You know you’re in Tokyo when…

By Lynn Strough

Travelynn Tales


Welcome to this week’s chapter in the ongoing series by our world traveler, Lynn Strough. It’s time for Tokyo!

So, we asked, “How do you know you’re in Tokyo?” And she said, “You know you’re in Tokyo when”:


  • 1. The trains look like something from Star Trek
  • 2. The traffic looks like a crazy, giant video game
  • 3. There are whole malls full of video games
  • 4. You're the only non-Asian on the train
  • 5. The floors are covered with tatami mats, and you're sleeping on a futon on the floor
  • 6. There are rules about when to wear shoes vs slippers vs special bathroom slippers
  • 7. Chop sticks are the norm
  • 8. People walk around outside in kimonos and face masks... and it's not Halloween
  • 9. The coins are indecipherable, unless you know Japanese
  • 10. The sewer covers are works of art
  • 11. You wish you'd studied Japanese
  • 12. You can lock up your umbrella before entering a building
  • 13. That building there looks like a giant cocoon
  • 14. Charms for travel safety are available for purchase at the local temple or shrine
  • 15. There are giant barrels of saki straight ahead
  • 16. You wander on to Takeshita street and are mindful to not take that literally
  • 17. Socks are shaped like misguided mittens
  • 18. Shoes are a major fashion statement
  • 19. Even the garbage cans greet you
  • 20. If you can't go home, you can go to a shelter
  • 21. Sharp knives are sold on the street, and nobody is running away or screaming for their life
  • 22. Sushi comes on a revolving line
  • 23. You can find Carifonia Rolls (a rarity, indeed)
  • 24. That thing you thought was a slipper is really a toilet
  • 25. You order green tea and are given powder
  • 26. That shop you wandered into sells only vinegar
  • 27. You enter a Maid Cafe and find that you can't take photos inside
  • 28. What looks like chocolate is really bean paste. Surprise!
  • 29. You can purchase soft drinks from a machine on the street corner
  • 30. You can have your fortune told at a local Tokyo temple...
  • 31. ... and if you're not happy with it, you can tie your bad fortune up and send it off to the four winds
  • 32. That display case is full of tofu. And only tofu.
  • 33. There are kimono resale shops
  • 34. You see large groups of people posing for the camera
  • 35. You see many alternative modes of transportation
  • 36. There are lanterns in every size imaginable
  • 37. Writing goes up and down and sideways, too
  • 38. That's not snow but cherry blossom petals
  • 39. You're mesmerized by the museums' artifacts
  • 40. The people you meet are really nice, really helpful and really polite... and you are completely sober
  • 41. Paper isn't always flat
  • 42. Tourist books say "Tokyo" on the cover


About Lynn Strough

Lynn is a 50-something-year-old woman whose incarnations in this life have included graphic designer, children’s book author and illustrator, public speaker, teacher, fine art painter, wine educator in the Napa Valley, and world traveler. Through current circumstances, she has found herself single, without a job or a home, and poised for a great adventure.



“You could consider me homeless and unemployed, but I prefer nomad and self-employed, as I pack up my skills and head off with my small backpack and even smaller savings to circumnavigate the globe (or at least go until the money runs out). Get ready to tag along for the ride…starting now!”




travelynnlogoAll images copyright Lynn Strough and Travelynn Tales

Reprinted with permission