Thursday, October 30, 2014

I LOVE JAPAN: Tokyo part 1

On the day we arrived in Tokyo, we took the airport bus into the city of Chofu to stay with my friend, Kirsten's family. Kristen wasn't in Japan, but her family had been so kind and gracious to let us stay there for a night before we went to Kyoto the next day. It would have been chaotic without her mom's help! She had helped me over skype and Facebook with so much information about transportation and places to visit. I am so grateful for her generosity and helpfulness.

On the way to her house in the middle of the night, we saw the Tokyo tower.  I knew then that we'd have a great time in Japan!

We stayed at a ryokan in Akihabara area. It was kinda old, but well-maintained. It's very traditional. We slept on tatami/futon on the floor (yeap, all three adults and a toddler in a single row). The bathroom was small and there's no shower. You have to get the water from the traditional Japanese tub (it's not the tub as you know it...). Every morning we go downstairs to the kitchen/restaurant of the ryokan and had buffet breakfast, which consist of steamed white rice, cold seaweed salad, hard boiled eggs, cooked salmon, miso soup, salad, some fruits, and toasts. For me, it was great food. I could eat Japanese breakfast of rice and miso soup and salmon and egg everyday. Liam loved it too. Anytime there's rice and soup, and broccoli, he's happy.

The small and narrow entry way into our room

Liam loved the futons! 

He loved rolling in the blankets! I think the hotel is his favorite part about the trip. LOL!

At least we still have space for all our luggage!

Mr.L heading to the hot bath upstairs. Not even the hot and humid summer can stop him from soaking in the hot baths.

We explored a lot of touristy places like the Asakusa temple, Akihabara (manga/electric city), Harajuku (Meiji Jingu), Shinjuku, Shibuya, Roponggi Hill (Tokyo Tower), and Odaiba (the big Gundam). I wish we have more time to explore, but I think we pretty much went and saw most things we (I) wanted to see. We didn't spend much time shopping (except for food) so we were able to see a lot more things.

A neighborhood in Chofu on our way to the train station

This is really common to see: photo booths and vending machines. They are everywhere!

I love that there's a car for just women!

Crazy expensive fruits. They are special because they are engineered to be more tasty than regular fruits. $10 for a single mango? No! thank you!!

Tokyo Banana. They are not very good. 

Cute Japanese cookies.
On one of the days in Tokyo, I met up with three of my Japanese friends from BYU-Hawaii. We met at Shibuya station in front of the famous Hachiko station in the rain and went to lunch at a super cute Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant. We had a fun time catching up on each other's life. It was so nice to see them all again since we hadn't seen each other since 2007! 

The famous Hachiko statue in front of the Shibuya station. You'll have to watch the Hachiko movie by Richard Gere to know who he is! 

The entrance to the Alice in Wonderland restaurant. 

The tables are on the huge carousel, but it doesn't turn. 

The waitress dressed like Alice

My friend ordered this Cheshire cat meatloaf dish. So cute!

The rabbit!

The busiest street: Shibuya crossing. 

After lunch in Shibuya, we headed over to Harajuku. I read that one of the must-dos when you're in Harajuku was to get your pictures taken in one of those purikura machines and so we did! I love those photo booths, they make you feel like you're in a professional photo studio with cool backdrops and awesome lighting that makes your skin flawless. So fun!

One of the must-dos: Eat Crepes!


This shopping mall with the mirrors is the coolest!

Kiddyland for the kiddy-at-heart.

While I was out with my friends, Kristen's mom and dad took my family out on a boat ride. They are so super nice for doing that! After their boat ride, I met with them at the Asakusa temple, which was really pretty. I love temples that are red in color! There are many small shops there that you can buy snacks and souvenirs from. After Asakusa, they took us to a restaurant near the temple for Tonkatsu (pork steak) dinner. It was delicious! I am SO grateful for them for everything they had done for our stay in Japan. Kristen and Micki, if you're reading this, ARIGATOU GOZAIMASU!!!

Asakusa temple

Tonkatsu meal

That tower over there is the Tokyo Skytree

Because we were short on time and because I knew my mom wouldn't have been interested in seeing Akihabara, a shopping district for electroic goods, Mr.L and I went out on our own to explore that part of the city ourselves at night. Mr.L and I are big fans of Japanese anime and manga, sd it was really cool to see all the billboards and store signs with manga characters that we know on them. There were a lot of arcade centers that are a few stories high. We went and checked out one and Mr.L played a couple of Street Fighter games by himself. If we ever lived in Japan, he probably would frequent those arcade centers often.

Akihabara at night

there he is, having a virtual fight with some guy in the back 

A few things I want to remember about Tokyo:
1. How quiet it is on the street when and train stations, even during rush hour. All you hear is the noise the subway trains and the vehicles on the street made. You almost never hear people talking in public. So weird, but so awesome at the same time.

2. Every one dresses in business attire/suits on the trains during rush hour. Talk about uniformity!

3. Tokyo tower never gets turned off before midnight, unless if you were very unlucky like me and the light was turned off before 11p.m. and you didn't know about it and paid $30 to go up to the top of the Mori Tower thinking that you'd get an epic picture of the city and the tower in one shot, and nobody knew why it was turned off cause it never happened before and they wouldn't give you a refund.

4. There are so many cute-sy stuff!!

5. Japanese toilet is the bomb! Even the public restrooms have heated toilet seats AND bidets.

6. SO many people smoke in Japan there are special places where they go and smoke together and inhale each other's cigarette breath/smoke.

7. Japanese lunchboxes, 7-11, food court at train stations--so convenient, so good, so healthy!

8. There's no trash cans anywhere on the street. Bag your own trash.

I'll be back with part 2 shortly! At the mean time, if you have missed my Kyoto and Nara posts, they are here and here.

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