Tokyo! With a population of over thirty-five million in the metropolitan area, this city would normally be at the top of my lists of places to hate, to visit but never to live, and all other lists in this vein. And truth be told, it did start out that way. I loathe crowds. And while I have now been in Tokyo over five times, it is only during the last two visits I’ve grown to appreciate, and even love, the city.
Sure, it’s crowded. But there is a surfeit of parks and greenery in the most unlikely of places, something I adore. And opportunities to partake of the culture are rife. Museums, theatres, concert halls and the like are spread across the city, rather than concentrated in one or two areas. There’s always something to do no matter where you are. And the twisting, turning inside lanes of the older parts of the city put me in mind of Europe. The quaint and quiet streets draw me in.
I’m here on business, sort of, but I always have time for pleasure. And this visit, pleasure was a dinner at a Yakitori (Japanese Barbeque) restaurant called 鳥元 (Torigen). While Yakitori is their speciality, they also serve soba (buckwheat) noodles, and I ordered that as my main course, supplemented by two skewers each of chicken gizzards and hearts, and a glass of 梅酒 (umeshu, Japanese plum wine) to wash it all down. I’m a fast eater and the food isn’t heavy, but I was almost satisfied by the time I finished. As a chaser, I ordered a skewer each of oyster wrapped in bacon, which was sublimely succulent; and avocado wrapped in meat, which was subtle. I left sated. The food was excellent, the ambience mellow, and the decor muted. I will definitely visit again should the opportunity arise!
While in Tokyo, I am staying at a capsule hotel. It is far cheaper than any of the hostels I could find, and for the services offered, it is completely worth it. The sleeping cubicles themselves are far more roomy than rumour would have it, and quite cozy to boot. The only downside is that once the privacy screen in drawn, they can get a bit stuffy, even though the entire room may be air-conditioned. For the price and services, the Capsule Value definitely gets my vote!