Thursday, October 25, 2012

The largest city

The transsiberian route was finished, all the goodbyes were said and what was next was a new kind of adventure. A flight away was a new city, a new country, that I would explore alone.
Just on my first walk in Tokyo I started to understand what everyone used to say about Japanese people. I wanted to find my hostel but my directions were incomplete. As I had the address and the name I decided to ask a local girl if she knows how I could get there. She immediately took her mobile and checked it online but as she was not sure we went to the police office that was just across the street. The girl and the policeman talked (in Japanese), looked at a few maps that he had, and reached a conclusion and finally she turned to me and gave a few instructions in her English (not perfect, but good enough). I start walking but the instructions could be understood in different ways and as I didn't want to be lost with around 20kg on my back, I stopped again and asked for directions. It was when they were trying to find where the hostel was that I see the first girl had came out of her way and followed me. She said: "I was worried about you. I'm going with you until the front of the Hostel" and she did! This was my first contact with Japan and it was how I began to respect it immediately.
But it did not end there. On the most populated city of the World (the whole metropolitan area has more than 35million people) it was easy to find amazing things.
Just near where I was staying there was one of the most well known temples in Tokyo, Senso-ji Buddhist temple. It was recently renovated and it shows, it's amazing, specially at night! During the day it is possible to see people going there to say their prayers.

Senso-ji temple in Asakusa in its beautiful illumination
The pagoda near Senso-ji temple

The temple by day, it's still great but I prefer the night version
In the surroundings of the Tempo you can pay for a kind of fortune telling which is divided into Good and Bad Fortune. And, of couse, I tried my luck... which got to be Bad luck, so I tied the paper where the wind could blow the bad luck away.
And when it's bad luck, it's really BAD luck

And here it is blowing in the wind with the others...

But these images were far away of my imaginary of what Tokyo was and it was only when I got to Shibuya that I saw something more alike to my the scenary in my mind. The crouds, the famous cross-walk, the smells coming from all kind of restaurants (Indian, French, Italian and Japanese, of course), the lights from the stores and the commercials. It's basically an overflow to the senses. But I loved it. I love that urban buzz that you can find only in the largest cities, and that was it!

A wall of people at the other side ready to "charge"

People, going from one place to the other... all the time... everywhere

Shibuya crossing seen from above... it's even more impressive

Every store is lit!

And then there are other things that make this city unique and that made me like it so much and here are a few of them.

A restaurant with people eating outside. A common view on the most traditional neighborhoods

Most restaurants have a display of their dishes outside But these are made of plastic! There's a whole industry behind these models.

Every neighborhood has its specific characteristics. This is a shop in Akihabara (the Electronic town). Of course, it sold electronic stuff like most of the shops here.

Akihabara is also known as the place for the nerds... And there are many girls like these that try to capture the attention of these nerds and invite them to bars were are more girls dressed like this. A bit weird I have to say.

And on the parks you can easily find street performers that are VERY good at what they do. This was in Ueno Park.
On the entrance of each home there is a hall where you should leave your shoes. This, of course, happens in all of Japan

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