It’s the simplest concept going, it’s one of the first things we learn to do as children, it’s totally FREE and it is one of the best things to do when you are travelling, yeah that’s right we are going to introduce you to the art of walking! OK, so I know most of you probably already have the hang of this walking thing, but do you use it to it’s fullest potential? For us walking is the best way to see a new place, to explore your surroundings and discover entirely new possibilities.
Once you get over the fear of getting lost and embrace it’s potential then the world of travel will open up to you.
Visiting Tokyo was quite the eye opener for the possibilities getting lost leads you too, because no matter how much you might fight it or how many times you might glance down at that map you WILL get lost in Tokyo and the best way to deal with that is to embrace it!
The first thing we did in Tokyo was to get lost, in fact that is usually the first thing we do in any place we visit. We even try to get lost in our own city! Ever heard of psychogeography? It’s basically the idea of walking with no set place in mind or goal other than to just walk and experience the world around you! It’s a liberating idea, no longer are you worrying about finding that shrine or locating that particular restaurant, instead you allow your surroundings to take you on a journey!
I was speaking to my parents recently about travelling and my frustration at their insistence on always taking all inclusive trips and only venturing out on excursions. After debating with them for a little while and asking them a few simple questions such as whether or not they have ever truly fell in love with any of these places like we have. Their answer was NO, they have enjoyed trips sure but love, not really. They only place they feel pulling on their heart strings is New York… and guess who they went there with!!
One of the conclusions I came to was that their fear of going it alone on a trip boiled down to a fear of getting lost. Getting lost usually is something with bad connotation, we might tell someone to get lost or loose our keys. It’s not usually something to be encouraged or embraced! It’s a wholesale “normal” attitude we carry with us which we never question.
But I put it to them, and to you too, that when you can take that step beyond the fear of getting lost, that is when you can truly explore somewhere. When you can get below the façade, see below surface level and not just see the place, but crucially, FEEL IT! That is when you fall in love with somewhere!
What we love about walking is the fact you control it, you want to switch directions and take that interesting side street, to pause and look up and down at the details. You can stop and go back, explore inside that building, you can follow your instincts, be spontaneous and generally see things you other wise would have whizzed passed and be oblivious too! It is all about seeing somewhere on your own terms, your own speed and creating a unique experience of personal discoveries!
Getting Lost on Purpose in Tokyo – Discover Hidden Tokyo
When we headed over to Japan we wanted to totally immerse ourselves in this wonderful country we had traveled half the world to experience. With awe and wonder we decided instead of being intimidated by the complexity and challenges of this new land, that we would embrace its exhilaration.
We set off to wander, no particular destination in mind other than exploration. To see the details, to come across the unexpected and to embrace the idea of being totally lost and the thrill of expectation. Getting lost is part of the adventure, it is where the city to takes you on a journey where you are never sure of what you might find or where you may end up.
We wandered the winding streets, jungle crows cawing from the tangled wires above, this was a Tokyo we hadn’t expected and loved discovering. Little electric cars buzzed around us as the beat of a monks drum and the smell of incense filled the air. Amidst the glowing signs and the melody of sounds we found the wonderful hidden world of a tiny, ancient Shinto shrine.
We watched as locals came and went, wafting themselves with the sweet smelling smoke, washing their hands and clapping before bowing before the ornate temple. We took our own turn to pay our respects, writing out our own “Ema” plaque and sending our wishes for continued travels and peaceful wanderings up to the “Kami”.
We discovered the quiet passion of Tokyo beyond the technology and modern metropolis, we sat and learned the ways of a new culture and shared someone else’s daily routine with wonderment and appreciation after stepping out of the safety net of certainty.
The art of walking: Tips for getting lost successfully!
Wear good shoes
No one enjoyed having blisters! We even had to buy new ones in Poland with some decent padding!
Follow your instincts
If something catches your eye down a side street or as we did, you smell something different or hear a unique sound…follow it! Use all your senses!
Be inquisitive and open to exploring new places
Why not take the metro to a new area of the city or try to find a street you have never been to, search for something different!
Most neighbourhoods are safe but also be aware of your surrounding
The great thing about travelling is that it does break down preconceptions. We have explored the Bronx for example and loved how different it was. But you also have to be aware of your new surroundings and how you act.
Now contrary to what you might imagine we are not going to tell you to rip up your maps, but instead use them in a different way. Note down your discoveries so you can go back, check to see if you are nearby something you wanted to go and see or even play with it and draw a line across or down the map and just follow it! One of our most memorable days was criss-crossing Manhattan!
Stop and take your time!
It’s not about running around all over but about having the time to stop and look at the details, to sit down on a bench and people watch. Have fun with it, speak to people, have lunch and explore at your own pace! Put a day or half a day to one side to just walk without any other time pressures or itineraries to stick to.