Tokyo is an exciting and substantial city to live in. It is bucking the trend in Japan as a city which is constantly growing and gaining more talent. Whilst the rest of Japan declines, young people flock to Tokyo for opportunities and the promise of a ‘high life’.
This high life is not for everyone. Certainly some arrive and leave within the same year, feeling bitter and burned by reality. One of the biggest barriers to living and enjoying Tokyo is cost. That’s no real surprise; it’s the biggest city on earth and one of the most in demand. This cost doesn’t really apply to living costs like food, as that is generally pretty average here and sometimes even cheap. Rather it is the cost of rent!
If you want to live in a semi-private box with your own bathroom, you will pay a high price. I say semi-private because I can hear my neighbour breathing through the wall…still, that’s another blog post. What this means is that money can be a little tight if you want to enjoy doing other things, which you need to do to avoid spending all day in your claustrophobic box…
Enter Tokyo hiking. Dan and I always enjoy a nice stroll, that is nothing new. However, since moving to Tokyo we have taken our hikes up a notch. We regularly hike at least 10 km each weekend, usually setting ourself a goal or place we want to visit and setting off in that general direction, avoiding main roads. Often these hikes are uneventful but relaxing and a great way to get exercise and explore Tokyo!
We recently took a stroll on the first weekend of February, which happens to also be a special weekend in Japan we enjoyed in Shimonoseki last year called Setsubun. This is the day before spring and officially means ‘seasonal division’. It is also a festival where hardened soy beans are thrown around to try to get rid of any bad spirits…why not.
On our Sunday stomp we stumbled across a celebration of the Setsubun festival, Tokyo style! Instead of throwing beans they were throwing mikans, Japanese satsumas. I love mikans and so was suitably delighted when a nice old lady thrust two into my hand as we came into the shrine. We then enjoyed watching the mayhem unfold as shrine monks / volunteers threw out many mikans into the crowd, not holding back with their baseball pitcher throws!
It was a great experience and we got some tasty fruit out of it. It is also one we wouldn’t have come across had we not been doing one of our weekly Tokyo hikes. And best off all? It was entirely FREE! The best things in life are free, eh? Certainly a good motto to apply to life in Tokyo.