Wow – what a whirlwind! I can’t believe a week ago we left for Japan and now we’re back in Korea already, exhausted from the miles and miles of walking in oppressive heat, but better for it because we have experienced an amazing city in an amazing country!
Everyone we encountered was so friendly, kind and polite. I received authentic bows from Japanese men out of both thanks (giving my seat up for an elderly man) and apology (him tripping on my foot on the crowded subway – probably my fault – sumimasen!). Every person working in a restaurant or store had the biggest smile. They don’t work for tips here, either. It’s obvious the Japanese really care about their country, culture and each other. There is no litter to be seen no matter how few trash cans there are in the city. No one pushes or shoves you out of the way. They all obey basic pedestrian etiquette, including the simple “stand on one side of the escalator, walk on the other side” and “walk on the left side of the sidewalk.” In a way it’s almost robotic how you can get 13 million people in the Tokyo prefecture (37.8 million in the metro area – the world’s largest) to follow simple rules like that. The organized chaos makes it feel a lot less chaotic than it actually is! Kevin and I continued to be extremely impressed throughout the whole trip. We are only disappointed we couldn’t see more of Japan, but that just gives us reason to return! Mt. Fuji, Osaka, Kyoto, Sapporo, Okinawa…we’re coming for you!
PSA: Visit Japan! You won’t regret it!
I’ll give you the day-to-day play-by-play in as concise a manner as possible. It will be hard to sift through my nearly 1,000 photos but I will do my best to be very selective. A greater variety will be posted to good ol’ Facebook. I’ll post others to Flickr if I deem them good enough.
Anyway, here goes…
Saturday, July 25, 2015
Daily steps: 10,055
Miles walked: 4.19
Japan Airlines Flight #94 – Seoul Gimpo –> Tokyo Haneda
What an awesome flight! First off, it’s only just over 2 hours and we had on-demand tv screens where we could pick a movie or tv show to watch, view the flight map, or watch the “bird’s eye view” camera to see what the pilots see. Awesome. To top it off, they fed us and gave us free beer.
We landed in Tokyo around 9:30 at night, looking for a big WELCOME TO JAPAN sign. We never found it, but we found these…just as good I suppose!
I would like to add that our flight attendant offered to take this picture for us. When I say everyone is so nice, I mean it!
Sunday, July 26, 2015
Daily steps: 29,021 (PR)
Miles walked: 12.1
Today we tackled the neighborhoods of Harajuku/Shibuya. The first stop was the Meiji Shrine, a big Shinto shrine posthumously dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken in 1920. It had to be rebuilt after it was destroyed in WWII.
After Meiji Shrine, we walked by the attached Yoyogi Park – and lo & behold, what did we find but a couple of rockabilly/greaser groups getting ready to perform! This is exactly what we wanted to see. These guys and gals are out here performing most Sundays to their own 1950’s choreography. They aren’t here performing for tips. They are performing because that’s what they like to do, much like you may enjoy bike riding or reading.
Photos don’t really do this part justice, so here’s a video:
And of course, we couldn’t miss a walk down Tokyo’s most famous street, Takeshita Dori (that’s pronounced “talk-uh-sheet-uh” for those with dirty minds). Here you’ll find lots of girls in cosplay and lots of fad shopping!
And you can’t go to Shibuya without visiting the famed “Shibuya Crossing,” one of the world’s busiest intersections. All the traffic lights turn red and people scramble across the street at one of many different crosswalks, or not if you need to go diagonally. Honestly, it didn’t feel that crazy (maybe because we were in the front), but it was still pretty cool, and there was a couple getting wedding photos taken in the middle of the intersection with people walking by which was pretty fantastic as well.
In Japan, you’ll find lots of arcades on steroids. Basically, these are establishments with 5 or 6 floors, a bunch of different types of video games on each floor. This one in particular caught our attention because the first floor was full of crane games galore. You want a towel? A sushi cat? A keychain? A poster? Get the crane to grab it and it’s yours!
We ended the night walking through a Thai festival, where I got a henna tattoo (very random) and Kevin and I found an amazing udon place for dinner. Really, really delicious and unique (I got a tomato soup based udon with chicken and veggies but they also had curry, seafood, etc.)
Monday, July 27, 2015
Daily steps: 22,465
Miles walked: 9.38
Well we just won the Super Bowl because we went to DISNEYLAND! Tokyo Disneyland, that is! And it was awesome!
Here’s some photo highlights from the day:
Okay, so that’s the first part of our trip covered in selective detail. I think this post would be way too long if I included everyday, so this trip is going to be published in parts. Keep a look out for the next (final?) installment!