I have had the pleasure of visiting Tokyo 2 times (feel very blessed), and I honestly couldn’t tell that they were the same places. These two times have been the exact opposite and I couldn’t even tell it was the same place. Albeit this could be due me being herded everywhere in a group the first time (It was a School trip) and recently me going by myself and being there for nearly 2 months. But in that time I think I got a pretty good snapshot of the weird and wonderful place that is Tokyo. And I’ll share a few tips, tricks, do’s and don’ts with you ❤
- Winter Is Coming!
Before I left for Tokyo it was the start of the Australian Summer so I was a bit dubious about the ‘cold shock’ I would get as I walked off that plane and oh god I was so right. It was bloody freezing outside and you need to wrap up like an eskimo especially in January. Although it wasn’t snowing in Tokyo because the city is so busy and wild there isn’t really room for much for it. Despite this, my fingers FROZE on multiple occasions. SO, even if you leave your hotel/sharehouse/apartment midday you will still need gloves because as soon as it hits 4:30pm your hands will freeze (mine did). But just because you’ve got cold hands doesn’t mean you’re some kind of cold-hearted lizard, you’ve just got ‘cold hands, and a warm heart’ ❤ . However, If you are going for Tokyo for business/pleasure, like ‘moi’ you will survive on weekdays because most of the time I was inside, where I was doing an Internship, on the Train, in my share house or next to an incense burner at a temple, I kept warm! They like to keep it hot when your inside in Tokyo and sometimes I didn’t appreciate it because it means taking off your coat all the time or sweating to death and being more susceptible to colds. Although when you have been out partying late at night (no later than 12, mind) the heated seats on the train are an absolute Godsend (No wonder these strangers found themselves cosying up to each other)! So If you do find yourself venturing to the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ in winter don’t hesitate to indulge in a hot chocolate or two!
2. International Cuisines are better in Japan
This might be because food in Perth tends to be overpriced and shit #perthisok but the food in Japan is pretty cool* *I say ‘cool’ because not all of it was absolutely yummy and many things surprised the hell out of me. The experience of thinking you know what something is because it looks familiar and then tasting it to find out that it is definitely not and is some weird Japanese invention does happen quite often. So excluding these de-moralising events I tried some good Japanese Traditional Dishes but the things that surprised me most was the excess of ‘Foodilisation’ (Globalisation but with food) in Japan. I tried Korean food, Indian, Spanish, American and food from different regions in Japan and although I haven’t been to India, Korea, Spain or America I can’t imagine it gets any better. I had the most amazing curries in Japan, at a Japanese restaurant run by Indians in a basement right next to Tokyo JR station and oh my gawd it blew my mind (and my mouth, it was V hot). I tried American food in the form of Mos Burger, Macca’s and Denny’s and the Doughnuts from Mister Donut are unreal (I recommend the custard-filled one 😉 ) I had Indian in the form of traditional curry’s, freshly baked Naan’s, Lassi’s (a yoghurt drink) and I even ate Indian at DisneyLand of all places! I tried Korean food which was a bit scary because apparently they eat Horse meat, but with careful scanning of the menu what I ate was pretty yummy. Despite me trying all this Intercultural food I tried Japanese food including Mochi, (a chewing gum textured Japanese sweet) Okinomiyaki at a hella traditional Japanese sit-down, legs crossed-esque restaurant where the manager (Feisty Japanese lady) got mad because none of us had a clue how to make Okinomiyaki. Here I ate a COW’S TONGUE, I couldn’t believe it, it was chewy but it wasn’t terrible 🙂 and I also burnt myself on the hotplate because you can’t take me anywhere. 😀 I tried eel tempura which was nice and ate whole sardines for starters so you can’t say that I’m not adventurous!!! But despite the many surprises I would recommend going out of your comfort zone and experiencing Japanese takes on Intercultural food because I wouldn’t be surprised if its better than the real thing. OOOh and they have some pretty amazing Pancake places and Bakeries so don’t thing you’re going to the land of rice and veggies thinking you’re going to loose a few pounds 🙂
