Chopsticks Travels, Part II

IMG_0012Tokyo – such a small name for such a massive city. I wasn’t sure what to expect during our visit in the metropolis with a population of 30 million. Yes, you read that right.

Senso-ji Temple in Tokyo's Asakusa district

Senso-ji Temple in Tokyo’s Asakusa district

Tokyo has the world’s largest metropolitan population, which can be an intimidating thought for first-time visitors like me. That’s why I pondered a number of thoughts during our eleven hour flight from Los Angeles:

Would it be noisy, dirty, visually “scarred” as big cities can be?

Would there be anything soft, beautiful about it?

Would the people be friendly or keep to themselves, not wanting to be bothered by tourists?

I’m happy to report I was shocked at how unlike a big city Tokyo feels. There were indeed people everywhere, but the Japanese

Naomi and Christian hanging out

Naomi and Christian hanging out

are generally quiet, respectful people so it didn’t feel like we were surrounded by the masses. Plus it is super clean. Translation: it didn’t have that odeur de grande ville I’ve become familiar with on my travels to New York City. And the people were definitely friendly, especially Dale’s host sisters and brother-in-law, who were kind enough to let us stay at their apartment.


The pond at Ueno Park, by the Ueno train station

His sister, Naomi, had a great time strapping our then six-month-old baby Christian to her with the Ergobaby carrier and toting him around the city. She got quite the looks and comments, I’m sure.

As for the softer side of Tokyo, we enjoyed some couple time in Ueno Park, which was originally part of the Kaneiji Temple. Although the park has museums, a zoo, and is one of Tokyo’s most popular spring cherry blossom spots (which we missed since we were there in May), we chose to relax on a bench by the large pond while watching birds frolic and eating tasty sweets from a nearby bakery.

We were also treated to blooming azaleas throughout the city. The vibrant pink and purple flowers surprised us most places we went, including at Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest temple. It was nice to know Mother Nature still went about business as usual despite the throngs of people passing by her creations each day.

Tokyo was a surprisingly lovely city we hope to visit again soon . . . maybe next spring. And it’s never too early to make plans for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, so start practicing with those chopsticks.