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Travel is often about overcoming your fears and cultural misconceptions. And so it was with my first visit to Tokyo. I must admit, I'd always harbored some apprehensions about visiting Japan. There was no one reason, but rather a combination of several: an unfamiliar language, perceptions of a rigid and difficult-to-absorb culture, the idea of dealing with urban crowds, and the thought of paying rather dearly for the entire experience. So when a trip to southeast Asia landed on my agenda, I figured it was time to deal with my fears and ignorance about Japan by stopping along the way in Tokyo.