As I mentioned yesterday, I went to Tokyo completely unprepared and unresearched – I had been up until 3am the night before in events mode, so packed my bags an hour before I left for the airport without checking the weather forecast (nothing new there), and hoped for the best. My only real preconceptions came from the handy little fold-out that my friends at Luxe City Guides sent me just before I flew out, from which the primary takeaway was high population density, and super Kawaii. Early the next morning, puffy from air travel and filming on the roof of the Andon Ryokan, I couldn’t have been further from any incarnation of Kawaii (though, Michael, this top of yours is pretty damn cute), but Tokyo’s stacks-on situation was more than evident.
I like to think of a Japanese Ryokan as the conceptual equivalent of a Moroccan Riad (which I know I’m yet to share from my recent trip, but have an Instagram to get a rough idea) – fundamentally grounded on local hospitality, and the most efficient use of space you will ever see. The only structural difference is that the cities of Morocco don’t necessarily have any dire shortage of square metres, whereas Tokyo’s walls are shoulder to shoulder at the best of times. My bedroom spanned no more than three strides, and my mattress folded out to fill the whole floorspace, and yet I wasn’t cramped nor uncomfortable (once I figured out how to open the window, anyway).
Even so, I was glad to spend an hour repeating lines in open air, nestled amongst much higher rises, and a beautiful mess of wires, towers, and bright washing flapping cheerfully from air conditioning units and peg-strewn window beams.
That night, the crew moved to the Conrad Tokyo, where the breakfast buffet alone was probably larger than a whole floor of Andon.
But not even half as charming.