Sayonara Tokyo

Time to go home

Time to go home

I’m writing this from the passenger seat of a rental van, on my way to Akita in northern Japan. This is the final stretch in the country move marathon: take worldly possessions to parent’s house. After a week of farewells and family time, I’ll be gone.

It’s strange to think that 2 years have passed since I moved to Tokyo. Even weirder is that I’ve spent 5 of the last 10 years in Japan. Sometimes I wonder whether I’d be a different person if I’d stayed in Australia? Or chosen a different country altogether? Like, am I now 1% culturally Japanese? Either way, this place has dug its heels in—it will always be an intrinsic part of my identity and my home away from home.

But, here I am, leaving again, and I think this time’s my last. After a 15-year battle of the heart, Japan has finally been defeated. Australia wins for a mixed bag of reasons including its informal culture, self-deprecating tendencies, active citizenry and multicultural make-up. But most of all, it wins because I feel like I belong—there, I know where I am and how I fit, and I truly feel at home.

Moving country is always an emotional rollercoaster ride; at the moment, sad, happy, excited and nervous are on constant rotation. Thankfully, I have work to distract me, as well as this blog post—which is also a welcome opportunity to reminisce and capture some of my best memories for all eternity.

So, after 2 years in this crazy city, here are my top 20 favorite things to do:

  1. Eat a Sunday breakfast of cake from Sunday Bake Shop
  2. Sip cocktails at Kinfolk Lounge or Bar Trench
  3. Check out the latest exhibition at the Mori Art Museum
  4. Down a Gibraltar coffee at Amameria or a macchiato at Fuglen
  5. Boogie to sweet rockabilly tunes at a Little Elvis gig
  6. Picnic in Yoyogi Park (with fresh bread from Tarui Bakery in nearby Sangubashi)
  7. Impress visitors at the New York Bar at the Park Hyatt Tokyo.
  8. Stock up on magazines from home at Daikanyama T-Site
  9. Delight in the simplicity of soba at Fujita
  10. Enjoy Taiyo’s tonkatsu—the best in Tokyo
  11. Avoid crowded trains by biking EVERYWHERE
  12. Find exactly what I’m looking for at Tokyu Hands
  13. Bump shoulders with Tokyo’s elite in Isetan’s depachika and purchase at least one fancy cake/onigiri/bento
  14. Get a haircut by Chie at Watanabe
  15. Snag second-hand designer bargains at Ragtag Shibuya
  16. Escape to France at Au Temps Jadis
  17. Travel back in time with Hashiya Hatagaya’s salted cod roe and squid spaghetti
  18. Pick up a fresh sushi bento at Umegaoka Sushi no MIDORI-SOHONTEN to eat while watching skateboarders at Miyashita Koen
  19. Be captivated by the Koenji Awaodori, Tokyo’s most spectacular summer festival
  20. Relish the heavenly combination of piping hot yakitori (grilled chicken) and cold draught beer (Miyazaki Shoten is a recent great discovery)

Thank you, Tokyo. I’m glad I had the chance to know you better. I can’t wait to return as a tourist, this list in hand, and take a walk down memory lane.


  1. Isabelle says:

    Saying goodbye to a city is always hard for me. I’m excited for your new adventure though! Bon voyage! Let me know where you’d be writing from next. =)

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