We left Manila at the crack of dawn for the land of the rising sun. I dozed off for half of the flight but woke up just in time to catch, as seen from our airplane window, the snow-capped peak of Mt. Fuji rise from just beyond the horizon. On the train ride from Narita airport to Oshiage, the scenery slowly changed from rice paddies into low-rise apartment buildings. As my second visit to Tokyo, it is definitely is more than its glittering skyscrapers, automated toilets, and the vending machines on every street corner.
We rented a modest apartment in a quiet neighbourhood near Tokyo Skytree for our six day stay in Japan. The narrow streets in the neighbourhood discouraged cars and so bicycles are a preferred mode of transportation by the locals. I myself have never learned how to ride one but I would’ve definitely enjoyed bicycling down the park along Sumida river. The ten to fifteen minute walk from our apartment to the nearest station, however, allowed us to get a taste of shitamachi (roughly translating to “old town”) culture. On our first day, an elderly lady from a family-owned bakery kindly gave us a discount for the bread that we bought from her after she realized we were tourists. Also nestled between the side streets and alleyways are local restaurants, small shops, and bathhouses. If you want to take a break from the faster-paced lifestyle of bigger cities, Sumida is definitely a great area to explore as relics of traditional Japan stands juxtaposed to large commercial buildings.