What started as a long and draining business trip quickly turned into an incredible 4 day holiday with my colleague, and now good friend, Jo. It was mid-July in Tokyo and it was hot. Burning in oil kinda hot.
We had visited the Tokyo Skytree at the end of our business trip, where I had an almost panic attack when I saw the clouds floating by. That said, the view was breathtaking and I don’t think I’ve seen a view anywhere like it. I recommend you go up there if you can brave the height of it for a few minutes.
What struck me about Tokyo was the dramatic change in auditory surroundings; all I could hear was loud cricketing-type sounds from all around me – in the trees, in the sky, on the ground. I heard from an Embassy colleague that these were ‘insects’ called Secadas. Secadas live in the trees and will only harm you if they land on your arm and think you are a branch. I felt calm at this prospect until I saw an authentic Japanese woman scream for her life when one flew out of a tree. Avoid them at all costs I thought!
On our first night we went to an Italian restaurant in Ginza (not very Japanese I know but I’m not a massive fish fanatic). What surprised me is that there is no smoking ban in resturants in Japan. So I found myself eating a pizza in a very smoky underground cave. Still, we had fun.
The next day we experienced the real Tokyo. We landed in Shibuya. This is where we saw the famous intersection and Japanese stalls and markets.
It’s a wonderful area filled with atmosphere, lights and a constant buzz. We shopped alot, ate more Italian food, had cheesecake which actually tasted like cheese, and (almost) bought a kimono. We rounded off the evening by raiding the local grocery store for Japanese rice crackers (had a rude encounter with one of the embassy’s interpretors who accused us of drinking all day in the hotel bar) and then had an Indian meal in the local area.
During our little adventure we also visited the old temple and had a stroll around one the Japanese gardens. The Secadas were not in the trees here and were flying around all over the ruddy place. I felt like I was on the set of horror movie and couldn’t wait to get out.
On our last day we walked for over an hour to find a TGI Fridays we came across a few days earlier. Why? Because we fed up of Italian food and the Japanese food was a little too authentic looking for our taste. Besides, we craved a good ole steak. We eventually found one tucked away on a back ally in Shibuya. It was the nicest steak I had ever tasted – a flamegrilled quality piece of meat caked in sticky Guinness sauce. We had more wine as well. Great memories.
This was an amazing trip. I am now an avid Asia fan. I will return!