Japan is such a special place. Dare I say magical even. It has every thing for every one. Whether you’re a lover of nature or a dweller of concrete jungles; whether you’re into anime or art; shopping or strolling— you can find it all. In fact, there is so much to do in Tokyo alone that it would take an extended stay, or multiple trips, to really be satisfied and come away with a sense of “Okay— I feel like I know this place.” I was there living for a number of months and there are still things I wish I would have done.
For those who don’t know, Tokyo is broken up into 23 different wards and each has within it a number of districts. And each district is unique in some way. For instance:
- Shibuya is known for its youthful fashion (along with Harajuku) and nightlife.
- Shinjuku is known for being both commercial and administrative, a mix of business and pleasure.
- Roppongi is where all the foreigners congregate at night to get shitfaced and be tormented by club promoters (you’ll go once and then stay away the rest of your trip if you’re smart).
- Koenji is for hippies and vintage clothes collectors (one of my favorite places).
- Ginza and Omotesando are for those who want to spend their money on high end shopping.
- Akihabara is Electric City; you can find everything to suit your electronic needs.
Take into account all the tiny streets that weave in and out, and the myriad of establishments that not only span the length of the street, but sit vertically atop one another, and you’ve got months, years even, of exploration at your fingertips.
And that’s just a trip to Tokyo.
You’ve still yet to explore Japan: Kyoto, Nikko, Nara, Kobe, Hiroshima, Yokohama, Hakone, Mt. Fuji, Osaka and Okinawa are all places you need to see. Have you visited a traditional Japanese Onsen? Hung out in Nagano with the Snow Monkeys? Seen the Japanese Elvis impersonators in Yoyogi Park? Eaten at an Izakaya? Engaged in all-night karaoke replete with endless Umeshu? Laughed at the hungover business men asleep on the steps of their office buildings the morning-after? Spotted a geisha? Eaten Takoyaki or Okonomiyaki? Gone out for ¥180 beers and edamame? Spent time lounging in a cat café? Laughed when you walked into a store to hear every employee screaming “irasshaimase” at you in unison? Ridden the giant Ferris wheels on the pier fronts in Yokohama and Odaiba? Seen the giant buddhas in Kamakura and Ushiku?
Unless you’re there for an extended period of time, seeing and doing all of this will be impossible. But you’ll be so enamored by your time spent in this eclectically enthralling place that revisiting won’t be a question of “why?” but one of “when?”
Happy Travels! —VJ