Wow! This ones a hard one, while I was In Japan I spent much of my time with people from different Nationalities. They all had pretty much the same views on prices as all European except for me the Australian, from Perth, renown to be one of the most expensive places. Now, having returned to Perth I look at prices and take a double-take, they are sky high compared to Tokyo. To the Europeans prices looked normal if not a bit inflated, to me they felt pretty good 🙂 There are exceptions and the main monstrosity is the price of fruit!!! If I could have known my whole carry-on luggage would have been filled with Strawberries, Oranges and Tomatoes! The only things cheap enough to sustain some kind of vitamins were Mandarins and Bananas (I think these are the only 2 fruits Japan Imports). Previous to this I had no Idea and that was probably a mistake as I spent the first few weeks with a Vegan and I can’t say she got her 5 fruit and 7 veg in a day. Also the lack of sun means it really wouldn’t surprise me whether Japanese people had major deficiencies yet I think this is made up for in the amounts of fish they consume because it is pretty cheap in the supermarkets. Conclusion: Japan Is not the place for vegans, I don’t think there is a word for Vegan, its that unheard of. In terms of other items it really depends where you go, if you go to the likes of Daimaru and Ginza expect high prices, whereas if you go ‘where the locals go’ or places where goods are specifically sold in an area such as Akihabara for electrical goods you will be fine and might even find a few bargains along the way! Also, if you’re looking for a fun time, you’re in luck, alcohol is pretty cheap and Japanese beer is yummy although I can’t say the same about Sake eugh!
4. Don’t be pressured to go where the tourists go
Although Night life is restricted in Japan due to the trains stopping around midnight and who finishes a night out before 12! haha! Still, don’t be perturbed you can still have heaps of fun and take home with you a truck load of experiences. Japan has everything to make you laugh, funny adverts, toilets, people, food and places. To experience this you don’t need to fork out too much, the best times I had were with the best people. For example ditch the Robot restaurant for $100 a ticket and go into the main streets, creepy alleyways, neighbourhood roads and venture out of central Tokyo. One of my favourite experiences was up Mount Takao, the most amazing snowy mountain with unreal views of Tokyo and the mountains including Mount Fuji! All It cost was the train ride 90 minutes out of the city but it was entirely worth it. One thing i definitely would try out is an Onsen, to put it bluntly I didn’t think I had the guts in me to stand stark naked with my bestie at a Japanese Spring bath full of Old Japanese ladies! But it was really brilliant, initially not so great but after 5 minutes you just think ‘stuff it’ and relax in the ohhh so hot 43 degree water. It’s not even that expensive, we went where the locals and It was an experience to remember. One of the worst places we went to was the Zoo, one of the typical tourist places just because I didn’t like the environments of the animals. Although occasionally I did find myself a bit overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of Tokyo therefore I would recommend retreating at least once a fortnight into one of Tokyo’s ohh so gorgeous and well cared for parks, there is a small fee but it is worth it! So… In conclusion, don’t be afraid to go where the locals go and If you’ve got nothing planned get together with some mates and go anywhere because Tokyo isn’t just anywhere and everyday I was there I was surprised and laughed tooooo much!!!
This is honestly only the tip of the Iceberg of Japan, I absolutely love Japan except for something which I absolutely distaste but it is extremely widespread in the bustling city of Tokyo thats why I think its worth a mention. It is Japan’s obsession with Sexualising children, I won’t speak about it because I recently watched a Documentary that captures this perfectly called, ‘Stacey Dooley Investigates; Young sex for sale In Japan’. She examines Japan’s problem with the sexualisation of Japan. But enough of that, I had the most amazing time, can’t wait to go back and explore cities other than Tokyo and meet some more amazing people, because you really do when you put yourself out there!
Its quirky, Scary and Gorgeous all at the same time! x