A Week In Japan: Part II (Kamakura and Tokyo)
“For those with restless, curious minds, fascinated by layer upon layer of things, flavors, tastes and customs which we will never fully be able to understand, Tokyo is deliciously unknowable.”
– Anthony Bourdain
The quote aptly describes Tokyo.
Tokyo is unlike any other city I’ve been to. It is bustling with people, music and lights all around and has an energetic vibe to it. It felt like being inside a tornado. There was crowd and chaos everywhere but in a good way! I loved it.
I see how people might get overwhelmed on their first visit to Tokyo. It is a treasure trove of novel experiences and a cornucopia of food and culture. If you are like me who likes to draw energy from people and busy cities, you will love Tokyo!
We spent a day visiting famous sights but barely made a dent into all the amazing things that Tokyo had to offer. I loved how every nook and corner is accessible by public transport.
Our first stop was Asakusa temple – the only big temple in Tokyo and it was packed!
The path leading to temple is full of Japanese souvenirs, amazing food made fresh, kimonos, toys and lots of other goodies.
There is a coffee shop across from the temple on the 8th floor and it provided a great view of not just the temple but Tokyo as well.
Our next stop was Skytree. It is the world’s second tallest structure. I heard that the elevators are one of the fastest and take about 50 seconds to reach the top (about 600m)! Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to take the elevator up top. Next time, Skytree!
We then strolled around Harajuku, aka the fashion capital of Japan. From low end youth fashion to unique boutiques to high end international stores to street fashion – you name it and you will find it in Harajuku. It is common to see people wearing costumes and casually strolling on streets.
Our final stop and my favorite of all was Shibuya. It is known as the Times Square equivalent of Japan, but I thought it was infinitely more colorful and lively! O-M-G! I fell in LOVE!
The world famous Shibuya Crossing is featured in lots of movies and is the signature landmark of Tokyo. It must be THE busiest crossing in the world! It is one of the most incredible things I witnessed.
All the lights, music, skyscrapers and people somehow did not bother me at all. I felt like I was in another world in Shibuya. It is also the teenage fashion center of Japan with hundreds of stores.
And the most famous Starbucks (after Seattle, of course!) is THE spot to people watch! I fell in love with Shibuya! We spent hours walking around Shibuya and still yearned for more!
Tokyo has everything! We spent a day in the city and barely scratched the surface. That was enough for me to fall in love with the city though! I am glad I got to visit Tokyo.
Kamakura is the polar opposite of the busy streets of Tokyo. It is a lovely little seaside town that is peaceful and calm.
Kamakura has great history, amazing ancient architecture and beautiful gardens inside the temples. It is easily one of my favorite of all the places I visited in Japan.
Kamakura was also the capital of Japan during the Edo period. I loved the beautiful city for its buddhist temples and serenity despite the tourists.
One of Kamakura’s landmark is the DaiButsu, literally translated to Great Buddha! Just watching the Buddha calmed my mind immensely, it was an almost zen like feeling. I could’ve easily spent hours admiring the Buddha.
The bronze Buddha sculpture is hollow inside. Tourists can enter and look at the intricacies that went into making it. It is so nice to see kids on field trips visiting these historical sites. It is the best way to learn about history and tradition.
We also visited the Hasedera Temple in Kamakura. This temple is magnificent! It is a huge temple nestled between trees and has so many hidden spots and places of worship. The biggest and most famous of these is the Kannon-do Hall.
We also got to see Jizo-do Hall which housed Fukujyu Jizo. There were hundreds and may be thousands of tiny little statues around this Hall.
A small hike led to the observation center and that was one of the most beautiful spots of the temple. It had the best view of Kamakura and ocean together. Kamakura is a must visit if you are visiting Japan.
Another fun fact I learnt about Japanese – Japan has a lot of buddhist and shinto temples but I was told Japanese in general are not very religious. They like celebrations and doing things together so all these traditions and temples are a good way to celebrate. That explains all the Halloween decorations I saw in Japan.
An important part of Kamakura and Tokyo that I did not yet write about is the food! Can I take a moment here and say how delicious the food is?!! There is a variety of food everywhere and the intoxicating smell blinds your senses. More about the food in next blog post! 🙂
I am Aswani Kurra. I am an engineer, dreamer and part-time wanderlust, writer and wine lover. I always had an urge to write, create and travel. So I created this space to satisfy my creative itch and combine all my skills to help you plan your Charming Escape.