Tokyo is enormous and the pace is quick. The dress code feels surprisingly uniform – black or dark blue on white – but the entertainment districts are full of colours, light and sound. We walked through some boring city centre neighbourhoods full of anonymous, dated office buildings as well as areas full of small houses, like in any countryside town. We navigated Shinjuku, the busiest transport hub in the world, but hardly met a soul when leaving our shared house near the small subway stop of Shimo-Shimmei. Like any big city, Tokyo is full of contradictions. Christophe loved it, I liked parts, but I wasn’t swept away.
These are some of the things we did and saw:
- Pulled an all-nighter to get to the Tsukiji tuna auction and still failed to make the cut. We still watched and ate fish.
- Party in Shinjuku! Way, way, way better than Roppongi.
- Experienced our first earthquake. The building shook like a train would have passed and it took me a while to evaluate whether trains usually go by here or not. No, they don’t. Very undramatic, but impressive and a bit intimidating.
- Pokemon Go. Yes, it’s as big here as you’d expect and it’s not only for teenagers. We’ve seen plenty of middle aged business men catching those little creatures.
- Subway at rush hour. I haven’t seen anything like that since trying to get to Champs Élyssées on New Year’s Eve. One particular gem was watching aguy squeeze into a clearly overfull wagon in such a natural and suave way. His left shoulder, buttocks and foot was still out when the door closed, but the dedicated subway “pusher” came along and squeezed him in. No harm done and the man’s at work on time.
- Naps. People work hard in Tokyo. Thus, they nap when nap time is available, like during a commute. Luckily, pickpockets don’t seem to be a big problem here.
- Sumo: Big guys trying to throw each other to the ground. You should see it, if nothing else then to watch how important it really is here. These guys were greeted like Hollywood stars on the red carpet when they arrived at the stadium.
- Kabuki. Traditional Japanese theatre that goes on for an entire day. One 90-minute part is sufficient, trust me. And take the subtitle machine or you’ll be sorry.