Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tokyo

Tokyo is an absolutely amazing city! The combination of an ultramodern urban landscape with the traditional Japanese culture is fascinating. At the beginning, the crowds of people, in particular around train stations, are a little bit overwhelming. However, once you understand some basic rules, it becomes easy to go with the flow. What really helps is that everything is very organized, and people are friendly and patient.

Although Tokyo is a global city, I clearly stick out as a Caucasian (Japan is very homogenous with over 98% Japanese people); something I didn't expect to that extent. Of course, California is the true melting pot of cultures, but even German cities seem more cultural diverse than Tokyo. Moreover, I didn't expect the extreme hot and humid weather. The temperature is above 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit), but feels more like 40 degrees (104), and it barely cools down at night. I like it though!

The energy of Tokyo is inspiring and reinforces my desire to live in a bigger city. I had the same feeling when I was in S√£o Paulo and New York City. The vibe is just so much different in these global hubs compared to where I have lived so far. I guess the next step would be San Francisco; however, I have to admit that SF doesn't even come close to these mega cities; it is rather a beautiful town surrounded by gorgeous nature.


The entrance to the first place I have stayed. A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese-style inn, which provides basic features such as reed floor matting (tatami), low wooden tables and sleeping quilts (futon).

Always take off your shoes before entering a home - only bare feet or socks are allowed to tread upon tatami.

Tokyo is a vast city accommodating approximately 13 million people (35 million in the metropolitan area). I took this picture from Sky Tree, a new broadcasting tower that opened in 2012. It is the tallest tower in the world (and second tallest structure) with a height of 634 meters (2,080 ft).

Tokyo also offers many places of calm. There are countless little temples and parks across the city.

Here I enjoy an iced coffee in one of the many nice little stores. In the morning, I could even buy my croissant at a family owned bakery. The ubiquitous chains in the US just don't offer the same quality and atmosphere.

Tokyo is colorful and different. In Shibuya, one of the 23 wards in Tokyo, there is one of the busiest pedestrian crosswalks in the world. I took pictures from the second floor of one the surrounding buildings and put them in a short animation. It's crazy.

The Tsukiji Fish Market is the world's largest fish market, handling over 2,000 tons of marine products per day. I have never seen so much fresh and different kinds of fish in one place. Amazing.

There are a few Sushi restaurants in the Tsukiji Fish Market area, but you can expect to wait between 1-2 hours to get a seat. Totally worth it, it was the best Sushi I have ever had so far. Furthermore, I met James at the restaurant. He is from Singapore and we exchanged contact information. Since Singapore is another stop on my trip, he offered me to provide first-hand recommendations.

The Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku was definitely an unique experience. I got this tip from a friend, and I am glad that I didn't miss this. Giant robots are fighting on stage with pretty, bikini-clad girls dancing and singing. The video gives a taste of what to expect.


My last night in Tokyo. I met Syuri and Hidemitsu (left) at an ice cream shop and we decided to go out that night. We went to a restaurant / bar and some of their friends also joined us. Although, they didn't speak English well, we could connect by drinking and sharing a meal together. This always works. Fun night!

1 comment:

  1. Jan - so wonderful to hear about your adventures. Love the mix of photos, fun and philosophy (live in the moment, appreciate the very special attention to detail in the Japanese culture) - so Jan!

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