It took us 13 hours on a non-stop flight from Washington D.C. but finally, the trip has begun! And what better way to start it than in Tokyo, a city of more than 13 million people, modern machines, and eccentric fashion. Tokyo is of course also known for its food and for the copious amounts of fish that pass through Tsukiji Market, the largest fish and seafood market in the world. It was at this market also where we had our first encounter with real sushi and other seafood delicacies.
You need only look around you while walking through Takeshita Street in Harajuku district or through Akihabara “Electric Town” to be reminded that you are very far from the West. Neon signs are everywhere to be found, panchinko parlors (slot machines) are in every corner and some people’s wardrobes are, let’s say, highly unconventional.
But however crazy things get in Tokyo, the city still remains attached to its roots and traditions. We were fortunate to visit one of the most important shrines in the city, Meiji Shrine, during its summer festival where hundreds of people wearing traditional costumes partake in elaborated Yosakoi choreographies, and to our incredulous eyes, an event called: Battle of the Udon! Let me explain this last part in more detail because it’s important, imagine 50 different stalls all selling a different type of udon (noodle) bowl and each stall with people yelling and trying to make you try their recipe! So good!
Every person we have talked to has been extremely nice and we enjoyed the hospitality of our AirBnB hostess, Yu, when she invited us to a BBQ she was having. It was great to be able to spend some time with locals, to drink sake with them, and to teach them how to do a power hour.
View from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatory
Finally, the food, mmm, the food! From ramen at a place that could only fit 8 people at once, to sushi, to udon, and tonkatsu (breaded pork) at Tonki—a place that only serves one dish and has been doing it since 1940—the food has been amazing. Fortunately for our waistline, it’s all been very balanced and healthy, and I can only expect that, as we explore this beautiful country more, it’ll get even better.
Coming up, the small seaside town Ito, filled with onsens and fresh seafood, to Kyoto the shrine capital of Japan.