The first thing that struck me about Tokyo is how different everything looks. I'd heard about the ubiquitous vending machines, but seeing them everywhere - even adjacent to fields and other places that looked powerless - was a shock. There's something about a brightly lit, futuristic-looking machine in front of a field of green that is striking.
Before coming here, I'd heard about the contrast between old and new. That was supposed to be one of Japan's "things." What I couldn't imagine was the effortless, crisp cleanliness of this contrast. Everything seems to be compartmentalized as much as possible, like a bento box.
There's a small shrine near my house. The whole place is so silent and peaceful that a surprised cicada was enough to scare the living bejesus out of me. But, it's flanked on all sides by modern Tokyo: parking lots; vending machines; tiny, absurd cars; a 7-11. What struck me was the impermeable barrier between the two atmospheres. Even though the parking lot was visible from the graveyard, it wasn't intruding on it. Even though the shrine was visible from the 7-11, I didn't stop once to contemplate the torii from the frozen section.
I was at Tokyu Hands yesterday. It's a gigantic department store geared toward "do-it-yourself" enthusiasts. (Thus, the "Hands" part. Get it?) So, it stocks all kinds of things, from toys to lumber. I saw a sign somewhere in English: "A Place for Everything, And Everything in Its Place." They should put that on their flag.