Getting lost in the forests of Karuizawa

One of the most valuable life lessons I learned from my parents is very simple: walk. They both love walking, it is probably one of the things that keeps them together after been married for 30 years. They came to Japan last March and I decided to organice a NOT very typical Japan trip for them: I just rented a place in Karuizawa for one week and made no plans at all.

Karuizawa is a very mysterious place, it feels like a portal to a different country. I’m sure Isao Takahata visited Karuizawa several times when he created the anime Heidi, Girl of the Alps.

After several days walking through the forests getting lost into the myst we kept discovering new places that would excite us. Every day we would venture farther away and we would get familiar with the surroundings of our area. The bridge we crossed on our last day stays in my memory, it is the farthest point we reached during our stay.

There is magic and wonder in those moments when we step into a location we have never been, it must be encoded in our genes. Life is about walking, exploring and when you get lost you will find new paths.

Keep walking.

Practical trick to get lost: put your phone in plane mode and of course don’t use google maps 🙂

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Memory alley – 思い出横丁

Omoide-yokocho (思い出横丁) could be translated as “Memory lane” or “The alley of the memories”. Among my friends we call it “The Yakitori street” because most of its restaurants are tiny yakitori places.

It is a very photogenic place and it is nice to have yakitori in any of its restaurants, not for the quality of its food but because of its retro-flavor, its “buildings” are probably the oldest near Shinjuku Station. It feels like being Deckard having noodles at the beginning of Blade Runner.

If you go to Omoide-yokocho for some yakitori and beers, beware of drunken salarymen 😉

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Walking around Kameido

 

Kameido is a neighborhood in east Tokyo (JR Sobu line from Akihabara to Chiba) which is not very touristy but it’s worth to take a stroll around its alleys. Nowadays the eastern part of Tokyo is the youngest and most lively part of the city (Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku, etc), however during the Edo era the areas west and south of the Imperial Palace were the busiest ones.

Even though Kameido, in east Tokyo, was destroyed during the Second World War it still maintains certain aura of past times. Kameido is very popular for its gyoza and horumon ホルモン restaurants.

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