Japan through the eyes of an Indian American

Part 1: Mega city-Tokyo

The first thing I remember about Tokyo was how clean and quiet it was; right from the airport to the underground train station. Our first train ride in Tokyo was an express train from the airport to Tokyo. I was both excited and sleepy. We both were. Sanjay was excited to show me Tokyo and Japan, as it was my first time and his second. Before dozing off on the train I remember noticing and marveling at how spotless the railway tracks were. Once we reached Tokyo we were in for a culture shock, the train station was a human zoo- people everywhere; running in all directions. The station itself was multi-tiered, there was so much going on: shops, movements, distractions-a lot of buzz around us but not noisy, just busy. We tried in vain to find an international ATM but gave up for trying later on.

Then started the Japanese hospitality- the bowing, the attention to detail, the looking in the eye when speaking, the smiles. This is my favorite memory of Japan.

Another memory is of the cabs; they were again very clean, very proper and the door closes automatically once you sit, one less thing to worry about.

The other memories of Tokyo include the oppressive humidity alternating with torrential rains. From a weather perspective, we had not planned our trip well. However, the beauty and the newness of the city kept us going – through the mild jet lag and the less than ideal weather.

We also stumbled upon on an unplanned national holiday called ‘respect for the elders’. With an increasing elderly population for the country it makes sense that they should get their own national holiday. We had nothing much to do that day except “shop till we drop” and we certainly did and enjoyed doing that.

Our shopping experience included visiting a departmental store multi-leveled food court called a ‘depachika’. It is a place where both tourists and locals go crazy food shopping and that’s exactly what happened with us. We bought enough to have an indoor picnic including drinks and deserts.

Tokyo offers its fair share of cultural experiences too and like the greedy tourists we were we took part in more than one cultural opportunity as well. We went for a one act Kabuki play (all male cast performing traditional dance and musical opera), saw our first sumo wrestling, visited a night club (for a whole 15 minutes duration!) and lastly took part in more than one elaborate dining experience, one lasting more than 4 hours and involving upwards of thirteen courses; all served on and in beautiful traditional pottery.

Tokyo was fun all around and we left Tokyo feeling both satisfied but wishing we had more time and promising ourselves a future and longer visit.

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