When In Manila and you try to find a vacation spot that will make you surely forget about home and all the things you want to leave behind, don’t think twice and plan for Tokyo Japan right in that instant!
I was a kid who always dreamt of the wonderful city of Tokyo. I’ve always loved those anime shows often seen on local channels in the morning and during the afternoon after class. I grew up watching these anime shows, learning about Japanese culture and society and it somehow grew on me until today. I found interest in Japanese music, and became a fan of the cultural beauty and technology of Japan. I came to Tokyo Japan to visit my girlfriend and her family and to what I was expecting about Tokyo, I was shocked at how incredibly stunning this beautiful city is! Marvelous integration of the original culture of Japan with their state of the art technology. Well preserved culture and the fun here-and-there’s that you will find in every corner of Tokyo. From advanced technology to cute figurines, to wild fashion. Everything is in Tokyo, and it is more than enough to captivate you to fall in love with the city.
First thing I noticed upon arriving was how fashionable almost the whole population of Japan is. I arrived Tokyo at a freezing 7 degrees and my winter jacket made me realize how Tokyo’s 7 is way way far from Manila’s scorching 32. So much for weather judgement. The cold Tokyo weather was fitting for fashion layering and for those thigh high Japanese leggings and boots. I also came to realize that those face masks most Japanese people wear isn’t just for flower pollen season. I realized it after burning my cheeks from wind burn, great. Funny though since even those face masks have designs for a little fashion touch.
Most fashionable culture I have ever seen
Japan, as we all know, is very devoted to it’s culture and history. Even with its society’s high tech lifestyle (trust me, even the comfort rooms hauled me in with its high tech features), the people still largely preserve the old Japanese architecture style and incorporate it with the modern technology. I came to this Ramen restaurant that was designed in a beautiful old Japanese style manner. The Ramen restaurant had a vendo machine outside where you insert your Yen bills or coins, and then you choose your order from there. After getting the receipt from the vendo machine, you just give the receipt to the waiter and your order arrives as soon as it is done (at lightning speed compared to local service mind you). It is just very refreshing to see these modern design marvels along beautifully crafted old Japanese style architectures. As to what Miley Cyrus would sing it “you’ve got the best of both worlds”.
Who doesn’t love cars, right? Well at least for men, who doesn’t? Japan, home base for Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Lexus etc. definitely should have some sights to offer on their streets right? Well, JDM is a car enthusiast’s term for “Japanese Domestic Market”, a term used for Japanese styled or Japanese modified cars and a lot of those oozingly sexy and powerful beasts swarm the streets of Tokyo. Japanese motorists are known for full customization of their wheels, obviously enough. I saw tons and tons of Ferrari stallions prancing glorious traffic free streets of Tokyo. Aside from JDM goodies, Tokyo streets are swarmed by exotic European cars and American Muscle cars. Even modified ones! I even saw 2 young ladies each driving an Aston Martin. Wow, so much for my car enthusiast ego. Japan allows left hand drive cars even though it is a right hand drive country.
Now onto shopping. Did I mention that shopping in Tokyo is tempting? As in VERY tempting? As in “who cares if my credit card goes wild” tempting? In the Philippines and in America, we usually go to malls to shop right? We go to malls and hop in to each store to check what they have in store and shop. In Tokyo it is HUGELY different. You don’t go shopping inside malls. You go shopping through streets, streets filled with shops that has a building each. Imagine, a whole building for each brand. How can you escape not buying something when almost virtually everything for the brand is right there in-front of you? How about 12 floors for Uniqlo? Seering through the building of Uniqlo in Ginza Tokyo and shopping it off at Uniqlo Shinjuku definitely made me ignore SM Mall of Asia’s Uniqlo opening. So word of advice, if you are with your parents, try luring them to these shops. You might just get lucky they shop for you as well.
And of course, how can I forget about Harajuku, Japan’s most famous fashion area. As I was walking along the long street of fashion shops and stalls, people were flaunting different styles of fashion. This area is probably where most fashionable people always crowd at. They crowd here to shop and sometimes to hang with other people trending the same fashion. Here in Japan, even fashion has their own culture and sub cultures. An example of these fashion cultures is the Ganguro style which usually shows Japanese women having extremely tanned skin and very bright contrasting make-up and hair color. Another one would be the Gyaru, this one is a little hard to interpret for me. My Japanese friends and also my girlfriend pointed me to Gyaru trending women, but I don’t understand it much. I do notice that they often wear very high heels, short shorts and sexy tops but some of them are contrasting but they state it is still Gyaru. Harajuku is located in Shibuya by the way. Speaking of Shibuya, I found Hachiko’s statue! Hachiko is the Akita dog who became famous because of the story of his remarkable loyalty to his master.
