From the BK to the SK
 
I don:t know where to begin in describing how happy I feel in this electrifying city - aside from the heat that is. Apparently there is a heat wave in Tokyo right now, which is just my luck, but I:ve been making the best of it and chugging water like a camel every hour.
When I got on the train headed from the airport to the city center, I prayed that it would be an above ground train. The last time I felt this excited to see a city sprawled out before me was when I spent a summer in China, my first introduction into the Asian culture. I remember telling my best friend Laura that I couldn:t wait to just be sitting in the van as it left the airport as we drove toward the festival of neon lights that I imagined China to be.
Well, Tokyo is HUGE, so it took an hour and10 minutes before anything really and truly started to merit the eagerness I felt. Once we reached the heart of the city, I felt like I didn;t know which way to look. Everything around me was competing for my attention.
I got to my hostel only to find out that the regular dorm bed I had booked was not available to me. Instead, the manager told me that he would let me stay in a capsule bed for the same, cheaper price. If I wanted to switch the next night, i could, but most people like the :privacy: of these capsule beds.
I went upstairs to have a look, and it felt like walking through cabins on a ship. It was just three rows of these wooden boxes, and there were two levels to each. As you walk by each row, at the beginning of each bunk there is a little curtain you draw back, one on top for the top bed and one on bottom for the bottom bed. I am literally sleeping in a box. The only opening is the curtain I crawl through to get into and out of the capsule, but other than that it is just a mattress inside of a wooden box. It]s actually not bad. They are brand new and very clean, and the comforter is actually incredibly comfortable. It is definitely more private than staying in an open floor, regular dorm room, though it does make it abit harder to meet people when you are traveling solo, especially when the hostel doesn:t have the greatest common room.
So, after approving of my living arrangement, I put down my things and started walking toward the Shinjuku area, which is a popular and more famous part of Tokyo. It is about 20ish minutes from my hostel, and though I can take the train I like my walk there.
My first night I walked around the shopping area and breathed in every bit of Tokyo that I could. I felt like the quality of life and the smiles on people:s faces was just contagious, and I suddenly had such a strong surge of happiness I thought I was going to cry. This had instantly, within just an hour, started to compete with Paris for my favorite city.

Here aer some things I love about Tokyo so far;
1. IT IS CLEAN! Tokyo is literally spotless and one of the two cleanest cities in the world I have been to, the first being Singapore. There is something about the Tokyo cleansiness that is a bit more...unrealistic? unbelievable? Singapore just seems fake - there is a part of it that is man made, and it just doesn:t feel as natural. It is hard to believe that a city like Tokyo, a big city, can be so naturally beautiful. There are signs painted on to the sidewalks that say, No Smoking cigarettes. There are people sweeping the street every morning as I go on my run. This morning I even saw a man cleaning the front of the apartment building with a wash rag, and it was just then that I realized even the store fronts are clean. This city is literally just spotless.
2. PEOPLE RIDE  BIKES. This one sounds dumb I am sure, but after living in Korea for a year, the amount of people I see leisurely and freely riding bikes on the sidewalks and IN THE STREETS fascinates me day in and day out. I have seen a total of 7 peopel get hit by cars while riding their bikes throughout Daegu. Not only that, but the bike riders in Korea are just not as pleasant in my opinion. Majority of the time they are ahjummas or ahjosshis on a mission and willing to take you out along the way without even a second glance. But here in Tokyo, people glide along effortlessly, and I absolutely adore it.
3. THE FOOD. Japanese food is so fresh and lovely. Granted, as a budget backpacker some sacrifices have to be made, and more often than not that falls on food, along with transportation and sleeping. I have been eating most of my meals at Family Marts or other such stores because it is affordable for me, but that doesn:t mean it is any less delicious. It is fresh every day, packaged to perfection and gone by lunch time with all the other people who think the same way I do do.
4. The quiet craziness. One of the things that most amazes me about Tokyo is how quiet it can be. In Korea, there is always someone talking on a cell phone - or, should I say screaming on a cell phone - screaming in conversation or just some how, some way making noise. It is crazy to me that when I run through a group of people in the mornings - especially all the people headed to work in their business suits - or walk with a group of people toward where ever I am going, I can hear myself think. People here are polite, they are respectful and courteous (it seems to far) to others around them. It is so incredibly pleasant and enjoyable to know that even with the loud, pulsating city streets you can still find refuge and silence. I don:t think I have ever noticed that in any other city I lived in or traveled to, or maybe it is because a year in Korea makes you really appreciate peace and quiet.
5. Being fascinated by a language, written and spoken, and the culture. Not to say I:ve become jaded by the Korean culture, because there are still things that surprise me about that crazy country; however, coming to Japan made me realize how much I love exposing myself to something foreign and new and how completely raptured I become by it all. I can read Korean, so looking around Tokyo and not knowing where to start or how to beging the written language fascinates me. Listening to the people speak in delis and stores intrigues me - it all makes me want to learn Japanese.
And obviously last, but not least, my favorite thing about Tokyo is the chance to travel and hang out with my older brother, because after years of us darting from every which way around the globe, we are finna
Tokyo has swept me off my feet and keeps me wanting more. I:ve readjusted my life plan to include moving here on day in the near future. There is just something about this place and the quality and way of life that makes you realize this is a culture that really knows how to appreciate the moment and the sacred and the beauty in the simplest of things. Don:t be surprised if I end up blogging from Tokyo one day.
 


alision
08/16/2011 18:29

It sounds like you are having a WONDERFUL time, a real dream come true! Enjoy every moment of this fabulous, once in a lifetime opportunity! I love you so much and I'm so very proud of you! Please be careful! xoxox

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alison
08/16/2011 18:31

oh, and i wouldn't sleep in a capsule if someone paid me! I was getting claustrophobic just reading your post!

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Jeanne
08/17/2011 06:38

Awesome sounds real clean a change from how NYC keeps itself - keep exploring and can't wait to hear more - OH and i agree with your friend don't think i could sleep in one of those capsules either!!! LOL Stay well xoxoxo

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Dad
08/17/2011 06:38

What a surprise I had when I was BBMing yesterday and Michael answered it. I felt so happy the 2 of you were together again all the way over in Japan. That made my day. It took some time but the two of you after being all over the world seperately were able to finally come together in Japan and best of all you got to celebrate his birthday with him. I know that made Michael very Happy. Love Ya

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08/17/2011 10:19

you are an amazing writer, friend, and person. I miss you and cannot wait to see youuuu. I added your blog to my blog (my fave blogs) hope you don't mind!

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Michele
08/18/2011 20:47

Alex!!!..am so excited for you!what an amazing priceless journey!!enjoy every second..&please dont stop writing!.i love reading every minute of it!!.& you know..i could never have slept in that capsule..so agree with your friend..i felt claustrophobic just reading it!.lol..couldn't breathe!
xoxo
M

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Lynn Petri
08/19/2011 08:45

Alexandra:

Great reading your adventures in Japan. I always wanted to visit there. I find it interesting. Oh well who knows maybe I still will. It was also great that you and Michael were able to celebrate his birthday together in Japan. Keep on seeking adventure and keeping the rest of us posted.

Love,

Aunt Lynn

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01/25/2012 14:22

good post

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01/28/2012 06:38

Thanks for information

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03/25/2012 12:05

Great info, thanks

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