Japan is the “trust fall” of travel destinations. The way in which it gently pushes you out of your comfort zone and yet surprises you at every turn, makes this eye opening experience one of excitement and adventure. From the architecture and landscape, to its amazing people and food, Japan offers a wealth of culture, history, colors and flavors.
Last summer, while traveling to the various menswear shows, I noticed the heavy influence of Japanese functionality and style in a lot of designer trend proposals, sparking in me an almost urgent desire to learn more about this amazing country. Nine weeks later I set out for a week-long trip in which I would visit Tokyo and Kyoto.
If you find yourself seeking your first out-of-the-ordinary experience in Japan, waking up at the crack of dawn to witness the tuna trade at Tsukiji Fish Market, and later enjoying a fresh sashimi breakfast, is a great start. Autumn days in Tokyo are ideal for walking between the various temples and attractions, through very diverse neighborhoods, or simply using the highly efficient train system to get through.
Some of the best restaurants do not feature either English menus or pictures of the dishes. And even though the Japanese will try to go the extra mile to make you feel comfortable, most do not speak English. To me, it was great to simply point at something on the menu, and having the waiter deliver a beautiful plate of chicken yakitori over rice (raw egg yolk on the side) or the amazing fried pork cuts served at Butagumi, which are definitely a most.
Tokyo and Kyoto are only a two and a half hour bullet train ride apart, but the cities are very different aesthetically and in the feel you get from them. Kyoto is more culturally rich and has a more traditional feel, while Tokyo is much more modern and cosmopolitan. In fact, it is common to see many women wearing kimonos as they waltz along the streets in central Kyoto. Since I only had about six nights on my hands, I stuck to these two cities, and what a way to experience a first tour of Japan.
Follow m.alberghini on Instagram for a clip of a true Japanese Karaoke experience: My Way.