Tokyo was my least favorite among the places I visited in Japan. It’s because I’m not a huge fan of big and very crowded cities. And Tokyo is definitely a very big and very crowded city.
We arrived very late at night from Takayama, so we only had one day to tour the city. Takayama and Shirakawa-go were much colder, Tokyo doesn’t snow a lot. But when we arrived in Tokyo we saw some snow on the roads. It snowed heavily the day before, and the news said it was the coldest in Tokyo in 48 years.
We were staying in Shinjuku, and our apartment was very close to the train station. Tokyo’s railway system is truly amazing. I got lost in the subway, something that never happened to me before. I never thought that one subway line could have four different routes and two underground levels. It made me feel like I came from the Dark Ages.
We were too tired to wake up early on the following day, our last day in Japan. Since we really love to walk, we walked a few kilometers to the next train station, Shinjuku station, where we took the JR line to the famous tourist spots in Tokyo.
Our first stop was Shibuya. It’s a place every dog lover should not miss. If you’ve seen the movie about Hachiko then you’ll know what I mean. It was there where the original Hachiko, who became a symbol of loyalty in Japan, used to wait for his dead master to come home everyday for nine years. Just go to the Hachiko exit and as soon as you step out of the station you’ll see his statue. It’s also where you can find the famous Shibuya crossing, which is known to be one of the busiest intersections in the world.
Our next stop was Ueno Park. I have to admit we were disappointed when we got there. It looked like a barren wasteland, with its lifeless cherry blossom trees and deserted spaces. It would have looked beautiful in the spring, but we chose the wrong season to visit. Just a fun fact, Ueno is the name of Hachiko’s master.
Next we went to Tokyo station and wandered along the nearby streets. It was almost sunset and by this time the cold had taken its toll on me since I didn’t bring the jacket that had kept me alive for the past few days. I thought that Tokyo wasn’t as cold as the other places we’ve been to so I would get by without it. I was wrong, and we stopped at a McDonald’s to drink hot coffee. While I was drinking my coffee I looked around the crowded but unusually quiet McDonald’s, the most silent McDonald’s I’ve ever been to, and I realized how lonely life is in Tokyo. It is one of the most advanced cities in the world, and it is where people eat quietly by themselves in lonely restaurants. Most restaurants in Tokyo only have counter tables and people come in to eat by themselves for about five minutes and leave. Tokyo is very crowded, but I could barely see people walking in groups and talking and laughing with each other. And I asked myself, is this the epitome of urban living?
We had dinner at one of those restaurants where you order your meals from machines. It was so amazing how meals arrived very fast, and the ramen and meat were very good.
Strangely we didn’t feel sad to leave Tokyo early on the following morning.