Goodbye Nikko and hello Tokyo!
Nikko’s temples open early in the morning and this time we were free to conquer them. Lack of heavy backpacks and no night coming also helped us. After the morning gymnastics of climbing over 500 steps, we were ready to move forward to the newer part of the town and the train station. Just like true Japanese people we killed some time playing games on our smartphones and eating crazy snacks from the nearby store. If someone asks when people acquire most of the traditional Japanese traits we would answer that it is on day 15.
Nice and slow, we were already in Tokyo. It was midday so the sun was ruthless. This time there were no high trees to offer some shade. Skyscrapers were trying to trick us into visiting them right away but we had to find the hostel first. We asked around and found it just before we were about to get fried in our own sauce. Summer. Surprisingly we had to wait until 4 p.m. for someone to check us in.
We took advantage of this waiting time to plan our itinerary for the afternoon fueled by banana cookies and beer. Tokyo turned out to be much bigger than we expected. And here’s our room – its size was 1.50 meters by 2.50 meters. In this small cube, we managed to fit the two of us, our two backpacks, a TV, an air-con, other furniture… I can’t imagine there are still people complaining about having not enough space at home…
By the way, you can find the best place to stay in Tokyo in this article.
We started exploring the louder parts of the city, where we mingled with the crowds of the famous busy Shibuya crossing. We absorbed the perspective from Harajuku bridge, got refreshed in Yoyogi park to get to the skyscraper area. The whole city was covered in blinking light which we enjoy from one of the tallest buildings – Metropolitan Government Building – then returned to the crazy teenage fashion district of Harajuku to end up with a Western-style dinner.
Why should you expect the unexpected in Tokyo?
We expected that the second highest tower in the world – the Sky Tree – would require some time to enter. We didn’t expect that it will take two hours just to reach the ticket desks. Expected views from 400 meters above ground. Didn’t expect to meet new friends to take selfies with:-) 🗼🗼🗼🗼🗼
We expected that after a long walk along boulevards and buildings there will be huge green parks. Didn’t expect that for every blanket there will be a free meadow and for every overheated person there will be an ice-cream.
We expected the entertainment neighborhood to drive us crazy with all the illuminated signs. Didn’t expect to become witnesses to the wildest live music show featuring crazy sounds, sexy ladies, and robots!
We didn’t expect to be enchanted by the pachinko slot machines. But mostly we didn’t expect to see Super Mario and his crew on the street!
The Futuristic City of Tokyo
Our last day in Tokyo was a blur of sounds, lights, art, nature, futuristic buildings and the city’s public transportation system. None of these luxurious experiences were actually planned, either.
We learned about Tokyo’s drum museum by happenstance, mainly because instead of visiting commercialized tourist sites we read guide books. The museum exhibited all kinds of percussion instruments from all around the world. Visitors were allowed to play a large part of them too. Imagine the ruckus when three people started playing at once. Unfortunately photos were forbidden – maybe the museum didn’t want some masterpiece getting out into the world and becoming a hit – but we did manage to snap a few secret picks.
The real treasure house was very close by. By that I mean the street of kitchen and home appliances, of course! All manner of lights were on sale – from those large enough to light a whole park to silicon copies of food. The street is called Kappabashi Street and is one of the most underrated places in Tokyo. Japanese wares are actually reasonably priced there.
The Ueno Park, a haven in the metropolis, was seething with people. Not only was it Sunday, it was also greenery day. The narrow alley that leads to the central temple was crammed with food carts that offered chocolate bananas, sashimi, and fried, well, pretty much everything. After not too long a wait we got to ride a swan-shaped water bike in the pond. This was something we had wanted to do since both Lake Ashinoko and Lake Kawaguchiko.
We’d yearned to visit the Mecca of futurism, the artificial island Odaiba, ever since we first saw pictures of it. Visitors will need stamina to see everything – the island only looks small. For those with less sturdy feet, there’s various modes of transport – metro, train, boat, etc.
A Statue of Liberty, a giant Ferris wheel, several museums and multitiered roads, and still there’s plenty of flora around, which mixes in very nicely with the future. Speaking of pleasant things, Japan is hosting its own Oktoberfest in the spring, right on Odaiba Island. German beer flows in numerous pavilions and on the beach on Greenery Day.
To really understand continental Tokyo, though, you need distance. Just as the sun dips below the skyscrapers and the wind crumples little waves in the water, the metropolis’s light show is about to begin. The Fuji TV tower lights up in the colors of the rainbow. Rainbow Bridge starts to shine itself, and all other buildings join in. The whole bay is flooded with lights, and the most natural thing to do is get on a boat from the future and let the wind blow you in the right direction.
The perfect end to such a day would be to find a place to eat and wordlessly relax above sweet potatoes and red wine…
The next morning greeted us with packing and a goodbye to Japan. It was a heavy and quite literally shaky parting. We were woken by a slight sway at 05:20 in the morning and so experienced something quite typical of the country. We were being sent off by just another earthquake…
In the capital for a short time? Don’t worry! Check out this amazing 2-day itinerary in Tokyo! And find some of the best places to stay in Tokyo!
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