Today concludes my three days and four nights trip to Japan. For it being my first solo traveling experience, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Tokyo. Here are some thoughts I want to jot down about Japan before I forget them.
Day 1: Asakusa (Sensoji Temples, Nakamise Dori) – Sumida (Tokyo Skytree) – Ginza
Day 2: Imperial Palace – Shibuya (Bunkamura) – Yoyogi National Park (Earth Day Parade) – Harajuku (Monster Cafe, Harajuku Street, Takeshita Street) – Shinjuku
Day 3: Tsukiji Fish Market -Daimon (Tokyo Tower, Zojo-ji Temple) – Odaiba (Tokyo Decks Beach, Diver City, Statue of Liberty) – Akihabara (Super Potato, Maid Cafe)
Day 4: Ueno
1. Japan is friendly.
Every time I asked for directions, Japanese people would go out of their ways to point me towards the right path. Amidst the mixture of broken English and Japanese exchanged between the two of us, I found a genuine sense of cordiality emanating from these Japanese passerbys. Without their help, I would have been a lost cause in the cobwebbed streets of Tokyo.
2. Japan is independent.
There is a social stigma in Korea where eating alone is looked down upon; however, that did not seem to be the case in Japan. Each time I walked into a restaurant, l noticed many eating by themselves and minding their own business. The interior of the restaurant was inviting to lone eaters – tables were organized in a hall-like fashion with chairs neatly pressed below the tables. I never minded eating alone, but in Japan, it almost seemed like eating alone was the norm.
3. Japan is paradoxical.
The juxtaposition of the old and the new is remarkable. I can walk down any given street and expect to see a newly brandished skyscraper right next to an age-old Buddhist temple. The most interesting of this said juxtaposition can be found – in my opinion – in Daimon, where the Tokyo Tower looms over Zojo-ji Temple. I can easily say Japan is a place where tradition and modernity blends in seamlessly, like two pieces of fabric interwoven together to create an interesting piece of clothing.
4. Japan is clean.
For the lack of trash cans in public, Japan is devoid of litters. I think psychology plays a big part in this cleanliness: because the streets were spotless, I felt a certain compulsion to keep it that way. Although, however, the city could use a couple more trash cans for the public to use.
5. Japan is musical.
Music abounds Tokyo. Whether it’s Hatsune Miku Vocaloid blasting in Akihabara or a woodwind quartet playing jazz standards in Ueno Park, one can always expect to hear good music in Japan.
Now that the excitement of traveling to Japan has subsided, I feel a wave of nostalgia settling into my memory. I wonder if it is Tokyo that I miss or the solitude I felt traveling alone that I miss. With the trip neatly folded into the top shelf of my most recent memory, I already dread the process of this particular memory slowly fading away from my mind with the passing of time. Though the details of the trip will become hazy, I know I won’t forget what this trip ultimately meant to me: a deep understanding – and a quiet appreciation – of my existence.