I’ve been really busy the past few days, so didn’t get to post regularly. I’ll try to cover what all I did in this segment, as it’s been an awesome 3 or 4 days here in Tokyo (as usual).
First off, I went just south of Tokyo on Friday to Kawasaki (only 20 minutes from southern Tokyo) to visit the Kirin brewery there that offers free tours and free samples.
The tour, in Japanese only, lasted about an hour and went through the brewery complex, offering explanations and video presentations on Kirin’s process. It ended with free samples of select Kirin products, and I tried my hand at the new Kirin ‘frozen’ beer (yes, it was delicious).
On Saturday, I headed east of Tokyo to Chiba to visit my host family from 6 years ago. They are two of the kindest people I have ever met, and really made me feel at home (along with their two dogs, Chobi-chan and Poteto-chan).
My host mom, Shinobu-san, had prepared a lot of great food, from grilled chicken to sushi and sashimi. It really was a great time reminiscing about my stay 6 years ago, and we must have talked, ate, drank beer and watched TV for a good 7 hours.
Around 11:00 pm, I realized I was in danger of missing the last train, so I said my goodbye (I’ll be seeing them again before I leave) and rushed to the station. Chiba is roughly 50 minutes from Tokyo by local train, so I was definitely cutting it close (the entire Tokyo train system shuts down every night a little after midnight before starting up again around 5:00 am). I reached my first transfer station and just made it onto the last train for that line. Same thing happened at my second transfer, I made the last train at around 12:10 am or so. Anyway, it wouldn’t have been a huge deal if I missed the last trains because taxis are everywhere. Still, I was determined to make the last trains just for the experience, not to mention taxis here are off-the-charts expensive.
Oh, and a side note: the last trains are as packed as morning/evening rush hours. I guess everyone was trying to get home like me.
Moving on, I spent most of Sunday with a couple friends from my hostel. We went to Shimokitazawa and Shibuya in western Tokyo to check out the trends of Tokyo’s youth culture. We went into tiny shop after tiny shop in Shimokitazawa’s narrow alleys, known for their strange (even by Japanese standards) clothing and accessory merchandise.
Finally, today I went to Odaiba (the artificial island in Tokyo Bay) for the very popular and extravagant Tokyo Motor Show, held every 2 years.
Even if you’re not super crazy about cars, which I’m not either, the Tokyo Motor Show will blow you away. The show has all the big names, from Honda to BMW, Audi to Porsche, and largely focuses on automobiles designed with the environment and changing technology in mind. Each company has their own area, some (like Toyota) with multiple stations complete with huge TV displays, live music by a DJ, and often Japanese models showing off the cars.
My favorites though were the concept cars showcased by each company. Most of these advertise zero-emission designs and either fully electric or hybrid systems. Who knows if these are actually viable options for the future, but I think they’re a step in the right direction, and best of all is they just look so freaking cool.
The below pictures are just a sample of all I saw at the show, but it should give you an idea of the sleekness and elegant designs these car manufacturers emphasized for Tokyo’s audience.
I spent about 3 hours at the show, and it was definitely a surreal experience (even if there were way too many people there).
To end things, since the show was in Odaiba, I took a quick detour to see the Rainbow Bridge and southern Tokyo’s skyline again since I can’t get enough of the view.
Thanks for reading!