Tour of Tokyo
I decided to head to Tokyo for a weekend getaway before the crush of finals and moving back to the United States hit and I couldn't be happier with my choice of destination. Tokyo is similar to Seoul in a lot of ways but more expensive and also a bit more confusing to navigate. But it is so clean! I thought Seoul was clean - Tokyo is CLEAN clean. I went with a few friends and ate fantastic food - one of my friends determines where he will go based off of the restaurant location which is a very new way of travelling for me. I am not sure if I would do it if I was going alone, but with a group it meant that we never wandered around for food.
To start, we stayed in a hostel, near the Asakusa Shrine (a must see), that was super cute. And, the best part was that we slept in little cubes! I will say though, if you are any taller than I am I think you might only fit if you laid sideways. The hostel was also situated on top of a subway station which made travel around the city super convenient. Unfortunately, convenient does not equal straightforward or easy to use. The Tokyo subway/train system is a hybrid of the London, Seoul, and New York subway systems that make no sense and each station has at least six entrances and exits. It is also very expensive for each ride because half of the trains are owned by one company and the other half by a different company - they make you pay every time.
We also really lucked out on the weather because it was sunny and significantly warmer than what we left Seoul with. It was perfect walking/travelling weather which I think made me like Tokyo even more. The two best meals that we had over the weekend were Japanese curry at a little shop by Tokyo Station, and Ichiran ramen (like the most famous ramen). We also ate soufflé pancakes and this weird roast beef and rice bowl which were also fantastic.
The main thing that I was unprepared for was the amount of stores and restaurants that did not take card. Tokyo requires lots and lots of cash - which I am not used to living in Seoul because almost everywhere takes cash. So, when you go to Tokyo make sure you have way more money than you think you will need. I would also recommend just walking around the neighborhood that you are staying in, or just getting on the train and getting off wherever you feel like it. There is always something fun and cute to see. On our last day there we stumbled upon a traditional Japanese food fair and a street that sold ceramics.
Another thing that I loved about Tokyo is the architecture - it combines ultramodern architecture with very traditional Japanese style buildings and houses in such a way that it feels like you are walking through an architectural history tour. I would love to go back and spend more time in Tokyo and explore even more. There is no way that a weekend is enough time to see even the highlights of the city because it is massive.
I think if you are in Seoul, Tokyo is the perfect weekend getaway. Especially if you want to escape the bitter winter cold.