Omoide Yokocho
Photo: VTT Studio/Dreamstime Undated photo of Omoide Yokocho

6 things Covid-19 took from us that we can’t wait to get back in Tokyo

Here are some things about Tokyo we miss most from the pre-Covid era
Written by
Emma Steen

From picking up peculiar hobbies to home bartending, it goes without saying that we’ve made a good effort to make the best of a bad situation. But there are a few things that simply can’t be replicated at home – and we’re not just talking about international travel. 

In the face of the protracted state of emergency, boozy bar crawls and late-night restaurants aren’t the only thing we miss from the pre-pandemic era. With a road map to ease restrictions in the works, there’s reason to be optimistic about life in Tokyo in the coming months. Here are a few of the irreplaceable aspects of life in Tokyo which we can’t wait to get back. 

写真は『Fuji Rock Festival』のもの(Photo:Keisuke Tanigawa)
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Festivals of any kind

Summer is an especially opportune time for the city’s biggest festivals, whether it be an electrifying music event or a dazzling hanabi taikai (fireworks festival). The season may be winding down and the cool weather of autumn will be a relief from the summer heat, but we’d be ready to endure any kind of climate to revel in multi-day jamborees or sip beer at a good old-fashioned matsuri again. 

Mic generic
Photo: Matthias Wagner/Unsplash

Live music

In a city full of first-rate music venues, it’s been a huge shame not to be able to listen to live talents this past year or so. Jazz nights, global megastar concerts and film screenings accompanied by a live orchestra are experiences that even state-of-the-art home sound systems can’t replace.

Tokyo Disneyland, sunset
Photo: Colton Jones/UnsplashTokyo Disneyland during sunset

Last-minute decisions

Pre-pandemic, it was easy to hop on the train to Disneyland in the late afternoon for discounted after-six passes, or drop by a museum for a spontaneous afternoon of art and culture. This is no longer the reality, what with limited capacities and requirements for advance reservations. We can’t wait to exercise our right to unconstrained, last-minute adventures.

Photo: Anna Demidova/Dreamstime

Intimate outings with family and friends

Remember the time when restaurant tables weren’t divided by plastic barriers and you could casually carouse through town with friends? Social distanced outings are better than nothing, but we’re looking forward to nights out where we can chatter until the wee hours without worrying about curfews or the dangers of hugging and have conversations that aren’t stilted by plastic partitions and face masks.

Omoide Yokocho
Photo: VTT Studio/Dreamstime

Yokocho hopping

What more could you ask for than hopping from one stall to another, rubbing elbows with strangers and making new friends over highballs, and sharing the platters of food that are dished up at a yokocho (Japan’s traditional alleyways filled with tiny restaurants and bars). Yes, you can always grab a takeaway, but the atmosphere and experience of sitting at a yokocho food stall is one that doesn’t translate as a grab-and-go meal.

Shibuya Crossing
Photo: Cory Schadt/UnsplashUndated photo of Shibuya Crossing

Feeling safe

Tokyo is one of the safest cities in the world, so the fear and anxiety we faced over the last year felt especially disconcerting to us. Did someone just sneeze on the train? Did I wash my hands enough? Are we standing a little too close to each other? As much as we miss our social life, the comfort and sense of security we had has been the greatest loss of all. Above all else, we’re eager to see public health status and job/financial stability in general restored in the coming months.

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