Although I’ve officially been living in Tokyo for a year I should be used to it by now. But I still find myself comparing the (not so) distant streets of Sano to the overcrowded towns of Tokyo. Tokyo is beautiful on the outside but after one week here it’s easy to see why so many people are miserable here from the high prices all the way to the end of those ridiculously long lines. However, every once in awhile I’ll step outside of my comfort zone and rediscover the beauty of Tokyo.
Especially now since COVID-19 is spreading the once crowded streets are now almost completely empty. As an avid walker myself I took the time to take a path that I’ve heard so much about but hadn’t had the chance to take; a stroll from Oshiage to Akihabara.
It might seem more like a waste of time to walk through Tokyo, since the way the city is built most of the captivating stuff is centered around the stations. However, spending some time off the trains can present you with some pretty unique scenery and some hidden gems others wouldn’t normally find.
On the outside Oshiage station looks like any other mall station hybrid. However, Oshiage is home to the beautiful Tokyo Skytree, the tallest building in Tokyo. Thanks to the rain, I was able to spend the first hour of my journey exploring this cute mall and some of its exhibitions. The mall is filled with the usual stores you can find anywhere but someplace to take note of is the studio Ghibli Store. Here you can find cute memorabilia, toys, clothes, etc from those magical movies and there are even some good photo ops here.
The Skytree is probably my favorite spot in Japan because of the view and because there are always events here for newly released TV/Games where you can get exclusive items. I was lucky enough to be able to see the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts exhibitions myself.
About 20 minutes from the Skytree, you’ll walk south to Sumida Park, a large and open green space filled with fashionable cafes. It’s also a great place for cherry blossom viewing in the springtime. You’ll be able to walk along the newly built Sumida Pedestrian walk which gives amazing views of the river and the city.
Crossing the bridge you’ll immediately feel the switch from modernity to tradition. As the buildings are now sporting traditional architecture, women sporting kimonos, and people becoming you for a rickshaw ride.
I’m personally not much of a temple/ shrine person. If you’ve been to one you’ve been to them all but visiting the Sensoji Temple was a a nice change of pace from staying home. After having my fill of some traditional Tokyo, I started out west towards “Akiba”.
Kuramae & Akihabara
The remainder of the walk will take you through Kuramae, a small town of Sumida that’s been dubbed “Little Brooklyn”. The town is part of the old downtown area of Tokyo and it’s full of artisans and craftsman stores that have been around since the Meiji period. Much of the shops sell specialty crafts items like notebooks and fountain pens. Which could make a good gift for any artsy friends you have. Unfortunately, everything closes at 6:00pm when I arrived so I couldn’t really explore the town but it’s definitely a place to come back to at a later time.
From here continue walking west for another 20 minute to reach Akihabara.
It’s hard to find some semblance of normalcy or excitement in the midst of a pandemic. While I try to avoid large crowds and hanging out to much, walking through the streets seems to be a better (healthier) way to keep my sanity.