Travel, tech and food

Introducing Tokyo

こんにちは日本

It’s been a month since I took the plunge and started working as a software developer in Tokyo.  As you’d expect it has been a very interesting time.   I still feel like I’m only just settling in but I have had a great few weeks already.  It seems like a long time since I did the interview for my job in January last year.   I don’t think the magnitude of the change really hit me until the day I had to say goodbye to all my friends and family in England.

Tokyo feels very different pretty quickly.  I won’t forget anytime soon landing and stepping out into stifling heat, leaving the airport and then driving on through the countryside and quickly watching it turn into the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s largest concrete jungles.  It took a while to shake off the jet lag but I tried my best to immerse myself as quickly as possible, eating my first ramen after being confused by the elaborate vending machine ordering system and employing a lot of hand gestures and google translate.  As a vegetarian, the food can often be a challenge when travelling and in Japan.  Although there are plenty of options, it’s difficult to eat traditional style food and stay strictly veggie, but I have been happy to find several great places to get vegetarian Japanese food!

Ramen Noodles

Tokyo is infamously huge and I cannot pretend I have even scratched the surface, but so far these are some of my favourite places:

Shinjuku and Shibuya are the important shopping and hangout neighbourhoods.  You can encounter the mad crowds of the Shibuya scramble crossing, the passion for fashion in Harajuku and many interesting bars and cafes.

Shibuya Crossing

I spend my working life in the Roppongi district, where many foreign companies have offices, and it is probably the ‘least Japanese’ place in Japan.  During my lunchbreaks I’ve enjoyed finding lots of comfort foods including falafel, curry and pizza around here.  At the weekends I have managed to start doing some sightseeing, checking out the historical Asakusa temple and the Imperial Palace gardens, which provide a nice contrast to the rest of the dense city.

Asakusa Temple

So far Tokyo has been beautiful, surreal and very intense.  There is a real culture shock coming to Japan, but there is a lot to be gained from learning to overcome this.  Inevitably it can still be frustrating sometimes and the homesickness can be real.  In particular, the Japanese language is difficult to get to grips with, but you can certainly survive with English as a visitor.  I am lucky to work in a company where English and Japanese are both used, but to live here I really feel the need to learn Japanese to make the most of my time here.  Over the coming months I hope to explore much more of Japan and, hopefully, I will be doing my best to get into a habit of blogging so I can share more stories from my time in the land of the rising sun!