Amongst the largest city in the world, I found myself back in Shinjuku with a 10-year-late return with overdue sushi cravings, zero research and three travel guidebooks.
Everything felt more accepted in Japan from my point of view, least that in Japanese culture, people have the tendency to stare less. It all comes into perspective when stand-up sushi bars are a thing, witnessing a man sprint on single tooth tengu-geta and Stefani's 'Harajuku Girls' come to life in the dizzying bustle of Takeshita Street.
Tokyo is a place of independence - the way of life here stresses, irregularly, on convenience and functionality. Think cubicle hotels and solo dining booths at ramen-chain Ichiran. It's a whole different culture that is so far removed from the Western culture, and it's one that is heavily embedded in formal manners and a lot of bowing. Yet, in Japanese culture, the people are not so individualistic in that they are more nationalistic and pride in their country.
The many wards of Tokyo split the city into epicentres of distinct attractions. Shinjuku is a hub of towering business buildings, calling itself home to the busiest railway station in the world (and one, I must say, that is the best considering its size and efficiency), and inspiring architecture such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Building by architect Kenzo Tange that attempts to resemble a Gothic Cathedral.
Taking a walk down Chuo-dori, the main shopping street in Ginza, shows how Tokyo really functions. Everything is here: the major fashion houses, Ginza Mitsukoshi and, of course, a supersize Uniqlo store to satisfy the shopping essentials of every citizen in Tokyo. Though Tokyo really screams its affiliation with its earliest twinned cities: New York City and Paris. The tall buildings of Shinjuku is as in the Wall Street of New York City; the crossing at Shibuya as in the scramble at Broadway; everything relates back to flashing lights and confused tourists.
Though it couldn't feel more strange to find out of place French cafés on the corners of Chūō, only to discover a Printemps further down the block. In figuring out that not only does Alain Ducasse have a Benoit but also a Chanel-themed restaurant, along with Joël Robuchon's Chateau at Ebisu district, it's hard to process why anyone from Tokyo would bother to go for the 'real deal' when so much of the best of these places are fused into the dense streets of Tokyo.
Yet I felt the easiness to lose your identity and to experience an overwhelming isolation with great thanks to the language barrier, if I were to stay there for longer. All to be summed up by watching Coppola's Lost in Translation on my flight back to Hong Kong.
Balmain x h&m // White tuxedo jacket
Dries Van Noten // Marilyn shorts
To be continued... #tbc