We meander onto a nondescript path while climbing a steep mountainside staircase at Japan’s sprawling Daisho-in Temple. The stone path could be a service entrance or maybe an entryway to another small shrine. We aren’t sure. But we have time, so a wrong turn won’t hurt.
Then colorful dots appear on both sides of the forested path. A few steps later, the dots of red and white and yellow and blue climb up a long stone staircase through the woods. When I realize what we’ve happened upon, I melt into full-face smiles.
Lesson: If you’re heading to a massive, internationally known city that people rave about, plan! We decided to wait until we arrived in Tokyo to do any serious planning, which wasn’t the best strategy. The city has a ton to offer, and knowing what you want to do and what areas of the city you’d like to visit can save you a ton of time (and money).
That said, we had a great time in Tokyo. We drove go-karts through traffic to see the city above ground; kind of figured out the sprawling train system below ground; ate everything, all the time; and were mesmerized by robots and futuristic technology.
All this while being awed by the efficiency, cleanliness and quiet of a city that’s home to nearly 14 million people. That’s almost twice the size of New York City.