Ohhh northern hemisphere. It’s been two years since I’ve endured your summer August, and spending a week in humid, muggy, so hot it won’t rain but it really wants to rain Tokyo was a good enough reminder to cherish my (now) winter birthday in Australia.
Most of our trip was very sweaty. Now, I’m a very delicate flower and I don’t perspire ever– LOL J/K, I sweat through my shirt taking 5 steps outside on a summer day. Thankfully, we only had 2 full days of real sun, and the rest were either overcast with 99% humdity, or just cool enough to wear a light sweater with hurricane wind and rain.
So here are some pics from the two sunny days, where I shined with sweat and sunscreen, and developed 3 more blisters. And of course, ate my weight in delicious food, whined like a hangry toddler, and took some good pics:
We explored Asakusa, a small neighborhood with a giant temple and a traditional, market stall feel. Lots of cool shops and eateries – and most importantly, TARO ROOT ICE CREAM. I’ve legit dreamed of this ice cream 3x since we’ve been home.
Sensoji is Tokyo’s oldest temple. Hella opulent, hella grand, hella crowded with tourists. It was breathtaking — apart from the 7000 tourists (us included) flocking around the buildings (and flocking around the people visiting the temple for spiritual reasons – awkward).
Outside the temple were a couple rows of street food – Japanese style: roasted crab legs, tuna steaks, octopus on stick, octopus balls, salt fish, etc. I wasn’t feeling brave enough.
From Asakusa, we journeyed to Akihabara, or All of Audrey’s Worst Manga Dreams Come to Life. It’s a neighborhood full of anime, anime fans, adult shops, big breasted cartoon characters in skimpy clothing, gentleman’s clubs, gamers, gaming, and more gaming. There’s a part dubbed Electric Town that I wish we could have seen at night, but just walking through the crowds briefly was enough to put me back in 9th grade sitting by that very unsettling white girl who spent a lot of time convincing me she was an Anime character and who was always trying to make me eat dried seaweed (she’s the reason I avoided anime like the plague).
From Akihabara, we ambled over to Shibuya crossing, a big Times Square-esque area famous for its shopping. It’s also seen in Lost in Translation with a dinosaur walking across the giant video screen building (seen below with a very much NOT DINOSAUR yellow brick image). It’s mesmerising to watch the hundreds of people crossing every which way once the light turns green.
We hung around Shibuya to see the lights at night.
Eventually, the night wore on, and I grew tired, blistered, and hangry. We dropped our bags off at the apartment and went out in search of dinner. A 9 hour walk later (might be slightly exaggerated because I was FREAKING HANGRY), and we found a chill, relaxed area with food stalls and outdoor seating (ie. stools and crates and tables) called Commune 246. I was about to eat my hand, Joel’s face, and everyone’s soul around me when we finally settled on a place that served curry and udon. HOORAY!
A few minutes after I got my curry, we realised we didn’t pay for the udon, hadn’t received it, and thus probably wasn’t ordered — lost in translation. I went to the window to order it, and the cashier sent me to a window outside to order. The window, it turns out, was just a window to their kitchen. The chef explained that they were out of udon. No hard feelings, as it was 11PM, and there was a lot of other food to choose from. But as I was walking away, the chef came from around the kitchen and motioned for us to follow him. He walked us up to another food stand that served udon. He helped Joel order, and chatted with the other chef. When Joel tried to pay, the new chef told us that the old chef paid for him. And on top of that, the old chef bought us two rounds of Sake. What a guy! The new chef said he had a big heart. No kidding.
So we spent the early hours of my birthday eating good food and drinking free sake on the street in Omotesando (or some place approximately near Omotesando). Very nice.
The next day was my birthday! We started off the day by going to a Cat Cafe in Harajuku. Not even going to lie this is what I was most looking forward to.
I felt like a kid in a kitty store. Even though the cats were, well, cats and therefore already over new people before they even walked in the room, it was still lots of just to be around them. We left the cafe wanting to adopt 600 cats.
From the kitty cafe, we went wondering to Ginza in search of my kimono, which I decided I wasn’t going to leave Japan without. Ginza is good for very high end shopping, which is not us. There’s also the Imperial Palace and the New York Bar (once again, where Lost in Translation was filmed), one of which requires tickets and the other which requires renting a very expensive hotel suite to get into.
So we found ourselves back in Shibuya, and the little areas around it filled with vintage stores and awesome little shops and clubs.
And then, we were back in Harajuku.
After a quick nap at our apartment and some recharge in the a/c, we set out for Shinjuku for dinner.
Joel took me to Golden Gai, a series of alleyways filled with one room, tiny sized bars that only sit 6-7 people at a time. They’re remnants from days when workers and migrants would stop by for a cheap, shit drink before going home. It was glorious and scary and awesome all at the same time.
Tune in tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion!