Well, that depends on who you are...but not likely.
Why did I run away, you ask? Because I love Tokyo. What did I do? I walked. I walked some more. I think I walked 500 miles. I got home a week ago and I can still feel it in my legs. I just wanted to see the city again. I did so many tourist-y things when I lived here, and could only think of so many that I would be interested in doing this weekend, and that I would have time to do.
I still forget just how trendy...and crazy...Tokyo is. I was overwhelmed the moment I left the airport and I didn't really get a moment to rest the entire weekend. It was nice, though. A pleasant change of pace from my quiet city in the corner of the country. I was so worn out at the end and I think it'll be much longer until I visit again (except in December to go home, and I'll give myself at least a full day to chill in Tokyo before flying home.)
On the one hand, it felt familiar and I knew my way around to places I could only remember by sight. On the other hand, I saw a lot of unfamiliar and new things. The coffeeshop in Harajuku under Rainbow Pancakes closed, for example. And it looked like they were renovating Kanda station, too. The bathrooms didn't smell like regret anymore.
My favorite kind of smile, honestly.
Being in this city, and Hiroshima, and Osaka, and Los Angeles...well...not Los Angeles because sometimes people are lazy there...always reminds me that I'll never be able to dress as well as I want to...
And instills in me a nasty passion to earn enough money that I can afford $75 socks and pants that make me look like I crawled through the crust of the Earth.
Friday evening I spent walking around Daikanyama, one of the fashion capitals of Tokyo, where my uncle has his store, Denham. I didn't go in. It's expensive and I've already been inside. I've walked that walk and cried those tears already. But around the corner was a coffeeshop I remember from that time I got terribly lost in this very neighborhood. It's called Mocha and it uses only beans from Yemen, the owner's home country. There was no espresso, and as I have discovered recently, drip coffee makes me feel funny (it's too strong and I crash sooner.) I think I need to stick with espresso from now on.
That being said, the drip coffee was pretty frickin good. Yemen knows its coffee. You can also get pastries, such as orange cake.
Saturday was dedicated to Shibuya and Harajuku. I got up at the buttcrack of dawn before anything in the city was open, and took a train to Shibuya. I strolled from Shibuya to Harajuku, passing through the fancy Aoyama neighborhood, and down Omotesando, the boulevard of broken haute couture dreams. It was supposed to rain all weekend but it was totally clear until Sunday morning. It was mostly a food weekend, even though my plans changed constantly based on my stomach's whims. And my stomach's whims gravitated often to coffee and pancakes.
But first, the non-food. I visited Yoyogi Park, a famous park in Harajuku, that I thought I had never seen before but it looked strangely familiar...
And right across the street was a Jamaican festival, One Love. Granted, I have never been to Jamaica (I have been to Antigua, which is another island near-ish to Jamaica), and I know nothing about the country...but I'm pretty sure there was only a little bit of Jamaica at this festival, which was mostly served by Japanese food vendors and some Native American craft tents...
I was hoping I could, ironically, learn a little bit about Jamaica and its culture, but there wasn't a lot about that. It was still an interesting 5 minutes and if I hadn't just eaten, I would have gorged myself on jerk chicken.
Even if it's something so small as a quick stroll through a park you've visited before, or a peek into a festival that wasn't quite what you expected, at least it feels satisfying, energizing, to know you accomplished something. I did some research on things to do while I was in Tokyo and both Yoyogi Park and the festival were on the list, and I felt such a rush when I crossed them off the list and added notes to the margins. Because I do that. Because I'm a dork.
Two years ago: please, i'm going to puke
Three years ago: hygge bakery
From Yoyogi Park, it was time to get more food and more coffee. I had a list of coffeeshops to visit, but some time during this weekend, I heard of a famous and really popular coffeeshop that a horde of snobs critiqued on Foursquare. Naturally, I had to go. I walked through a part of Harajuku that I had never seen before, and just as my feet were about to melt into the pavement, I found it: Streamer Coffee. I felt like I was in Los Angeles again. They had a bigger menu than any other coffeeshop I've been to in Japan, with full espresso equipment..AND SOY MILK. 'Allelujah I am saved. (I am lactose-intolerant sometimes.) It's near an uber-posh school near Omotesando, in an uber-uber-posh neighborhood. The coffee was beautiful, the interior was beautiful, the soy milk was beautiful. The owner, Hiroshi Sawada, was the first Asian world champion of a free pour latte art competition in Seattle, earning the highest score in history at the competition.
And I didn't even plan this in advance. Sometimes it's the little things that make the biggest impression. I wanted to spend all evening here and come back the next day, but alas, the traveller must push on.
By this time, it wasn't as late as I had expected, so I decided to fit in another half day of exploring. I went to Aoyama Cemetery, supposedly another famous Tokyo site, and one I may have stumbled upon unknowingly when I lived here two years ago. It was a cemetery. It was pretty, and quiet, and peaceful, but not morbid at all. I like my cemeteries morbid, no disrespect to any of the residents of the cemeteries. From there I wandered all the way back to Shibuya to find a burger. A specific burger...
A W.P. Gold Burger, which, if you say it in Japanese, sounds conspicuously like...Whoopi Goldberg-er. Every burger on the menu was themed and named after a celebrity. I got a Kevin Bacon burger. Can you guess the theme? Bacon. I'll bet you couldn't guess that. That was a difficult question.
I forgot that Japanese bacon isn't really bacon. It's just ham. I took it off and ate the rest and it was the weirdest, newest, and best sensation I had experienced that weekend. The burger was a little more like steak than ground beef, but heavily peppered and smoky, and massive. And yet the bar was like most other Japanese bars: small, funky, smoky like the beef, and crowded. I get goosepimples thinking of all the burger opportunities I'll have when I go home for Christmas (CookOut, please and thank you.)
All of this and it wasn't even dinner time yet. But I was pooped in a major way, so I went back to the hostel, Khaosan Tokyo Ninja in Nihonbashi (10/10 would recommend), to rest and recharge...literally. My phone died on the way back. And then I went back out for dinner in Ebisu, a bar neighborhood near Daikanyama, where I was always too afraid to go bar-hopping in college. I only made it to two: a Thai restaurant and an Italian bar before I had to get back to the trains so I wouldn't miss the last one.
Sunday was a little slower than Saturday. I wanted to make sure I could get to the airport on time and without too much trouble (I did), and I was pooped from the day before. I wandered all over Shinjuku waiting for things to open and looking for a coffeeshop I'd read about. I got to it an hour early so I turned around and went to Tully's instead. But a friend from my prefecture recommended another pancake place near the station so I found my way there for breakfast number 2. And lord was it worth the walking and the waiting in line.
Slappy Cakes. Hands down the best pancakes I've had in Japan, even better than Rainbow Pancakes (my favorite Harajuku haunt.) Rainbow Pancakes is good, and the pancakes are thick and weird, but Slappy Cakes has a bigger menu, a bigger (and nicer) interior, and weirder flavor combinations. I'd had a BLT pancake at Rainbow Pancakes, and a lemon blueberry pancake at Slappy Cakes. The lemon blueberry pancake was the size of a big plate. It was big. I sat at the counter, so I didn't get a personal griddle, but the people at the tables did. Washed it down with a hibiscus lemonade, and passed the next hour wandering around the world's busiest train station trying to find the shopping area.
From Shinjuku on to Tsukiji, home of the famous fish market. I got there late in the morning, so all the fish stuff was done for, but I was there for another coffeeshop...owned by the barista who opened Steamer. As I discovered when I wandered into Turret, his Tsukiji shop. This place was tiny. Smaller than any store I'd visited in Japan. Business probably isn't very good, but it was a cute shop, and the coffee's great, so I hope he's able to stay in business for a long time. It's rare to find places like his in Japan, where most places only serve drip coffee (and ironically don't carry soy milk.) He served me my iced vanilla soy latte (god I sound like a yuppie hipster...but I don't regret it) in a mason jar with a handle, and I sat on a tractor bed with some cushions. Can this man marry me? Can he turn my apartment into his very own coffeeshop? I wanted to buy a mason jar but he wasn't selling, and when it came time to pick out a souvenir from the other shop, I panicked and skittered out the door.
It didn't occur to me just how exhausted I was until I got back to Takamatsu that night. Something about my city makes it feel wider than Tokyo. It's less crowded and less frenetic. I love Tokyo, but I'm not sure I could do another impromptu Tokyo Weekend Run-Away any time soon. I, and my wallet, need some time to breathe.