It is not an easy task to sum up a whole week in Tokyo.
Seven days is a short time to discover such a complex culture, but this is a long time when you need to look after two young children in a not so child friendly city.
If I had to sum up my observations, I think that “dressing-up” would say it all.
We admired the elegance and grace of most of Japanese women, whether they wore the traditional outfit or the every day modern attire. The sheer number of fashion stores in Tokyo proves the importance of elegance, as we discovered walking the streets of Ginza (sample) or Shibuya – where we happened to stumble upon a St. Patrick’s Day parade (sample)
On the other hand, the business man’s appearance is dull, wearing almost exclusively black costumes adhering to what appears to be an austere and rather strict dress code.
In opposition to adults, Japanese teenagers are famous for their extreme outfits, either branded from head to toe or assembled from scratch with unparalleled attention to detail as if they were parading for a carnival. They often walk by pairs, with their BFF. Our trip to Tokyo’s Disney Sea gave us a great insight into the importance of brands, accessories and style.
And for those of you who wonder what attraction ride queues are like in one of the world’s most populated cities, well, let’s just say patience is a mut-have quality (and no, we didn’t wait the 150 mins).
But it appears clearly that dressing-up is important in Japanese society. Understanding and appreciating what this symbolises would require a more in depth immersion – something unfortunately we will not have the opportunity to discover. If you add to this the inevitable language barrier impeding communications, you end up feeling as a simple observer. I wish I could have shared more with the locals and hope that in Kyoto, we will have the opportunity to better engage with the Japanese people we meet.
We also enjoyed a day trip to Kamakura, an hour from the capital and a peaceful getaway from the bustling and glitzy Tokyo. A place where surfing meets history with the numerous and quite beautiful temples and shrines (sample).
Tomorrow, we take the famous Shinkansen and this should be quite exciting for all of us, but mostly for Alvar of course.