I had the privilege of finally broadening my Japanese exploration outside of airports, train stations, and strange internet cafes. The past few days completely changed my views about this lively, eccentric city. I didn't have any intentions to explore Tokyo on this trip but it just sort of landed in my lap due to some stand-by struggles. I had traveled through Japan once before but it was sadly a string of unfortunate, peculiar events of which I will spare you the details. Nevertheless, I was eager to see what Tokyo is all about so I scrolled through Hostelworld and Booking.com until I came across somewhere magical..
Toco Tokyo is a traditional Japanese style home turned into a hostel with delicate, minimalist decor. The charming lobby and bar area is decorated with dried flowers along the walls and colorful wooden stairs. This little sanctuary is an oasis nestled in the midst of the city.
Once you walk through the bar area, double doors open to the outside into what looks like a Japanese tea garden. There is a beautiful walking or meditation area with rock sculptures dispersed throughout the greenery and stone paths. The footpath leads up to a sliding door where you leave your shoes in your cubby and put on house slippers. The wooden floors and "shojis," or Japanese style sliding doors, open up to a large living space with beds on the floor for the staff. A quaint kitchen area with the same humble yet intricate details provide for a lovely space where the crew cooks breakfast for guests each morning. Breakfast at Toco Tokyo includes corn on the cob, miso soup, and "onigiri," which is essentially minced tuna packed inside of a rice ball.
Tokyo, in general, surprised me quite a bit. The area that I stayed in has such a charming character, decorated with succulents, flowers, and old-fashioned bicycles.
I did not spend too much time in Tokyo before heading off to Myanmar but there was one spot I will never forget, Shibuya Crossing. It is supposedly the world's busiest intersection where up to 2,500 people cross the street in just one light. It is said that 45,000 people cross this four way intersection in a 30 minute period...! Many of the people were just tourists, like me, taking photos and standing in disbelief amongst the organized chaos.
The rest of my time in Tokyo was spent people-watching, eating sushi, slurping noodles, and getting lost with my camera. It sounds like I have described this sweet, sincere little neighborhood but as we all know, that is not Tokyo. The culture and style in Tokyo is about as diverse as their varieties of sushi. The streets are filled with human sized Pokemons, eclectic outfits, and all the different hair colors imaginable. You will find yourself amused and lost amongst the many towering H&M, McDonalds, and Starbucks just as any other bustling metropolitan of the world. Since I was only in this massive city for just a few short days, I was not even able to touch the surface of Tokyo's depths. I kept some Japanese Yen tucked away as a promise to return and give this city the proper time that it deserves. Until then, I am off to Myanmar to explore the best kept secrets of Southeast Asia.