Two years ago these days … this traveller was in the middle of her only massive cultural shock ever.
Landed on Tokyo to spend two months and overwhelmed by the amount and totality of design, beauty and purpose everywhere around; within a week I lost weight, got a bunch of white hair and wasn’t sleeping well; it took me days to simply start catching the subway and go sightseeing.
Don’t get this wrong: the feeling was ecstasy. The whole time. Continuously. I was under constant bombardment by high standards.
A few photos of the mind-blowing flat and view. It was warm and fuzzy, it had a bathroom unit and a kitchen unit, and the elevated metropolitan express highway was passing only a few meters from the third-floor balcony. (At nights I was feeling that some mythical golden river kept streaming by.)
To the dismay of lazy western reporters, not all Tokyo subway photos involve tormented employees napping on the doors’ glass. (Although, I’ll give it to them, this is an overground line.)
The Carrot Tower in Setagaya is where Pokemon come from. The 22nd floor houses Game Freak headquarters.
While the 26th floor boasts a public sunset viewing lounge.
Let’s do so!
The top tip is: just go. It won’t be the futuristic Babylon that you expected but more the projection of the 80s which dreamt of it, and it will be unparalleled (also might not stay this way forever).
Walking down some well-documented neighborhoods -Shibuya, Akihabara, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku and the like- is enough to dose you on vertical neon, food stalls, high fashion, sararimen, shrines, crazy trinkets, nylon umbrellas. Assuming you’ll evening stroll through one or two of those, here are a few extra, focused, things to look up or under for.
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Alleys jammed with tiny izakayas, real sararimen nests.
Celebrated ones: Piss alley in Shinjuku, Nonbei in Shibuya, around and under the railway bridge at Shimbashi.
The artificial islands and the bay
Where you realize that everything solid in your field of vision is manmade.
Radio Center electronics mall
Radio Center is a sensation. A small passage close to Akihabara metro station (35.698316, 139.771861). And an old, half-used, three-storied narrow building next to it. Grab it while you still can.
I remember days spent in constant awe of beauty,
now with memories of people that I don’t know.
I remember the afternoon pulse through a whole city — the corners of countless small izakaya.
Leaving Japan and the far east, inconsolable, following the setting sun…
“At least” the two-and-a-half days’ trip gives one something to keep busy with.
And, right on cue, as the office in the clouds was all about the sun,
the windows without blinds start shunning it spectacularly by changing their transparency.
The rest is lost in a haze of jet lag…