It always surprises me how sometimes you end up going back to some places that you never thought you would. After journeying to Tokyo two years before, I was shocked when we found some unmissable deals on flights there. Daniel had never been, and Daniel’s brother, Eric, decided to come along too. Booking our tickets, I was thrilled to be going back to a place that had such meaning to me.
My initial trip to Japan was one of my most eye-opening journeys. It taught me a lot about myself and how capable I was as a solo traveler. While I stayed with a good friend (one of my oldest from childhood who was going to school there, Trevor), much of the navigation and sightseeing I did on my own. Japan was much further out of my element than any place I had been, but it was also the most exciting.
Flying out of New York, we arrived in Japan twelve hours later. For those interested in going and staying in Tokyo, I would recommend looking at AirBnB. Hotels are notoriously expensive, and hostels are few and far between. For a bit more room and a glimpse at a typical home in Tokyo, you can find a place to stay on the AirBnB sites for less. Although I’ve had my issues with the site in the past, there wasn’t really an alternative for our budget.
Revisiting some of the tourist sites of Tokyo brought back strange memories. Strolling through the Asakusa Temple reminded me of who I was two years previously and how I had changed. That’s one of the things I love about traveling—revisiting places can sometimes add even more meaning to the location than just visiting once. I was in a much different place when I first witnessed the beautifully-carved temple with incense in the air and tourists in the crowd.
We snapped a few photos, and it was fun to see the look of wonder on Eric’s and Daniel’s faces. I remembered that they hadn’t been there before, and that they were forming their own experiences with the place. With its peaceful atmosphere and devotion of the worshippers who came to have their fortunes read, it was a place that would astound you—and it still remains one of my favorite places to see in Tokyo.
After a few hours there, we stopped at some local arcades. Gaming spots are huge among the Japanese people. Daniel loves video games, and it was hilarious to see he and Eric try and accomplish a win or two on machines where they couldn’t understand the language. Strolling through the shopping arcades, you know that you are in Japan—there is no place quite like the shopping areas of Tokyo. We hadn’t yet made it to Ginza (which more than shocked me the first time), but even seeing how much capitalism is a part of their country now is worth a peek inside.
Finally, we ended the day with a trip up the Tokyo Skytree. Again, there is always a reason to return to places that you’ve been. I was too broke to experience the Skytree the last time I was in Japan and I had skipped it. But this time, I was happy that I could make the trip up the tallest tower in the world. Tokyo stretched out miles before us. No matter who far you looked, you couldn’t see the end of it. It’s a reminder of how much we as Americans forget about others in this world and how many more cultures and people exist outside our bubble of pop culture and media.
It was a perfect (second) first day in Tokyo for me, and a reminder to always be willing to see a place with new eyes years later.
Have you ever returned to a favorite spot? How did you see it differently?