Inside the pinball machine of Tokyo

cherry blossoms2As I crossed the famous Shibuya crossing, flashing lights all around me, I could barely believe that I was in Tokyo. This is the furthest away from home I had ever been. And Tokyo, for lack of a better word, is INSANE. And I mean that entirely in a good way. It’s almost like being in a pinball machine – all lights and sounds. The last four days have been a blur. Not only from killer jet lag but because there is not stopping in a city like Tokyo. There’s too much to see and too much to do.

In figuring out my itinerary, I read many times that there is no amount of time that you can give to Tokyo and it being enough. I narrowed my focus to just simply exploring the various areas of Tokyo, hitting some of the key sights that I wanted to see. First up was the Studio Ghibli Museum. Designed by the famed animator Hayao Miyazaki, this place was whimsical and beautiful. If you have not seen any of his films and you have any interest in animation, see his work. All of his films are fantastic. And while I could not take pictures inside, it was entirely worth the visit.

ghibli museum

Later that day, I ventured to the Harajuku area where I visited one of the more famous shrines in Tokyo – the Meiji Shrine. This shrine is dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. It is sacred ground and there is an air of reverence as you walk the gravel path that leads to the shrine. There are barrels of sake and wine that have been donated to the shrine and are on display. There are gardens that were designed by the emperor himself for his wife. It’s a truly beautiful and peaceful place. But the best to me, was the wooden votives that were placed around a tree as prayers. In many different languages you could read about well wishes for happiness and world peace. I actually got a little teary-eyed.

After that, I spent time in Takeshita Street which is a cluster of fashion, food and color. I walked up and down it several times just because there was that much to see. There are food stalls that sell cotton candy the size of your head, multicolored drinks in light bulbs, chocolate drizzled French fries. There are clothing stores that sell Lolita-style dresses, crazy socks or full leather ensembles I spent some time at a cat café. I particularly enjoyed the cat with the angriest face I’ve ever seen despite wanting all my love. But that’s cats for you.

Today, I made my way to the hot springs resort town of Hakone which is a nice respite the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. It was nice to rest my bones after the miles of walking that I did in Tokyo. Tomorrow, I begin my journey through the rest of the country. So stay tuned! Arigato gozaimasu! Sayonara!

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