It’s incredible how much things can change in time. 16 years – that’s how long it’s been since my first encounter with Japanese – made particularly difficult to appreciate because I was unexpectedly forced to take it up at University. Since then, my feelings have changed; I might even call this trip to Japan a pilgrimage.
Here is a glimpse of my glimpses in broad strokes.
There are temples everywhere. I particularly enjoyed people watching those who come to pay their respects, pray, meditate.
The juxtaposition of tradition and modernity was everpresent in Japan
Food was everywhere, from conventional restaurants to…
all night convenience stores…
hole in the wall izakayas
Solo booths catering to lone patrons (which were a particular favourite of mine)
to street food stalls!
After 7 years of learning and making Tamagoyaki on my own, I finally got to try the real authentic version made in Japan. Belatedly, I’ve realised that I must add sweetness and umami when making it.
Vending machines are omnipresent, often accepting Passmo in most busy places, which made my life quite convenient. They serve hot and cold drinks differentiated by red and blue labels – I learnt that the hard way.
Vending machines serving groceries were of particular curiosity for me – that too in a metro station.
Japanese public transit is truly impressive! It’s hard not to be in awe of how convenient and unfailingly punctual it is.
Nobody talks on phone – that was so refreshing.
City streets bustling with traffic and people getting somewhere was everything I expected here.
The narrow streets were just as bustling with folks selling wares, restaurants along with foot traffic
Japanese-esque customisation of bikes everywhere made me reminisce about home in Amsterdam and a subtle reminder to use mine more often.
The golden hour & the sunset in the city caught me unawares as it went aglow.
Sunstreaks leaking through the buildings evoked a cinematic feel, making me wonder if life as I know it is all just metafiction.
The sun might set, but Tokyo truly never sleeps. In many ways, the city just woke up and it got busier.
An unassuming meeting point emerges in the refuge of trees amid the madness of Shibuya scramble crossing – the Hachiko statue. The story of Hachiko had a massive impact on me – it poked and prodded the grief in me and left me bawling the first time I read about it. If Japan was my pilgrimage, this was my temple.
Two worlds collide 200 meters from Tokyo station as the imperial palace gardens emerge – the traditional and modern while in my mind, it was Shanghai and New York. On the final day of my trip to this city, I took to strolling this area.
Heat picked up and a stones throw away from the main station, I found refuge in the quiet streets
Old posters from my part of the world, sold as speciality items here evoked a chuckle.
Drip coffee is now my new favourite way to drink this beverage.
Trees awning over the streets with tall buildings poking up was reminiscent of my trip to New York.
With a sigh, I got a move on, onto my next destination Kyoto with the shinkansen.