It seems an impossible place. If you could cut through it with a giant knife and expose the layers of shops, houses, levels and levels of subway, tunnels and plumbing it would be unimaginable that it would all work.
But it does. It works. In a very strange calm way. Most other cultures would be at each others throats and looting the joint if they had to be around this many people and be this buzzingly fast. Not the Japanese. They just get on with it, politely and in a friendly manner. I saw at least half a dozen bicycle collisions. People just bow, ensure no one is hurt, and continue on.
Everything looks like it has been designed for children. Need death insurance? This giant whale with an anime haircut will sell it to you! The uniforms are very Lego, I don’t know how else to say it. The TV screen has a face in the top right corner pulling melodramatic facials in every program. It sounds like I am being patronising or disrespectful however I’m not. It’s awesome and I love it. I just don’t know how else to express my impression of the place.
Just get to the photographs eh?
The population density. It is intense, and is challenging.
The small little streets that were left intact from the earthquakes and war were my favourite places to hang out. Streets too small for a car, bars that can hold less than a dozen, half of that comfortably. Dive bars are one of my most favourite things to explore when traveling. I would recommend you check out Golden Gai in Shibuya.
Sure, it’s overpriced, cheesy and depressing when the performers have to clean the place at the end in front of you. But the Robot Restaurant is a must. We got kinda wasted.
We hit the road to Hokuto with our old mates Hiro and Kelly. It was a great day and so good to catch up. The loveliest people!
Hokuto and Gallery Trax. We ended up at a sake distillery and had a surprisingly awesome meal at a truckers diner
We ended up at Harmonica Alley, Kichijoji at a little dive bar. The solo bartender and chef kept cranking out the beers and japanese tapas. The whole area is rad, I only took the one crappy photo where I cut Jo’s head off! The crew drank me under the table I must admit. Hiro is one of my favourite artists and we made friends with some rad tattooists and art makers that evening. Looking forward to catching up again in Japan!
We took a tour to Mt Fuji. I can’t really handle tours but this one worked out OK. The view from Mt Fuji.
Then it got more touristy, and we boarded a boat and a cable care. I must check this region out more thoroughly next time.
I skated the city a bit, mainly bombing through Shinjuku and Shibuya. The Shibuya skate park, and adjoining “box man” homeless area, were taken over for more high density apartments. So the park, and rare public recreational space, was gone. Such a shame. It was rad just bumping into crew and joining their session before heading off down more hills )maybe via another bar!)
Architecture there is wow.
I had planned to head to a great new skatepark out of Tokyo, however the weather was going to turn. My only option was north. The 30 year old Annaka bowl, dubbed the “Death Bowl” in Japan, seemed like the go. Man, this thing is 1000 times gnarlier in person. So kinked and rough, ready to buck you off at any time. I had a fun roll with the locals in the ghetto bit too. The snake run is, well, unskatable really.
Jo got more ink. Fugu!
Thank you to all the wonderful people that helped make our adventure so fun, and thanks to my wife for being a great travel companion!