December 8th, 2016
First stop Shibuyaaaa! I had to see what the hype was about haha. Shibuya Crossings is pretty crazy, especially during the weekend. I’ve never seen a massive crowd move like this. It’s an intersection with about 5 streets, and when the light hits green everyone just scrams. It’s not a rowdy scram with people bumping into each other; you can somehow cross through the crowd going in any direction without getting touched. Yea it’s pretty cool. The majority of Shibuya is dedicated to major retail stores, some of which are prominent in the U.S and some exclusive to Japan. Not to mention, there’s an abundance of restaurants to satisfy the post shopping hunger. Shibuya is also a fairly popular place for nightlife/clubbing. I went to check out a hip-hop club called Harlem on a Thursday night, but that was the wrong day to go because it was empty.
Harajuku I’d say is the best shopping area in Tokyo, it’s like 5th avenue mixed with Soho. There’s the main street with high class shopping, and as you turn and walk further down the side streets you’ll find more underground brands and shops, which I love about it. It gets pretty crowded just like in Shibuya, especially on weekends. Also got to check out the Roppongi area. It’s mostly residential, if I moved to Tokyo this would be one of my preferred areas. Here in Roppongi we found a soul food restaurant ran by a couple from North Carolina and Atlanta. They’ve lived in Tokyo for about 10 years and have been running this restaurant ever since. They also host open mics on Thursdays, and the husband performs at local concerts. They were great people to meet, eating at their restaurant felt like home.
Akihabara is known as the hub area for electronics. You can find any sort of device or small electronic pieces you may desire. There are also several SEGA buildings, which essentially are huge arcades with Japanese based video games. I wish I grew up with these around in high school, after school you would definitely catch me in there. Shinjuku is also a popular Tokyo location as its where majority of the train lines connect for transfers. You’re bound to end up passing through Shinjuku at some point. It’s also home to one of the biggest and most popular parks in Tokyo, Shinjuku Gyoen. I guess you can think of it as Tokyo’s version of Central Park, without vehicles, and with Japanese aesthetics.
Mount Fuji is a couple hours or so drive from Tokyo, so we booked a tour to visit. Included was a trip up to the summit of Mount Fuji, and a boat ride on Lake Ashi in Hakone, Japan. Mount Fuji has 5 visiting stations, the 5th being the highest up and that’s where we went. It’s freezing up there as you might’ve expected, and the air pressure is equivalent to that in a commercial flight. The views are awe dropping as you look out above the clouds, and to look up and see snow blowing off the tip of Fuji-san. The ride down Lake Ashi was the most peaceful experience I’ve ever had, with beautiful greenery and natural volcano smoke blowing in the distances. To get back to Tokyo we took a ride on the bullet train. I was so excited to get on, and it definitely lives up to its name.
I did so much exploring in Tokyo it’s impossible to cover everything in these posts. Tokyo is definitely my favorite city in the world as of now, and I can see myself traveling back quite often. I’m inspired to learn Japanese, which I’ll be taking next semester.