There's only one way I like to travel. Plan the unplanned.
Ok. It's my first time in Asia so I have to have some things planned. My accommodation, flights, and... no, that's it. I have absolutely nothing planned, I have no expectations and I know nothing prior to arriving. I know of things. I know of the language, of the culture, of the history, of the landmarks, but I don't know where, how or when.
I always take the first few days pretty easy. I try not to get too caught up in the "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity. I have to do it ALL!" I'm on vacation. I'm here to relax. I love seeing the sights, but I also love exploring them more. I really enjoy getting lost and that's what I did all day today.
I walked through Shinjuku's busy streets, going in and out of various stores, arcades centres, and restaurants. I somehow ended up at Shinjuku Gyoen and got to see early spring cherry blossoms. I met little Rin-chan who tumbled into my lap as she took her first "solo" stroll through the park under the watchful eye of her father. I noticed the lady spraying her dog's pee with water from bottles she carried on either side of her hips. I walked by Docomo tower; ordered 500 yen ebi soba and slurped it like a world class slurping champion; waited for the train to pass (it's a thing); and prayed at the Meiji Shrine. I walked through more gardens, read people's wishes and prayers, looked down a well, and walked through Harajuku. I crossed into Shibuya district, listened to J-Pop in a store equivalent to HMV, drank a Sakura tasting drink from Starbucks as I watched thousands of souls cross at one of the busiest intersections in the world, and I finally met Hachiko! I made it to Asakusa Shrine at the other end of town, ate a steam bun, and watched the locals eat and drink their final hours of the day away with friends.
I actually can't believe it. I've dreamt of Japan for years. It feels like a lifetime ago I was saying: "I want to see it." Granted, all I'm seeing is Tokyo, but for my first visit, I think it's more than plenty. Every day is quite a culture shock, and today, standing in Shibuya, it didn't get less overwhelming. The more time I spent looking at the area, experiencing it, the more overwhelmed I became. It's such a lively, invigorating city. It lives in the present (maybe even the future compared to Montreal, ha) but has a very real and active past that is part of every day culture. History is more than just memory. It lives in traditions, customs, and daily life. But that's just what I think based on the very little that I've seen. I might just be simplifying something much more complex or romanticizing the ordinary. But their ordinary is my magic. The same way my ordinary can be someone else's adventure.
For now though, their ordinary is more than I could ever ask for. Thanks Tokyo!