Well, we blinked. We tried our hardest to resist the impulse, but three seconds after stepping off the plane, we blinked… and here we are, a month later. Understand this: Tokyo warps time. This city causes hours, days and weeks to collapse into a blur. A colorful, wild and entertaining blur, but still just a blur.
We knew it was going to be crazy. We’d seen pictures! We had read online accounts and talked to people who’d been there. Sure, Harajuku was going to be nuts, especially on the shopping street of Takeshita-dori, but we were ready. I mean, this is still Earth, people are people, and a crowd is a crowd. Am I right? It can’t be anything we haven’t seen a million times before.
It’s hard to say exactly when Tokyo started to frighten me, but it was probably during our visit to Yoyogi Park. While watching Japanese rockabillies bounce-step to Joan Jett, I moved out of the way for a couple dressed in… let’s call it “Victorian Gothic Steampunk, Pastels Version.” And that’s when it hit home: something’s not quite right in this city.
The streetcars which once crisscrossed Tokyo have almost completely disappeared, made obsolete by the faster underground metro. But in the northern neighborhood of Minoya, we found a lonely tram which has survived into the present day. The Arakawa Line runs to Waseda via Asukayama Park, where we disembarked to visit a museum dedicated to paper.
Its reputation as the pleasure center of Tokyo has long since faded, the Kabuki theaters have relocated and geishas mostly vanished, but the northeastern neighborhood of Asakusa still boasts a few worthwhile attractions apart from the temple of Sensō-ji.
Nakamise-dōri, a pedestrian shopping street which leads directly to the temple of Sensō-ji, is always busy, but today it was packed. All eyes were cast upwards as a 60-foot dragon wound its way through the air, above the crowd. It was March 18th and Sensō-ji was celebrating the Kinryu no Mai, or Golden Dragon Dance.
With over 60,000 employees and billions of dollars in yearly commerce, Tsukiji is the biggest fish market in the world. The action begins every morning at 3am, as shipments of fresh and frozen fish from around the world arrive over land and sea.
Built in 1997 by Argentine-American architect Raphael Viñoly, the Tokyo International Forum is found in the center of the city, next to Tokyo Station. The spacious exhibition hall stretches across four buildings connected by a curving glass roof. Steel, glass, sharp angles and plenty of light make the complex ideal for a photographer.
After arriving in a new city, we often try and find a panoramic viewpoint for a bird’s eye view of our new home. So our first activity in Tokyo was destined to be the SkyTree which, at 634 meters, is the world’s tallest tower.