The main attraction here is definitely people watching. Apparently, this is where every teenager in Tokyo dresses up in costume to do – of all things, choreographed dancing. And since none of this is out of the ordinary in Japan, people don’t even look twice when they see a guy walking around with a horse head. Or a stocky man wearing a frilly dress with really hairy
legs (Okay, maaaaybe San Francisco).
Or a 90’s hip hop dancing master. Or an Elvis wannabe…
We left early one morning to catch a train to Odaiba Island – a brand-new, futuristic city built on a man-made island connected to central Tokyo. It sounded interesting in the tourbooks, but our time there felt…eerie. What would normally be a lively place looked desolate and abandoned. As strange as the place was, it was a nice break from the chaos of central Tokyo.
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Vending machines are everywhere in Tokyo. You can get food, soup, ice cream, booze, cigarettes, toys – you name it. They even dispense hot drinks – I got one every time I was thirsty.
I think we spent most of our money in Japan trying out different drinks (they’re so good, too).
What’s funny is, you never really see anyone eating in public. The only people walking around with drinks in their hands were Americans. It’s impolite to eat on the subway in Japan, although it’s perfectly acceptable to completely fall asleep, which everyone seems to do instantly.
If New York is the city that never sleeps, Tokyo is one that doesn’t even dim the lights. Some of the best parts of the trip were simply wandering around the city. It’s overwhelming how much there is to see and do there. And unlike some big cities, the streets are impeccably clean, it doesn’t smell bad, people are incredibly nice, and there’s no homeless people (where do they go?)
The clean part is what I don’t get. There’s not a speck of trash to be seen in a city full of smokers and vending machines. So there must be trash cans everywhere, right? Wrong. There’s hardly any to be seen, and if you do happen to see one, it’s of course, miniature. Where does it all go?!
I hope you’re not hungry, because this is a long post about FOOD! To me, eating is always the best part of the trip. Restaurants, vending machines, street snacks – we did it all. I grew up eating a lot of odd Japanese food, so my choice of food in Japan might be a bit unusual from an American perspective. But no fear – there’s plenty of normal-ish food there, and being that their food standards are much higher, there’s nothing to be worried about. Japanese food is good. Sooo good. ::drool::
One thing that did surprise me were the size of the portions there. Like everything else in Japan, I expected their portions to be miniature, but I felt that their portions are just as big, or bigger, than American portions. The Japanese, as model-thin as they are, eat everything – there’s never one grain of rice left behind, and no take out boxes to be seen. How do they do it? I must learn the ways.
Normally, I hate tours. I hate how long you have to sit on a stupid tour bus, and what little time you get when you get off to explore. Fortunately, our travel package included only a half day morning tour, which was great for getting our jet-lagged butts out to see the things that we absolutely have to see on our stay here. I couldn’t have asked for more.
I’m glad we got to see a bit of old Tokyo, which is a huge contrast to modern Tokyo. The shrine and garden we visited were still crowded with people, but without the rush and seizure-inducing lights. Either way, old or new – it seems that the Japanese are big on absolute perfection in everything they do. (My sloppy American ways are probably rude and appalling in more ways than I know.)
(written earlier on the plane)
There’s nothing more exciting or gives me more peace of mind than exploring distant places and learning about new cultures. Last year I went to Spain (which was awesome!), and I thought it would be fun to switch it up this year, and visit Asia instead. I found a great package deal through Singapore Airlines for a week long trip to Tokyo, so I booked it months in advance. It includes airfare,
stay at the Hilton, airport transportation, and a half day tour of Tokyo. Score!
I’ve been to Japan before, but Mike never has (or been to Asia at all). He’s a product designer and a gadget aficionado, so I’m sure he’s going to love it. We’re definitely going to see some of the temples and historical sites, but I think the focus of the trip will be design, modern art, architecture, and SHOPPING! I don’t buy very much stuff in general, but I’m going to splurge a little on this trip because I adore everything that comes from Japan. I can’t help it. Buying stuff in Japan makes me feel like a little girl again – everything is so…cute. (I need more rabbity stuff. And sugary treats. Maybe something shiny and flashy, too.)