Our time in the Russian Federation came to an end, when we boarded the flight from Vladivostok to Tokyo with the Russian airline S2. What we expected in the biggest city in the world? Rush, air pollution, industry …? Our first impression happened to be very different. What we noticed first: It was warm! In Russia we were constantly exposed to cold temperatures, between -6 °C to -24 °C. So the 13 °C that we were welcomed with at our arrival in Japan felt very pleasant.
Already at the immigration control everything was running fast and coordinated. We took the express train with 160 km / h directly into the city centre. At this point, it would have been cheaper to go by bus, but the experience was worth it. We bought a Combi-Ticket, which allowed us to use the subway in Tokyo for 72 hours.
When we arrived at Komagome Station near our hostel, we were surprised to find a peaceful place with nice houses and a small park. It was so incredibly quiet, even as we turned into the pedestrian area, it did not get louder. Maybe it was because people were just quiet, the cars were not honking or racing madly. Everyone here is integrated, respectful and considerate.
When we found our small hostel after a little confrontation with Google Maps, we refreshed ourselves and set off to explore the area. In the street of our hostel there were many different restaurants. Actually, we were looking for sushi but a noodle house caught our attention. Unfortunately, we found nothing there to take our attention so we moved on. Suddenly a huge plastic sushi appeared in a window. We were not sure what to think about it, but we wanted to take a look inside anyway.
The small restaurant (Izakaya) was completely empty, apart from a businessman that was quietly enjoying his dinner. Izakaya are typical Japanese restaurants, built like small bars with a counter, where you can also eat. You sit together with other guests at the bar and watch as the cook prepares the food. The friendly waitress, that could speak good English, gave us a place. The businessman, that was sitting right next to us, also spoke perfect English and immediately engaged us in a conversation.
The restaurant had a menu but only written in Japanese on wooden pieces. We understood that there was a large selection of sushi and the waitress explained the individual set menus. Each one of us chose a menu for 600 yen (about 4.60 euros) and a beer. Alex and I quickly understood that this was a great price, as the menu included 7 different Nigiri sushi, 6 different Maki, a bowl of miso soup and a little greeting from the kitchen.
Being a guest in Japan
With the time, the restaurant filled up and through the warm atmosphere we were quickly involved in the conversations with all the other costumers. We told them about our trip and they were very impressed by the idea. They also let us know that we have landed a real jackpot with this restaurant because as per them it was one of the best local restaurants in the area.
An elderly man wanted to offer us even more food and another gave us his business card and said we should definitely stop by his hotels when we are in the area. (Giving business cards is considered a great honor in Japan). Honestly, we were a bit overwhelmed with so much attention, but it was a very nice welcome to Tokyo. The older gentlemen left the restaurant after a short time as they had to go back to work. The farewell was very friendly and the waitress told us that one of them paid our full bill. We really would not have expected that. It was unbelievably nice and this positive first impression of this cosmopolitan city remained until the end.
The metropolitan area of Tokyo is home to more than 38 million people. Everything, but really everything is well thought out and no matter where you look, there is order and structure. But, nevertheless, tradition plays an important role in Japanese culture.
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