Tokyo, the last days

Just so many small bars

Electric nigths

Busy Shinjuku Station

Septembre ’13

I’ve spent a full week exploring different parts of Tokyo. I didn’t have too much planning to do for the trip, just getting the usual maps and confirming that the ferry I wanted to take to Japan’s northern island, Hokkaido, was real. It would be the perfect place to stack-up on things if you’d been gone for some time, but this is just the start, and there isn’t much I need yet.

Still I did a bit of shopping. Managed to lost a bearing cap on my bike pedal. Awesome sushi. A thousand weirdly-dressed teenage girls outside what seemed like a J-pop event. Crazy fish market. City view. Smog. And top it up with the Sri Lanka’s culture festival of Tokyo.

There’s a lot of concrete in Tokyo. On the sad, rainy days, it really hits. How all this grey is looking at you. But a lot of that is made up by a quantity of parks and temple grounds. There is so many of these temples and shrines, I think they count them by the thousand only in Tokyo. And it’s the woodwork on the temples, along with the roofing, that impresses me so much. The details in the carving and the red or often plain-colored wooden structure. The impressive curved roofs with their complex tile work. Always well calculated, never over-the-top, direct example of Japanese craftsmanship.

I spent the last night having dinner at an izakaya, a japanese style of small resto/bar. Without any pictures on the menu and no english speaking staff, it proved to be quite fun. If you’re alone, you’ll usually sit at the bar, which is also the kitchen. The waiters and cooks take your order directly and are always yelling for some reason. You start by getting a small rolled wet towel to clean your hands and face and you’re then offered an appetizer, like beans or cabbage, with your order of beer. After that, it’s time to practice your japanese food vocabulary. Here, words like ‘chicken’ and ‘pork’ are very useful. It’s good times, and it’s not too expensive. If you’re (un-)lucky like me, you’ll meet some japanese local and he’ll make you try nattō, japanese’s infamous fermented soy beans. Like chopped beans in a sticky mozzarella-like substance, it’s taste is horrible and it’s a very popular breakfast in the North. Yummy!

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