japan | the quiet side of tokyo

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I was nervous about Tokyo. We were going from our 200,000 population town to a city with 28 MILLION PEOPLE! My mind just couldn’t get around that. I was eventually able to manage it mostly without getting lost too often in the crazy massive metro stations (I’m sure there were 200,000 people in our nearest metro station at one time). I did find that I enjoyed the quieter sides of the city more than what seemed like a shopping crazy obsessed city. So if you are not too concerned with spending all your money and you are also interested in the quieter side of Tokyo here are my suggestions.

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Yanaka

Admittedly this neighbourhood was mentioned in our Rough Guide guidebook and from the internet it seems like on a weekend it can get crazy busy. This neighbourhood is about the only part in Tokyo that was saved from an earthquake in the 30s and WWII damage and so is ‘old style’ Japan. I probably would have visited at another time as when we went on a Wednesday morning most of the shops and restaurants were closed and it was more just a pleasant wander through a nice neighbourhood. Also it was about as hot as the surface of the sun and not much shade so I now totally get why the Japanese ladies all carry an umbrella with them all the time.

One place that was open was a little bakery/cafe which made delicious ice-tea and delicious ‘fusion’ type bake goods with a Frenchy feel but definitely with Japanese flavours.

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This one street in Shibuya: Kamiyamacho

Shibuya is the ‘shop yourself crazy’ area of Tokyo with several malls which are just H.U.G.E. Like seven stories of mall! However, if you start walking towards Yoyogi Park you find Kamiyamacho street. Along the road you will find some beautiful little shops,an independent publishing bookshop and a Monocle shop which I was hoping would have coffee but didn’t.

However, we did find the one decent coffee that we had in Japan at a Norwegian coffee shop that makes Italian coffee called Fuglen.

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Yoyogi Park

Just a nice quiet place to walk around and gather your thoughts while watching the Japanese be Japanese. Playing basketball, reading the newspaper, cycling by.

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Mori Art Museum

I really enjoyed seeing contemporary art curated in a Japanese gallery. The Japanese aesthetic really came through in particular in this exhibition on Form and Shape which I really enjoyed. If you like art I would suggest heading to this gallery as you can also get a view of Japan from the 52nd floor.

Other bits

Sky High Juice bar did some great smoothies. It is a little bit out of the way but we really needed a vegetable and fruit hit.

I would fully recommend our airbnb.

Itoya stationery store in Ginza is amazing. Seven floors!

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