We’ve finally left Tokyo. Seven long, dizzying days after first arriving in a frankly stunning hotel room overlooking the dramatic Tokyo bay skyline, we’ve once again packed our bags and left the big city in our wake. I’m left reflecting on seven days of my life which left me, more often than not, very simply speechless.
It really is difficult to know where to begin with Tokyo. My memories of our week in the city will of course be coloured by the dazzling electric intensity of the streets of Shinjuku, the indescribable weirdness of Akihabara, the relentless pulse of Shibuya.
I’ll remember the roads lined with neon lights, the way the city towers up around you everywhere you go, the endless streams of people going about their business in that diligent, uniquely precise Japanese way. I suppose, in a way, that’s the way you imagine Tokyo is going to be.
The lights, the people, the sky scrapers. It’s the Tokyo you see in films and on TV, the Tokyo you’ll see in a Google images search. It’s what you expect. But maybe for that reason, it isn’t what left the biggest impression on me.
Rather, the Tokyo I’ll remember most fondly was found simply in the abundance of life and energy that seems to throb through every single street of the city. How every subway ride felt like an event, how every side street and every alleyway felt like it had it’s own stories to tell.
Every person I saw seemed to be on their own mission to get something done, to consciously define themselves in some way or other. Everything had purpose, it had direction.
It felt like the whole thing was part of a plan. That’s what I’ll remember most, that feeling for a place that you can only absorb by spending long enough somewhere to let it soak in. If cultural osmosis is your thing, there is nowhere better to be a human sized sponge than in Tokyo.
This is what will stay with me, this sense that Tokyo itself is an event. Put in its simplest form, I absolutely loved every single second of it.
Every inch of Tokyo is spotless. Litter is absolutely nowhere to be found, despite the abundance of vending machines selling bottles and cans. The city is supremely well organised, efficiently assembled in a way only the Japanese can quite manage.
Even the subway system, a tangled mess if ever there was one, just about manages to stick together, and makes navigating the vast city relatively straight forward.
I’m not going to come up with the top five things to do in Tokyo, or anything like that. How the hell would I know? I was only there for a week, and that sort of thing has been done to death everywhere else already.
All I’ll say to anyone coming to Japan is that, before you come, you’re already going to have a pretty good idea what you’ll get in Tokyo. You really won’t be disappointed, so soak everything up. Make sure you give yourself some downtime in the middle to take it all in and process it – the constant assault on your senses is relentless.
Be open to trying things, never be afraid to get involved. Judge nothing, experience everything. It’s impossible to be bored in this endless, endlessly astonishing city.
Just being there is an experience quite like none other.