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Tokyo Tornado

Tokyo Travel Blog

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Takeshita, Harajuku
If my observations are correct, it seems that I've already been in this wonderful place for 10 days. It's a little bit of a surprise - time just flies by here - I must be having more fun than I realize!

Well, so I was just standing in Towers Records this evening, acting like a Min in a Japanese indie music store, when it suddenly dawned upon me (pardon me, I WAS listening to a lot of emo punk at the store) - that this will be the last time, that I will ever be in Tokyo for the first time. Doesn't seem like that much of a big deal, but that moment of epiphany struck a sentimental chord.

After all, being here for the first time basically means that I am allowed to give myself concessions; it's alright to not speak the language, it's not my fault if the service attendants can't understand what I'm saying, it's okay if I make the occasional booboo.
Shibuya Crossing
Basically it's acceptable for me to make a big fool of myself right now, because well, "it's first time here, hajimemashite, yoroshiku onegai shimasu".

It also struck me that I'm really quite serious about this place being my favourite city in the world. Here, it's perfectly all right to be in your own world at the busiest train station in the world. It's also okay to have your own style, to totally embrace your personal identity, to not have to answer to societal norms when it comes to your personal preferences. Of course, manners are a must, but I prefer it that way, anyway.

And the music scene here is like, pyrotechnics in your own backyard. Coming from Singapore, where there are currently no worthy indie clubs to speak of (the last and only one has slowly faded into the mainstream), the more or less "underground" live-houses here showcase homegrown bands everyday, rain or shine.
Shibuya CYCLONE, Pegmap
Mind you, the quality of music played at these live-houses is SOLID. It's just not the shit that your best-friend's boyfriend's brother plays, these bands actually compose their own music (as opposed to the countless cover bands, if I may call them bands, in Singapore). I was beyond impressed, the first time I saw Pegmap play live. "These people actually know what they're doing!", I thought.

So, well and good. Now everyone knows just how much I love Tokyo. It's just that, I'm afraid that the next time I'm here, this place will lose some its surprise-factor. Because right now, I think that it's perfect, and how can an impression of perfection last for long?

Ok, apologies, but these were the thoughts that ran through my head while I was listening to way too much emo rock at Tower Records.
Bepi Doll, my favourite cafe in Harajuku
I did after all, hang out in that section for 4 hours. Haha.

On another note, I think I've more or less got one foot in the door to the more exciting aspects of Tokyo. Been to Shibuya and Harajuku enough times to actually have a favourite cafe in each of those two areas. Am also able to navigate Shinjuku by foot. And manage doze off on the train but get up just in time for my station.

Despite all that, I'm really glad that circumstance has allowed for me to explore the more local parts of Tokyo. My dear Japanese friend, Ai, had graciously invited me to check out her awesome neighbourhood, in Machida. The place is like a mini-Shinjuku, it has everything one could possibly need, from Uniqlo to imported cigarettes to second-hand manga (in a huge complex, at that), to well.
Ai, in a traditional Japanese desert-house
..dango!

She brought me for ramen at a shop called "Minami" (if I'm not wrong), which forms a perpetual queue that never seems to ease off. After a wonderful meal of ramen, which I inhaled at superhuman speed, she brought to a traditional Japanese desert-house. I of course, requested to try dango. She had a nice cup of ice-cream with white dango and other goodies, while I had a plate of 3 types of dango - white dango covered in dango sauce (kind of like a sweetened thick soy sauce which tastes a bit like the sauce you dip tempura into), a new-age fried dango with sakura filling, and a type of water dango, called "mizu manjyuu", if my memory serves. It was all very new, but super subarashii :) I loved the new experience.

Afterwards, we took a walk, and visited an international food shop, selling funky things like wine, coffee, and various pre-mixed powders from countries all over the world.
Dango!
We also check out this cigarette shop selling imported cigarettes - I hadn't even realized that Marlboros are not commonly sold off the street! I then bought a special concoction that prevents the smoke from my cigarette from smelling - you'd think I was inhaling spearmint gum instead - and it worked! Much to my delight of course, now I won't have to feel so bad when smoking in front of non-smoker friends :)

Plenty more to say, but I think I'll give it a rest for now. Am meeting Sandy tomorrow for an international speakers' convention at which she's giving a speech, and will be joining Ai for her local Toastmasters meeting on Sunday.

It seems that time stops for no one in Tokyo - even for the most sluggish among us. I'm loving life here, very grateful for the friendship that I have found, and hope that my experiences will help me become a better person in the long run.
mickeyd302 says:
Very nice entry. It has always been my dream to visit and maybe live in Japan since I was a little kid. You make me want to go there even more now.
Posted on: Jun 13, 2008
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Takeshita, Harajuku
Takeshita, Harajuku
Shibuya Crossing
Shibuya Crossing
Shibuya CYCLONE, Pegmap
Shibuya CYCLONE, Pegmap
Bepi Doll, my favourite cafe in Ha…
Bepi Doll, my favourite cafe in H…
Ai, in a traditional Japanese dese…
Ai, in a traditional Japanese des…
Dango!
Dango!
With Ai, outside the ramen place, …
With Ai, outside the ramen place,…
Shibuya in the evening
Shibuya in the evening
Bepi Doll, my favourite cafe in Ha…
Bepi Doll, my favourite cafe in H…
Outside Machida Station
Outside Machida Station
Ai, with Machida as the backdrop
Ai, with Machida as the backdrop
Traditional Japanese desert-house
Traditional Japanese desert-house
My favourite cafe in Shibuya
My favourite cafe in Shibuya
Harajuku on Fire
Harajuku on Fire
Shibuya Crossing
Shibuya Crossing
Tokyo
photo by: maka77