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  • Rachel Thaiday

Tokyo - Breathtaking, Beautiful and Bustling!

Updated: May 30, 2019

Hitting the ground running is something I seem to enjoy when it comes to travel and Tokyo, for me, was no exception. Although this time, my trip was so much more.

I don’t like to go on holidays with too many expectations. I find building hope takes away the fun of the travel but for me Tokyo was all about two things. The first - seeing the magnificent Cherry Blossoms in real life and the second - getting lost in a new city and immersing myself within a beautiful culture. I well and truly ticked off both of these opportunities and my gosh, I am in love with this city.

Ok so my dream of seeing the Cherry Blossoms Festival started when I began travelling at 21. Now at 33, I figured there was no time like the present. So being a spontaneous type of person, I headed off last minute in my search for honesty and perfection. With no real plans other than to get there and find every area of the city that has these exquisite trees lining the streets. And then just sit and stare at their beauty.

Leaving the hotel on day one of my travels, my first sight of these gorgeous blossom laden trees was a moment in my life that I will never forget. I’ll remember everything about that first sighting. The number of people along that particular street, what I was wearing and most of all the feeling I got in my heart of pure love and fulfilment. My heart felt like it had stopped. And I had a little tear of joy run down my cheek. I guess one would call it kind of like love at first sight. The beauty was everything I wished for and more. There is something so peaceful about watching cherry blossom petals float through the air like snow. I am not too sure that there are enough words to explain the beauty of the Cherry Blossom Tree, but I will try. The flowers are perfection white; the dark tree roots make them look so strong and honest and the way they all connect into each other almost represents love and unity. The Cherry Blossom season is spectacular and for the rest of my life I feel I will have a special place in my heart for Japan, just from this one experience.

The feeling you get from this city alone is also something quite special. The people are kind and generous. If you get lost, which is so easy to do when you travel and I do every new city I travel to - all you have to do is ask someone and they will go out of their way to help you even if they don’t know themselves. The kindness seen in their body language towards each other is infectious and leaves you with a desire to know more about them both individually and as a culture.

The food was fresh, fast and full of life. There is so much to learn from this city when it comes to food. There are over 5.6 million vending machines in Tokyo alone. There are restaurants that are standing only and there are restaurants that have a vending machine at the front door to order before you even get seated. I also learnt that Japanese people love to line up. At the most popular foodie outlets people do not care how long they have to wait and will line up for as long as is necessary. In Harajuku there was a line around the block for bubble tea, yes you heard right, bubble tea. It must be good!

On this trip I did things slightly different to what I normally do, and I tried out a couple of walking tours. I did a half day private tour with a lady whom has lived in Tokyo her whole life and was like a walking book of knowledge. I loved it and we covered so much that I wanted to see. At times I felt like we were on the amazing race which I loved, she got us everywhere we needed to go. I also joined a walking foodie tour. This was fantastic and it took us into a selection of restaurants full of locals with local food delicacies that you might not find on your own. To see the locals in full swing in their favourite eating places and to experience their food, done their way was unreal.

The best way to travel around Tokyo is the underground metro, once you nail that, the city is your oyster. It can get very busy, so get ready to get your shuffle on, but given how busy it is at times, it is like an organised chaos. Very structured, easy to navigate, just be ready to work your way through the signs, not lots in English but more than enough to make it work.

Now I was lucky enough to have 5 days in this city. When traveling to a new city, I am all about experiences. This trip I wanted to experience a local sporting culture in Japan, so I decided what better way than to take myself to a Sumo Wrestling Lesson and learn how to wrestle like the professionals do. This was up there with one of the most interesting things I have done. It took me right out of my comfort zone that’s for sure, but I learnt so much. And most importantly I now have a different level of respect for wrestlers as athletes. My lesson went for 2 hours, it broke the sport down into steps and I learnt the exact techniques for each of the moves. This was unreal!

To sum up this trip in one word is really quite hard to do. If I was to put down the first word that comes to mind, it would be hopeful and then a second word would be, fulfilled. This trip has been comfortable, easy and accessible but at the same time pushed me out of my every day comfort zone. It made me ask for help when I have needed it, taken me to places that will remain in my heart forever and taught me things about myself that I kind of already knew but had lost along the way of everyday life. But most of all it filled my heart with love and happiness to know there is a culture and a destination still out there that is respectful, kind and just plain happy. I felt like I was on a constant roller coaster of emotion on this trip and loved every second of it! My bucket list has definitely been ticked with this destination and I cannot wait to return to explore more.

So, to finish off there is no better way than a line from my favourite movie soundtrack, “I’ve had the time of my life”. Thank you, Tokyo you are one very special city to me.

Until we meet again,

R xx

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