Tokyo is not lost in translation anymore.
A city of eclectic and sophisticated looks. Perfect playground in Asia.
I had high expectations about Tokyo and they were actually exceeded once I set foot in the city. Like no other city in this world, I found it to be completely design-driven, everyhing has a purpose and there’s no space for waste or mistake. This was the main takeaway from my trip, there is a reason for all, a purpose for everything and we need to make sure they flow well together.
It was quick trip, so much to see and so little time. November should be, in general, a good month to visit with mild temperatures but some type of front cold was in motion and it was chilly, so we had to buy scarves, gloves and whatever could keep us warmer.
Crowded, yes, crowded. Obviously rush hour and other peak hours were packed with people everywhere. The train system is the most efficient that I’ve experienced. Not only because of its organization but because of its complexity, the maps you see at subway stations are tridimensional and almost impossible to read, at least for me. However, it was the best way to move around a highly populated city and affordable.
With so many things to see we were determined to be strategic with the use of our team and narrow down the areas that we needed to check out to feel truly Lost in Translation.
Stayed at Shinjuku Neighborhood, with many popular hotels in the area, pick from the Park Hyatt (one of the top five hotels in Tokyo) to the more affordable Hyatt Regency, just two blocks away from each other, divided by a beautiful park in between. Shinjuku reminded me of Times Square with so much visual estimulation.
Sunakku (snack bars) that are located all over Shibuya area, a good example being Nombei.
The Japanese Central Park
Meiji Shrine was a nice delight during the trip. I wasn’t expecting such a large park, which I had never heard of and it was a perfect day for a walk in the park. Leading the stunning Meiji Shrine. It was a Sunday and many weddings and ceremonies were taking place around the shrine. The simplicity, yet solemnity of the building were a big impact on me.
If you shop…Shibuya it is
Everywhere in Tokyo is a shopping area. All unique with all sorts of stores. Adjacent to the Meiji Shrine park, on the East side near Harajuku station, is a great outdoor shopping area. As you exit the park through the main gates you’ll find all these narrow streets and some of them are closed to cars so only pedestrians can stroll around and visit tiny but perfectly design stores with a many examples of the local designers. Get lost in the area and find unique stores like Kiddy Land, this is a perfect example of what you can find in Tokyo, anything inside one building.
Of course we had to do the most typical tourist attractions and that included the Robot Show. That’s a must. I can’t even explain it but I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a show like this. Lights, colors, performers, robots. Do it.
The second and third days were dedicated to other landmarks and atractions in the city. Like the Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Sky tree and Asakusa Shrine. We had seen the Meiji Shrine but Asakusa was as beautiful as Meiji. Big area with local shops and the shrine itself was breathtaking. That’s when you feel authentically in Tokyo and no where else in the world.
Tsukiji Fish Market is a must-do attraction. Although the locals don’t seem to really encourage it, and this is because it’s a seafood market where the locals work so imagine thousands of tourists trying to take the perfect picture shot of the fish while you’re trying to work. They move fast and they move so much fish and seafood for Tokyo and surrounding areas. Look for times as it’s closed to tourists until about 10.00am where most of the larger deliveries are completed for the business day.
Gonpachi Restaurant — Kill Bill restaurant. Do you remember that scene in the Chinese Theatre were Kiddo kills an entire chinese gang led by Lucy Liu? So picture that restaurant and place it in Tokyo with great music and food. The place is packed so I recommend making a resy. Always busy with expats but staff is friendly as they know that this attracts a lot of tourists and they seem to enjoy it. At least they pretend.
We also found The Eagle but there seems to be more gay bars. Tokyo is ahead of Asia with more gay options and being much more welcoming to gay crowds.
It was hard to see most of what Tokyo has to offer in only three days but we got a good sense of what to expect. I took away in my memories that Tokyo is a design-driven metropolis, everything has a purpose, locals are proud of their city and proud of what they do, a sense of pride seems to impregnate the city. Amazing food, amazing design, super well organized and definitely a great destination in Asia. Not to mention, gay-friendly!
Domo arigato, Tokyo.