A mid-term resident of Tokyo reports – Part 9: Enjoying the freedom to get lost

This is part 9 of what is intended to be a collection of overview reports on living in Tokyo by someone who is here for longer than a short stay but shorter than a long stay. Hopefully they will be helpful to others in similar situations.

One of the very nice things about being in Tokyo for several months is that it gives a freedom to get lost, or at least to try to do so. If you are only here a short time it seems every free minute needs to be planned, and if you are here for a longer term it is easy to get into a routine and forget the larger picture. In the mid-term outlook, though, just when things start to turn into a routine the ticking clock of a sooner or later impending departure kicks in with a desire to see that little bit more…

Tokyo is an easy place to let the urge to simply wander take hold. It is generally a safe and pedestrian friendly city, there are regional and neighborhood maps posted every few blocks, and in the city it would take quite a bit of effort to be further than a 10 minute walk from a train or subway station that would eventually get you home. Beyond the logistics being straightforward, the primary reason to leave the guidebook at home and just follow your head is that there is no better way to get to see “real” Tokyo – the parts of the city where some of the other people on your morning commute live and work. It is also how you stumble across the oddities of the city – temples surrounded by skyscrapers; neighborhood parks with tranquil gardens left over from former days but barely, if at all, mentioned in any guides; the odd old building which has survived earthquakes and wars; the small shops and noodle bars that make this city run.

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