Nonstop Excitement in Japan, by The Gay Beards


            Tokyo has always felt like a faraway land that exists in the clouds, filled with brilliant lights, deep culture, and a history that spans far beyond what is easily imaginable. For us, we didn’t quite know what to expect upon our non-stop arrival in this heavily acclaimed city – though we can now tell you, it’s an understatement to say that it exceeded all of our expectations.

            Aside from the cozy climate that parallels so perfectly with Portland, everything surrounding us on our first morning in Tokyo was wildly unfamiliar – exhilarating to say the least. Much like any foreign destination, sometimes choosing a direction and heading into the unknown is the best first step you can take.

            One of our first adventures took us to Takeshita Street in the famed Harajuku district of Tokyo. Amongst the colorful variety of shops, clothing, candy, and street fare, we found one of our favorite dwellings during our trip – a real life cat café. If spending any amount of time sipping on coffee and snuggling with a fleet of purring, furry felines sounds like fun to you, we cannot recommend this place enough.

            Though Tokyo is enveloped by towering elements of modern cityscapes, its rich heritage can be found in pockets all around the city. We had the pleasure of strolling through a few of the local parks, many of which are home to century old shrines and temples. One of our personal favorites was Sensoji Temple located in Asakusa, a breathtaking temple over 1,300 years old located adjacent to one of Tokyo’s largest street markets – Nakamise Shopping Street.

            As any traveler does, we were constantly on the hunt for some of Tokyo’s most delicious food. What quickly became apparent, however, is that instead of having to seek it out, we realized Tokyo is simply brimming with world-class dining options at every corner. Whether it was ramen at the tucked away Soranoiro, a renowned vegan dish at T’s TanTan or  Ain Soph. Journey, or Asian inspired gluten-free dishes from Littlebird - the ultimate culinary question you must ask yourself when visiting Tokyo is simply how much time do you have, and how hungry are you?

            Whether it be viewing the far reaches of Tokyo’s endless borders atop the Tokyo Skytree, witnessing some of the most baffling light shows at the Mori Building Digital Art Museum, partaking in the world’s busiest intersection at Shibuya Crossing, or strolling though the seasonal cherry blossoms in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo will delight, inspire, and leave you feeling forever grateful to have visited.