Hong Kong, for example, is by far my most beloved travel destination in terms of frequency and I’m therefore familiar with the place, but I never felt any less foreign than the first time. But unlike HK, Tokyo is one of the less foreign cities and it’s not because I’ve been there, and I did not expect so much of the city. Perhaps that’s why this trip turned out to be better than my anticipation.
I’ve never been a huge fan of fancy hotels. For some reason they appear to me as cold and distanced. So I was all for the idea to stay at a Ryokan, a typical Japanese traveller’s accommodation and it certainly did not let me down, not one bit! The room was lovely and comfortable. There was a bath that guests could freely make use of so far as it’s not already occupied. It was nothing luxurious but clean and neat with all things both guys and girls would need. Hot bath after a tiring day sounded more than just sweet!
It was New Year’s when we arrived in Tokyo, and the streets were literally bustling with people, some of whom were clad in traditional Japanese clothes, and it was full of festive feelings. The 4 days and 3 nights were almost unplanned so we naturally started with exploring the Sensoji temple, which was so crowded with people wishing for good luck in the new year that it was close to impossible to move in the opposite direction.
What made the temple different from the last time I went there was not only the number of visitors. Lined along both sides were numerous street food stalls – Japanese stir-fried noodle, Takoyaki, baked potato, chocolate-coated bananas, you name it. It looked almost out of place for me who never thought that it may be appropriate to eat at such places. Even though most of what was sold there were overpriced, it was warm and delicious. Especially the baked potatoes with butter, mayonnaise and a kind of Japanese seasoning paste!
The picture is slightly blurry, but please do bear with me, we were starved. It was really fun to see so many people consuming so much food in such a small space. At this point I also thought that this indeed is Japan, because people weren’t littering all over the place and the empty food containers were more or less neatly stacked where they were supposed to be. It might be a stereotype that I have of the country, but there were way too many evident cases. Like the cleaner of a subway station who were mopping the tactile paving so precisely that I was afraid that all the dents might be worn out by the time he was done?
The weather was pretty benign all the time, but I was still glad for the hooded overcoat I decided to wear for the trip. The night air can be pretty harsh, although it was no compare for the blustery, freezing winter Beijing.
Below you can find some more pictures of my first 2015 impressions of Tokyo. I’ll continue with this belated journal with more notes and pics.