15 months later, and I've come to the end of my media from Japan. It's bittersweet, and it signifies that we need to go back ASAP!
For our last 6 days in Japan we stayed in a little flat right near the heart of Shibuya. You may have heard of Shibuya Crossing, the busiest crosswalk in the world. I always thought that the crowds of Japan would stress me out but I think the order and politeness that are central to Japanese culture helped it never feel overwhelming. It was a super fun area to stay in.
We did as much as we could do without exhausting ourselves while we were in Tokyo over the total 8 days that we were there, and it still felt like we only did about 5% of what there is to do. It is an incredible city. We spent what seemed like one whole day in just one building for goodness sake. An art museum, a city view, food, coffee, a giant spider!
While we didn't make it to the famous 4 AM fish auction, we did enjoy seeing the outer shops of the Tsukiji fish market, trying some new things (tiny dried fish in as many varieties as flavoured popcorn!) eating fresh sushi and eating incredible ramen at the best Ramen shop in the area, if not the city. Note the sign in the last photo of this set, and go there.
One of our favourite things to do is check out cool and quality coffee shops in any city and this was no exception in Japan. We got to visit a shop in the basement of a business building, the fancy chain of the current (at the time) world barista champion, a coffee shop that was also a library, and this adorable little coffee stand I'd been following on Instagram in a more upscale neighbourhood. I truly love every part of this. The taste of coffee, the relaxing atmosphere, the little details. It is our way to slow down, relax, and go places we wouldn't typically go amidst the typical tourist outings.
Kappabashi, the district that made shoppers out of the both of us. A whole district devoted to kitchenwares!? It was a bit of a dream. From knife stores, to bowl stores, to bakeware stores, to stores full of those little plastic figurines in the shape of any food item you can imagine...
We, of course, bought ONE OF EACH
That large building in the photo above is the Tokyo Skytree, where we spent our last night in Tokyo. This leads me to really the greatest part of visiting Japan: Getting to spend so much time with Colin's family. It was so great being in Shibuya and having Colin's cousin "drop by" after work to grab dinner with us. Having so many different opportunities to get to know his cousin and wife was such a gift, and took it from the level of a familial visit to hanging out with friends. We hope they visit us soon!
There is so much more that we did that I know we are forgetting. Even though I didn't take pictures of it all to aid my memory, I hope my mind recalls those special moments to dwell on. The catbus film in the Miyazaki museum, running through the rain to find a small tattoo shop, watching Japanese college students play open mic at a local pub, making friends with an American videographer from Kyoto in Starbucks... I love it all.
My final words of advice before we close this trip: while trying to experience as much delicious ramen as possible is a noble pursuit, do not try and fit a large bowl of Tonkotsu inbetween breakfast and catching a train to the airport with all your luggage. You will feel uncomfortably full. You will feel stressed. You will miss your train.
Ramen is meant to be singularly enjoyed and Japanese trains are never late. :)