Strolling the streets of Tokyo…
I usually get a lot of attention when stopping in the middle of a Tokyo street to try to capture the magic feeling that I have when I stroll around the streets of Tokyo. I asked a Japanese woman how come that Japanese people seem to find it so interesting seeing a western woman taking pictures of a street. She answered “Japanese people are curious to know what it is you find interesting”.
A bit more than a year ago I was in the middle of Turkey in a place called Cappadocia where few Swedish people find their way to. I was amazed of the large number of Japanese tourists there. Later I learnt that many Japanese people choose their holiday destination from the UNESCO world heritage list. Connecting this to a presentation a Japanese colleague recently held about the importance of collectivism in the Japanese society when it comes to making a purchase decision, and adding the fact that what one find exotic varies a lot between people, makes me understand why I received so many curious glances 😉
Tokyo is a huge city where every metro and train station has its own athmosphere and attractions. Electrical wires is a common sight everywhere but in the evening the greyish buildings and wires are unnoticed as neon lights take over the night. As you have understood from above little story my biggest interest in Tokyo is simply just to wander around the streets. Usually a big amount of time is spent on metros since I tend to want to cover too much at one time.
I enjoy the bigger and more famous stations Shibuya and Shinjuku a lot where your head is getting dizzy from trying to avoid being overrun by people and your mind is overloaded of teenage fashion and unusual, sometimes, crazy sights. But what I like the most in Tokyo is to discover the smaller stations. There you usually find a maze of narrow streets packed with shops and eateries. The feeling is more relaxed and local.
One thing to get used to in Tokyo is that most restaurants and bars, especially around the bigger stations, are concentrated to high buildings. On ground floor is is common with a food show behind glass. You look what the restaurants on the different floors have to offer and then take the elevator to the place of your choice. Eateries and bars on groundfloor is more common around smaller stations.
Once you reach your chosen restaurant and the elevator door opens up, be prepared to enter a totally different world. Japan offers many unique styles of dining. One of my favourites if you are with a group is the so called Izakaya where every company get a unique room or compartment, depending on the size of group. Shoes are taken off and usually stored in a designated small cabinet. Staff are running back and forward to serve you all kinds of small dishes, Japanese tapas you could say. There are Izakayas in different price levels and different atmospheres. Drinks (beer or sake) are as important as the food in Izakayas. It sure is a unique dining experience. Cooking your own food at the table is also popular in Japan as is having your very own chef cooking infront of you.