Opinion: How to have the Tokyo experience here in Calgary
By Mackenzie Mason, Contributor
If you’re anything like me, you’ve always wanted to visit Japan and experience the vibrant and bustling city of Tokyo.
If you’re even more like me, you probably can’t afford to pay for the 11-hour flight from Calgary, the expensive hotel costs (even if you’re in one of those capsule hotels) and the price of transportation from destination to destination. But fear not my friends, because you barely have to leave home to enjoy Japan!
Here’s how to experience Tokyo in Calgary in a day.
1. Glenbow Museum
130 9 Ave SE
You’ll begin your day at the Glenbow Museum to learn the history of Japan through some breathtaking Buddhist art, originating from Japan and other Asian countries. There is also some stunning Japanese O-Yoroi samurai armour from the Kamakura or Muromachi period (12th-14th century). This can be found on the fourth floor of the building in the warrior exhibition.
2. Chinook Kendo Dojo
7008 Farrell Rd SE
Once you’ve immersed into the impressive history of Japan, it’s time to get down and dirty. Channel your inner samurai as you take a Kendo class at the Chinook Kendo Dojo. Kendo is a traditional Japanese, semi-contact, martial art, using bamboo swords (shinai) and protective armour (bōgu). Even though you don’t get to use a real samurai sword (a katana) which is probably for the best, you’re going to have a great time immersing yourself in the rich warrior history of Japan that you just learned about!
3. Devonian Gardens
400, 317 7 Ave SW
Despite the fast-paced, urban lifestyle of Tokyo, the city has 56 parks and gardens to wander around and find your zen. After all the hard work it took to become a samurai, it will be nice to relax in the Devonian Gardens in the downtown Core Shopping Centre. Here you’ll find one hectare of botanical gardens habitant over 500 trees, 50 varieties of plants, a 900 sq. ft. living wall, fountains, koi fish ponds and even a playground.
(Bonus points if you meditate in the garden and send us a picture!)
1075-999 36 St NE
If one of the main reasons you wanted to visit Tokyo was for the Shinjuku Shopping District, then you’re gonna love Oomomo. Oomomo is a Japanese lifestyle variety store that strives, “to bring new and trending products in Japan to Canada every month.” They have everything in this store — literally everything. There’s cosmetics, household goods, electronics and all the Japanese snacks you could wish for! Shop at your heart’s content because everything in the store is $3, unless otherwise specified.
110-7212 Macleod Trail SE
After a long, eventful day in Tokyo — I mean, Calgary — it’s time to sit down and enjoy a bottle of Coke, right? Wrong! Think beyond the Coca-Cola dispenser and imagine the world of possibilities that lies behind it. Okay, that’s a little dramatic, but you’re not going to want to miss out on this one. Ajito is a Japanese speakeasy hidden inside a sushi restaurant, behind a vintage Coca-Cola machine. Yeah, you heard me.
When you walk in, it’s like you entered a hidden dimension full of delicious
food and new experiences. From fancy, colourful drinks to menus that look like ninja masks, all the way to sashimi dishes being served in a cloud of smoke and the best ramen you might ever have, Ajito is all about the experience. And if you’re lucky enough to meet the owner, Takeshi Kawabe, you’ll be met with some wholesome omotenashi or Japanese hospitality.
After all is said and done, it’s time to go home. Good thing you don’t have to go on that 11-hour airplane ride!