I remember Japan fondly for two things: its food and its people. The Japanese are, honest to God, the most polite people you’ll ever meet and their food, wonderful, just wonderful. You know the whole shtick about the Japanese bowing endlessly like they were in a Boomerang? It’s really more like art imitating life than a shtick. And you know how they say it’s not where you travel but who you travel with? Well, I really don’t mind travelling alone to Japan, Tokyo in particular, which has easily found its way to the top of my list of favorite cities in world. Spend the day with me as I take you around the city in 8 photos and show you why.
In Japan, they call convenience stores “konbinis” and as in any other convenience store around the world, here you will also find snacks and meals but what sets konbinis apart, besides its cute name is that their food is actually, believe it or not, edible. Oh, and delicious too! In the battle of convenience store food, konbinis take the Michelin!
To all you budget travelers, make sure to start your day right with an early trip to the konbinis, get your breakfast fix and taste the yummy difference. Oishi!
The Tokyo train system is one of the busiest and most complicated in the world with the main station alone having 10 island platforms which serve 20 tracks. And yet it runs like clockwork. Meanwhile, our trains run on two directions from end to end and still manage to ram themselves into parked ones or vice versa. How to be like the Japanese? Oh well, that’s another story.
Take the train and get off at the Asakusa station. Find your way to the Sensoji Temple and walk under the ginormous lantern through the Hozomon gate for lots of luck. Buy your ref magnets (get the crawling ninja!) here, do your pasalubong shopping too and enjoy the street food on your way to the temple.
The Japanese take their food very seriously which is why I dare say your trip to Tokyo will be your best gastronomical experience ever. And this photo captures it perfectly. See that smile on my face? And on his too, the gentleman in a suit. If I hadn’t told you, would you ever think this was taken at a small stall in a wet market? Definitely not if you were from the Philippines. The food is such an equalizer in Japan like in all other first worlds, I suppose. It knows no social classes nor dress codes. Enviable. Take the train to Tsukiji and walk towards the Tsukiji market for lunch. Long lines always mean good food on this side of the world. Come one, come all! And walk away with a happy tummy.
After that hearty lunch, take a respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo and go further north where there are more spaces than faces, Odaiba. Hop on the train and remember to sit on the right side to catch this breathtaking view of the Tokyo skyline and the Rainbow Bridge which lights up like a rainbow at night and connects Odaiba to the heart of Tokyo. There’s gold at the end of the rainbow after all.
Now, get ready for some BIG fun! Get off at Daiba station and begin your tour of Odaiba from DiverCity Tokyo Plaza where the famous, larger than life Gundam robot is. Trust me, you can’t miss it. Walk towards the Odaiba-Kaihinkoen station and enjoy your stroll around Odaiba, window shopping through the malls and slowing down by the Rainbow Bridge viewing deck for the gram. Head on back to the city from the Odaiba-Kaihinkoen station, you’ll miss the action in no time, believe me.
And for the main event, get off at the Shibuya station, a personal favorite. This is where you’ll find the famous Shibuya Crossing or as they call it colloquially, the scramble. I’ve never crossed a street so many times in such a short, well, relatively short interval. I spend at least an hour on the average, crossing the scramble just to get that perfect shot and not die by stampede.
In Tokyo, crossing the street is a tourist attraction and is a patented Tokyo experience all its own. And we’re just scratching the surface here. The scramble breaks into veins and veins of stores selling food, cosmetics, clothes, more food, electronics, “wastelands” which I shall discuss next, and did I say, food? It’s a one-stop shop on steroids which can give the New York Times Square a run for its money that you’d also want to be a part of it. Right, Frank? Go during the Halloween, don’t forget your costume and be a drag! Won’t you be thrilled to cross the street and take selfies with Mario, Mickey, Miney, Gru and his minions? Oh, with Donald and Hillary too. I would!
Wastelands or those specialty stores which sell seemingly “useless” stuff are a modern day marketing wonder. Apparently, today, people are willing to spend on things they don’t have much use for which I can write about in a totally different story. Wastelands abound in Tokyo and all the good ones like Loft, where this photo was taken, Flying Tiger, the one with the IKEA feels and of course, Don Quijote, wasteland’s real OG in Japan, you can find in Shibuya. It’s hardly likely that you’d come out these stores empty-handed. So, good luck!
If I still haven’t made it obvious, I’ve so far made 11 references to food, make that a dozen, and I can keep going. Cap your night on a high note, cool down with a hot bowl of ramen and make sure a trip to Ichiran is a line item on your itinerary. You’d be lucky to wait an hour but like I’ve said, long lines always mean great food on this side of the world, uh, the universe rather, so trust the wait. Now, you may argue that Ichiran is now here in Manila too and that they’re all the same, but trust me when I say, it’s different. The experience makes it so and I will always argue that the broth is different, it tastes authentic. You are after all, closer to the pot which is why I think there’s nothing like my mom’s adobo. They leave you in solitary confinement with your ramen so you may negotiate it like it was serious business like you’re reading a book in a library. Well, besides of course that this is a very effective strategy in managing the queues. Come hungry and leave happy! Sweet dreams from Tokyo.
Have you experienced these as well? Tell us about it below!