While I was in Tokyo by the way, I was extremely lucky enough to meet SOULHEAD. A Japanese Hip-hop RnB sister duo who I often listen to a lot. I like their style and I always loved their songs. They are composed of Tsugumi and Yoshika who are sisters. They also write songs for other famous Japanese artists. They also had songs which had collaborations with artists like Koda Kumi. They were so kind to have coffe/tea with us. They even signed my SOULHEAD album and took pictures with us! Extremely nice for really talented and famous musicians. You better check their music out!
Now, Japan is very known for culture and tradition. So I definitely had to head to the temples and shrines. These are wonderful marvels of architecture and art, I was shocked at how much more they were captivating in person than on media. I am astounded by how the Japanese have maintained all their historical artifacts to their pristine condition. I also noticed that people do love wearing their traditional Kimonos. When I headed to the temples and shrines, some local visitors even went through wearing their Kimono. Even on regular train rides, some people head to picnics wearing a Kimono. They indeed love their culture.
Now this is where my diet broke and I gained 10lbs in 30 days, yes, food. Oh yes, Japanese cuisine! Just thinking about it makes me hungry. Sushi? Check. Donburi? Check. Everything else on the menu? I’ll have them all as well! Wow, almost every single hour I was eating something. Every food I see on stalls or on the street, I just had to taste it. How can you not go food tripping when it’s Japanese food and the food just looks so enticingly beautiful you’d think it’s a photoshoped picture? Even bagels in 7-11 looked like bagels from a wallet buster restaurant. Scrumptious and authentic Japanese food, incredible. I have never tasted Japanese cuisine any better than at its homeland itself. And the serving is very generous as well! Great, now I’m craving.
While I was in Japan, I just had to go to Tokyo Disneyland. I actually spent my birthday there! I had so much fun that my stomach started feeling weird from riding almost all roller coaster rides and other fast twisting-turning rides. And yeah, from eating and eating. Probably the most memorable birthday for me ever!
When “Japan” springs up, what do we often remember right away? Anime! Yes, anime have invaded our childhood. It has invaded global media and almost every person loves at least one anime series or grew-up to at least an anime series. I went to Akihabara and it just had tons and tons of electronics, gadgets and anime stuff! This is my most favorite part of Japan! I actually went here multiplt times since a whole day was not enough to cover everything that was in Akihabara. I was literally going through all the buildings. I even tried out a maid cafe there. It was extremely expensive but the maids were funny and entertaining. Akihabara had tons and tons of Anime and tech goodies ranging from cosplay costumes, console games, stuffed characters, arcades, anime memorabilia, figurines. You name it, it’s there! For the die hard Otaku or just an average anime lover, even just as a tourist, you will definitely love Akihabara the so-called “electric town”. I could probably entertain myself by going there every single week. I love Gundam, do you love Gundam?
I was lucky enough to reach the opening of Diver City Tokyo in Odaiba. It’s a big shopping mall in Odaiba which houses the Gundam museum named “Gundam Front Tokyo”. I bought a ticket for the special area and presentation of the museum and I was able to watch a 360 degree full feature film of the Gundam history. As well as seeing a half-body life-size Strike Freedom Gundam hidden inside the museum. Awesome! The museum just recently opened as well and I just had to go there for the love of Gundam. They had the life-size Gundam on display at the entrance of Diver City Tokyo.
I bet some girl readers are waiting for Hello Kitty’s part. Yes, Hello Kitty is definitely a celebrity here. She has her own shops and even has her own shop inside Diver City Tokyo. She’s such a celebrity that Hello Kitty products are quite pricey. Even pricier than Disneyland products. Lucky for me I’m not a girl. Makes me wonder how those Japanese school girls get to flood their cellphone with humongous piles of Hello Kitty and Disney character key-chains. Must be worth a fortune.
I cannot believe how much more beautiful and captivating Japan is than how I expected. I mean, I loved and dreamt about Japan even before my high school days and I knew that I would be taken by this city. But when I arrived and during my trip, I found Japan to be much more beautiful than to what media and to what my expectation would be. I truly left my heart in Tokyo. I cannot wait to be back in Japan. I would love to tour Japan and Osaka is the next city to visit. I must head back soon!
When In Manila, you’ll definitely leave a part of you behind in the wonderful city of Tokyo.
When In Tokyo, fall in love with this fashionable, artsy and high tech city