24 Hours in Tokyo | Japan Budget Travel Guide
What’s up everybody? I’m Marko. You’re watching Vagabrothers. And right now we are in Tokyo, the capital of Japan. I’m here in Japan to go on an adventure to Hokkaido. It’s home to the world’s best powder snowboarding. I’m going with a big group of friends from my college snowboard team. It’s a big reunion. But first we’ve got 24 hours here in Tokyo. I’m going to try to make the most of my time here in the capital. I’m meeting up with my buddy Eric. He’s a friend from college. He’s been living here for two years. He’s going to show me around the city, and we’re starting off with coffee. When most people go to Tokyo, they do some of the same things. They go to the big crosswalk called the Shibuya Crossing. They go the fish market; they go to some of the shrines, some of the temples. But my approach toTokyo today is going to be to go through different neighborhoods and kind of get a sense of what it’s like to live here for the 35 million people who live here. Tokyo’s divided into twenty-three wards. They’re kind of like the arrondissement system in Paris, but this is a gigantic city. It’s totally impossible to do it all in just a day or two. But I’m going to do my best to soak up a couple different angles of the city. So the first place I’m stopping is Nakameguro. This is a very laid-back neighborhood. There’s tons of different boutiques, restaurants, and even decent coffee shops, like the sidewalk place right here, sidewalk stand and the espressos are really good. It’s kind of where a lot of young families are moving and it’s got a very, very, I don’t know.. It’s kind of got a hipster vibe, but it’s a pretty nice place to start off. It’s not over too much culture shock because there can be a lot going on. When you first get to Tokyo, it can be very overwhelming. Just yesterday I got completely lost on the subway, and this place here feels a bit more familiar. So it’s kind of a nice way to start things off and see where the day takes me. We’ve walked up the hill to the next neighborhood Daikanyama and we’re here at this really cool book store called Tsutaya Books, and this is a legendary spot. It’s got tons of books for sale on the first floor, an amazing collection of pens and then upstairs a really cool lounge area with a bunch of very rare books. One of the things that I’m most excited about with Japan is just the aesthetic. I think that Japanese people have a very clean orderly look about the way that they design things, and this bookstore really embodies that. There’s a lot of books here that are on design and on architecture and the general layout of the store kind of embodies a lot of those good principles. This is definitely a place where I would spend a lot of my time. But we do have other place that we go check out, so it’s time to move on. All right, this is a statue of a dog named Hachiko, and it’s like a common, I guess, meeting space. So if anyone ever tells you to meet me at Hachiko, you meet them at this statue in the middle of Shibuya Crossing. We’ve been walking around and we just got to Shibuya, Actually I ran into Finn Harries along the way who’s here studying some architecture. Very random. But anyways, we’re walking around right now, and we’re going to get some lunch at a sushi restaurant. Now, the place we’re going is nothing crazy. There’re tons of amazing sushi restaurants here in Japan that are like six person tables, one serving a night, over a hundred dollars a person. Most sushi in here in Tokyo is actually a lot less expensive, and I actually have arranged this trip last minute. I got invited last minute, made it happen last minute, so a lot of those sushi restaurants you need reservations like months in advance. So what we’re going to do is go here and get sushi that’s just a couple of bucks for each piece, and it should be really good. I brought you to this place because I feel like it’s more of a local sushi spot. I feel like you could go here and can get really good sushi for under 20 bucks. What do we have here? Tuna. Tuna. Tuna. Tuna. Tuna. Tuna. Walking through Shibuya, which is like a creative center. There’s a lot of high fashion, street fashion. That’s all these different boutiques around here… kind of has like Soho vibes. It reminds you that Tokyo is one of the centers of world fashion alongside London, Milan, Paris. It’s almost sunset and we are going to round out the afternoon at the Meiji Shrine. This is one of the most important places in the city. It’s essentially a gigantic park in the middle of Tokyo. It’s dedicated to Emperor Meiji who was the emperor in the 1800s, who essentially modernized, industrialized Japan. The shrine was built about a hundred years ago and although it does not contain the Emperor’s remains, it’s still a very sacred spot. The main building was actually destroyed in the air raids of Tokyo in World War Two, but there was a fund to rebuild it, and they have. And now it’s a very popular tourist destination. It’s really cool to see how organized Japanese society is. You literally have people going in on the left side and out on the right side. As we get