A Pedacito of Tokyo, Japan
Updated: May 14, 2021
I, like many other people, have heard of Japan’s hypermodern, almost otherworldly capital, Tokyo. Everyone has something that pops up in their mind when they hear its name. Maybe it’s the sushi, maybe it’s the technology, or perhaps something more ‘bizarre’ like a vampire-themed cafe that serves ‘blood’ in wine glasses. For me, Tokyo was a goal; top of the bucket list.
Real Japanese Food in Tokyo
As I get older, I find that I like to travel more for food than virtually anything else. I lived in Beijing for well over a year before ever going the hour car ride it takes to see the Great Wall, but I made sure to try Peking duck the first weekend.
In Tokyo, it was the same. I wasted no time slurping down huge bowls of ramen, in jam-packed restaurants in Ikebukuro district, grabbing every nigiri and sashimi as they came around the conveyor belt at an Asakusa neighborhood sushi bar, and having raw beef slices topped with raw egg in Shibuya.
Each day was a brand new dish, cooked in a new style, and in a very different atmosphere. In Tokyo, and I’d say Japan in general, the culinary experience is not to be underestimated.
Japanese Art Through Architecture in Tokyo
Tokyo only has an excess of unique buildings and structures. Growing up, I always watched anime and my eyes couldn’t help but catch the awesome backdrops that so many of my favorite shows like Sailor Moon were set to. So many tall buildings heavily, but neatly packed together with lights everywhere.
I always thought it would be somewhat overwhelming and it was, at first, but I just couldn’t stop myself from turning down every little alleyway to see what I’d run into. Sometimes, it was an izakaya smaller than an average American living room. Other times, it was just a souvenir shop. Either way, I enjoyed every minute of it.
In addition to modern architecture, traditional architecture is still very prominent and is well appreciated by tourists and locals alike. In the Buddhist tradition, which arrived in Japan via Korea over 1500 years ago, there are magnificent ‘temples’ with gardens and courtyards.
In the Shinto tradition, which is native to Japan and whose origins stretch back into prehistory, there are ‘shrines’. Sometimes they’re on the side of the road next to a pastry shop and sometimes they’re tucked away in forests or on hillsides.
Both are often similar in architecture, but temples tend to be more Chinese in style while shrines are very local Japanese in their architecture. Both also offer great scenery, culture, and photo ops, but one should remember to be respectful, as these are still places of worship.
The Polite Locals of Tokyo
Perhaps the biggest regret I have about Tokyo is not getting to mingle as well with locals as I would have liked as I went with a group of five other people. In spite of not making any good, new friends, I was able to have some interaction with them on a daily basis, and, aside from a few awkward moments due to language, it was an overall pleasant experience.
In public, there is always someone to help and even when they can’t, they direct to someone else who can. Politeness is also something that can’t be understated. People are almost overly considerate of each other, but I won’t complain. I think it’s a good quality for any modern society. I love Tokyo and I can’t wait to go back again!
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