Tokyo- City of the Future

Location: Tokyo, Japan

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Let me just begin by saying: Japan is more than an interesting place. It is like nowhere else in the world, not exclusively because it was at the forefront of technological innovation for several years, but also because it is one of few places to become successful without embracing all of the tenants of Western culture. Japan is extremely insular. Even its largest city, Tokyo, after having been rebuilt after World War II, managed to retain some of these specifically Japanese elements.

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Shanghai- The Megalopolis

Location: Shanghai, Shanghai Municipality, China

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Shanghai is a new city by Chinese standards, which means that it’s about a hundred years old. It only started its outlandish growth in the past 30 years, and is now the largest city in the world, second to Lagos, Nigeria. Al Gore’s fantastic nonfiction tome (but possibly secretly a dystopian fiction story) The Future depicts those two cities sprawling to the point that they outclass most small European countries in GDP, pollution, and population density. It’s been rigorously planned by the Party, to the point that they have a scale model of the entire metropolitan area despite a good portion of it not being built yet. You can see this at the Architecture Museum, a fantastic place to see the history of the city, but also the party rhetoric and its inevitable glorious, harmonious future. Never mind the smog.

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Xi’an- The Ancient Place

Location: Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China
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The only location we visited that could tell you more about the history of China in one glance than Beijing is Xi’an. We only spent 3 days here, and they flew by. Though it is large, the city of 9 million seems almost quaint in comparison to the other megalopolises, and the people were kind as well as knowledgable about the immense amount of artifacts contained within the city’s walls.

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Beijing- The Forbidden City

Location: Peking, Beijing Municipality, China

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How can you describe a city that’s–by all accounts–the face of one of the largest countries in the world and one of the oldest continuous capitals? Beijing is a place of many paradoxes, of rapid growth and intense political power, but also reminders of the way things used to be. It’s three thousand years old and has seen all kinds of changes, both backwards and forwards. It has opulent palaces and historical edifices that are legendary across the world, but also is one of the most modern cities in China.

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