Arriving early in the morning to pouring rain, grey skies and greyer towering buildings isn’t the best way to form an impression of a place. These factors rendered my first day in Tokyo fairly uneventful, mostly making plans for the coming days when the weather would improve and allow for better sightseeing. Having said that, even after all my days here I must admit I preferred the other places I visited in Japan, the nature of the capital is a little too busy and imposing with not quite enough to contrast the grey and concrete.
The next morning my first plan was to get a view over the city. There are plenty of buildings and towers around where you can pay for the privilege, but there is also the government buildings where you can get nearly as high up for no cost at all. It’s always nice to get a panoramic view of where I’m about to explore, to see the landmarks from a distance. On a completely clear day it’s even possible to see Mount Fuji. From there it wasn’t far to one of the few gardens dotted around the cityscape, a worthwhile escape to find the ever increasing number of blossoming trees. Photographers flocked in great numbers around the more impressive of the trees, all looking for the perfect shots of spring. Further walking took me to one of the bigger temples in the area, but after perhaps being spoiled by Kyoto it was nothing too special.
The following day I visited a slightly more impressive temple, but mostly for its surrounding area which was filled with market stalls and interesting shopping streets. It was ridiculously busy with crowds of people shuffling along, but you could find everything from food to samurai swords to the more tacky side of souvenirs. One thing it seems Tokyo is good for is shopping, you can probably find anything here in varying qualities and prices, but there’s only so much shopping I can take which is why I gladly left for some quiet time back at the hostel. That night I went out to my first ever gig in Japan, to see the post-rock band Mono performing a special one off show in their homeland. Absolutely outstanding performance and immensely powerful live, but it was a little odd to see them play from 7 through to 8.30 with no support bands leaving the night feeling ended a little prematurely.
After having mastered the Tokyo subway and train systems I thought for my final day I would do some more walking between areas. I started in the pleasant gardens of the imperial palace and wandered onwards into Ginza, a high-end shopping area with over-priced everything. The different city districts did have some varying character as shown next by Tsjukiji and its large fish market filled with restaurant owners shouting about what I presumed was the morning’s fresh catch. Another garden gave some relief once again but then it was back into the fray of shoppers and commuters.
I hope I haven’t come across too down about Tokyo, I think it was just I enjoyed the other places before so greatly, and there is still the Japanese culture here that I’ve found myself enjoying. It’s been nice not feeling as short in Japan… and everyone seems somewhat quiet and reserved, which suits me. They understand queuing here possibly even more than the English, and another thing the rest of the world could learn from is definitely heated toilet seats. Japan has been a short but wonderful experience and I’m definitely glad I added it on to the end of my travels. The end of my travels! I won’t ramble here as it will seem out of place, but tomorrow I finally fly home… I’m looking forward to seeing everyone, though I’m not so sure how much I’m looking forward to going back to normal and the perpetual ambivalence towards England. Either way, there will always be more journeys. The old wanderer walks, for evermore and evermore.