From Tokyo with Love: July 2020


The rains of July

It’s 11 August, and I’ve just come back inside after reading for a while on the front porch. I think I lasted about 15 minutes: the temperature hovering around 37 degrees, with a brutal real-feel of 46. Now, as I sit down to reflect on July, the irony isn’t lost on me that the sun is currently hammering down outside; for July was a grey one – Tokyo racking up a record number of consecutive cloudy or rainy days. It was also the first typhoon-free July since the Meteorological Agency started taking records in 1951. The weather, it seems, just another thing that doesn’t want to play by the rules this year.

Sustained cloudy weather has never been good for my head, so I’m glad the sun is back, even with the oppressive heat. July – and in particular, this year’s rainy season – seemed to drag on a fair bit, a lot of my photos being noticeably greyer than usual. But all-in-all, it was a good month. We took it slow at the start, visiting some new neighbourhoods and rediscovering a few old ones, then kicked it up a notch towards the end, heading down to Kyoto and Osaka to work with a few hotels. (Sowaka, already published; Conrad Osaka, later this week.)

With COVID-19 still in its early stages, we will undoubtedly be travelling domestic for the rest of the year. Growing up in a seaside town, I often get the urge to be by the coast, and so we may head down to the Izu Peninsula for a few days next week. Like the rest of the world, I have no clue when international travel will resume to a point of it feeling ‘normal’ again. I have been reminiscing (perhaps too much?) lately about past trips to SE Asia: climbing up Sigiriya in Sri Lanka; eating pho by the side of the road in Vietnam; and just lazing the days away in Bali. As I watched the cartoon Moana on the TV yesterday, I was jealous of the turquoise blue waters that this imaginary character was getting to enjoy. First world problems, eh?

So it’s been, what, six months since COVID-19 began? What I find morbidly interesting is just how quickly the world has accepted and adapted to this catastrophic turn of events. On 08 April, I wrote on IKIMASHO that there were “over 1.4 million cases of coronavirus worldwide and 82,000 deaths.” I remember thinking how big a number that was. Now, today, it is over 20 million confirmed cases and 736,000 deaths. That’s in the space of four months.

As it was back in April, Japan continues to have a weird sense of normality about it. We were always used to wearing masks anyway, so the mask culture isn’t new here. It seems like the government approach here is just to let the mild cases happen, but keep a close eye on the hospital situation. As long as the hospitals aren’t overwhelmed, I get the feeling Tokyo will not impose another State of Emergency again. But time will tell.

But I digress – and I’m hungry – so it’s time to put this blog post to bed. Here are some random photos from July.


The hustle-and-bustle of small suburban stations. The Ikegami line in Tokyo is good for just getting off at random stops to explore.


I have no idea why, but Dry Cleaners in Japan are always decorated with crazy neon and garish signs. I liked this one as it looked like it was straight out of the mid-80s.


Old-school vibes


At the first sign of rain, he slides his door closed 🍃


Lollipop reflections


A quiet afternoon spent reading in a tranquil cafe


With added kakigori – shaved ice, this one with green tea and condensed milk


We found an izakaya that does great value lunch/dinner sets. This one was breaded pork fillet with egg served in a skillet. It cost 890 yen (£6:40)


Meanwhile this sashimi set cost just 1,200yen (£8.65). Couldn’t believe it.


The smell of wood and leaves after the rain


Pretty in purple 💜


Tokyo Textures


A brief respite from the rain. Now that the sun is out, the flowers wave happily to everyone who passes by 💚💛❤️🌻


I liked this train seat we saw on a train in Kyoto – reserved for mothers, elderly and disabled passengers.


A walk to Kiyomizudera in Kyoto


Blue skies over Shinjuku in Tokyo


July 2020: Yasaka Koshino shrine, Kyoto


The sun sets on July…

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  1. Cleo

    I just discovered you and I am hooked! I went to Japan last year for the first time and seriously planning on moving there once I get my degree. Meanwhile, I live in London whilst day dreaming about Tokyo..thank u for giving me the dose of Japan reality

  2. Hi Cleo – thank you so much for the message and I say DO IT! Thank you for reading and I hope the pics can inspire you to start your own Japan journey 🙂

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