Hello everyone ^^,
as new volunteers for Yadoya we wanted to contribute something to the blog, so here we go ^^.
This is a cliché of travelling, but it's still true so I'm going to say it: it's difficult to believe that we've only been travelling a little over a month. It seems like so long ago that we packed all our stuff into storage and took the bus to the airport with our backpacks on our backs in the freezing Netherlands. So much has happened in the meantime. We've been in Delhi- India during a cash crisis, exploring ancient mughal ruins and enjoying the world's greatest vegetarian food on sunny rooftops.
We've seen cows in the streets and monkeys and wild boars in parks in the middle of the city, and we've ridden rickshaws across the loudest, busiest traffic we've seen anywhere in the world.
From Delhi we went to Bangkok (very much on a whim, because we'd initially planned to go to China instead). We walked around beautiful temples and cavernous shopping malls and the infamous hippy tourist area of Khao San Road. We experienced the weirdness of full on Christmas illuminations and never ending Mariah Carey in 36 degrees C weather, and took a vegetarian cooking class at the famous May Kaidee restaurant. (If you're into vegetarian food, or just cooking in general, I really recommend it. We learned a lot and the food we made was delicious.) Even though we hadn't planned to go to Bangkok at all, by the end we didn't want to leave. But on we went, because we knew that once we got to Tokyo we would not regret it.
We'd been to Tokyo once before. Back then we stayed a little over a week and loved it so much we never wanted to leave, so we knew we definitely wanted to stay longer this time around. That's why we were so glad to find Yadoya, where we could stay more long term. We've been here for a week now, and we've had a great time so far. The hostel is very comfortable, and the staff and other people we've met here are very nice and helpful. Our third night here (on a Tuesday) Yadoya held a dinner party, where one of the staff cooked a Korean dish. It was my first ever Korean food, but definitely not my last ^^. The atmosphere was as great as the food, so if you have a chance to, you might want to go to one of these evenings ^^. Nakano is pretty much heaven for nerds, with Nakano Broadway shops selling pretty much every anime figurine that was ever made, along with unbelievable amounts of (secondhand) manga, anime, artbooks and geeky merch. Even if you're on a tight budget and will only do windowshopping, it's still fun to check out what is selling at any given moment. You get a crash course into which anime have become classics, and which are popular right now (in our case, Yuri on Ice and some Idol thing I was unaware of XD). The atmosphere is also (in my opinion) nicer than in Akihabara. Around Nakano broadway there are plenty of eateries with delicious affordable food. Also, there are grocery shops, which can be difficult to find in the more touristy areas of Tokyo like Shinjuku, and is especially nice if you like to cook your own food from time to time ^^. From Yadoya it's easy to get around Tokyo by metro, as it is very close to Nakano station on the Chuo-line. However, being Dutch, we decided to buy bikes instead, and just cycle everywhere. It's cheaper, healthier (which is nice because exercise is pretty difficult when you're on the road for longer XD) and you get to residential areas of Tokyo you would normally miss out on, because you're always tunneling underneath them. Warning though: it turns out Tokyo has hills. A lot of them. Attempting to climb them on a one-gear bike is not for the weak of heart XD. Either way: in the week we've been here we've cycled to Shinkjuku to shop (Okadaya, Sekaido, Tokyu Hands) and to Harajuku (crepes!^^), Shibuya (LOFT), Shimokitazawa (really fun area with lots of second hand shops), and Ikebukuro, another traditional nerd haunt. Ikebukuro is the home of cat cafe's, cosplay and anime giants like ANIMATE and ACOS, the 'food theme park' NamcoNamjaTown where you can get icecream with lovely flavours like fish and chili (or taro and green tea if you are a boring traditionalist like I am XD).
If you're looking to buy manga and art books, check the ' BOOK OFF' in area's like Ikebukuro. We found a beautiful 'Princess Mononoke' artbook for less than half the normal price XD.
(apparently slenderman roams Tokyo? a random street sign we encountered in Harajuku)
We still hope to go (re)visit many places in Tokyo, like and make daytrips to Kamakura and Takao-san, and I am very glad we have such a nice homebase as Yadoya Hostel to do it from ^^.
Chris and Erik