It was like stepping into the future, some 1980’s science fiction movie – Blade Runner perhaps. Everything was recognizable, yet evolution had somehow seemed to have taken its toll on every tiny aspect of day to day life. It began the moment we sat down on the train, still in awe with the fact that the subway station sold beer, with the press of a button our chairs spun around so the four of us could face each other for the duration of the trip. Perhaps an insignificant detail to some, but for new travellers like us; Tokyo was the future.
Easily the best part of our trip to the capital city of Japan was the fact that I had an old family friend who lived there. Many years ago, when Yoko was still a student, she stayed with my family as part of an exchange program and has remained in close contact with us for over two decades. She was gracious enough to be our local guide around the city but even more importantly meet us at the airport along with her sister, and help us navigate our way through the chaos to our hostel. I doubt we would have made it without her!
Over the next several days, we tried to get as much of Tokyo we could possibly cram into the short time available to us. First it was a day with Yoko and a friend of hers showing us a few of the sights around Asakusa – one of the main districts of the city, and the one we temporarily called home. We checked out Sensō-ji, a Buddhist temple that is not only the oldest temple in the Tokyo, but also one of the largest. Near the temple grounds, Yoko introduced us to takoyaki, delicious balls of fried batter filled with octopus, ginger, and green onions.
Over the following days after parting ways with Yoko, we dove a little deeper into the newly familiar areas of the city. Returning to Shinjuku first to indulge in the seemingly endless alleys of noisy arcades and steaming restaurants; we sampled many different soups and snacks, each one more fantastic and unique than the one before. Every so often between snacks, we’d take advantage of the beer vending machines spread around the city for a quick refresh before moving onto the next restaurant.
And then it rained and everyone became a magician. A small thunderstorm came out of absolutely nowhere, as did all of the plastic umbrellas. One minute it was sunny while thousands of people moved about their day, the next it was torrential downpour and suddenly everyone was holding a small plastic umbrella, we don’t know where they came from or where they went once the storm soon passed. Out of the masses in the streets, I think Kylee and I were the only two standing hopelessly soaked in the rain.
Comfortably full of the most unique food we’d eaten in our lives until that day, we eventually laid down on the floor of Narita Airport, awaiting our 6am flight to Bangkok.