During my time in Japan I was only able to go to Tokyo once. I wish I’d gone more, but in a lot of ways once was enough. I’m infinitely more comfortable in Kansai, but I can see the appeal of Tokyo. It’s busy, glittering, and unique. There is a lot to see and do, and people are constantly milling about. I want to return to Tokyo in order to see Tokyo Tower and various other districts such as Harajuku, but I’m not sure how high on my list that is. 🤔
I originally went to Tokyo to see my boyfriend at the time. He was undergoing a month of training for work and it had been grueling. I wanted to use the time to visit him while also seeing Tokyo, and it worked out!
I arrived in Tokyo on Friday around 4pm. I stayed at an AirBNB that was near the Yamanote Line (山手線) which I recommend if you’re staying in Tokyo since the Yamanote Line pretty much controls Tokyo. Some of the main stations on it are Shinjuku (新宿駅), Harajuku (原宿駅), Shibuya (渋谷駅), Shinagawa (品川駅), Tokyo (東京駅), Akihabara (秋葉原駅), Ueno (上野駅), and Ikebukuro (池袋駅). Basically: if you want to get anywhere fast, stay near the Yamanote Line. However, you’re going to find that AirBNBs in this area are more expensive and might not be as large. I found a lot of huge, gorgeous AirBNBs far from the Yamanote Line, but being near it was convenient for both me and my boyfriend.
On Friday night I met up with a friend that I originally met on a language exchange app. It was our first time meeting in person and that was pretty cool! We ended up going to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (東京都庁). At the top you can look out from an observatory and see all of Tokyo. Unfortunately, it isn’t anything like the Umeda Sky Building in Osaka — which has a completely open viewing area at the top — so I couldn’t take good pictures. There was too much reflection and people were all over!
We wandered around for a few years and at one point were about to get dinner at Shake Shack, but it was 9pm at that time and my boyfriend was done with his work drinking party so I parted ways with my friend and headed off.
The next day, my boyfriend and I met up for dinner to eat shabu shabu. We met in Shibuya Crossing (in Japanese it’s called 渋谷スクランブル交差点 shibuya sukuranburu kousaten, or the Shibuya Scramble Crossing). Unfortunately, there are more than two exits out of Shibuya Station to get to the crossing so we were on completely opposite sides! We had to meet in the middle which is not easy to do. 😂
The shabu shabu dinner was delicious! I only ate shabu shabu twice in Japan but it’s one of my favorite dishes. Basically, you just have thin slices of uncooked meat and a pot with (usually) two different boiling broths. You use your chopsticks and take the thin slice of meat, waving it around in a back and forth motion in the broth. It only takes about 10 seconds for it to cook completely and then it’s ready to eat! There are usually complimentary dipping sauces for different broths.
After dinner it was nearly 9pm so we decided to head home early. I’m fairly certain that when I go to Tokyo next time I’ll spend more time “out on the town,” but considering how exhausted my boyfriend was, I decided that we should just head home. Tokyo will always be there, but I was thankful for the chance to visit him at that time.
Not to mention that it was pouring rain! It was mid-April so that’s to be expected, but that did put a damper on our motivation to go out and explore in Tokyo. I did manage to get some cool pictures from within the crossing, though. You can even see Shibuya 109, which is a huge and very famous department store!
This is a shot that I managed to get as people were in the middle of crossing. It doesn’t look as busy from the outside, but when you’re inside the crowd it can be a little startling just how many people there are. Everyone is moving in different directions! The part that I found the most amusing was all of the tourists taking photos of themselves going through the crossing while the Japanese people looked less than enthused. I suppose when you have to go through the crossing everyday it isn’t as exciting anymore…
A common thing to see in Japan when you visit a big city like Tokyo (and Osaka has this as well) are people singing or performing in well-populated areas. Generally they’re groups (or individuals) that are trying to get famous or create a career, so sometimes they sell CDs or advertise their social media. It can be really fun to watch the performances!
This particular performance was a duo singing one of my favorite songs: I Love You by Yutaka Ozaki. This song makes me cry but it’s always worth it. I only managed to get a short snippet before moving on, but it was still great!
I only spent 3 days and 2 nights in Tokyo but it was so worth the trip! I still vastly prefer Kansai, but I can admit that Tokyo has its allure too. I’m definitely going to go back during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics! 🥇0