|Edmonton City Hall|
Summer of course, if you don't want to bring a parka. I don't even really want to be here in the winter. Summer is glorious, with long days as the sun rises early and doesn't set until 11 PM. There is usually lots of sunshine and it is great for barbequing. Summer is when Edmonton also has great festivals, you can enjoy long walks in the various parks or along the river valley, and eat and drink on the patios at restaurants and bars.
|One thing I cannot emphasize more is that we can have some fabulous sunsets/sunrises and that the skies are big and blue here.|
The Taste of Edmonton and other events are held down in Churchill Square, a very nice town square in front of City Hall. All cities need a civic space that is something like this at their center. City Hall is also quite interesting with its big glass pyramid and clock tower. In Tokyo, the metropolitan city hall building would hold the entire square inside its top outdoor level, but that building is HUGE. The city has done a nice job making it lively during the day. Do visit the Art Gallery of Alberta while you are here. The AGA often has some very cool exhibits on, some of which would be at home in the Mori Museum in Tokyo. If you like the AGA, the Provincial Museum may also be worth a visit.
|The big pool in front of city hall which is full of kids on a hot day.|
|Inside City Hall|
|Churchill Square with the AGA in the background on the right side.|
|The wonderful curvy surfaces inside the AGA. Supposed to look like the northern lights.|
Districts to Visit
I'd be writing about Shibuya, Shinjuku, or Akihabara for Tokyo normally. In Edmonton, you visit Old Strathcona and 124 Street for some outdoor shopping, arts, eating, and walking. If you are planning on going to the mountains and are on 124 Street, Mountain Equipment Co-op is a great place to get gear without having to look for a sale as they are a co-op. I get most of my gear here.
Old Strathcona is chock full of places too eat (including some affordable Italian at Chianti's) and plenty of little shops to explore. Up on 124 Street there are some very nice galleries, more shops, great Greek food at Koutouki, and of course the Duchess Bakery (was listed as one of the best bakeries in Canada). Farmer's markets seem to be springing up everywhere and there are supposed to be three in Edmonton's downtown / Old Strathcona. The grand daddy of farmer's markets is the one in Old Strathcona.
|West Edmonton Mall|
Bloggers make a big deal out of the various summer matsuri (festival) in Japan. They are definitely fun and you can visit the temples / concession stands there, but Edmonton can hold its own for summer festivals.
Don't miss the Muttart Conservatory for the different biomes they have under their pyramidal glass atriums. It is a very nice place to visit and you can even stroll down to the riverside from there.
|Devonian Gardens - Japanese Garden|
|Devonian Gardens - Japanese Garden|
|Devonian Gardens - Japanese Garden|
Transit / Trains
Tokyo has trains, bullet trains, and then more trains. I like trains - they run better than buses. We have the LRT or light rail transit. It is interesting that both Calgary and Edmonton get their rail cars from the same company in Germany, but the trains are different.
|South Campus Station|
|Corona Station - looks pretty cool from the right angle.|
|Plenty of commuters that bike and then train it to work.|
You can visit the Royal Alberta Museum (the provincial museum) to get a great overview of the human and natural history of the province. For a more immersive experience with pioneer history, a visit to Fort Edmonton Park is recommended. You can see many original buildings from the 19th and 20th century and actors bring it to life. A working steam locomotive will take you around the grounds.
|Walk across the kilometre long High Level Bridge between Strathcona and the Provincial Legislature.|
Speaking of old trains, you can cross the High Level Bridge by old street car from Old Strathcona to downtown. There is even an old Japanese trolley car that was in operation in 2012, but is now undergoing maintenance.
Edmonton is the provincial capital of Alberta. The large sandstone legislature building just had the dome refurbished. It is an impressive building with free tours and the grounds are very pretty. The reflecting pools in front of the building often have people wading around in them, especially on Canada Day when it is a zoo. There is also a massive below ground set of public tunnels here that can be a bit of fun to explore!
|Lego model of the Legislature inside the public tunnel system there.|
|Note Darth Vader and Imperial troops that have entered the grounds. Imperial troops have entered the base... crackle.... szzz.|
Comics / Anime / Science
Anime and manga are one of the things that allowed Japan to have a massive soft power cultural export that has influenced generations of film makers, children, and adults. We Canadians have mounties, bears, beavers, maple syrup, and the fact that we're usually friendly (mostly harmless). However, Edmonton does have a number of places to shop for anime goods, comics such as Happy Harbour, and Warp One. There are several big hobby shows too (with the big convention down in Calgary as the Calgary Comic Expo).
|We don't have a giant Gundam robot, but we have huge feet and stockings at Southgate.|
There are piles of food trucks now in downtown Edmonton around lunch time. In Tokyo, it can seem like there is a konbini (convenience store) on every corner near a train station, but here, it can almost seem like there is a food truck on every corner.
|Little Village Lamb Burger and Greek Potatoes|
Chicken for Lunch Experience
There is always a line here for her Chinese food in the Scotia Place food court at lunch. Amy is famous for there "crack" chicken which is a very tasty fried chicken in little strips / nuggets. I like curry Thursdays myself, but they also have spicy Fridays, and Butter Chicken Wednesdays. They have a syndicated show called The Quon Dynasty on TV or on Youtube, etc.
Eating Japanese Food
Nomiya - great for their ramen, sushi, and tapas. Great chicken karaage and I get my ramen fix here.
Wasabi - my favourite sushi place in town. Restaurant has a long history here.
Mikado South Edmonton Common - best upscale sushi and robata grill.
Kyoto downtown location - always good for lunch and their lunch bento.
Convenience Stores / Dollar Stores
The Japanese convenience stores or konbini are just better in terms of the food offerings and snacks. 7-11 has upped their game here for snack foods, but I'd say the Japanese version is still better. However, we do have slurpees! Daiso and some of the other 100 yen stores are pretty sweet for the types of products they offer back in Japan (or Vancouver), but Dollarama is the closest you'll come here to that with some decent offerings. Our big drug stores kind of fill a niche between konbini and supermarket as some of the big London Drugs or Rexalls have pretty good selections of everything, including snacks.
No Ramen museum here, but I will mention that Edmonton does have an instant noodle plant in the form of Noodle Time. I prefer Nissin myself (out of Japan or Hong Kong - not USA).
Edmonton is awesome at recycling and you don't need the crazy 5 different bins and extra education required in Tokyo.
Give Edmonton a visit if you're in the area, or pass through on the way to the Rockies via Jasper. There is also some cool architecture too in the city too, but I'm not really going to cover that. As a parting picture, the Kaye Clinic reminds me a bit of the Tokyo International forum in this image.
Other travelogue posts for Japan, Canada, and more.