Good Indian Girl Goes to Japan (Part 1)
Whether you are motivated by Lost in Translation or are a staunch follower of Miyazaki, traveling to Japan can be a truly existential experience. With opportunities to forest bath, slumber at shrines, or sit on a totally quiet subway cart full of hundreds of people, the country lends itself to effortless serenity and introspection.
Flights from the US can vary greatly. Departures from the US range from $1K – $1.5K. Springtime can be more expensive as it tends to be a favorite amongst travelers as the weather is mild, and the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, adorning the country with a stunning landscape.
When traveling to Japan, you’re probably belligerently excited as are most enthused travelers are, however, it’s advisable to adhere to the tacit and unspoken Japanese rule of not “preserving the atmosphere” and try and refrain from being overly chatty with strangers on the subway.
Tokyo is the capital of Japan with around a population of 9 million. With the highly efficient Tokyo subway, there are several neighborhoods that can easily be experienced in a couple of days for a time- and cash-strapped traveler. However, Japan isn’t the type of place that encourages rushing through anything, so if you have a few extra days, go for a fully tactile experience leaving room for a proper Izakaya meal, stroll through Cat’s Walk in Harajuku,or having that Hollywood-inspired moment drinking a cocktail at the famous Park Hyatt bar.
Tsukiji Fish Market: Jet lag works in your favor when it comes to the Tsukiji fish market, however, highly-sensitive vegetarians may want to sleep through this bloody excursion. This large wholesale fish market is where you will find local chefs buying their supply for the day and is surrounded by small restaurants serving only sea-to-table sushi.
Stroll Through Shibuya: Shibuya is filled with beautiful shops, cobblestone streets, Harajuku-clad residents, and so much more. Just wondering around Shibuya aimlessly is delightful and you’ll come across high fashion shops, vending machine food (that’s quite delicious) and so many other charming corners of Tokyo that fulfills exactly how you imagined Japan to be.
Modern Art Museums: Feeling a little homesick? Known to be the place where a lot of ex-pats live and hang out, Roppongi Hills is a super modern shopping area and residential development. While this wasn’t our favorite neighborhood, it’s worth checking out the Mori Art Museum or the Wako Works of Art.
Sensoji-temple: Want to know your fate? Visit Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple in a less touristy neighborhood called Asakusa, where you can engage in an Omikuji Paper reading that determines your luck. You can also participate in the common Buddhist ritual of lighting incense upon entry that is intended to purify one’s soul. There are also amazing little street vendors all along the outer gate of the temple, where you can enjoy street food ranging from delightful matcha tea or red-bean filled pancakes. Need a cliched sumo wrestling magnet for your friends back home – then this is your place as there are cute Japanese-inspired gifts for everyone.
Next up, Kyoto.