My first night in Japan. I woke up a few times at night, because of the time difference to Germany. But overall, I slept pretty well.
After I took a shower and got ready for the day, I headed off to Senso-ji temple, which is one of the most popular temples in Tokyo. The weather wasn’t that good, but it could have been worse.
With the subway I made my way to the Asakusa district. Just a few minutes walk later I arrived at Senso-ji temple. In front of the entrance there were so many people listening or watching the speech of probably an important person in Japan. I had no idea what`s going on right now and what they are talking about, but it was kind of cool to see a Japanese meeting and the Geishas.
Passing the entrance, you walk through the oldest shopping street in Tokyo, the Nakamise Shopping Street. It was pretty early in the morning, therefore there weren’t that many people as usual, which was good. The little stores selled souvenirs, as well as traditional Japanese streetfood and sweets.
The temple itself was pretty impressive and totally different to the temples I saw in Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia or Laos. Japan is very serious about their culture and traditions. Therefore, there are lots of rituals you should or can do during a temple visit. To purify yourself you go before entering the temple to the spring. You take the cup full of water, wash first your left hand, then your right hand, poor the water in the left hand, rinse your mouth with the water (without drinking it), wash your left hand again and put the cup back.
After I walked a bit through the temple area, I went back to the subway and headed to Tsukiji market. There I met Tong, another friend from Hong Kong, who is doing his internship in Tokyo as well. Together we walked through the street food market and tried delicious and super fresh seafood, fish and other traditional Japanese food, which I haven’t tried before. It is crazy how different the food is here in comparison with Europe. Taka joined us later at the market. I really enjoyed it having people with me who knows Japan, the language and the food.
After our lunch at Tsukiji Fish Market market we made our way to Shibuya, where I saw the Hachiko Statue. Furthermore, we met a friend from Tong. Yura lives here in Tokyo. So cool to be surrounded by “locals”.
Together we crossed the Pedestrian Scramble. It is unbelievable how many people are here. Sometimes there are up to 3000 people crossing at the same time the Pedestrian Scramble. Crazy!
Walking through Shibuya is how you have Tokyo in mind. Many people, lots of colourful posters and advertising, food everywhere, crazy shops and game halls. I loved it walking through the streets.
After Shibuya we made our way to Shinjiku, another popular district, especially by night. We didn’t spend much time here, because we wanted to come back for dinner. Instead we went to Harajuku, where we visited Meiji Jingu Shrine. To enter the shrine, we needed to walk through the forest or perhaps you can call it park. On the way we saw a full stock of sake barrels. Sake is the traditional Japanese rice wine. At the shrine itself Tong and Yura showed me some more of the traditional rituals, which are common in Japan. You throw a coin into a wooden “container”, you bow two times, clap two times, make a wish and bow a last time.
In front of the shrine you can buy little labels, which you can give to people to wish them luck or safety. There are also wooden boxes with sticks inside. You have to shake the wooden boxes, to get one stick out with a number. You take a little paper out of the shelf with the number you pulled out. On the paper is a slogan written, what you can expect from the year or what you have to improve or work on.
Right next to Meiji Jingu Shrine is Takeshita Street, probably the most crowded street I´ve ever seen. Takeshita street is very famous for Korean cosmetics and crazy sweets. It was very fun to see all the different, unique and innovative shops.
As I said before we planned to have dinner in Shinjiku/ Kabukicho. I really wanted to try more Japanese food. The others told me that I have to try Okonomiyaki and therefore we went to a Restaurant specialised in that. We were 6 people at the end. Taka, his friend from work, Tong, his girlfriend, Yura and me. All Japanese speakers. Lucky me.
I was so impressed and happy when we entered the restaurant. It looked so local. I didn’t see one tourist in there, except me. We all took our shoes off and sat on the tatami floor. In the middle of the table was a big pan, where we supposed to cook our own food.
The others ordered everything I needed to try. Okonomiyaki, Yakisoba and something else, but I don’t remember the name. I don’t think many of you know what Okonomiyaki is. It is hard to describe, but I guess the translation is Cabbage pancake? I am not sure, but it taste amazing. You mix the ingredients, which you get in one bowl together and put in a round shape on the grill. We had the version with squid inside, which is the most original and common version. Yakisoba are grilled noodles, which tasted also super good. I loved it.
Before you start eating you have to put your hands together and say “Itadakimase”, which means “Thank you for the meal”. It is just a must for Japanese people!
Afterwards we walked back to the subway and made our way back “home”. The day was amazing. I saw so many new places, ate great food, spend time with friends from school and met new Japanese people. Tokyo is just crazy and always exciting!