I traveled to Japan for the first time in July 2005. It was one of our best family vacations, and such a favorite that we always planned to return.
We planned our next trip for March 2011. The kids were in college then, and we were all very excited. And then the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami happened – a terrible day for Japan. Our vacation was to begin Match 14th. We went to Nice, France instead.
I just returned from 5 days in Tokyo. It was as hot and humid there as it has been in Shanghai, China.
Tokyo is a vibrant city with amazing food and lots of lovely gardens.
After only a few weeks of livng in Shanghai, I couldn’t help but make comparisons between the two cities.
Even though Shanghai has the larger population, Tokyo’s sidewalks are more crowded with people, but they feel safer. Car traffic is much lighter in Tokyo; perhaps because most people take public transportation. There are very few scooters in Tokyo, so crossing the street did not feel like a game of Frogger. And when the stoplight was green, the pedestrian had the right of way.
Japanese people are polite, and courteous in ways that match my values. Chinese people push and shove, and only seem to think of themselves. This has been one of my struggles since moving to Shanghai. I have not been treated the way I want to be treated, and try to treat others. And while I can change my behavior to better match where I live now, it won’t change me. But, I don’t think I will ever get used to people pushing me out of the way in order to get a seat on the metro/subway.
In planning my trip to Tokyo, I did not check their calendar, so I didn’t find out until I arrived that Monday was a holiday in Japan. As a result, I did not see as many sites as I had planned. The heat was also a factor.
I visited three parks and two shrines. I love Japanese gardens. They aren’t crowded and very peaceful.
Grand Shine Gate at Meiji Jingu
Hamarikyu Garden – the contrast of old garden with new buildings
I spent a very hot afternoon indoors at an aquarium. Who doesn’t love penguins?
I took a water taxi, which is a great way to see parts of the city you might otherwise miss.
Tokyo’s golden poo
I wandered Takeshita Street. I wouldn’t do this again. It was too crowded, and not very interesting, unless you want to shop for cheap trinkets.
I spent part of a morning at a cat café. The cats were very nice and easy to entertain, but their interest in humans is very tied to which human has treats.
I spent a great afternoon at the National Museum of Western Art. This museum housed a great collection of art across hundreds of years. I also found some type of festival in Ueno Park. The festival had sake and food booths. I tried some dumplings (gyoza).
I went to the famous Tsukiji Market, but tourists aren’t allowed in the wholesale areas in the morning so I didn’t get to see the fish auction. There are lots of places to eat fresh sushi, and you can tell the best ones based on how long the line is outside of the tiny restaurant.
I visited Hachiko in Shibuya. He was a dog with an amazing story of loyalty to his owner.
I planned to do more, but between their holiday on Monday and the heat, it was more of a leisurely trip than I originally expected. However, according to my Fitbit, I did walk over 30 miles in four and 1/2 days.
When walking in extreme heat, it is very important to stay hydrated. It is very easy to do that in Tokyo as there are beverage vending machines everywhere. Really, everywhere! I find this to be very quaint, and trying all of the different options was a favorite memory of the kids from 2005.
I can’t wait to visit Tokyo again. But I will never do so in the summer…..unless I decide to climb Mt Fuji again, which was a key feature of the 2005 trip.