Tokyo ’13 Photo-Diary, Day 1 (Part 2):
今回の日本旅行は本当に感動的だった..! ♥ ♥ ♥
With my awkward Japanese, I don’t have trouble getting around Japan. Not because my language level is high but because the Japanese are, in my experience, so sincerely helpful and warm-hearted in aiding a foreigner. They are people who take the time and effort to pull out their smart phone to look up routes or walk you right to your destination with a smile, one man even leaving his roast sweet potato cart to take us to our ryokan.. What a welcome, grateful change from Seoulites.
I love that Tokyo’s weather seems to lag a month or two behind Seoul’s. Though icy-breath cold farewelled us in South Korea, Japan greeted us with chilly but sunny, crisp autumnal weather. Flowers were still abloom and people not completely huddled up in layers of clothes.
Once dropping off our light luggage and souvenirs for Japanese friends, my mother and I went out to explore the local area – Shinjuku. Familiar streets, new stores (I have to say Japanese malls are really next-level creations), we shopped for some food and ate out at Seiryu Izakaya. It was the first place we saw bustling with people, mainly casual-business dressed men, and we immediately went in expecting a relaxed, loudish atmosphere and tasty, cheapish food – we were correct and glad we came! It’s actually a chain of izakayas, so try out one of their branches when you’re there.
One place I wanted to visit again was the ex-infamous, curious Golden Gai. I first (luckily, somehow) stumbled across it in 2009 with my best friend and the alcohol already in our blood probably enhanced the impression, but it was something of a strange and wonderful ramshackle bar-land. Each cramped room (one on the ground and one on the upper floor) was a tiny, uniquely themed bar/izakaya, and in each, we were able to meet and befriend people as diverse as the bars themselves. The crooked and narrow pathways outside varied dim to bright under the peculiar shop lights; the outdated and weather-worn exteriors only a guise that rewarded those who ventured in with its true character. I feel lucky to have many warm memories of this place..
Which is why I felt surprised and upset when I found it to be so deserted – lacking not just people but the special warmth it exuded in my memory. The walkways felt creepy, empty bars with closed doors, 3 cats and fewer people about.. I thought the place would have gained more popularity over the years, which in a way would have disappointed me, but this was worse. It seemed like an aged shadow of its past self.. Hopefully it was just because it was a weeknight..
Back at the ryokan, a hot bath and tea then some more drinks and snacks later, my mother and I tucked in for the night.
More soon : )