Japan Part 2: Tokyo

After several days exploring Kyoto, we made our way back to Tokyo, Japan's largest city, where we would stay the rest of our trip. Although Kyoto is considerably large city in its own regards, the size and magnitude are dwarfed by the size of Tokyo. Tokyo, in fact, made New York City seem relatively smaller or more tame to me. Despite being so large and so crowded, I was amazed to see how organized and clean it was. During my entire in Tokyo (and of all Japan for that matter), I don't think I saw one piece of trash on the ground. What makes that even more amazing is that I didn't see many trash cans either. Apparently, whenever you have something to throw away in Japan, you hold onto it for however long it takes before encountering a trash can. That can seem to be common sense, but you wouldn't know it seeing how litter is on the streets in certain places (ahemeverywhereintheUSAahem). In any case, let's get into what we did while in Tokyo. 

We arrived back in Tokyo during marathon weekend. My brother Justin, a runner himself, is part of a running group in Tokyo which hosted several events leading up to the Tokyo Marathon that Sunday. From going out for drinks Friday night, to attending an Apple event hosted by the Health Director of Apple at the Ginza Apple Store, to eating mediocre pizza with the group on marathon eve, it was great meeting everyone in the running crew as well as some of the visitors from Korea. 

Watching the Tokyo marathon was a truly inspiring experience. That morning, we all met around the 34K marker to cheer runners on. As we arrived, the elite runners began passing us by. It always amazes me how the top marathon runners can sustain such top speeds for an entire 26.2 miles. It was awe-inspiring seeing the struggle as well as the dedication each runner showed to finish the grueling race. As time passed, the streets became more crowded with more and more runners. Lots of interesting costumes were worn, including Pikachu's, Minnie Mouses, crazy wigs, Super Marios, Minions, and one of my favorites, a dude in suit carrying a briefcase. Being a runner myself, it was awesome being on the other side, cheering others to complete the race. Congratulations to all who completed the 2017 Tokyo Marathon!

After spending the weekend taking part in marathon festivities, we decided to get away from the city for a day by hiking Mount Takao, a smaller mountain on the outskirts of Tokyo. It was great taking some time away from the busyness of Tokyo by hiking up the mountain. As we got higher and higher, looking back towards at Tokyo revealed its true size and sprawl. After hiking back down, we unwinded by again, taking part in the onsen life. This particular onsen had several hot springs in which you could relax. I personally choose to switch back and forth between the carbonated bath and the Cypress bath. Despite visiting during the winter months, I elected try to cold bath for a few minutes which was strangely calming. After being introduced to the onsen life, I would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Japan.

The rest of our week in Tokyo was spent exploring the city. One day, we visited the top of the Moro Tower during sunset where we were treated to 360 degree views of Tokyo as the sun dipped below the horizon. Being an avid Pokemon Go player, a trip to Pokemon Center Mega was a must. We may or may not have spend $100 there. Exploring the Harajuku neighborhood, we were introduced to the endless choices of clothing stores and different styles. Visiting the neighborhood of Akihabara, we found ourselves extremely deep in Japanese anime culture, sometimes awkwardly deep when running into anime porn after wandering around the various stores. One morning, we visited the famous Tsukiji Fish Market where we were treated to flame broiled butter scallops, Clams topped with sea urchin, and all the sushi choices you could ever think of. Bottom line, if there's something you want to experience, you can find it in Tokyo.

On top of all the variety Tokyo has to offer, crowds of people always surround you. This phenomena is never more apparent than the Shibuya Crossing, a cross walk we would need to cross almost everyday to get to the metro. As the light turns red for the cars, the cross walks turn green for the pedestrians in all directions filling the entire intersection with a sea of people. By the end of the trip, we were un-phased by the seemingly intimidating flood of people as we crossed. 

Even though we spent most our last 5 days within Tokyo, we found one extra day to get away from the city to see Japan's most iconic moutain, Mt. Fuji. About a 2 hour train ride away, Mt Fuji is the epitome of what a mountain should look like. A perfect cone emerging from the earth with snow surrounding its equally symmetrical peak. Even though clouds quickly engulfed the mountain as the afternoon progressed, I'm glad we took the time to see Mt Fuji up close. 

Visiting Japan was an experience I'll never forget. The food, the crowds, the old culture, the new culture, the cleanliness, the organization are things I'll remember for the rest of my life. Til next time, Kanpai! (Cheers.)

Oh yeah pix...

Ginza and Harajuku

Tokyo Marathon

Mt Takao

Atop the Moro Tower

Lake Kawaguchi and Mt Fuji

Tsukiji Fish Market and Foodie pix

Shibuya Crossing

Goodbye Brother

Ashley Jr. is beat!