Although it has been over a month since my trip to the Land of The Rising Sun, I still think about those magical two weeks everyday. I firmly believe that the best stories are found between the pages of a passport and this trip was a testament to the truth in that statement. To chronicle every minute of every day on this platform is quite the challenge so I have decide to make things simpler with an express narrative of my holiday.
Without further ado, I present the highlights of our time in Tokyo!
If you love the “big city, bright lights” life as much as I do, this district is right up your alley. The best part about Shinjuku, apart from the fact that it is centrally located, is the constant energy that fills the place. It houses a plethora of izakayas (traditional Japanese bars with amazing food and ridiculously cheap beer) and retail outlets, as well as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which is great for a bird’s eye view of the city. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay!
A trip to Tokyo is incomplete without a visit to Harajuku, especially Takeshita Dori. Harajuku is a world of it’s own and home to the quirkiest street style that I have ever laid eyes on. In fact, I loved the vibe so much that I ended up visiting the area twice to soak it all in. We also discovered Chiles Mexican Grill in a small by-lane off Takeshita Dori – they make the most amazing fajitas and their Cholula hot sauce is everything.
Words cannot do justice to how beautiful Meiji Shrine is. Although it lies in the heart of the city, it is removed from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Meiji Shrine is quiet and ethereal. Like most shrines in Tokyo, Meiji Shrine allowed visitors to write their prayers onto wooden plaques that are eventually hung on a tree. I remember reading some of those prayers and feeling moved within the core of my being. If you are looking for a haven within Tokyo, this is it.
We were lucky enough to be in Tokyo during the semi-finals of an important sumo-wrestling tournament and watch some of the best wrestlers take each other on. Although the commentary was entirely in Japanese, we slowly managed to understand the rules of the sport and by the end of the day; we had chosen our favourite wrestlers. The spirit that filled the stadium was absolutely infectious!
Cruise from Asakusa to Odaiba
Odaiba is a beautiful artificial island with the vibes of a modern day beach town. To reach Odaiba, we boarded a stunning cruise ship that looked more like a space vehicle than a water vessel. Covered from glass on all sides, the ship gives you an amazing view of the Tokyo skyline as you cruise down the Sumida River with a glass of chilled beer in hand. We definitely had a few Titanic moments on the upper deck, too. Absolutely amazing!
The minute I started researching all that Tokyo had to offer, I knew that I was not leaving the city without visiting this restaurant. How can you resist an entrance that resembles a dungeon (with a drawbridge to boot!), waiters enacting ninjas, drool-worthy sushi and a private magic show that knocks your socks off? This night is one of my favourite memories from our time in Tokyo!
Nothing matches up to karaoke in Tokyo. You get to rent out a private room with your friends where you can eat, drink and sing to your heart’s content without the fear of sounding like a fool. Unfortunately, there are no photographs or videos of us belting it out to Drake but I can guarantee that my rap game was definitely on point.
I know many people who detest museums, galleries and things of the sort, but I really love to understand the city that I am in and visiting a museum is a great way to do that. The Edo-Tokyo Museum is a wonderful place to get a sense of how the capital has evolved over the years and I am really glad that we managed to check it off our list. Be sure to take a guided tour when you visit – the tour guides are volunteers with a passion for the subject and their enthusiasm is contagious.
A day trip to Disneyland made for a smashing start to my 23rd birthday. What can I say? It really is the happiest place on earth.
Imagine a street that is lined with nothing but bookstores. For an avid reader like myself, Jimbocho is a slice of paradise. In fact, I was so enthralled that I forget to take a photograph of it (dammit!) Japanese, English, new, old, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, stories…whatever you like to read, you will find it here. Wherever you look, you will see bookstore after bookstore. Take me back, please!
Many people were surprised when we told them that we were holidaying in Japan and surprised yet again when they heard about how ah-mazing our trip was. I cannot justify why you should visit Japan through words and photographs because nothing I can say or show you will ever do it justice. All I can say is this: if you are on the hunt for a place that is firmly rooted in its tradition, yet equally metropolitan, the Land of the Rising Sun is the place for you. And yes, the sun actually rises at 4:00am. It truly is the best of both worlds and I cannot wait to visit again.
Keep your eyes peeled for my next post, in which I will unveil the highlights from our time in Kyoto!
Forever a wanderlust,
P.S. Lots and lots of photo credit to D!