From Fukoaka to Tokyo there is over 1000 km. The best would be to fly but I always wanted to take the bullet train called the Shinkensen. The travel took around 5 hours. Japan is not very wide but very long. I left early in the morning to be there in the afternoon. Tokyo as expected is crowded and have the busiest subway station in the world. If you get lost count about an hour to find your way out. There is whole world underneath and you could spend your day between shopping, eating and all sort of things. Some of the best restaurant in the world are in the subway. Good luck to find them.
Strangely enough, it’s in Tokyo that I met the most welcoming locals. On my first night I wandered in the area of Meguro and my instinct led me to a small restaurant. I could see a few seats left in a tiny busy traditional yakitory restaurant. It took them only a few seconds get intrigued enough to start asking me all sort of questions. It brought us into a nice evening sharing meals and drinks. When you hit big cities you meet people with decent English and if you are patient enough you can have interesting conversation. Alcohol in this matter helps a lot. They will always ask your age which is very uncommon in Europe, one of the reason is that depending on your age, a different language will be used as to mark a respect toward elders. I have noticed that every time there a social interaction in Japan, food is hugely present. They eat small portions but very frequently, all sort of food with very little sweetness in them. They are more of a savory type of food culture. You’ll struggle to find a desert.
From experience, I have understood that when you travel alone it’s always easier to interact with people or even groups. You are probably instinctively in search of interaction and want to fulfill this need.
I stayed an entire afternoon with a group of young Japanese people as I joined them to play a fun game of basketball. I played years back in my youth and I could see that what you learned is always somewhere in your bones buried deep. This a theory I had been exploring lately. We have in our early years being passionate by many things and as time goes by, we have shifted this interest to other matters. But if you were to start again, would you be as good as before, worst or even better? Try and you’ll get your answer.
Tokyo is exhausting. There is always a constant flow of people and so much to explore. You constantly get sidetracked by stunning areas, beautiful parks and small alley way. Also a big part of the city is just plain, predictable, with building as high as the sky. I tried to avoid as much as I could the touristic place but somehow as you follow the flow of people you just end up trap in them. I like Tokyo for the people I met, but not so much as place; too busy for me. I was happy to leave to meet some friend up in the North in Sapporro. I had a lovely time there and was immersed for a couple of days into a Japanese family before heading back to Fukoaka for my last week of residency.
Here is a final thought as I will leave soon and come back to Europe. Japanese people are very loyal, there is high sense of respect and trust in the relationship you have with them and it is easy to feel it. It is very direct and very simple. They will be your life time friend. I had a strong feeling of respect during my interactions with anyone. There had never been anyone impatient, negative, or not helpful. Still what a strange country…
Thanks for reading