First Time-Tokyo.

Trip Start Mar 08, 2010
Trip End Mar 15, 2010

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Flag of Japan  , Kanto,
Monday, March 8, 2010

     The Tokyo Metropolitan area has over 26 million people and is the largest urban area in the world. When I first heard about this , I told myself... "what's stopping me"? That day I went to a Travel Center and booked a non-stop flight to Tokyo Narita Airport. Tokyo does not have a landmark like Times Square- it has hundreds of them, bright neon lights, random vending machines and friendly people. Tokyo kills New York and Toronto. But the thought of spending a week in Tokyo by myself was crazy to think, but nothing was stopping me. 

Arriving in Tokyo jet-legged not knowing how I'm getting to my hostel it was a wake up call that I was on my own for a week. My week in Japan was filled with every crazy thing you can do. Karaoke, Mt Fuji, not your everyday vending machines, and friendly Japanese people. But as I was going crazy over all the neon lights and millions of people , I thought to myself, "Was Tokyo always like this?" In fact it wasn't. Behind all the hustle Tokyo had an old side with Buddhist temples, and several hot springs. Tokyo was everything and more than I thought it would be.

I landed in Tokyo Narita at 4:00pm local time, jet legged and not knowing what's next. The one thing that was on my mind was Customs and Immigrations. Were they going to let a 16 year old into the country traveling by himself? Well they did, and with a new passport stamp, I was on my way into the largest urban area in the world. With my backpack on my back I made my way to the JR rail and transit station, and after hours of going over the train map nothing prepared me for the real thing. I walked up to a ticket screen and stood there not knowing what to do, with so many lines, trains, stops and platforms. I was dumfounded. It's one of those things that's so complicated that you just stand there. But as i was standing there a friendly station attendant came up to me and asked where I was going I told her Asakusa and with a push of a few buttons she took my money and before I knew it I was on my way to platform 2. Did I ever feel stupid. After about an hour on the train I made it to Asakusa. From there I was told that my Hostel was just a short walk from the station, but what I was not told was from which of the six exits. After an hour of walking in and out of exits I made it to the hostel safe and sound.

Tokyo has dozens of Times Squares in and around Shibuya. After a long night's sleep I was now ready to take on Tokyo. My first stop was Shibuya, or what some people call the center of Tokyo, where thousands of people gather every few minutes to cross the famous six-way intersection. It was time to try the subway again . This time I only had to take one line for about 15 minutes and I made it there with no troubles. Shibuya is just like Times Square, but a lot bigger- and by a lot I mean huge. When I first walked out of the subway station I had to blink twice; it was like a new world with big bright neon lights. Every corner there was a new Times Square over and over again, it was straight up crazy! After about 2 hours of walking around Shibuya filling up all the excitement and energy, I took some time out for lunch. I found a small little local restaurant away from the excitement of Shibuya. the first thing I saw when I walked in was a vending machine right in the center with tables around it. (Is it me or do the Japanese love vending machines??) I found out that's how you order your food: just like a vending machine in Canada you pick what you want, put the money in and no the food doesn't fall to the bottom for you to take out, you sit down and 5 minutes letter they bring it out for you. A little twist to the everyday vending machine! After my first lunch in Tokyo I continued to walk the streets of Shibuya for a few more hours with some sore feet I went back to the hostel for the night and took one last look at Shibuya and its craziness. Neon lights light up the skies of Tokyo. My first day in Tokyo was over and I was on high on life. My first Impression on Tokyo was amazing; I had never thought that Japan was like this; so much excitement and energy.
When you first think of Tokyo, the first thing that pops up in most people's head is big bright lights and thousands of people, but the one thing I was asking myself " Was Tokyo always like this"? What came before all the bright lights? well, I ask the old little lady that ran the hostel I was staying at and found out that years ago, Tokyo was full of Buddhist temples and Buddhist onsens (hot springs). I decided to take some time out from the hustle and bustle of the center of Tokyo and spend a few days around Asakusa.
"Low city" Asakusa is one of Tokyo's few districts which have have preserved a certain atmosphere than Shibuya; it's like stepping back in time, a time where religion, not technology, took over the world, a time where people took the time to stop and think. My hostel was on the main street in Asakusa and I had no idea what was around the corner. I was sick of walking so I rented a bike for about $30. I hopped on the bike and went up and around every street in Ausakusa, then I came up to Sensoji. Sensoji is Tokyo's largest Buddhist temple. It was amazing, like I was god walking up to my own plaza. Before the temple lies a long walkway with little open air stores on the side selling crafts and food. I spent a good 10 minutes just standing there taking it in. Sensoji temple was majestic. It was like something out of a movie. The temple lies right up there with the Taj Mahal in my view. I made my way down the long street talking with the street vender's enjoying what really was the "good life". I took a few pictures and got blessed at the temple. Being blessed was very moving; it's something that I'll never forget. After a long day I got on my bike and made my way back to my hostel. Asakusa was a place of peace, a different way of life from Shibuya and main Tokyo. There's something about Tokyo and Japan. It's really for anyone

Mt Fuji was on my mind all night. Mt Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan at 12,389ft. I picked the wrong time of the year to hike up Mt Fuji and climbing out side of the official season is extremely dangerous, but that didn't stop me from taking a day trip out to the beast. As I made my way to Mt Fuji I looked out the window and spotted the mountain. What can I say: it was simply magical. I only had a few hours to walk around the park and take in all that Mt Fuji as to offer. I wanted to cross off "Hike Mt Fuji" on my bucket list but I came at the wrong time, That didn't stop me from enjoying Mt Fuji and Japan. We all have a limited number of days on this plant and every day I get to see a new part of this world I fell lucky. 

I survived a week in Tokyo by myself at 16, crazy to think. Tokyo was amazing. It's a city full of many crazy things from bright neon lights to an old city feel. I never thought Japan would be like this; the people were so friendly and made the trip. Shibuya was something else. If you ever get the chance to go, take it and don't look back. As I make my way to the airport I take one last look at Tokyo, a city with ambition, a city with energy. A long 8 hour flight is on my to-do-list. Back to Canada I go.

 Tim Hortons
Surrey, BC Canada 
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