Japan in my mind: Tokyo, Part 1

Black and White Digital Japan People Streets Travel

Ahh, finally. I can write my entry about my stay in Tokyo.

I have broken down this entry into two parts just so it is easier to take in the photos and information.

I arrived in Tokyo around 4:00 PM via Calgary and was warmly welcomed by T and S (whom I haven’t seen in five years). I was treated for a nice filling Okonomiyaki dinner and dessert at Jonathan’s.

This is the interior of the bookstore near S’s neighborhood. YES, SMALL NEIGHBORHOOD BOOKSTORES. How awesome could it be? (Answer: super awesome)

The next day, S brought me to the places that were in my itinerary. First off, Tokyo Station and the Hotel beside it. I actually took the train there heading to her place the day before, but didn’t get the chance to walk around the place. Shortly thereafter, we went to see the Imperial Palace. We can only see the area around the moat, at the Imperial Palace is close off to the public for the most part of the year. Shortly after, we headed to Tokyo Tower for a very late lunch and trying to get some shelter because it started pouring like crazy.

We then headed to Yasukuni Shrine to check out Mitama Matsuri. At this point, the adventure began with a bang because S and I parted ways and unable to find each other. IN THIS SEA OF PEOPLE. Yes, it was a bit scary but I held on, like what a grown-up adult should be.

The next day, I went to Akihabara just to visit the place and track down the relocated Lomography store. It took me a couple of hours to figure out where the heck I was because I am terrible at directions, and some of the landmarks appear to be inaccurate in my map. I eventually found the new store (which is located in 333 Arts Chiyoda), met with the new store manager, and handed me a small package from my lomo friend Kenichi who dropped off some omiyage all the way from Miyazaki-ken. In it are cute items featuring their provincial “mascot”, as well as this really delicious puff pastry with cheese in it. It was delicious!

As for Akihabara in general: I do not watch as many anime as I used to when I was younger, and personally, cartoon characters and sales ladies with oversized mammary glands are obviously not my thing. It’s fun to see and recognize the characters but a lot of the stuff marketed there are from newer series so it is actually hard to be really excited about the place.

I returned to Tokyo on a Thursday morning from my Kyoto and Osaka trip. I took a nice bath, cleaned up, and left my friend’s place to meet up with Kichijo-jin. Had a great time talking about a lot of things, and of course, photography. We quickly strolled around Inokashira Koen, and then had a nice lunch at Hattifnatt Cafe in Koenji, and then went to Nakano; and finally at Shinjuku to visit Totem Pole Gallery and meet my friend for dinner.

Our party went to Seattle’s Best to rest and chat (S just departed from work) and had Banh Mi under the cool summer sky.

View from Nikon Salon in Shinjuku. It was a nice afternoon.

I went to Shibuya on a Friday to meet another photography friend, Flapro. We had a nice dinner at Yomenya Goemon and walked around the vicinity.

Flapro said this street is called the “Drinking Street”. We went in this area and the place is filled with small stalls for drinking and eating appetizers.

Saturday was my allotted day to shop. S did not have work that day, so she was gracious to show me around Ginza. I went to GU where I got so many deals, I can’t even. I also went to Uniqlo and saw the famous 12-storey building. Like, seriously. I also did some cosmetic shopping which, as my friend will attest, I got a bit too excited about.

Students on their way to play Yakyuu (baseball).

My first week in Tokyo (and in Japan) can be summarized with these words: fun, exciting, but tiring. This was the first time that I traveled to a foreign country alone, and told myself that even if I prepared a lot for this trip, something weird is bound to happen. For one, I totally did not expect the amount of walking that I had to do. Not that I don’t walk here in Canada, but because the terrain in Winnipeg is flat (hello, I live in the prairies!), the varying landscape in Tokyo, plus being a foreigner trying to find my way around, topped by the amount of traffic everywhere made the whole walking experience totally different. In addition to that was the humidity. I had to tell myself that I have been away from Asia for around ten years before finally being convinced that I am now totally acclimatized to Canada. The heat was unbearable but somehow I felt that these changes will be good for me (and it was, because I lost weight on my way back).