Tokyo

Hello my neglected travel blog! I’ve so wanted to complete this project of chronicling our journey across Asia, but ever since I returned to the States, life just keeps on happening and distracting me from finishing once and for all. This is it, though. Our last stop in Asia, and one of our favorite places overall: Tokyo.

We arrived in Tokyo bright and early after one last sleepless overnight bus ride from Hiroshima. (Not sad to be done with those!) Our first task was to try and decode the complicated metro system (comprised of 4+ independent systems!) to make it to our hostel. We stayed in Taito, the “heart of Old Tokyo,” mostly because we procrastinated booking our accommodation until the day before, which left us with limited options. Probably for the best, as Tokyo is enormous and packed full of hotels/hostels/ryokan, and we would have been overwhelmed with options otherwise. Didn’t really matter- once we’d figured out the metro, everything was easy to access anyway.

Tokyo was our last stop after 23 months in Asia, and I can’t even tell you how excited we were to be there. We had dreams of 4 days jam-packed with quirky, delicious, nonstop adventure. However, a lot of other factors were at play during these last few days abroad: we were exhausted, broke, a bit anxious, excited, and busy switching gears and preparing to head back to the States. We did the best we could, but we weren’t exactly at our travel best.

We started out feeling weary from a bumpy night of bus-sleep, and decided to take it easy and spend Day 1 in the Old Town area around our neighborhood. Our first day in Tokyo consisted of walking around the vast shopping streets of Asakusa, hopping on a quick metro ride to Sumido to visit the Edo-Tokyo Museum (recommend!!), a tasty tempura snack, and strolling around Senso-ji Temple. Not bad for an off day…

Endo-Toyko was a fascinating (but HUGE) museum with interactive and ___ exhibits displaying different periods in Tokyo's history.

Endo-Toyko was a fascinating (but HUGE) museum with interactive and captivating exhibits displaying different periods in Tokyo’s history.

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Day 2: We really wanted to cram as much into Day 2 as possible, but time has a way of slipping from us. I spent most of the morning getting paperwork done for a job offer back home, and before we knew it it was afternoon and we had just stepped on the metro!

We started by walking around the Imperial Palace East Gardens, which were a bit underwhelming except for some remains of the Edo Castle. Afterwards, we walked through Kitanomaru Park en route to Yasukuni Shrine, the controversial shrine known (especially in China) for paying homage to war criminals.

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I didn't realize how out of control Kevin's hair/beard had gotten until this picture. Ahh, travel.

I didn’t realize how out of control our hair had gotten until this picture! Ahh, travel.

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At this point we were getting hungry and decided to head to the famous Tokyo Station, where there is a touristy “ramen street.” Although we found our bowls of ramen to be disappointing (can’t say I’m too surprised!), the visit was worthwhile for the pretty historic architecture, the free Tokyo maps/brochures we picked up, and the kitschy shopping area.

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After leaving Tokyo Station, we took a stroll through the super chic shopping area of Chiyoda before  deciding to squeeze in a trip to the Pokemon store in Shiodome District, where I loaded up on souvenirs for my brothers and myself. Afterwards, we were tired of shopping and walking but unsure about how to finish out our night. (It didn’t help that we didn’t have a guidebook or access to the internet!) Wanting to have at least one night out, we headed to Roppongi- a lively expat nightlife district with a somewhat mixed reputation. We figured we’d be able to find a bite to eat and a decent bar or two, and while I definitely noticed some sleaziness (especially as it got later), we did find some fun spots to hang out! We even made a friend and bar hopped together for a few hours. Some places had friendly, talkative waitstaff and generally good vibes, others had a less inviting atmoshpere and a definite “type” of patron. Regardless, we had a really fun night of dancing to horrible music, drinking overpriced beer, and stuffing our faces with greasy kebabs. Unfortunately our fun ran a little too late, and we missed the last metro. The $60 cab ride back to our hostel was sobering, but looking back I have no regrets! We definitely needed at least one solid night out in Tokyo!

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As you can imagine, we got a pretty slow start on Day 3. There was a lot we hoped to do, but we were exhausted and broke, which were major deterrents. I knew I couldn’t leave Tokyo without checking out Harajuku (our Tokyo trip thus far was missing a lot of Japanese-kitsch!), so we dragged ourselves out of bed to Shibuya district. We walked from the crazy colorful streets of Harajuku, stopping in some interesting second-hand stores along the way, to the famous bright light, action-packed pedestrian street of Shibuya. We did a little souvenir shopping until stores started to close. We ended the night with a trip to the red-light district, because curiosity was killing us. Overall we found it to be pretty tame, but we didn’t stay too long or dive too deep!

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Harajuku!

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Day 4 was flight day, and we still had some shopping to do! We headed to the Nakamise market for one last look at souvenirs and conveyor belt sushi lunch before stuffing our backpacks for the last time and heading for the airport!

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Ahhh, so many amazing memories, and so much I STILL want to do in Tokyo. I will definitely be back, and there will be more theme restaurants, shopping, sushi, and nightlife! Maybe some shrines, too, if I’m ready for more by that point. 🙂

One of my motivations for cranking out this post is that in one week we leave for a month in Brazil! In an ideal world, I definitely want to blog about it. I’m also somewhat optimistic about throwing up a post or two about our cross country road trip after Japan. Life is so crazy at this moment, though, that I really can’t make any promises to myself.

If nothing else, thank you so much for joining us for our crazy Asian adventure. We will never forget the people we met, memories we made, and the support and love with constantly felt from home. Until next time! Xx

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  1. Lee says:

    night of dancing to horrible music, drinking overpriced beer, and stuffing our faces with greasy kebabs.
    what is your ideal nightlife like kelsey?

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