22 May 229 397km // TOKYO // JAPAN
If you’d told me at the beginning of our journey that I would be walking down avenues filled with Cherry blossom trees, in one of the most world-renown cities in the world, I probably would’ve said, “Yeah, yeah, maybe one day…” (with a glimmer of hope that we would in fact one day get to go, but not actually believing it). Fast forward to early April 2017, and there we were. Standing in the middle of the road, surrounded by prepossessing pink blossoms, and the eloquent people of Tokyo walking their dogs (mostly the Akita breed, after famed and respected Hachiko made an impression), or walking to work, clothed in black suits and fashionable printed scarves. “WE’VE MADE IT TO TOKYO!!” was all I could think, as I actually shed a tear from joy, thinking back to when I was 18 years old watching Scarlett and Bill* singing karaoke, and spotting each other across the famed Shibuya crossing in Lost in Translation (all obviously set in scintillating Tokyo).
*”Why the first name basis,” you ask? Well I have spent enough hours of my life watching that movie to be entitled to think we are friends (at least in some weird celebrity-commoner realm universe).
While we found our time in Kyoto to be exploring Japanese traditions, I feel our journey through Tokyo was as fast-paced and eccentric as the city itself. Ordering sushi off conveyor belts using only iPads (or a similar brand of Tablet), viewing daytime gambles at the local Pachinko rooms, hunting down delicious Suntory Highballs and crunchy tempura in basement-bound restaurants, and getting lost in neighborhoods like Roppongi and Ginza after-hours, we absolutely loved our time in Tokyo.
Some places one must see if one must really experience Tokyo beyond the tour books (in our opinion, and thanks to the findings of Tokyo Cheapo) would be the gardens in bloom at Hamarikyu and Ueno Park, the contemporary depachika (or food hall) in Ginza for sushi rolls and mochi balls, the famed Tsukiji Fish Market for the tuna auction (ok, probably in every guide book – but we had to mention it), and five storeys of toys at the Hakuhinkan Toy Park. And if you are in fact looking for a little razzle á la Bill and Scarlett, look up. Majority of the bars and restaurants are sitting on the 3rd (or 15th) floor of the buildings that tower above you.
Although our Airbnb experience was dreadful (think dirty bathroom and stenchy kitchen) this did in fact force us to stay outdoors more, which meant we got to see way more than we should’ve in such a short space of time. Tokyo, you blew us away from the start with your black-suit jam-packed train ride. We loved crossing your giant (aka world’s largest) crossing at Shibuya, and we’re happy we stumbled across so many gems off Takeshita Street in Harajuku. You will undoubtedly see us again.