About time I came back for part two of my time in Tokyo isn’t it? This woman’s been busy… 🙂

Everyone always talks about the “quirky” nature of Japan. I think that if you live in a society where everyone pretty much wears the same clothes throughout school and is then expected to fall in line with the ‘norms’ while working…it’s no wonder they get creative whenever and however they can. Friends and I marvelled over the fact that when you walk by a dry-cleaner what you see in the window is ALWAYS the same – white shirts, dark suits. ALWAYS. It was so exciting for me when one of the people I worked with wore bow ties instead of a regular tie. He found a way to show his creative side, even in serious meetings. Thank you bow-tie-guy!

Another thing you always hear about are Japanese gardens. And yes, they are beautiful.

I love how they find ways to ensure there are peaceful gardens and green spots in the middle of the towers. No matter where you live, you can find a little respite from all the crowds and the hubbub. They also build around old temples – they don’t destroy them.

Luckily for me Shiba Park is right beside where I lived. It provided me with a wonderful place to go run through, walk through, sit in, and just go to when I wanted to get away from my computer, work and apartment. It was a lovely way to start the day, take a breather, or end the day.

Speaking of work and home….That was pretty much all in the same, roughly 400-square-foot, apartment.

Small, yes. Super-functional, definitely. I actually quite loved this little space. I have to say they really know how to make the most of every square inch – no wasted space here at all. Even though I spent most of my work time here (except for meetings with the local agencies), it really was my little sanctuary.

For the last three months of my time in Tokyo, I had a co-worker (she lived in the apartment below mine). That’s right – two of us working at that little table-come-desk all day long! Thank goodness we are friends as well as co-workers.

I found this place through a company called In The Hood. They were amazing. Extremely helpful in finding the right apartment and ensuring that I had all I needed. As their name suggests, they want to create a neighbourhood of travellers – enabling those who have common interests to meet and exchange ideas, conversation, travel experiences and generally fun times. Having traveled a lot themselves, they understand what people are looking for. On top of all that, when I traveled away from Tokyo for more than a few weeks, they stored my luggage and rented out the space to someone else – saving me from paying rent while I wasn’t there. If you, or anyone you know, are looking for a furnished apartment in Tokyo, I highly recommend In The Hood.

I was in the Higashi-Azabu area. Very central, easy access to the metro system (which is simple to use and amazing), and a great mix of both local and international inhabitants. Everything I needed was close by, including three grocery stores and a multitude of restaurants. There was this little spot that always had a line-up around lunch time – and I mean little – two customers at a time at most. So one day we decided to go check it out. It ended up being a little bakery/dessert spot. We still have no idea why people lined up to get in though. Let’s just say that with all the great food in Tokyo…dessert is not their forté. At least not that I could find. When I did, it was a “French” bakery…

My favourite neighbourhood restaurant. Sushi rolls are not the norm in Japan, so the fact that this tasty little treat was in my neighbourhood was definitely a nice surprise, and perk.
And right around the corner was this place. The hairdresser was a very cool looking, long-haired, well-dressed man. So I decided to give it a try. Let me tell you….it is custom in Japan that when they wash your hair during your appointment they also give you a really lovely head massage. I could have gone every day…and when I told him that he laughed. Most people think it would have been really expensive, however my first trip to a hairdresser in Montreal cost me more….What’s up with that???

Up the hill from my place you will find a very busy tourist attraction….

As you saw in my Tokyo Times Part 1 post, I didn’t spend ALL of my time in my neighbourhood. I even had some guests come to town. One of the first places everyone wanted to see was Shibuya Crossing.

And this isn’t at a terribly busy time…at night there are even more people crossing every which way. You’d think there would be tons of people bumping into each other, but no. Somehow it all just works.

Once you are done having fun in the crazy crosswalk, there are a myriad of little streets and alleys to explore. It is very easy to get lost. Luckily it is also very easy to find fun spots and great food.

Shibuya Crossing at night. There’s definitely something about night time – an additional layer of energy provided by the dark skies and flashing neon lights.

Another popular spot was Team Lab. They have a few locations, and Borderless is my favourite. I first went with a friend who had lived in Tokyo for 12 years, and wanted to make sure I saw it while she was in town. Just about everyone who visited while I was there wanted to go, which means I went four times. I also saw their larger installation once, and didn’t enjoy it as much — too many different rooms, no real path to follow which meant you ended up in the same place more than once. I think it was just sensory overload as well.

If you want to calm your senses…I recommend Meiji Shrine and the surrounding parkland and woodland. There is just something about walking amongst tall, majestic trees, green space and flowers, that both calms and feeds the soul. Being a Shinto shrine, we are able to enjoy the pure, simple beauty of it all.

One really could go on and on and on about Tokyo. Wait…maybe I already have! 🙂

So, I will close again with some random fun photos to give you more of a feel for some of the experiences I have been lucky enough to have. #charmedlife for sure.

And if you have made it this far down the blog post – thank you! You deserve something extra-special for that. I present you with……The Robot Restaurant!

Thank you Tokyo. Such good times with some amazing people. As much as I wish I hadn’t been feeling like such crap most of the time I was there (I alluded to this in my Why I Run post), I really did enjoy discovering as much as I did. Thank you to LH for bringing a much-needed breath of fresh air to my last three months there, and to AK and SG for your constant support.

See you again Tokyo…one day….