Me and my wife have been to Tokyo twice now, and I am still enchanted by this fantastic city. I miss it and have no doubt that I will return to it later in life.
I want to share a few of the things that I like about it. What you can’t see in the photos is how extremely friendly everyone is; not just the people trying to sell you things, but strangers in the street who will go out of their way to help you in any way they can.
And it’s clean. I mean really clean. If anyone sees a candy wrapper on the street, they pick it up and brings it with them until they find a trash can. This doesn’t happen in Stockholm, at least not very often.
Anyway, here are a few of my favorite things about Tokyo. Click to enlarge:
This photo was taken from the bar on the 41st floor in the Park Hyatt hotel. This is the bar where Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson meet in Lost in Translation.
I can’t put my finger as of why, but I really like walking around the streets of Tokyo at night. It might be that I feel completely safe and can relax.
It turns out that Godzilla is real.
A close-up of Godzilla. Nicely done, Godzilla-game-for-PS4-marketing team!
Parallell to the main streets, things slow down a bit. But these stores and restaurants are often more enjoyable that the ones on the main streets.
The back alleys are often filled with hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Highly recommended if you have a limited budget and/or want a more genuine culinary experience.
As in all big cities, the buildings are crawling with ninjas.
This is adorable.
This is not… quite as adorable, but definitively different.
Outside a small restaurant in a remote back street.
This should be implemented world wide! Smoking in Tokyo is prohibited on most (all?) streets. Aside from the obvious health benefits for both first- and second-hand smokers, it also helps keep the streets and sidewalks clean from cigarette butts.
The food is so good! Well, most of it anyway. I tried to eat something I’ve never tried at least once a day, and not everything was a jackpot. But sushi, udon and the other “classic Japanese” dishes are superb (as you can see from my wive’s expression).
Found in a bakery/candy shop. I think the picture speaks for itself.
The Engrish was actually not as widespread as I hade expected, but did see it a couple of times a day.
Japanese toilets are crazy, often with built-in automatically extending bidet arms with multiple spray modes and water temperatures. And built-in air driers. The really good ones practically eliminates the need for toilet paper.
The guest bathroom in a coffee shop in a suburb, way off any major street, gave me this experience:
- I enter the room and the lights turns on automatically.
- I approach the toilet, and the lid opens automatically.
- When I sit down, I notice the porcelain ring is not cold as I expected, as it has a built-in heater adjusted to about the same temperature as my skin.
- Sitting down also activates the sound system which plays nature sounds with gentle streams and babbling brooks, teamed with rustling leaves and singing birds.
- After I’m done and get up, the lid closes automatically and proceeds with flushing and self-sanitizing.
- Sensors at the sink activates the soap dispenser and water tap when I simply hold my hands under them.
- The airblade hand dryer also activates when simply putting your hands in it.
Aside from opening and closing the door, I never had to touch any buttons, handles or lids with my hands.
Far from everyone walks around like this, but it’s not uncommon.
This is more common than the kimono getup, at least in the Harajuku district.
Street performances, festivals and other celebratory events seemed to happen almost every day.
Being big in Japan was fun. 🙂
You see a lot of scooters in Tokyo, and hardly any European or American motorcycles. But I did find this beauty from Spice Motorcycles.
Despite being on the other end of the biker scope, this guy still managed to stay (sort of) cool.
Often crammed in between large buildings, these tiny shrines could be found every now and then.
Larger shrines can also be seen here and there. This one in Ueno Park houses a flame that was taken from the burning ruins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (later merged into a single flame). It has been burning ever since the atomic bombs were detonated over the two cities in 1945.
From small to huge, the temples are plenty.
The 5-story Kan’ei-ji pagoda was built in 1631, rebuilt 1639 after a fire, and still stands today.
Wedding ring in titanium with a diamond seen.
The absolute serenity of this cemetery was stunning. We came to see a single, specific grave, but couldn’t help but walk around among the others as well.
This is the grave of the real Hattori Hanzō. Not the fictional sword maker from Kill Bill, but the real-life ninja, samurai and general that helped Tokugawa Ieyasu become the ruler of a united Japan in the 1500’s.
Even in the middle of a city with more than 35 million citizens, nature like this exists.
Got to love the parks. Beauty and stillness unlike anything I have ever seen in a large city. This was a fairly short walk from our hotel near Shinjuku station – which is used by about 4 million people per day.
We also found turtles! I think this is Donatello.
Call me sappy, but the best part of these trips to Tokyo was that I got to share them with my wife.