Travel Blogger. ESL Teacher. Optimistic Millennial Adventurer!
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Anime, samurais, beautiful women, video games, martial arts—oh boy, I’ve wanted to visit Japan for as long as I can remember, and it’d take living in China for 2 years before I’d finally get my chance.
And well, I still can't believe I did it. In 2012 I packed my bags and moved to China to teach English abroad. I taught, I experienced, I dated, made friends, and most importantly, I took full advantage of traveling near and far across South Asia all within my first 2 years.
Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Taiwan--I did em’ all. And that’s when it finally happened. Next up on the list? Destination: Tokyo, Japan. F**k yeah!
I landed in Tokyo in August of 2014 on a 5-day/4 night solo adventure. I know—an insanely brief time for such a prized trip but, unfortunately, those were all the vacation days I could muster.
At first glance, Tokyo was incredible! I geeked over just about everything, but it was the fact that I was spending 4 nights in a capsule hotel housed in Shinjuku, a bustling shopping, dining, and entertainment hub, that I couldn’t wait to experience first.
And what’s a capsule? A coffin really—well, not really, but sort of. Imagine sleeping in a 2 by 1 by 1.25 box equipped with basic amenities such as a television, wireless internet connection, and curtains or fiberglass doors at the entrance.
The capsules are stacked on top of each other—typically only 2 at a time—and a small room can house as many as 20 people. Sounds cool, right?
After checking in I spent the next hour wandering around Shinjuku, scouring what seemed to be thousands of Pachinko stations, boutiques, bars, and local/western food joints in the area.
Tokyo was just how I imagined it to be: glaring neon lights hanging off buildings, densely packed noodle shops riddled across back alleys, and tons of people moving any and every direction. It was f**king awesome!
After a while I wound up on the 45th floor observation deck of Shinjuku’s Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. I always make sure to hit the observation decks of the tallest buildings of whatever city I’m exploring, and hell, it was free!
And just like that, Day 1 of my adventure in Tokyo, Japan was done. Arigatou! P.S. That's "Thank You" in Japanese!
Day 2 in Tokyo started with a whole lot of people. Packs. Crowds. Swarms of locals and expats to be exact—here, there, everywhere. With Shinjuku Station being the busiest subway station in the world, I guess the Shinjuku's city streets were just that hectic 24/7.
The first stop of the day? Back to the city's Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. This time I’d catch a full glimpse of Tokyo underneath the ‘rising sun’, and let’s just say that ‘jam-packed’ and ‘crammed’ are too subtle of words to describe the layout of the city. No kidding!
And next up? A tour of Asakusa’s Senso-ji Temple—Tokyo’s oldest temple—and Kaminarimon “Thunder Gate”.
I'd seen hundreds of temples living in China, so much to the point where it's gotten repetitive, but I'd say that Senso-ji Temple’s grounds got props for being much more … lively than any I had ever visited.
Trained monkeys, souvenir shops, a ferris wheel, Geisha outfits—c'mon, you just can’t beat that!
And let's not forget about Kaminarimon “Thunder Gate,” a notable attraction that, if you've ever seen a tourism ad or Instagram tag of "things to do in Tokyo," is probably one of the most publicized landmarks in the city.
By mid-afternoon I landed at Tokyo Skytree Tower, the world’s tallest tower and easilyTokyo's most prominent attraction. Hey, I told you I love observation decks!
At 634-meters tall, Tokyo Skytree was impressive, sure. But having lived in China for 2 years by that point, I’d say that Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Tower still holds the record for the world’s coolest looking tower in my book. What do you think?
And at the top? A ridiculously awesome 360 view of Tokyo’s densely packed landscape. I'm talking apartments, small buildings, skyscrapers, rivers, and canals, jammed together for as far as my eyes could see. Jeez, no wonder Tokyo is the most populous metropolitan area in the world!
Afterwards I’d spend the next few hours cruising down Sumida River, tossing down sushi at Tsukiji Market, and taking pictures of any and everything I found interesting. And believe me, there was a lot!
By evening’s time I was ready to party. Heck, I was in Tokyo. The first stop? A trip to the American Festival held on Odaiba Island. Ah, just my luck!
I thought it’d be pretty cool to meet some American expats in Tokyo and pick their brains about their experience in Japan. And that’s just what I did.
Plus, in addition to some jamming live entertainment, Tokyo’s American Festival had the most bangin' barbecue I had eaten since I moved abroad. A special shoutout to whoever put the event together!
I wound up in Shibuya at the end of the night. By the way, Shibuya is arguably Tokyo’s most popular district for shopping, nightlife, and all-around dope sh*t.
It’s crazy, I went there solo and looking for the hottest clubs around. I got invited to drink at a bar by a cool group of expats that saw me walking by, and we all hit a raving hip-hop club until the wee hours of the morning.
What a great way to end Day 2 in Tokyo! And there was still so much yet to come! ...
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