Tokyo is one addictive city. It has a population density of 6,038 persons per square kilometre, and Sydney has 372 persons per square kilometre. It’s safe to say, there’s a lot more shit going on in Tokyo and you’ll only be scraping the surface of Japanese culture after being there for one week. Here’s just a dollop of the places that make this city one you want to come back to.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Park
I visited the park during Cherry blossom season, it was busy but still calm and tranquil. My eyes were spoilt by earthy and pastel colours while my feet glided over carpet-like grass. Groups of Japanese friends and families would pack their bento boxes and sit under Sakura trees to spend the afternoon. I would have happily planted myself under a tree for the rest of the afternoon without hesitation.
The energy of the Shibuya district is addictive and hypnotic. It feels like an outdoor games arcade on steroids (and in my instance, surrounded by people carrying the identical umbrellas). The streets are filled with department stores, high street brands and there are a lot of food options. Remember to explore beyond street level and look up! Be prepared to spend at least half a day here, I spent an hour just observing the Shibuya crossing.
Love or hate the fact that this is a complete tourist trap with every show packed with only foreigners, I did not regret this at all. I was one of the skeptical ones but no matter how good or bad you imagine it to be, I got two words for you – worth it. Go there with the only expectation that you will have to squish into very, very tight seating arrangements.
The famous Takeshita street in Harajuku is where you see all the quirky shops and cosplay costumes. It’s usually the younger generations that roam around this area so I ventured to the end of the street and crossed the road onto Harajuku street. This end of Harajuku has more boutique and street brands and is also less crowded. I loved this street a lot more because of the shops, but you haven’t experienced Harajuku until you go down Takeshita street on a weekend.
This design museum located at Roppongi was created by architect Tadao Ando and fashion designer Issey Miyake. I think I spent more time photographing conrete walls rather than actually looking at the exhibit.
Tokyo Metropolitan Gov. Building (Tocho)
I feel like I haven’t seen a city until I’ve seen its skyline. To me a city’s skyline represents the beating heart of a city and its entire personality. I’m taken away from pedestrian level and suddenly it’s quiet and I realise how big the world is and how tiny I am. Most times, existential questions arise, but…I won’t get all deep and meaningful here. In short, The Tocho is great. Oh, and it’s free. Winner.
Shinjuku Golden Gai is a small area known for its tiny bars and eateries. 270 drinking dens to be exact. The most lovely owner of this small bar (with a max capacity of probably eight humans) was spinning vinyls for us all night with a playlist comprised of the Beegees, John Lennon, Boney M and Abba. The ultimate bar crawl.
Omotesando Koffee is a coffee shop that sits inside a 60 year old traditional Japanese house. Owner Eiichi Kunitomo is the man behind each cup of coffee, pouring it with such graceful patience every time.