This weekend, June 17 through 19, Jackie and I traveled back to Tokyo to celebrate her 23rd birthday.
Since the train ride from Fukuoka to Tokyo is a long one, we decided to stay the night in Nagoya on Thursday. Not having any prior knowledge about the city, we were pleasantly surprised by its lively atmosphere. Once again, we were helped by two locals who so willingly helped us find our AirBnb. The kindness from the people of Japan never ceases to amaze me.
We slept a quick four hours that night and got up bright and early to catch the train to Tokyo. Despite my hatred for early mornings, it was well worth it because we got to the city early enough to catch a sumo wrestling practice in Asakusa! Scared that we might not be allowed to go in, we waited outside frantically looking for someone who spoke Japanese. All of the sudden, we saw three young teens start to walk inside. We abruptly stopped them and asked if we could tag along with them. We went inside to a room and took our shoes off and left our bags. When we walked into the sumo stable, I felt like I was in a dream. I couldn’t believe I experienced something as unique as this. We got our mats and sat cross-legged on the outskirts of the practice area. About 15 sumo wrestlers were doing everything from one-on-one practicing, squats and weight-lifting. I felt like I was in the scene of a movie. Later that day, we explored the nightlife of Shibuya and went to a popular club that played mostly American hip-hop.
The next day we went back to Harajuku. One reason being because we loved it so much and another being that the district’s street fashion happens to be my cultural topic for my final study abroad project. Every store and boutique caught our attention. We explored Takeshita street for hours. I found tie dye socks and a vintage Doors shirt to give to my best friend. We later walked to the more expensive side of Harajuku where all the trendy, high-end stores are. Looking for food, we ended up discovering a café that was not only also a clothing store but a surf shop as well. I ordered a avocado vegetable sandwich on toast with fries which reminded me of home. We sat in the downstairs room which felt like a cozy basement. There were couches, bean bags, a bar and surfboards. Right across from the boards there was a window where you could see a man actually making the surfboards.
Afterwards, we went out to Roppongi, an area famous for its nightlife. The bars there were surprisingly filled with more foreigners than natives. It was an awesome experience to explore deeper into to Tokyo than before and I was sad we were leaving. Tokyo is by far the coolest city I’ll ever have the chance of visiting.