East AsiaJapan

Tokyo

Tokyo-6

We are currently in Bali at the moment and have some catching up to do on the blog! It’s the perfect place here to do some relaxing and figure out what’s next for us. In the past couple months, we’ve been to Japan, Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Tokyo was a city that was high on our list of places to visit. Another city that mixes the ultra-modern with the traditional, Tokyo had a little bit of everything. We didn’t end up seeing the entirety of the city but did as much as we could and went back to many of neighborhoods that we liked. We explored here for a week on our own and then Cory’s family joined us for two weeks in Tokyo, Takayama, and Kyoto. It was nice to travel through Japan with them and we’re very glad they came to visit us!

When we first arrived in Tokyo, we decided we wanted to stay at a ‘capsule hotel’ which extremely popular. Men and women are on separate floors and instead of rooms, everyone gets their own individual capsule. Along with that you each get a locker to store your luggage in as well as bathrobes, slippers, and all toiletries you could think of. The capsules themselves were pretty comfy, and big enough that we weren’t claustrophobic inside them (Elly’s even had a TV inside).

One highlight of Toyko was seeing a show at the Robot Restaurant. Basically, people just dressed up in crazy costumes, danced and did skits while giant robots battled each other, and electronic music played in the background. There wasn’t so much a story line as just a series of scenes with different robots or giant animals attacking each other. It was a little ridiculous but really entertaining!

Walking through Tsukiji, the fish market, was hectic and fun. There were a ton of people selling every type of seafood imaginable. Tsukiji is known for its massive wholesale area, where vendors sell fresh seafood and vegetables very early in the morning for restaurants to stock up on their daily supply. This is also where the famous tuna auction is held at 4am. By the time we got to the market though, the wholesale area was closed down for the day, so we made our way through the outer retail area of the market, sampling sushi and whatever else looked good to us. We tried tiny octopus, swordfish skewers, BBQ eel, dried shredded squid (a favorite Japanese bar snack) and lots of sushi as well. Everything we tried was really good! Probably some of the best sushi/seafood we’ve ever had.

We had to make sure we explored Akihabara, the insane electronic/comic book district. Every store is filled with everything you can think of relating to videogames/action figures/anime/etc. My brother and I loved walking through, but Elly wasn’t quite as absorbed. It was pretty neat to experience all the neon signs and craziness of the area.

We also went to a Sumo match which was pretty crazy. We weren’t quite sure what to expect but it was actually a lot of fun to watch. We had watched it on TV in our hotel room a few days prior, and it didn’t seem like it would be too exciting, but we were wrong. The energy level was high in the stadium and each match (even though they didn’t last longer than 10 seconds) was exciting. We were high up in the balcony, but even with those seats we could see how huge these guys were.

Tucked away behind a row of trees separating it from the neon craziness of Kabukicho lies Golden Gai, a small series of narrow alleys with tons of bars crammed in and stacked on top of each other. Many of the buildings in this part are made of wood, and the area has been mostly unchanged since the 1950’s. The bars themselves are cozy little places that have on average only 5 or 6 seats each. Each bar is themed differently to make it stand out from others and are all charming in their own way. Due to the area being popular with tourists, there are a few bars with closed doors and signs saying either ‘no foreigners’ or ‘members only.’ For the most part though, the bars are very welcoming to all types of people and we didn’t have any trouble finding a few to stop in and have a drink at. The hardest part was finding bars with seats available, but with almost 200 bars crowded into a few short alleyways, we certainly weren’t short of choices. We had a great time wandering through the alleys just people watching and taking in all the sights. We ended up trying out a few bars and had a great time at each; you really can’t go wrong there.

Overall, we both really enjoyed Tokyo and could easily have spent even longer there. The city is huge and each district has so many things to do within them. It was a great intro to Japan but after that we were ready to move on to somewhere less hectic.

Thanks to DT for some pics!

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