Taiken Japan

Autumn Leaves 2016

Tokyo: With a travellers' eyes

Tokyo: With a travellers' eyes

Marina Villar

One of the things I love most about travelling is the constant new discoveries and the opportunities to find out the unexpected in every corner.

After almost two years of living in Tokyo, I know, for sure, that I am no longer seeing everything with the same sense of surprise because as I usually call it, I am already part of the landscape.  So, I may like it or not, I am loosing those tiny details that once, I described as unique, different or, at least, curious.

Like everyone else who is living abroad, far away from relatives and friends, receiving them and welcoming their visit, is always a fun and happy experience.  Not only because I am seeing them after a long time, but also because through their eyes, I rediscover those places and those details that I loved when I just moved here, and through them I feel like a tourist in my city again.

The last few months, lucky me, I have been receiving many guests, who enjoyed going around with and showing them all about the local culture and traditions.  With them, I created a list of unique Japanese things that everyone seems to love about Tokyo.

Food: This is not new for anyone who knows a little about good food and restaurants.  Tokyo is heaven in fresh products and taste.  But the mayor surprise comes with the great balance between quality and price.   Even in one of the most expensive cities in the world like Tokyo, you can enjoy a fresh homemade meal for less than 10 American dollars.  Do you like ramen or soba?  Do you dare to try street food?  If so, do not be afraid of having a super local and affordable meal while sightseeing.

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Girls in their kimonos: While this is a common thing for the locals, visitors will be amazed by the colors, the stamps and shape of those gowns.  Typical dresses are always interesting, but in Japan is not about the kimono itself, is more about the way the person behaves while wearing it what makes the kimono so interesting and sophisticated.  It is almost surreal and from another era.

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Fashion and shopping: Fashion seems to be screaming loud on the streets of Tokyo.  Everywhere you go you will find crazy and fun outfits.  You may like them or you may not, but for sure you will note them raising among a lot of dark suits.  One recommendation: bring a big suitcase with extra place.  I have the feeling that you might be tempted by the sales and by the Asian fashion sense.

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Neon lights: Once it gets dark, the city turns into a completely different atmosphere.  More sophisticated, colorful and even playful.  The narrow streets and alleys around Shinjuku can be ideal for a night out and drinks.  The high-end streets of Ginza might be the best option for an unforgettable walk with your date.  And the always busy and loud scramble at Shibuya is a good option if you don´t mind feeling like a typical tourist taking pictures.  Roppongi is another great spot while walking through the modern buildings and colorful ornaments.  Neon lights are everywhere and are part of Tokyo as much as the Tokyo Tower or the Sky tree.  No matter how hot or cold it gets, how crowdy or peaceful, how much money or little you are willing to spend during your trip, neon lights are always there for free.

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Manga & Anime culture: Manga means Japanese comics while Anime means Japanese animation.  Both have become a global phenomenon and their popularity is growing every day.  So, once you arrive in Japan, it will be impossible not to notice it.  During the weekends, girls dressed up are the norm around Harajuku and Akihabara, so if you are part of this trend or if you are curious about it, do not leave Tokyo without stopping by there.  It is a great way of getting closer to the young pop culture of Japan.  I would also recommend you to do a little research into this fantasy world to enrich your time here.

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Nature: You are a nature lover or not but it seems that in Japan, nature gets a major attention mainly during Sakura (late March & early April), and Autumn (October, November & early December).  Japanese people are well known for their love for nature pictures and foreigners seem to cope with them in a perfect way.

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Are these curiosities on your list of favorite things about Tokyo? If so, enjoy them as much as possible while visiting, if not, do not worry, there are other many interesting choices out there for every taste.  As I usually say, no matter what you do, if you are in Japan, do it like a Japanese!