JAPAN 2013 | Solo in Tokyo

Street in Shinjuku.

September 2021. In our Grand Scheme of Travels, Danny and I had planned to be in Japan with Michel. Quod non. So let’s go back to March and April 2013, when my sister Florence, her husband Kenneth, my nephew Leo and my niece Isaline travelled to Tokyo, Hakone and Kyoto. The classic intro to Nippon and a golden opportunity. I grew up with anime such as ‘Dragon Ball‘ and ‘Saint Seiya on television and Japan had been on my wish list since I was little. There’s a lot I don’t remember. But thanks to photos on Facebook, my guidebook and check-ins on Swarm (Foursquare), I can reconstruct parts of that trip. 

I arrived in Tokio International Airport, commonly known as Haneda (HND) a day earlier than my sister. So I had a day on my own. I flew British Airways out of London Heathrow (LHR) on flight BA007. Yes, cue ‘You Only Live Twice‘. 

Jet lagged AF or not, I was eager to do as much as possible that day solo in Edo. I feared to be slowed down too much by the young age of Leo and Isaline. They were 7 and 5. I would be proven wrong. Also I planned to go out that evening and maybe taste some local uhm specialties. 

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 

My first views of Tokyo were filtered. But I immediately recognized the Tokio vibe, architecture and style. I checked in at an Ibis for the night and I headed to a McDonald’s for WiFi. It was 2013 so it wasn’t a given to be able to get a local sim card. 

After figuring out what I could, I started my day. It included a visit to the Shinjuku Juniso Kumano Shrine and Shinjuku Chuo Park

Afterwards I went to the top floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, aka City Hall. Propaganda for the 2020 Olympic Games everywhere. It seemed so far away. 

That day I also visited the Shinjuku Gyo-en National Garden. I was hoping for the world renown cherry blossom and I got it. So lovely, so romantic, so stereotype but so beautiful. 

After wandering around town a bit more, I made photo of a scramble (diagonal) crossing. I would see the infamous Shibuya Scramble Crossing later.


By late afternoon, I was knackered. Jet lag got the best of me. I got some rest at the hotel. Napping, trying to score on the dating apps. But I hadn’t figured yet Grindr isn’t the major player in Japan and language is a huge barrier. 

I looked for some gay bars. 

Finding a specific address in Asia is very difficult and is different to what I’m used to. But I was way too early. Bars were still closed. 

After walking around a bit I called it a day. Or night. So yes, that wasn’t a great success.

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