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Published: August 25th 2015
And before I knew it, I'd come to my final destination in Japan, the capital of Tokyo. It was a longish 6h bus ride from Nagoya, but as usual thanks to the incredibly efficient and pleasant JR Express, the ride was quite a breeze as I've come to expect in this wonderful country.
What's there to say about Tokyo that hasn't already been said? It's one of the largest metropolises in the world, both by population and physical size, and certainly one of the most storied Asian cities, especially in modern times, and in light of Japan's emergence as a global economic power in the 80s. It really ought to be considered an amalgamation of several cities or large districts, each of which would probably qualify as a meaningful destination in its own right. And the famous area names just roll of the tongue for anyone who's even tangentially familiar with Japan -- Shibuya, Shinjuku, Roppongi, Harajuku, Ginza... Even though this technically wasn't my first time in Tokyo (I'd been as a child decades ago, but with very faded memories), I've always more or less had to imagine these places every time I read about them somewhere. Now I could
Once upon a time during the real estate bubble in Japan during the late 80s and early 90s, the value of this piece of land was adjudged to be worth more than the entire state of California in the US. How times have changed...
see for myself as a adult what these places actually look like, maid cafes and cosplay et al. And also the famed Tsukiji Fish Market, that I'd read and heard so much about - I was finally able to see it for myself, and to taste the (presumably freshest possible) sashimi in the izakayas there.
And so with that, after almost a full month, I'd come to the end of my stay here in the Land of the Rising Sun. Not wanting to sound cliched, but it really seemed like only yesterday when I disembarked the ferry from Busan at Fukuoka, a little tentative as to what the country would bring, after such a pleasant time in Korea. It's a little difficult (and probably unfair) to compare the two, Japan being bigger, more populous, and with its own unique culture, despite their proximity and to some limited extent, shared history. This being my first real visit, I think I've seen a lot of what the country has to offer, from the uniquely Japanese quotidian minutiae (capsule hotels, meal ticket vending machines, public baths, bum-washing toilets) to the broader aspects like its contentious military history, and imperial and spiritual past.
The people's famed courtesy, politeness and efficiency was certainly not lost on me, and I saw what a civilised place can really look like, and how well its people can behave. Nihon, you have been inspiring, and I hope to be back again before long!
Stayed at Khaosan Tokyo Samurai Capsule, Oak Hostel Cabin and Khaosan Tokyo Origami.
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