A few impressions of our trip to Tokyo. We only spent three days in the city which was hardly enough to cover the essentials. We were based in Shinjuku and could easily move around the city on the Yamanote line which is included in the JR Railpass. Shibuya and Harajuku are a short ride on the Yamonote line and boast the quintessential Tokyo madness. Japanese youth culture with its iconic fashion stores, cat cafés, robot cafés and other curiosities can be found there. We made a trip to Tsukiji fish market and the harbor area where a Japanese garden with a beautiful tea house invites you for a relaxing break from Tokyo’s city hassle. Have a look!
Tsukiji fish market after closing hours – we arrived in Tokyo around noon and Satoko, a friend of a friend and Tokyo native, took us to Tsukiji fish market even after closing hours. The market people were still cleaning up, all the fish was already gone, as were the masses of visitors. The lighting around the deserted market stalls was sublime and allowed for some great shots. Around the corner, you can find a few fish stalls in a newer building, catering to tourists while the old market building is the merchandising ground for all the restaurant owners and sushi chefs of Tokyo and its surroundings. Satoko guided us to a small alley where, behind a plastic curtain, we entered sushi heaven. The restaurant only consisted of a bar, seating 8 persons at maximum and its sushi chef, freshly preparing each sashimi exclusively with love and care, adorning it with a few drops of soy sauce or a sprinkle of wasabi. Heaven. Sushi will never be the same again.
Strolling around Shinjuku and the bar district of Golden Gai. At night, all those little bars are full of people which each bar only offering about ten seats around the bar, so you easily get in contact with the locals. Although the Japanese only speak very little English, they are very eager to connect with you, so one needs to be creative with communication. We used pictures from our phones, a translating app and hand and feet. The more beers we had, the easier it got.
Shibuya crossing – thousands of people crossing over at every green light.
Lunch at a food stall close to Ueno park – everyone is sitting on those little plastic chairs, having beers (or even gin at lunch time). We were offered to try the food of the people sitting next to us and a very nice couple even paid a part of our bill when we were searching our wallets for the right coins. People are incredibly friendly. Communication is difficult though. Sometimes, when approaching someone with a question in English, people would just stare at the ground, embarrassed that they did not understand and could not help. At other times, people would just continue speaking Japanese, pointing out the directions or would use a translating app on their phone to help us out. In any case, it will work out somehow, so just smile, add a few “arigato” in between, and have a great time.
When your new Japanese outfit matches the Shinkansen train, you just have to take a picture.
An oasis of calm in the hustle and buzz of Tokyo. Some green in the grey urban jungle, a few ponds with little bridges and a beautiful tea house offering matcha tea with the traditional sweets. Well worth a visit.