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Tokyo's electric energy never fades

  • Juxtaposition of old and new, proper and outlandish, makes Japan fascinating
  • CNN correspondent Kyung Lah has lived and worked in Tokyo for two years
  • She says Tsukiji Fish Market is not to be missed
  • Vibrant area of Shibuya is Lah's favorite place to spend an evening out

Editor's note: CNN's Insider Trip Tips taps staffers around the globe for a local's look at places where they work and live.

Tokyo, Japan (CNN) -- Japan is often called a land of contradictions, and that's why CNN correspondent Kyung Lah loves working in Tokyo.

"It's incredibly proper and restrained but then has the most outlandish behavior (at times) I've ever seen," Lah said. "That contradiction means endless material for me as a news reporter."

Lah has been in Tokyo for two years, and the otherworldly feeling of living in Japan has yet to fade.

"[Visitors] will most assuredly feel like they've landed on another planet," she said.

The mix of ancient and very stylish, modern culture is fascinating to see.

"Visitors will find an electric, hip energy all over Japan, amid an incredibly ancient world. Everything's either 400 years old or brand new," Lah said. asked Lah to share some of her best tips for Tokyo visitors.

CNN correspondent Kyung Lah interviews a sumo wrestler.
CNN correspondent Kyung Lah interviews a sumo wrestler.

Where can you get the best view of the city?

Hmmm, I'd say for families, you go to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku. It's free and a great view. I'd say if you're on a date, the lobby bar at the Ritz at Tokyo Midtown or the New York Grill in Shinjuku are your best nighttime/drink/view spots.

Which restaurant would you take your loved one to for an anniversary or other special occasion?

I'm really low-brow. ... I love Popeye's Beer Club. It's super festive and very, very fun. My hubby and I love beer. (Read a review).

Where is the best place to people watch?

Harajuku, by far. That's the fashion district, and you'll see some fun and hip fashions that never make it into the fashion magazines. I actually saw a woman wearing a hot pink bra as a hat. And it looked good.

What is your favorite neighborhood?

Shibuya. I love how young and hip it is and that it's super vibrant. I am a fan of historical Japan, but there ain't nothing like the hip lights of Shibuya to get me excited.

What's the biggest misconception about your city?

That it's crowded. It IS crowded, but it doesn't feel as crowded as Manhattan, because everything is so orderly. Everyone walks in an orderly manner as well!

Where do you go to relax?

The snowboarding slopes. I'm not much of a spa girl. I like to get out and have fun to relax. I like Gala (it's less than a hour away from Tokyo via bullet train).

What essential thing should visitors see/experience if they only have a few hours?

Tsukiji Fish Market. At 5:30 a.m., the tuna auction begins. Then eat sushi for breakfast at Daiwa Sushi Bar, and you've done one of my favorite mornings in Tokyo.

What's the biggest tourist trap? Is there a "tourist trap" that's actually worth seeing?

See above. ... Tsukiji is a tourist trap, but it's worth it. It's a little hard to get to, so you don't get too bombarded; don't sweat it too much. I'd say skip the Tokyo Tower. I have no idea why people think it's cool.

Where was your most memorable meal?

Daiwa Sushi in Tsukiji.

Where's your favorite place to spend a night out on the town?

Anywhere in Shibuya.

Are there local specialty dishes or drinks that visitors must try?

Sushi conveyor belt meal. ... You sit by the conveyor belt and grab sushi as it rolls by.

What is a good local souvenir?

Temple omiyagi, which is a temple souvenir. They sell little "good luck" charms that are written in Japanese. They're pretty, cheap and fun.