If you follow me on instagram you would have already seen the news.
Within the space of 24 hours my camera was lost (in my mind, never to be found again) and well, found again! Somewhere between leaving Tokyo airport and landing in Sydney it had somhehow gone missing. And as ever with these things, it is not the loss of the camera itself that caused much of my upset, but rather the disappearance of all my photos. At the time, I felt like all my memories of this incredible trip I had just experienced in Japan were lost. It occurred to me then that whatever travel insurance compensation may help replace, it would not extend to the content of an SD card.
After a night of restless anguish, during which time calls were made to both airports and Qantas, I received the phone call. Qantas had found my camera on the plane and, thanks to the help of some incredible friends in Melbourne, I was able to have it couriered back to me and retrieved it soon after. To say I was relieved is an understatement. And to be able to share these photos with you today is all the more sweet.
A firm favourite on my bucket list, no place piqued my curiosity quite like Tokyo. A few years after first setting my sights on Japan, I finally had the opportunity to head to Tokyo - a last minute and somewhat convenient stop on the way to Australia, where I was also headed for the first time. So it was with much anticipation (and slight jet lag) that I arrived in this buzzing city. Having landed late at night, and driven in the dark to our host's house, I could only catch a glimpse of what was to come. Starting the day bright and early the next morning, I was determined not to be deterred by the rain. After a quick stop at Shibuya crossing, it felt right to escape the rain and indulge in some timely shopping in the surrounding malls.
Although I ultimately preferred the smaller boutique areas and vintage stores, notably around Harajuku and Daikanyama, there was one Shibuya standout. If you are in the area, check out Tokyu Hands and its eight floors of wonders. From phone accessories to beauty products, stationary to cycling gear, this store does not disappoint - trust me!
And if, like me, you are partial to tirelessly wandering when exploring a new city, be sure to pack some sneakers (five words I never thought would come out of my mouth!). I have been wearing this Zara pair (similar here and here) on repeat, and Tokyo days were no exception. There is so much ground to cover that you wouldn't want to miss out on anything for lack of comfortable footwear. I completed my outfit with my trusted h&m jeans (similar here) and tee, floral print Zara blazer and classic Louis Vuitton bag.
Next on the "to see" list was the Meiji Jingu. Walking through the park on the way to the shrine felt almost otherworldly, a sea of green away from the crowded streets of central Tokyo. Don't get me wrong, the park lanes were busy and packed with tourists, but the sheer size of the surroundings and their natural beauty made it the perfect respite from sensory overload.
Having heard so much about 'Harajuku girls' and the Kawai aesthetic, I was looking forward to some people watching whilst exploring the area. Although I didn't come across much extravagance, I was struck by the sharp styling and interesting pairings which are so characteristic of Japanese style. Men in particular pay great attention to detail and naturally exude style.
Immersed in the heart of Harajuku, I somehow felt less tourist, more local. Attempting to avoid the crowd whilst slowly progressing through it is quite the conundrum, but one that arises time and again when travelling. And this is particularly true in a city as dense as Tokyo, where crowds are the norm; a fact that is mitigated however by the Japanese commitment to polite boundaries and order. As an English person - queuing gene and all - even I was amazed by the orderly manner in which people queued on the subway platforms and consciously walked strictly on one side up or down the pavement. There is a certain rigour in the Japanese way, one which seems tailored to the needs of such a densely populated and busy city. But make no mistake, though utterly foreign I felt incredibly welcome, even when lost in translation.
Travelling with someone who knows the city was an absolute privilege. I am usually a thorough planner and consider pre-travel research to be an integral part of the fun. But not this time; this time I just let myself be guided around the city, stopping only for some great food (and occasional great shopping) along the way.
A little out of the way, but oh so worth it, was the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku. Its free observation deck provides great panoramic views of Tokyo's main landmarks and - weather permitting - of Mount Fuji.
Trying to cram as much as possible in a day can be challenging, particularly when there is so much ground to cover. Although we didn't make it before sunset, the beauty of Asakusa was only magnified by the evening atmosphere created by the lit lanterns. The market stalls closed, our little tour of Asakusa focused on the temple - with its striking red and gold accents.
A few things I've learnt from this holiday:
1) Shit happens. And whilst losing a camera certainly felt like a mammoth disappointment, the fact is, memories are intangibles. Their strength and permanence is not measured by the amount of photographic evidence of their existence;
2) There are so many beautiful moments to be shared and sights to be seen that it sometimes is worth putting the camera/phone down (or in my case not having one for a minute) and just being in the moment, and;
3) FWP! (i.e. first world problems). Losing a camera should not detract from the fact that I was fortunate enough to travel in the first place, something we should all stop and be grateful for when complaining about flight delays or the occasional missing suitcase!
ps: I have fallen in love with this city and I'm sure you will too!