Full Stop Tokyo, Japan, November 2015

This occasionally happens. I arrive at a new destination, ready to switch off of work-mode and all the little anxieties that have chased me from the office and through my rushed packing or my mad dash to the airport. I take a few deep breaths, slide the “just go with it” attitude button to full strength, arrive at a new destination and am ready to absorb and witness and experience……

…..And just sit in my hotel.

Japan. Taipei. Krabi. Several times when traveling cross-country in my twenties. I usually try to guilt myself out of it. Drag myself out of the hotel thinking once I’m moving inertia will take over… but sometimes I just can’t. I’ve hit a wall. Sleep, stupid tv or a book, and room service are about all I can manage. Would it be different if I traveled with someone? Probably. Although I clearly need to take it easy at these points I don’t necessarily need to be a complete hermit. But sometimes trying to communicate in yet one more language and figure out where to go next is exhausting. So without someone there willing to pick up the slack and lead on, I go hermit.

Should I just stay home? It’s hard to tell. Most of the time even when I’m boarding the plane exhausted from the work week I still perk up once in new territory. It’s hard to guess which way it will go.

So after wasting 12 out of 36 hours in Tokyo in my hotel, I eventually got out into the city to explore. And walk. For miles.

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Watching the bullet train arrive for my trip into Tokyo.

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Shinjuku park Tokyo Japan

I expected Tokyo to be more hectic than it was. And to be fair, there was one moment in a train station where I rocked back on my heels when my mind finally processed the mass of people going every which direction between me and the turnstiles. But my experience of Tokyo was comparable to any other big city – Hong Kong, New York, even Atlanta in some parts.

solo travel Tokyo Japan

Maybe that’s why most of the busiest areas didn’t register strongly to me. I went to the Shibuya crossing – an eight way “scramble” crossing (you can cross in any direction at the light.)

Shibuya crossing solo travel Tokyo Japan

Harajuku solo travel Tokyo Japan

And I walked through Harajuku, which is a big shopping avenue with some cool hipster-vibe side streets and shops. I rode the elevated Yamanote line and stopped at a number of major metro stops. It wasn’t nearly as overwhelming as I anticipated. It’s all quite city-like. Or have I now just been in Asia too long?

Meiji gate Tokyo Japan

Ok. You’re right. This isn’t “any old city” fare.

Westin Tokyo JapanThen again, the view of Tokyo Tower (a vermillion cousin to the Eiffel Tower) from my hotel’s top floor bar while I drank whisky was one of those moments where I thought “wow, what is my life?” So okay, Tokyo did have an effect on me after all. And yeah, I guess I did drag myself from my room to the top floor lounge to drink whisky in Tokyo. Because why not?

In fact, I think Tokyo’s biggest impact was a lasting impression of “I could live here.”

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Funny how I evaluate so many places that ways nowadays. I should be careful, lest karma catch up.

 

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