FIELD TRIP X TOKYO
At this point its hard to recall if its been one week or two since we returned from Japan. Our time travel departure on Sunday for arrival on Saturday was enhanced by coinciding with daylight savings ending. We were sure we would be stuck in a space time continuum somewhere over the Pacific. The trip was definitely one for the record books...
We started out with a week in Okinawa filming for an upcoming documentary project. We landed just as a typhoon hit the island and enjoyed a couple days of actual weather. Okinawa is a very unique place, somewhat of the Japanese equivalent to our Hawaii. Another story for another time.
En route back to the states we extended our layover for a whirlwind 48 hours in Tokyo. After the rural feeling of Okinawa our eyes couldn't believe the spectacle of the city. Its enormous and awe inspiring. In addition to the sheer expanse of land that the city covers, the manner in which stores, restaurants, and services have managed to stack themselves vertically is truly impressive. When walking down the street you're likely to miss your destination if you do not remember to look up.
Many places with the best finds tend to be up 2 flights of stairs in a quite normal looking office building. The climb always felt reminiscent of visiting the dentist then the door would open to the shop or bar or restaurant and you felt as though you'd walked into another world. We managed to stumble into many incredible rooms filled to the brim with cameras and vintage wonders. That's what is so wonderful about Tokyo - uniqueness and quality prevail and are highly celebrated. Your brain has trouble catching up with your eyes because there is so much to look at, and so much you're afraid you will never, ever see again.
Like in New Jersey, the concept of the mall is something of epic proportions in Tokyo. There are several - Lumine, KAO, Isetan, LaForet - each with their own particular style they act almost as a building of curated boutiques. Everyone is immaculately dressed, whatever their personal style may be, and walking through these malls serves as the perfect exploration as to how and why. Isetan offers gorgeous designer goods ranging from popular ready to wear labels, to up and coming tokyo designers, to exquisite custom kimonos. LaForet, in the Haranjuku district, is the mecca to Japanese street style. Words cannot describe.
We stayed in an economy room at the Sunroute hotel right next to Shinjuku station. At check in the agent let us know the rooms were quite small - "no room for suitcase" - it was true but perfect for what we needed. If you're not planning on being in your room much, and would rather spend your budget shopping and eating the Sunroute is great. We kind of loved it, actually.
On our second day we visited the Meiji Shrine. The shrine, built to honor the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, is true tranquility in the middle of the busy Shibuya district. A path surrounded by thick forest guides you towards the main complex. As you get closer beautiful offerings of food, sake, florals, and bonsai line the sidewalk. Inside, tokens for health, luck, and guidance can be purchased. Prayers can be left around an ancient tree.
Families celebrating Shichi-Go-San with their children led the way and couples celebrating traditional Shinto marriage ceremonies paraded through the outer courtyard on their way to the shrine. A profound sense of joy and peacefulness fills the air.
We managed to meet up with Kyo, a long time friend and brilliant score composer, for omakase sushi at Sushi Aoki. Again, words cannot describe. After 20 different offerings of the day's freshest fish we had a very surreal moment as we sat entranced by the chef's handiwork and care in preparing each bite. Perhaps it was all of the omega 3 rushing our brains, but if you told us it was all a dream we'd absolutely believe you.