Tokyo is a city that needs no introduction. This de-facto capital served as the starting and finishing point of our 3 week trek through Japan. While we only averaged a couple days in most cities, a solid week was allocated for Tokyo alone. However, even with 7 days to wander the streets, we barely scraped the surface of this massive metropolis.
Of all the areas of Tokyo, our unanimous favorite was Harajuku. This bustling fashion mecca of Japan’s unique style provides some of the most amazing shopping and people watching in the world. This holds especially true on Sundays.
The Jingu Bridge is the favorite gathering place for enthusiasts of cosplay, rockabilly, lolita, and many other styles of their exclusive fashion. Those who dress up are treated as local celebrities among tourists and constantly barraged with photos.
Near the bridge is Yoyogi Park, one of the largest parks in Tokyo. We also highly recommend visiting the park on Sunday as it filled with music, dancing, performances, and sports. We spent a great deal of time watching the rockabilly groups dance and drink the day away (this was quite evident by the number of scattered beer cans on the ground). Many of the men were quick to remove their shirts in the summer heat, exposing large, intricate tattoos.
While tattoos are still not socially acceptable for Japanese residents, they are slowly making progress in that direction with the newer generations. However, they are much more understanding in regards to tattoos on foreigners as the multiple compliments on Erica’s colorful half-sleeve proved.
As with every trip we take, we did our best to absorb the culture of Tokyo. This meant spending many of our days in multi-story arcades and even more of or our nights singing karaoke. Also, as expected, we did so much shopping that we had to purchase an extra duffle bag to bring home our buys.
It is also tradition for us to spend entirely too much money on an extremely nice meal. This was accomplished at Gonpachi in Roppongi. While this was not our favorite meal of the trip, the amazing five course meal was well worth the ~¥10,000 (~$100 USD) per person.
This restaurant has also been credited for being the inspiration for the House of Blue Leaves in the Tarantino film “Kill Bill”. And after spending an evening there, we were inclined to agree. It had a very traditional feel and layout, including the private rooms upstairs. It was also very helpful that the entire staff spoke fluent English as well. We definitely recommend Gonpachi, however, it is advisable to make a reservation beforehand as the wait times can be extremely long.
The above pictures were taken in popular photobooth sticker machines. The last picture really makes me want to sing “The Final Countdown”.