09 Jul
Location
Home
Days adrift.  Click here to see our best and worst experiences so far.
3636
Number of flights.  Click here to go to the itinerary page.
35
Bus, train and taxi rides.  Click here to see all posts relating to transport. (56 posts)
185
Miles walked.  Click here to see all posts relating to walking and trekking. (43 posts)
581
Countries visited.  Click here to see what we think of them. (14 posts)
15
Number of species spotted.  Click here to go to our wildlife page.
1157
Photos taken.  Click here to go to the photo gallery. (94 posts)
13288
Rainy days.  Click here to find posts relating to the weather. (50 posts)
63
Number of times scammed.  Click here to read all about it!  (2 posts)
1
Otters spotted.  Click here to go to our website about otters: amblonyx.com
45
 
...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

15 November 2015

Tokyo’d out

20 October 2015

Last day of the holiday, and I’m Tokyo’d out. There’s too much concrete and glass here for me to really love this city. Worth a visit, but I wouldn’t want to live here. It may not have helped that we spent much of today shopping.

Concrete and glass

Concrete and glass


All through the holiday we’ve dodged doing too much shopping by saying “ah, we’ll be able to find much better/cheaper/more variety when we get to Tokyo.” Naively imagining that we’ll be able to find such things as tabi socks, yukatas and porcelain in infinite varieties and with much more style than those available in the more touristy shops we’ve passed in Kyoto, Nara, Matsumoto, etc. Oops… wrong.

Perhaps they do exist here somewhere. But Tokyo is a metropolis, it’s almost infinitely vast and on a single day it’s impossible to do more than glance at a minute fraction. What’s really obvious is this: the traditional items we associated with Japan, like tabi socks and yukatas, are about as relevant to the modern city-living Japanese as a bowler hat or a bow tie are to a modern Brit.

Look who followed us to Tokyo!

Look who followed us to Tokyo!


I think I probably could spend a couple of happy days clothes shopping around Shibuya or Omotesando, because I do like the Japanese take on modern clothing and the Japanese themselves are very stylish – everyone you see on the metro seems to have taken some effort over their attire, some attempt at putting together a good outfit; throwing a random T-shirt over a pair of jeans just don’t cut it here. But that is not for this holiday. And besides, I think I’d prefer Kyoto.

Our very last stop, found after many fraught footsteps up, down, around and under Tokyo station, was an underground shopping mall called First Avenue which includes a whole row of shops dedicated to all the cute and cartoonish properties in Japan – Pokemon, Hello Kitty, etc. The one we were looking for was a shop dedicated to Studio Ghibli, and although 60% of the merchandise related to My Neighbour Totoro (beloved in Japan, but a bit young for us) we found plenty of other stuff to be tempted by.

Out in Ginza for dinner

Out in Ginza for dinner


After one last sushi supper (as usual, the hope is to find somewhere “special” for your final meal of a holiday, the reality is wandering for a while and then just settling on somewhere okay), I’m just reflecting on our first holiday to Japan.

That’s the main point I guess: this is definitely only our first holiday to Japan, there’s just too much that is fascinating and wonderful about this island nation to not return for more. The food is a really big part of it, I think there was only one complete duffer in our whole trip (lunch, Shimabara) and almost everything else was totally delicious (quite apart from being half the price of food in the UK). And as well as delicious, so much of it was also completely new to me. And there’s plenty on the menu I didn’t get chance to try.

The people are utterly charming in spite of an absence of shared language – I’d almost say Japan feels like a nation of introverts, with everyone being so quietly friendly and unobtrusive. And I guess the other ingredient is an interesting juxtaposition of two factors. Japan is strangely alien, like Madagascar or Cambodia are alien. But it is also familiarly modern, like the USA or Australia are modern. This juxtaposition of familiar and alien is fascinating but relaxing. It’s hard to relax in Cambodia; you are one of a handful of foreign tourists, with more money in your pocket than a local could earn in a year, and every hotel and restaurant and attraction is here solely for YOU. In Japan everything is strange, but at least you’re just one more visitor – admittedly an odd-looking one – rubbing shoulders with all the locals that are visiting too. I like that.

Taiko drummer, Kumamoto

Taiko drummer, Kumamoto


Leave a Reply