My final full day in Tokyo was reserved for the bohemian district of Shimokitazawa. Before heading there, I decided to see some traditional architecture at the Kyu Asakura house. This beautiful 1920s house was owned by a Minister and was one of the few to survive WW2 and the Great Kanto earthquake. It was empty when I was there and I had time to quietly sit and think of what life must have been like in the home.
After visiting the house I decided to walk to Shimokitazawa, one of Tokyo’s bohemian districts. It was about an hour walk which I normally relish. However, it was easily the hottest day of my trip (31c) and I had decided that was the day to try out some new sandals. My feet were ripped to shreds and I was a hot mess by the time I finally got there, but it was totally worth it!
Shimokitazawa felt so close to home – it could have been Shoreditch with it’s impressive vintage shops and many coffee shops. After my long sweaty walk I went straight to hunt out some food. I know in my last blog I said 8ablish in Tokyo was one of the tastiest vegan restaurants I’d ever been to.. but wait. For lunch, I stumbled across Mikazuki Curry Samurai. I managed to grab the last table and had this super spicy but incredible plate of food.
After that I was definitely ready to shop til I dropped. Shimokita had endless amazing vintage, antique and craft shops. The vintage was fairly expensive compared to what I’m used to, but that may because a lot of it looked like it was properly from the USA. I didn’t buy any clothes but enjoyed just trying a few pieces on and perusing the various shops. However, I did find a total bargain – a vintage Rolling Stones handbag for £5.
By this point in my trip I was on the look out for some souvenirs before flying home. I wanted to support the small businesses here so bought some gorgeous stickers and ceramic coasters. I found an incredible antiques shop and deliberated over some bows and vintage glasses for ages but didn’t trust them to survive my trip home.
This was probably my favourite day in Tokyo and I think my evening will stay in my memory for a long time. I had to go home via Harajuku so decided to spend my evening exploring the big city lights of Shibuya. I did the world famous crossing, spent a while in Tower Records and found the famous Drunkard Alley. It happened to be the night Japan were playing Colombia in the World Cup and locals were spilled out on the street waiting for the game. I was feeling bold so dashed into a very local looking restaurant for dinner, then joined the Japanese fans to watch the football at the pub.
Everyone was really friendly to me – I love the World Cup for bringing people together and making such a great atmosphere. During half time I ran to get the train home and watched the second half of the match in a bar near my hotel. I met an absolutely lovely woman called Ayaka who chatted to me for a while after the game. It was such a special day – Shimokita really felt like a place for me and soaking up the Japanese football culture was a great way to spend an evening.
The next day I was flying home but had a morning in Odaiba. It was a rainy, horrible day which actually was OK as I was mainly there for the Hello Kitty cafe! I couldn’t go all the way to Tokyo and not visit a cafe dedicated to my favourite Sanrio character. Fun fact, I absolutely loved Sanrio when I was a teenager and was even part of the online forum..nerd! The cafe is totally what you would expect but I loved it!
Well, that was Tokyo! I wholeheartedly loved the whole trip. So many different experiences and things to see. I didn’t realise I would love solo-travelling half as much as I did! I think this trip definitely boosted my work confidence and also taught me life really is what you make it. I was pretty nervous about this trip both on the work side and personally as it was such a long way away for my first ever solo trip. In the end, it turned out to be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Thank you Japan!