Tokyo is like the Borg, because they take from everyone else and they make it better. — David Chang
There is no condensing Tokyo. Curating the definitive field guide to Tokyo would be a futile exercise. You can’t strip away the superfluousness until you’ve created a perfectly packaged portrayal of Japan’s capital. Which is precisely the reason I am so enamored with it. Its impenetrability, an inherent refusal with a soft spoken staunchness, is captivating. You can’t put it in this box or that box. It is an island – almost more figuratively than literally.
If it – whatever “it” is – exists, it exists in Tokyo. They have everything. And more often than not they’re doing better than anywhere else. For international brands, especially our own, the litmus test on “cool” is having an outpost in Tokyo. Steven Alan, Blue Bottle Coffee, American Rag Cie, Blue Star Donuts, Shake Shack… even Verve Coffee is in Shinjuku Station now.
Some observational soundbites…
- Politeness. Manners. Consideration for others. WOWOWOWOWOW. By comparison, Americans are in the Stone Age.
- The walking lanes are genius. Everyone walks to the left and the flow of foot traffic nullifies that “I’m gonna flip that Halal cart onto the street if one more person/tourist/idiot on their phone plows into me” feeling.
- Pictures on the menu are not only acceptable but usually promising(!).
- Napping. Narcolepsy is either widespread or the Japanese hold a deep appreciation for a casual disco nap. Napping on the subway proved to be the best for REM sleep.
- 7-Eleven. The rumors are true. They’re amazing. Forget Pringles we’re talking about nori chips and even UNI chips.
- $35 p/p omakase can easily beat the $350 p/p version.
- Silence is golden. I heard one car honk its horn in 9 days.
Before departing on the 16 hour journey from New York City I had extremely high expectations for Tokyo. How could I not? Every person I’d ever spoken to couldn’t say enough good things about it… And yet, somehow, Tokyo exceeded my expectations. It did laps around it. I can’t synopsize how because, as I mentioned, there’s just no curtailing Tokyo.
Tsukiji Fish Market (before it moves at the end of 2016!!)
Bloom & Branch (and Cobi Coffee) inside Shinjuku Station
IF NOTHING ELSE WHILE IN TOKYO
Take the Bullet Train on an excursion outside the city. I can highly recommend Izu.