kabuki theatre here. There's also fashion shoots, arrogant European playboys, and Makimoto - 100,000 dollar jewelry! It also has a Times Square with so many lights and big fancy stores. Quick note about nearby Akasaka. Akasaka is basically the American region of Tokyo, there is a Starbucks here, Roppongi is here - with all its American (or non-Japanese) cuisine and nightlife. If you want to find the gaijin (foreigners), go here. When I was also near Roppongi, I saw the Kill Bill restaurant! Continuing around Tokyo, I went to Sumida for a quick stop at Ryogoku, the sumo wrestling capitol! No, I didn't see a match, but I did see a sumo wrestler!
Onward to Shinjuku. This ward has a heavy connecting station similar to Grand Central, a Times Square and juxtaposed concepts. On one hand is the financial district with huge buildings and some of the best views of Tokyo. On the other hand, is Kabuki-cho, the red light district of Tokyo. Yakuza run Kabuki-cho with love hotels; hotels were couples can order anything - PS3s, whips and chains, outfits whatever - hostess bars; where you pay to talk to women. They get more comfortable the more drinks you buy them...its a waste and weird, but its the only place you're going unless you have Japanese contacts. Solicitors, ranging from the Nigerians - don't get me started on how much I encounter them on my travels-, Japanese women, and tons of Japanese men! These solicitors are trying to get Japanese women to go to their host bars, sing some karaoke, have drinks and just talk. The women spend more money on escorts than men in Japan because the men frequently work so much that the women want to be heard, will go out and enjoy themselves. It's fascinating in a myriad of ways. Anyways, I went to a multi-cultural hostess bar and ended up speaking English, Japanese, Tagolog, and Spanish to the variety of women in there. The Spanish one and I had a good time paying her to talk, with some drinks on the house. One of many Spanish only moments on my travels and I got her number, but with no phone except Bonnie's it simply wasn't happening. I ended up tricking the owner who thought I was drunk and staying later by simply leaving after two drinks.
Beyond Shinjuku, was Taito; which I'm going to call old-school Japan. The reason for this is that the huge Ueno Park is here, though don't go at night! Also here is the Tokyo National Museum which is gorgeous. At the museum, I did see somebody wearing a Strawberry Shortcake outfit, while in Kanazawa, I saw a Pikachu outfit. As such, some people wear crazy outfits for the hell of it here. Also of note in Taito is Asakusa; pretty much historical and traditional Japan. It was the only place that looked like Kyoto, had a shrine and entrance marked by a giant red latern.
The main place I stayed in Tokyo was near Akasaka at the US Army barracks hotel with dudes with shotguns and all that. Eh what can I say, there was more to talk about in Tokyo than I thought. Anyways, I'm going to quickly follow this up with a Part 3 that includes Kamakura, Kanazawa, Yokohama, and Nikko.