Tokyo: My General Impressions

Me in Odaiba, Tokyo with Rainbow Bridge in the background.

The grand Tokyo Skytree, completed in 2012.
Recently, I took my first solo trip. Location: Tokyo, Japan. Although I spent only six days there, Tokyo has officially become my favorite city in Asia so far.

While planning my trip, many people told me going to Tokyo would be a waste of time as it is very similar to Taipei, where I currently live. Indeed, the Taiwanese do borrow several elements of Japanese pop culture (e.g., the Taiwan Hello Kitty craze), and both are bustling cities with many skyscrapers, restaurants, shopping streets, etc. Nevertheless, for years I have wanted to go to Tokyo and see the city for myself. Admittedly, when I was a kid, I wanted to go to Japan because I was an avid anime fan. Yet my teenage and later adult self who was (and is) highly interested in other aspects of Japanese culture (e.g., the Showa era, especially kayōkyoku; cuisine) wanted to experience Japan firsthand.

As I explored the options of where to go in the city, I became increasingly excited about my 3-hour hop from Taipei to Tokyo. Additionally, the trip was a gift to myself for my 25th birthday. What better way to celebrate turning a quarter century and surviving through my thesis defense and two jobs for the past six months? These days, I love to spend most of my money on experiences - especially travel and food - rather than things, so a trip to Tokyo was a no-brainer.

I decided to stay in an apartment in Kōtō-ku or Kōtō City, a small special ward in eastern Tokyo. My accommodation was small and cheap (less than $50/night) as it was not in the city center. Nonetheless, my apartment was clean and the view from my window of the Sumida River was absolutely priceless! I was barely "at home" during my stay, but when I was I loved to watch people running along the river and the boats passing by. Plus, you can see Tokyo Skytree clearly from Kōtō.

The Sumida River.