Look, I’m not the most well-traveled guy in the world. But I get around. I’ve been to four continents, a lot of top tourist destinations, and a few unusual ones. I’ve eaten gumbo in New Orleans, pad Thai in Bangkok, fish and chips in London, French onion soup in Paris, and lobster rolls in Maine.
Tokyo is very, very different from those places. I’ve struggled to figure out how to explain it, and here’s what I’ve come up with.
Throughout Tokyo there are drink machines, squat, refrigerated vending machines selling small bottles of various beverages for a dollar or two. We often bought water and other drinks: citrus soda, apple juice, iced green tea. It seems like there’s always a drink machine when you want one.
That’s not the magical part. Lots of cities have vending machines.
At a typical Japanese vending machine, you can pay in three ways: coins, transit card, or 1000-yen bill. About a dozen times during our trip, we slid a piece of paper money into the slot on the front of the vending machine, and not once did it ever spit the bill back at us.
That is Tokyo: the least annoying place I’ve ever been.
You know how at a good restaurant–the kind that is in love with making customers happy, not in love with itself–it seems like the staff knows what you need a moment before you realize it yourself? That’s Tokyo. The trains don’t stop in the tunnel without an explanation. We never had trouble finding something good to eat, usually within a few paces of where we were standing. And Tokyo is the most walkable place I’ve ever been in my life.
Tokyo has ruined me. I had a list of other places I wanted to go on future trips. I crossed them all off and just wrote Tokyo six times.
More soon, including Iris’s favorite food of the trip: grilled chicken tail.