Immediate Itineraries: Tokyo, Japan

As mentioned briefly before, I am heading to Japan! Why I chose to do this in the beginning of midterm season? I don’t even know. Nevertheless, the tickets are booked, and I am excited to explore a new country with a very unfamiliar culture. A Korean friend and I were discussing this earlier, but despite what some may think, we Koreans really don’t think of ourselves as anything like the Japanese, partially as a result of an unfriendly history. However in 2016, this mentality just means there is more for me to experience.

Snapchat from a night of travel talk and margaritas
(Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

Initially, I thought I was going to go to Sapporo, not just Tokyo, but time restraints changed my initial itinerary. I am going over my Thanksgiving break, and Canadian Thanksgiving falls on a Monday. But unfortunately, I do not get Tuesday off as well.

I’ll only be in Japan for 4 days, so no Sapporo for me. I am disappointed. A new friend, Yuuka, is a Japanese expat who suggested eating as much seafood as possible up north in Hokkaido especially crab.

But, I wouldn’t say Tokyo is settling by any means.

However, this trip will be a little different mind y’all …

Firstly, I am doing very little language preparation, which I am a little ashamed of. I always try to learn a little or a lot of a country’s language before I travel there.

However, I am currently taking three language courses — all very different, all challenging in different ways.

For this reason, I do not want to add another orthography, grammar, and vocabulary into the mix. I need to keep my mental language-learning house in order so to speak.

It is somewhat ignorant, willfully so, but that is not to say I am going to be the typical terrible tourist.

So, let’s get into the actual itinerary!

Day One – Saturday Afternoon & Night

The reason I am visiting Japan in the first place is because my father is working there for a little bit. So, my first goal is to reunite with him in downtown Tokyo (the adventure begins there). However afterwards, it is lunch time — Preferably sushi in Shinjuku, a heavily populated district.

As I am with my father, I am completely content not going to any stereotypically youth centred places. My Japanese clubbing will be fulfilled another time.

In the evening, I hope to go to one or two Yokocho. From what I can surmise, they are similar to areas in South Korea’s 인사동 (Insadong): alleyways full of surprises, good food, and trinkets. I just moved into a new apartment and have always had a proclivity for knick knacks, so I think that may be a nice evening stroll.

Day Two – Sunday

A simple Sunday might be nice. I am imagining breakfast, maybe at one of the thirty nine restaurants in the hotel we are staying at and then, off to possibly Hakone, a municipality with a view of the famed Mt. Fuji.

I would consider this a day trip for sure, but depending on when we make it back, dear Yuuka recommends the area of Roppongi for a good dinner. Ramen, anyone?

Day Three – Monday

My plan for Monday consists of mixing the old and new. I want to squeeze in some temples and gardens. UBC actually has one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan, so I am excited to compare and contrast them for myself. Although, I probably will not be able to see the subtle differences. I have my mind set on the Meiji Shrine.

Then, subway it to Harajuku for the fashion and anime experience of a life time. Apparently, the Japanese crepes there are amazing too. Yuuka also recommends I get a photo of the famous Shibuya crossroad. I am not a huge fan of crowds, which might make this a challenge, but when in Tokyo …

A Yakatabune river boat ride to finish off the day also sounds exquisite …

Day Four – Tuesday Morning and Afternoon (Final Day)

I leave in the evening, so I have a bit more daytime to enjoy Japan. I think I want to finish off with Tokyo Tower or quite possibly, the Skytrain station. Yuuka says the view is better.

Then, maybe a little katsu before I head out … This schedule is already quite free form, but it remains subject to change. I want to fit in the Tsukiji fish market too, but I need to find the time! Although right now, I think I’ll just be happy to see family for a bit. I am relocating more and more to Vancouver and do not have a return date currently to the US, especially after this election cycle … But, that is a different conversation. It will be nice to speak some Korean with my Dad too.

For now, if anyone has any suggestions or recommendations for me, please comment below.

I am open to constructive input and also would love to hear y’alls’ experiences in Tokyo before you hear about mine. Expat-terns is going to East Asia! Get ready folks! We have a lot of ground to cover …