Tokyo, Japan

Akihabara District

I landed in Tokyo in the evening, after an excruciatingly long 22 hours of travel - plus the time change - and checked into my hostel for the next few days, Grids Nihombashi. Since it was already 10pm at that point, my first true experience with Japan was the following morning, when I did a free tour with Tokyo Localized. We began in the famous Akihabara district, some of which is known as “Electric Town” due to being Japan’s centre of anime, technology, video games, and entertainment. Almost immediately, I felt that many of the stereotypes I had heard about modern Japan were validated; flashing signs and posters plastered across skyscrapers, anime merchandise shops and manga shops at every corner, music and noise coming from all directions, and hundreds of people of milling about.

Akihabara District

Tokyo’s Akihabara district is vibrant and buzzing with activity!

But hidden within Tokyo’s inner city are some sanctuaries of quiet - shrines and temples. With many thousands of them spread across all of Japan, they are an important and prominent part of Japan’s history. They are incredibly beautiful, and (if you go at the right time of day) very quiet. Of course, there were far more of those in places like Kyoto, which notably was relatively untouched during World War II. I’ll touch more on those in a later post.

Confucius' Temple

During the tour, we visited a temple dedicated to Confucius, featuring the largest statue of him in the world!

Another amazing part of Tokyo was the shopping streets and shopping districts. It was an incredible experience to just walk around and take in the sounds and the views. And the smells were incredible and varied, what with all of the street vendors selling food and the many shops selling different kinds of incense. I ended up popping into a shop to buy a shoulder bag, after quickly realizing that carrying around my 30L backpack every day would be too much effort.

Ameyoko Shopping Street

Wandering up and down Ameyoko shopping street

I ended up meeting a few people at my hostel, most notably Ollie from New Zealand, who gave me several tips on where to go and what to focus on when I end up in NZ towards the end of this trip (spoiler alert!). We ended up visiting a fascinating interactive digital art exhibit called teamLab Borderless together, the morning I left Tokyo. Certain areas of the experience I would describe as almost awe-inspiringly captivating, while others were quiet and serene. Definitely worth the time to visit, if you’re ever in the area!

teamLab Borderless

teamLab Borderless’ most famous exhibit, the lantern room

I could go on and on about Tokyo, including the owl cafe I went to or the Samurai museum, but there are a few other places I wanted to highlight from my time in Japan. Next up, Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchiko!

Want more? Check out an overview of my Japan trip here!

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