Our last days in Asia
25.11.2018 - 30.11.2018
Our final destination in Japan was Tokyo, one of the world’s largest cities with more than 25 million inhabitants. The size of the city however, is not really visible from street level. No area in Tokyo feels as large as for example Manhattan in New York, or Pudong in Shanghai. The size of the city can best be grasped by the huge crowds that fill the subways and trains during the day and the entertainment districts at night. This city never sleeps.
There are many nice parks and gardens in the city as well. The special attraction in autumn are the ginkgo trees with their bright yellow leaves. This meant that every place which had more than a few of those trees was hosting autumn leaves festivals and was therefore very crowded.
We spent one day around Tokyo Bay. This is the newest and most modern part of the city. A replica of the Statue of Liberty overlooks the bay and a giant Transformer-like robot stands in the middle of the park. We decided to visit the National Museum of Emerging Science & Innovation to get a look at the futuristic side of Tokyo. Our favourite part of the exhibition was the demonstration of Honda’s humanoid robot ASIMO. The robot was remarkably agile. Kicking a football proved the ability to balance on one leg while talking in sign language demonstrated the precise coordination of finger and hand movements.
Tokyo has a traditional side too. There are countless temples and shrines throughout the city. We visited only one of them though, the Buddhist temple Fukagawa Fudo-do. We attended a special ceremony there in the evening. The head monk was sitting in the middle in front of the altar where he was starting a fire that grew bigger and bigger, while the monks chanted their prayer towards that fire. Different exotic instruments were played and after a while, two young monks started to hit their giant drums so hard, it would have made a Metallica concert jealous. At the end of the ceremony, most attendants went to the altar and gave their bags or other belongings to the head monk, who raised them above the fire for blessing.
Tokyo is also a center for a variety of delicious Japanese food. We were lucky to taste tender wagyu beef at a teppanyaki restaurant. We ate lunch at Gonpachi, the restaurant which inspired the set for the famous sword fighting scene in Kill Bill. One evening we also tried yakitori, which are chicken skewers usually eaten accompanied by alcohol like sake or beer. Overall, we had the best food so far on our travels here in Japan. You would really have to try hard to find a bad restaurant in this country.
Our stay in Tokyo concluded our 25 day journey through Japan. We might come back one day to explore Northern Honshu and Hokkaido, which are better visited in summer. It also concluded four months of travelling through Asia. We were blessed with great weather almost every day and had many unforgettable experiences, but it was also an intense time. The next six weeks we will spend on Pacific islands and we look forward to warmer weather and relaxing days at the beach.