We made it to Tokyo! At first glance from the train window it wasn’t as I expected – the buildings aren’t as tall as I thought it would be. For some reason I thought it would be a city of massive sky scrapers, but so far its not really.
We managed to navigate the train perfectly and somehow managed to leave from the proper exit and walked straight to our hotel. This was a huge feat. When we got out of the station, the roads didn’t quite look like they did on the map, so we just took a guess and I went with my intuition. I looked at this intersection with 3 streets and picked one that was uphill. Paul was not sure I had made the correct decision and was dragging behind a bit, but I said “I feel it’s this building up here” and it was!! He was so shocked. I was too.. not sure how I knew it.
Our hotel is a little boutique hotel in the area Shibuya – only about 5 minutes from the station which makes it super easy to get around. And it’s up this little hill. I didn’t realize that Tokyo had hills! I don’t know why, but I had always assumed it was flat as a board kind of like NYC.
Got settled in our ‘home’ for the next 6 days and headed out to the hustle and bustle. Our first little foray to the hotel hadn’t been as crazy noisy as I thought nor as many people as I had thought. But as soon as we began our ‘walking tour’ we became engulfed in roads jam packed with people. I seriously felt like I was at the world biggest concert or fair or something. It was insane the amount of people. India has a ton of people, but it’s not that often that i find myself trying to walk down the street or window shop with 10 million other people!
Our little walk took us through Shibuya where there was some huge festival going on on one of the streets – dancing, singing and waving of flags. No idea what it was for though. Then we carried on through the area, people watching and just walking with our mouths open and few words! It was just insane the amount of people and stuff going on. People drinking beer on the streets all over, a “no nukes” protest went past and then we entered the Yoyogi park which was one of our destinations.
On both sides of the walkway there were bands set up about every 2 feet playing their hearts out. Some were just individual singers with guitars, others full on bands. You couldn’t hear a thing since they were all positioned so close to one another. Total sensory overload. Apparently there was also a “Jamaica Fest” at the park as well, so tons of reggae stands and millions of people. Everyone had cameras as well which was funny! It felt like you wouldn’t be ‘admited’ if you didn’t have a camera strapped over your neck.
Our walk continued on through the hard core rock bands and then to the rock-a-billy band section with the guys in full on pompadour and girls wearing fluffy skirts dancing away! Here we finally decided to have a rest and sample some street food. It was yummy and kept us going for another few hours.
The next stop was to Harajuku station to see the ‘cosplay kids’ – apparently a lot of youth get all dolled up (maids costumes, total goth, princess, etc) and hang out near the station waiting for people to snap their photos. there weren’t as many as I had hoped to see and really nothing too shocking. I guess the most shocking thing is that all of the crazy counter culture that is common in sf was everywhere and packed the streets. It was hard to determine what is counter culture here and what is normal!
And then we carried on walking through the Harajuku shopping district. Again the streets were packed wall to wall. I was beginning to feel a bit clausterphobic and just needing some silence! I can’t believe I can come from a city with 22 million people and feel so overwhelmed in another city of similar size. But I think all of tokyo must have been out on the streets yesterday! I guess we’ll see today if its the same or if Sunday was a rare treat!
And to top the day off.. we headed to Shinjuku station for Krispy Kreme doughnuts! I’ve been waiting for this since we first arrived in Japan! I don’t know why i’ve been craving them, but I have and I knew there was one here. We asked the hotel and he knew exactly where it was.. he loves them as well. So off we headed. Again, found it without any issue… only issue was the 40 minute line out front!! can you believe it?! And can you believe we stood in the line for 40 minutes?! I think it’s like that all the time actually. But they gave us free hot off the press donuts while we waited. And then we ordered a whole box – don’t want to wait in that line again anytime soon!
We went to dinner and just pottered around looking into the tiny 4-10 seater bars. but we weren’t inclined to go into any since they all had 1000 yen cover charges plus min 2 drinks. It was already getting late and we were tired, so no use in spending 20 USD to sit for 30 minutes! But we’ll go again when we have more time.
And today.. not sure what is on the agenda. We had planned to go to the fish market, but that entails getting up at 4 a.m. – so we wanted a good nights rest first. I think we’ll check out buying sumo tickets and potter around other areas!