It is a whirl, a twirl, a blur.

Facades of steel and glass form angles against the blue sky. Mind-boggling crowds of humans move like liquid across wide intersections, down shopping streets, and through perfectly manicured parks. Kitschy pop music finds my ears as I stand on a corner.

Press a flashing button to order a steaming bowl of ramen, and listen to the salarymen slurp.

Under the massive red lantern of Kaminarimon, the gold-topped pagoda caches the sun as a girl in a gem-colored kimono shuffles by. Incense fills the courtyard. We’re transported back in time.

A long dirt road passes under a graceful torii. Hundreds of wishes, written on wood, dangle in the dappled light. The curve of a roof, the shape of a tree, etch themselves into my mind.

The evening lights up. Neon! Bells and balls and flashing lights. We run through the cacophony of a pachinko parlor, laughing.

We steal away to the narrow streets. Magic alleys. Little doors. A zig. A zag. The smell of sweet soy and sizzling meat. We nestle into a tiny spot.

Skewers of kushiyaki hot off the grill: shishito peppers, perfectly charred, mushrooms, and savory balls of minced chicken arrive. One stick, two stick, three stick, four … The food keeps coming.

Foggy windows, foggy heads. We spill back into the Japanese night.