After my husband’s first trip to Tokyo, he told me it was his new favorite city. I had a hard time believing him but because he has been all over the world, I had to accept that he knows what he’s talking about. He’s been there about 10 times in the past year and loves it just as much now, if not more, than he ever did. I was able to join him last month and I discovered why he thinks so highly of it it. There is a LOT to love about Tokyo.
There is no mistaking you’re in the most desnsely populated city in the world when you’re there BUT there is a beautiful flow of movement there unlike anywhere else. People move fast but it’s almost a dance. It’s organized and mannerly and there seems to be an agreed-upon pace that everyone keeps. People side-step each other without taking time to apologize, but it’s not rude – rather, it’s like working cogs in a well-oiled machine. I accidentally put my foot into this older lady’s four-pronged cane, and by the time I could extract myself from it and apologize, she was out of ear shot. I felt horrible but she didn’t seem to care.
However, the pace can be overwhelming at times, and I admit to getting frazzled once in Tokyo. It was rush-hour at Shibuya Crossing and it was a sight to behold (see photo above). I actually went there on purpose just to see it because that area is referred to the “Times Square of Tokyo”. I should’ve known I wouldn’t like it (because I avoid Times Square like the plague when I visit NYC) but I just HAD to see it. Once I had my fill, I opted for a taxi rather than the train to head back to our hotel in Shinjuku. Know this about me: one of the things I most look forward to when I travel anywhere is using public transportation. Tokyo’s train system was the best I’ve ever seen but in that moment, all I wanted to do was insulate myself from the mass of people and head back to my “safe place”. Thankfully, it was the only time all week that I felt that way.
The noise level is crazy-low, even on the streets. (Except for in Akihabara, the anime and electronics area of town) People don’t yell to be heard by their companions as they are walking, there are no horns honking in traffic, and at restaurants people talk in a volume meant to only be heard by people at their table. Also probably also adding to the volume on the streets is the (On a side note: Americans are consistently the loudest people in every foreign city I’ve been to, in every situation. It’s embarrassing.)
The Japanese people, as a whole, are polite and courteous. I know it’s ingrained in their culture to be this way to some degree and there are some instances of it being taken to the extreme to their own detriment, but overall it was refreshing to be surrounded by such nice, clean people.
Overall, what I’m saying is that I loved the people and I loved the city…and I can’t wait to go back!