Tokyo. Japan. Evening. Dark (again).
I’m writing this from a minimalist folding table at one end of our tiny but brilliantly designed hotel room. A half-eaten, triangular-shaped egg and tuna sandwich lies untouched on the right side of the computer’s slightly crumbly keyboard.
I just bought the aforementioned, beautifully packaged sandwich at our nearest Lawson (a more luxurious, cleaner, and neater variant of 7/11), where the friendly staff now seems to recognize us after our daily visits. Right now, both Charlotte and I are exhausted and have stocked up for a cozy Sunday evening here in our “incubator” on the 10th floor.
We were provided with plenty of sunshine today and it warmed our cheeks as we walked along the coast in Kanagawa. Kanagawa is probably best known for the woodcut with the great wave by the artist Hokusai.
With us for most of today’s adventure, almost like a painted backdrop, was the iconic Mt. Fuji.
When the commuter train we took from Tokyo Station rolled into the city of Fujisawa after just 40 minutes of travel, we walked with eager steps through the pedestrian street and quickly over the bridge to the island of Enoshima.
Once we had climbed the 254 steep steps to the island’s highest temple area and taken the elevator to the top deck of the observation tower, we were rewarded with a classic view: the sea in the foreground and the almost unbelievably symmetrical, snow-covered Mt. Fuji in the background.
I think we fell in love with Tokyo in 2006 when we were here to shoot and gather impressions for half a dozen travel articles and guides about the Japanese capital for several Swedish travel magazines.
I vividly remember that we scuttled between Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku, Ginza, Asakusa, and Roppongi to gather impressions and visual material. We almost had to buy extra luggage space to bring all the inspiration with us after that visit!
The relationship with Tokyo was strengthened on our next visit in 2015, and now the feelings have come to life again… because just like almost 17 years ago, Tokyo is still incredibly awesome!
The city is grand and small-scale at the same time and always, always interesting: conventional-futuristic, ultra-commercial-meditative, minimalist-extravagant, and decently-perverse. A wonderful contradiction that gripped us then and still hasn’t let go.
Here, I can hardly put my phone down before it goes up again to film or shoot something that has caught my interest. Incidentally, this is the first time I’m in Japan without bringing any other camera than the one in my year-old phone.
Tokyo is still clean, fresh, well-organized, and extremely easy to navigate. Tokyoites are still friendly, polite, and considerate. Not all the new skyscrapers and high-rises are beautiful, but nothing in the city environment or anything else has been left to chance. Everything has its place, and public communication is rather overt than risking being misunderstood. Everything works!
Sure, the Japanese are only marginally better than Thais at stringing external power lines, and the noise level in the subway is sometimes a bit too high. But everything else works so unbelievably well – trains are on time, the mobile data network is super fast, the food is delightfully good and relatively cheap, and you never need to worry about being robbed, assaulted, or deceived.
The weather this November Sunday reminded us of a beautiful Swedish early summer day. After a couple of months of intense heat in Vietnam, it has been really great with Tokyo’s cooler autumn climate. Soon, we’re heading to the country’s southern islands with diving, surfing, and other activities on the agenda.