I am not a city person. I avoid it as much as I can — especially when I’m on a holiday — because it just reminds me of the hustle and bustle of Singapore. So how did I end up in probably the busiest city on Earth? Well, I was on a press trip in Northern Japan (read about what I ate there). And as it’s my first time in Japan, I just had to tick Tokyo off my list.
The Japanese capital wasn’t as strange and bizarre as many Western writers and filmmakers make it out to be. It’s hard to experience culture shock when Japanese pop culture and cuisine are ubiquitous in Singapore. I did get hopelessly lost for about 40 minutes in the Shinjuku station maze. That experience taught me that Japanese signs have a tendency to disappear and reappear much later on. So just keep calm and carry on in the same direction unless indicated otherwise.
I chose to stay at the lovely Khaosan Tokyo Kabuki, which is about a 20 minute train ride from central Tokyo, and also significantly cheaper than those clustered around Shinjuku. It was the cleanest, neatest, and most spacious hostel I’ve ever stayed at. And I’ve put up at quite a few hostels across Europe. You just have to give it to the Japanese when it comes to service and hospitality.
So here’s what I loved best about my 3-day trip in Tokyo!
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I have a love hate relationship with snacks. It’s my comfort food; something that I crave whenever I’m feeling happy, sad, tired, stressed, or just bored. It’s true that snacking is the only thing that prevents me from having a flourishing career in modelling.
I think that if I lived in Japan, I’d just live on snacks. I spent much of my time alone in Tokyo just eating, walking, and doing both at the same time. You know that a country loves its food when you can pop into any 7-11 and find quality food items. One of the must-try for me was the daikon (radish) from 7-11, which my friends have been raving about it since they got back from Tokyo years back.
The Asakusa temple was a nightmare. It was filled with rude tourists, non-Japanese tourists dressed up in traditional Japanese costumes walking around the temple for photo opportunities, and tourists asking these costumed tourists for photos. -_- The only saving grace was this lovely lump of fried, oily donno-what meat snack. I just followed the crowd and queued up for it. Only after eating it did I Google it and learn that the shop is called Asakusa Menchi. It’s just a stone’s throw from the temple and a much needed respite from the horrid tourist crowds.
The Japs love their sweets. And some quintessential ones include sesame ice cream, and milk tea. The one I drank had tapioca bits, which were so much better than the starchy “pearls” we have here in Singapore.
The unagi (eel) soaked in teriyaki sauce, green tea latte, cheese tart, green tea cake (had it at the amusing and embarrassing maid cafe), and chocolate tidbit that made every fatty molecule in my body jiggle with joy.
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Had the best maguro (tuna) sashimi of my life at the Tsukiji Fish Market. I love that it was prepared by a bad-ass old lady who was smoking as she sliced the fish. When I got to the bottom of the rice bowl, I was filled with disappointment because I didn’t have enough space in my tummy for another bowl. I’d be dreaming of this maguro bowl for many years to come.Tuna better not be extinct before I can have this bowl again.
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Could hardly afford anything along this stylish street in Shibuya, but at least there were some stunning architecture to gawk at.
I also made my way from Shibuya to Shinjuku on foot, and passed through many charming streets. And one area was particularly big on Brutalist architecture!
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I’ve never experienced so much lights, sounds, movement, and people all at once. Shinjuku at night is a full-on assault on all the senses, and it was way too overwhelming for me. But I kinda liked it. Only because it was novel and strange. I doubt I can handle this on a regular basis.
There are many iconic symbols to signify Tokyo. But to me, Shinjuku’s Blade Runner-esque night scene wonderfully sums up what this city is like.
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I’m going to cheat a little here. As I’m not too fond of cities, I decided to venture out of Tokyo. I hopped onto a bus towards Lake Kawaguchiko, and hoped that I could get a glimpse of Mt Fuji.
And where is that massive, iconic mountain? Behind an equally massive cloud. Oh well, it is known that Fuji is a pretty shy one. But nothing could dampen my mood — it was a glorious day to be out in nature.
It was only towards the end of the day that Mt Fuji’s summit decide to peek out from behind the clouds! Only for a very short while though.
So that’s it for the very summarised travelogue of my 3-day Tokyo adventure! Missing the food so much…