My wife and I recently returned from the trip of a lifetime in Japan and it opened our eyes to beauty, culture, and experiences that we had no idea existed. As we made our way through the crowded and rain soaked streets of the Shinjuku district in Tokyo during our first day we were awestruck by the magnitude of the city that surrounded us and were given the first taste of the epic journey of food, people, and culture that we were about to embark on. This once in a lifetime experience is far t0o much for just one article so this is just the first in a series and as such will only focus on my initial awe that I felt when we first arrived in Tokyo.
Everywhere we went we were shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of others, my wife’s brilliant red air sticking out like a beacon in a sea of black and grey professional wear that surrounded us. No matter how close everyone was and how quickly they were walking to their destination no one bumped into each other or even hit anyone else with the edges of their large umbrellas that were protecting them from the constant fall of rain. Everyone in this city moved with mechanical precision and entire crowds weaved through each other as if they were one united organism. No one ever pushed, cut off, or even jostled their neighbor; movement in this city was a delicate ballet of beautiful movement.
At night they city illuminated in bright yet natural colors that were not overwhelming but in no way went unnoticed. Our favorite night out was this first night when we explored the tight winding alleys of Shinjuku’s Golden Gai district within Tokyo. This amazingly compact district has buildings dating back to the 1930’s, pre World War II and some of the only of their type in all of Tokyo. Each block is filled to the brim with tiny, and I mean TINY bars that are each no more than 8 feet wide and 15 feet deep, fitting at most 4 or 5 patrons on a single tight bar top. It was in these bars that I felt the most self conscious due to being taller and much wider than pretty much anyone we met in the entire trip, yet everyone was accommodating and excited to welcome outsiders into their favorite night time haunt.
There were many more bars than I could count in this 4 or 5 block area and most had a distinct theme with loyal regulars quickly filling up the limited seats early in the night. My wife and I were lucky to find a couple of these great miniature bars full of boisterous locals that shared anything about Tokyo and Japan that you could ever want to know as we exchanged stories of travels and our homes over beer, sake, whiskey, and plum wine; this was truly a night I will never forget as it is now etched into my very ethos for the rest of time.
This is all for now but be sure to check back in coming weeks when I will share my experiences in Akihabara, the anime, figurine, and media district as well as our amazing journey via Shinkansen bullet train to the unmatched beauty and culture of Kyoto and Osaka. I will also do an article focusing the best whisky and food I have ever had in my life.