If you read my last blog – Fuck It! It’s time to start planning a return to Tokyo! – you’ll no doubt have picked up that I intend to start planning my return to Tokyo. For those that are new to my blog, I have a long standing affiliation with Tokyo, Japan and everything about the country, its people and culture. There is no denying that Japan is my spiritual happy place and having travelled there four times since 2015 it is also clear that I just can’t get enough. In my last blog – the Fuck It! one – I talked about how the future looks promising with an end to lockdowns, travel restrictions and curfews finally in sight. Today, I am happy to reveal that in Victoria (Australia) most of those restrictions have been lifted. We now have minimal travel restrictions, curfews are gone, and the shops are finally open for shopping other than click and collect. I can’t tell you how good it feels to be able to walk into a shop and completely destroy my credit card on Lego.
My last trip to Japan was in 2019 where I spent a week exploring Tokyo as well as a couple of days further north in Nikko. It’s fair to say that Tokyo 2022 is on the cards!
All of my past trips to Japan have been solo adventures exploring Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima with my camera in hand. I explored major sights just as much as I spent time walking backstreets and alleys day and night to get the shot. I am both thrilled and incredibly fortunate to announce that Tokyo 2022 will NOT be a solo adventure. No, I am not talking about my plans to run small photography tours to Japan. I am talking about exploring Tokyo with my partner – for the purpose of this article we will refer to her as the Doctor. In fact, a huge part of the Doctor and I getting to know each other and falling for one another is our shared love of Japan and all things Japanese. The Doctor has also visited Japan and we have invested long conversations into sharing stories and delights over the sights, people and places we have both visited.
Tokyo 2022 is not just about the places and things I want to see and experience. I have done enough of that over the years and want to share those delights with someone I love – someone who I know will be just as genuinely delighted as I.
There’s a bunch of places that I want to go to with the Doctor – some that we have both been too and others that only I have been to. The stand out location is without a doubt the Studio Ghibli Museum located in Mitaka. I went to the museum on my first trip in 2015 and then again in 2017. I have written about those trips and the sheer delight I experienced in both the journey to and my experiences of the museum and all it has to offer. I cannot possibly put into words what a Ghibli fan like me feels when visiting the museum. I forgot to breath when I first entered the main hall. I beamed like an idiot when a friendly local took my photo standing next to the Robot from Nausica on the museum rooftop garden. And my bank can attest to the damage done to my credit card in the museum gift shop. Turns out, the Doctor had much the same experience. As a result, we both want to go back to the Ghibli Museum while in Tokyo – at least once.
Aside from one or two trips to Ghibli, I want to explore some of my favourite locations around Tokyo. In terms of suburbs, let’s start off with Shibuya – the home of the scramble crossing and my all time favourite location on the planet. It is interesting, that as an introvert, I find peace standing in the middle of the business pedestrian crossing in the world. Camera in hand, I take shots of the life that passes before me in a bid to document humanity interacting with the world. Since my last visit in the first half of 2019, a lot has changed in Shibuya. On that trip, there were lots of works underway to fix and reroute roads and pedestrian overhead walkways. Plus, a number of new buildings have been completed that house shops, experiences and couple with stunning rooftop gardens. If possible, I would like to stay in Shibuya and use the Tokyo rail network to access everywhere else. Shibuya is also one of the stations where the Narita Express stops on its way to and from the airport.
Next up is Shinjuku with it’s fascinating night scene and pockets of intricate alleys and shopping districts. Again, a lot has probably changed since my last visit – especially since 2017 when I stayed in Shinjuku. The Tokyo Olympics saw a lot of buildings demolished, rebuilt, remodelled and updated. Walking around Shinjuku at night is a street photographers dream with so much going on both on the main roads and in the hidden back streets and alleys. And then of course there is Harajuku, Asakusa and Senso Ji Temple, Roppongi, Ginza, Ueno, Yoyogi Park with Meiji Jingu Shrine, and central Tokyo. While I have a lot of sites that I want to see, the Doctor and I will invest time planning our trip. At this stage, it is likely to be around seven days in Tokyo with a day at each end for travel – so nine in total.
As always, I will use my blog as a means to journal the planning stage and explore each area in more detail. Until then, enjoy the most of the post-pandemic freedoms and make a start on your next travel plan. Happy shooting. G