2 Days in Tokyo

Written by on January 27, 2014 in Asia, General

I’ve now made the mistake of skipping visiting Japan in favor of less expensive and further afield destinations on not one, but both of my RTW trips.  I had routed my round the world ticket through Tokyo with all intentions of spending a few weeks here, however ended up extending my time in Indonesia and was now out of time.  Luckily, at the very last minute, I was able to change my flight to Paris back by a couple days so I could at least get a quick glimpse of Tokyo.

I based myself in a popular shopping and nightlife area called Shibuya.  Shibuya Crossing, pictured below, was made famous in the movie “Lost in Translation” and is apparently the busiest pedestrian intersections in the world.  Skyscrapers and neon and buzzing with energy and throngs of people, it was a fantastic place for people watching.

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Shibuya 109 is a popular shopping mall with about 100 boutiques selling the latest in Japanese fashion, which is quite different.

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I was actually amazed at how many shops catered to women who wanted to dress like baby dolls, which I was told is called a “lolita” style. I suppose the Japanese women are so petite they can pull it off.

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That afternoon I was on a hunt for a great sushi place, and was directed to Umegaoka Sushi No Midori only a few blocks from my guesthouse.  I was surprised that I had to wait in line, as I figured it’d be easy being just one person to sit down at the sushi bar.  An hour later, I finally got in. I was so hungry, I think I would’ve loved it even if it was ordinary.  It was amazing and worth the splurge, although I’m definitely not a fan of waiting in line when I’m by myself.  I should’ve brought a book or something.  I’m pretty good at being by myself…or meeting people…but there was a big language barrier and no one I was near in line spoke any English.  Oh well.  Small price to pay for an amazing meal!

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The next day I took the subway to the Asakusa neighborhood to check out Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest and most significant Buddhist temple, completed in the year 645.

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Throngs of tourists and locals enter the complex through the “Thunder Gate”, an imposing Buddhist structure featuring a massive paper lantern painted in vivid red-and-black tones to suggest thunderclouds and lightning, according to Wikipedia.

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The crowds thinned the further back I got in the complex, where I was able to snap a few shots of the colorful lanterns and pagoda, which were impressive and left me wanting more.

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Leading up to the complex was a small street called Nakamise-dori, which was lined with souvenir shop.  At last I was in a position to buy a few souvenirs as my heavy traveling was nearing an end.

I worked up quite an appetite and was more than happy to stop in at another sushi spot, this time with a conveyer belt so I could inspect the plates moving by and choose whichever one looked good!  I know these exist in the US, but I’ve actually never been to one, so it was fun and a new experience for me.  Where better to check out a sushi-go-round spot than in Tokyo?!?

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After lunch, I hopped on the train and headed to the Akihabara neighborhood, which is known as a shopping district for computer goods, video games, anime and manga (comic books).

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Icons from popular anime and manga are displayed prominently on the shops and billboards in the area, and several women dressed sort of like slutty Catholic school girls are on pretty much every corner trying to convince prospective customers to check out their shops.  Kind of crazy!

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The Japanese culture is fascinating and my 2 days in Tokyo was definitely not enough time to even scratch the surface.  I knew that spending even a couple days here would light a fire under me to return, especially as there are direct flights from San Francisco.  Japan is officially at the TOP of my travel to-do list!

 

 

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