closer to the shrine itself, there’re these bottles are these barrels of sake and wine that are left here in honor of the emperor. Emperor Meiji, like I said, was the emperor that presided over the industrialization and modernization of Japan, and they had this ethos of Japanese spirit and Western ideas. That was a time when Japan really began this process of taking ideas or concepts from the West, such as industrialization, and giving them a Japanese twist. This is a Shinto shrine. Shinto is a type of, basically an animistic form of religion, that is indigenous to here in Japan. It predates Buddhism and Zen, and it basically has a set of rituals around cleaning yourself before you enter the temple. Traditionally, you put water in your left hand and then you rinse your right hand, and then you rinse the left hand and the dipper again and then enter the shrine. You can also give some donations of coins. It’s a place of religion. It’s a place of respect, and it’s also just a beautiful example of Japanese architecture. I really love the aesthetic of Japan, and I think some of the shrines are one of the best examples of that aesthetic. It’s a Saturday and there was actually just a wedding procession that went by. It’s really interesting to see how, even as I was saying Meiji was the emperor that modernized Japan, it’s still a country that really balances out modernity with tradition. It’s got super hyper technological advances all over, but then there’s stuff like this that’s rooted in thousands of years of tradition and it’s a really beautiful mixture to see. I mean you kind of see it’s in someplace like Seoul in Korea But, I mean, Tokyo so far to me that’s been one of the coolest things that I’ve seen so far. So we’re now in the neighborhood of Harajuku, and we’re walking down Takeshita Street and this is kind of like a teenage fashion street. This is where, according to my buddy Eric, Gwen Stefani saw the style that kind of emerged from here back ten years ago or so and copied it and brought it to the States. Okay, so it’s dinnertime and we just met up with Justin and Jason, two of my friends from the UCLA snowboard team. We are leaving for Hokkaido tomorrow evening. But first it’s time to have an essential Japanese experience dinner at Izakaya. Izakaya is basically a gastropub. You pay a flat fee and you get all sorts of finger food and as much booze as you can drink in two hours. So the homey Justin has joined us and Jason. What up, Jason? Whoo, first time in Japan? Yes, sir. Your dad is Japanese. Full Japanese. Justin, you used to live in Japan, right? I did two years… in a previous lifetime. How stoked are you in going to Hokkaido? So stoked. Izakaya is like a gastropub in Japan where you’re drinking, you’re eating. It’s usually like finger food stuff that’s quick and easy to eat, not like a stiff traditional Japanese vibe, more of like a fun social vibe, like you’ll see here. We got the Nomi Jota, all-you-can-drink version. Bottoms up. Two hours to go for it. Sake, sake, oh. You never pour for yourself. People pour for one another. It’s kind of part of this assimilation, collective agreement people have with their food and drink. As you’ll see Jason has an empty cup still, and not until someone decides to pour his sake is he going to get any. One of the first things you notice when you come to Japan is that people get really drunk here, and that’s kind of part of the society. People work really hard; they work really long hours and they don’t have a lot of ways to release that tension. So when you are on the Metro, sometimes we will see just someone just totally hammered, and that is like not an uncommon sight. Not speaking from personal experience, but from observation, one thing I’ve seen in Japan that I’ve never seen anywhere else in the world…… businessmen wearing nice suits on weeknights, so drunk that they’re passed out in a bush, facedown or on a train at night completely passed out on a Wednesday. It’s totally culturally acceptable and normal here. You also see things like people in a suit sprinting for getting on the train in like a dead sprint in the middle of the day, and that’s some… you don’t see people sprinting to get on a train in a nice suit in the States. All right, so we have been drinking at the Izakaya for like over an hour and a half. We’re getting salaryman drunk. How does everyone else feel? Brand new. Fresh. It’s official we’re salaryman drunk and good night. Well as you can see I did not wake up in Tokyo. We hopped on an airplane and flew all the way out here to Hokkaido, the capital of snowboarding in Japan. It has some of the world’s best powder snowboarding. That’s why we came in Japan in the first place So if you like this video, please give it a thumbs-up, share it with your friends, subscribe to Vagabrothers, and subscribe to my personal channel as well: MarkoAyling and that of my brother, Alexthevagabond. There’re links down below at both channels. If you have any questions or comments, add them below in the comment section. And as always, stay curious, keep exploring, and we’ll see you on the road here in Hokkaido. Pretty good.