Last day in Japan

I spent the last day in Japan really relaxed. I had toyed with the idea of doing a day trip to Nikko, but scrapped that. Instead, I checked out of my hotel and first had a working breakfast at Starbuck’s, using their fast wifi for some blogging and sorting some stuff…

Then I went to Shimokitazawa again, meeting up with Paul, for a stroll through the neighborhood. I behaved and didn’t buy anything last minute. From there, a quick stop at Shibuya station for a look at Tower Records (again, no shopping) and then ended up in Ebisu at my favorite Ramen restaurant, Afuri.

I had my last Ramen, this time a spicy chili version with lemongrass, and rice with Japanese pickles. It is definitely the best ramen place I found in Tokyo. I’ll miss it, I must have eaten at least 20 different versions, and am still not tired of it…

Then, after another stop at Starbuck’s, I got my stuff from the hotel, and hopped on the Narita Express to the airport. As my flight is in the morning, I figured I rather spend the last night there and have a relaxed morning, than getting up at 4.30 and rushing to Narita, stressed.

So, this is it, Japan, it was great! My first time ever in Asia, and out of my usual Western/European cultural context, it was a fascinating, mind-boggling, exciting, tiring, intense four weeks.

I saw so much, experienced a lot and met new friends. I am a bit undecided: One part thinks I should have neglected the rest of Japan and only stayed those four weeks in Tokyo (maybe with little day trips), but basically getting more out of the city.

But then, I would not have seen Osaka, Hiroshima, Nara and Kyoto… which would have been a pity. Still, for the rest of my trip, with the exception maybe of India, I think I’ll be less mobile.

I know I cannot pull off another six weeks of short term stays, driving through a country in cars and trains. Being on the road for 7 months now, the moving takes its toll, what you can do in an exciting three or four week holiday at one point gets too much when traveling long term.

I am looking forward to exploring Istanbul, and a month in beach-y Tel Aviv