I write this as I’m sitting at the Sakura Lounge in Haneda Airport, waiting for our flight to Korea, our next destination. I feel depressed, and I’ve been trying to find ways to spend more extended time in Tokyo in the future. For years, Japan was on the top of my list of places to visit, and after finally making it over, I can confidently say it exceeded all of my expectations.
I can’t believe it, but it has been a little over four weeks since we last arrived in Tokyo, tired and weary from a long flight, and I’m not nearly close to sharing all of my stories yet. I still have to write up our outdoor adventures – including a typhoon filled weekend in Hakone, cultural learnings and the nightlife subculture (e.g., the weird, the fantastic, the colorful, the dark). Due to popular photo requests, however, and even though I haven’t knocked off everything on my list yet, this piece will be dedicated to my favorite part of Japan: food.
One of my favorite ways to explore is finding a place to start and just walking. Anywhere. For me, this beats all other types of tourism. It’s like trying to find hidden gems when you’re in sensory overload with new sounds, smells and sights. Here, I’ll share some of my favorite walks in Tokyo so far through photo stories and brief descriptions*.
*To be sensitive of privacy, I’ve either cropped or only used photos of people without their faces turned to me.
We landed in a rainy Tokyo in a daze at noon after a sleepless night on the flight from London*. I had known we’d be in good hands the minute AirFrance had pulled out edible food – a Japanese curry – and after we had watched the translated version of Inuyashiki, a story about a middle-aged Japanese salaryman who is turned into a cyborg and saves humanity.
Anyone who has done that flight from Europe or North America to Asia knows that the first 48 hours is filled with a wondrous daze of “WTF and where am I.” Part of it is the jet lag, and if you don’t sleep on the flight, you’re hit with double confusion – the smells, sights, language, and customs with the compounded effects of no sleep make you feel as if you’ve stepped in Alice’s Wonderland of Weird, Tasty and Awesome. I was born in China and yet every trip back still fills me that same initial shock for at least the first 48 hours. This would be my first time in Tokyo proper. The initial landing felt no different in that sense, and yet it was very different compared to any trip I’ve ever made to Asia before.