Tokyo takeover

Last weekend, Micah and I flew to Tokyo for a whirlwind 36 hour stay.  Zoe was a fantastic host/tour guide/train navigator/translator/etc.  She definitely helped us make the most of our time.  (Thank you Sloe Zoe :-))

Friday night:

We didn’t actually meet up with Zoe until 11:30pm Friday night.  We dropped off our stuff at the hotel near the train station  and headed to the Shinjuku area for some food, shopping, and sightseeing.  Our first authentic ramen meal – and it was delicious!

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Interesting learnings of the day:

1. Tokyo is all about efficiency.  Tokyo is filled with restaurants where you order food from a vending machine. It gives you a ticket – you hand the ticket to the cook, and that’s it.

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2. Don Quixote stores are crazy (and a must-see stop).  They are 5 or 6 floors of pure Japan kitsch.  All sorts of food, knick-knacks, makeup, electronics, etc. Very fun to browse.  Where else could you find this?  (It’s a pillow by the way).

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3. Japan isn’t Korea.  The food is different, the people are different – even with 10 minutes of walking around the city, you can tell the difference.  Also…it’s WAY more expensive (for just about everything) in Japan.  Talk about culture shock!

Saturday:

Headed to the Harajuku area in the morning.  Unfortunately, since it was a Saturday we didn’t get to witness what Harajuku is all about – which is basically young people dressed up in outrageous outfits, showing off latest fashion styles (apparently they come out on Sundays).  Here’s an  idea of what it’s like (a pic from the Internet).

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In the middle of this massive hustle and bustle area is a very large, tranquil shrine – Meiji Shrine.  Surrounding the shrine are lush trees, towering gingkos, and well maintained pathways.  It’s a popular place for both Japanese and tourists to visit and relax.  When we were there, two weddings were taking place.

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After some shopping, eating, and walking around in the rain, we headed back to the hotel to get ready to meet up with some of Zoe’s friends she’s made while in Japan.  It was a really fun night!

Interesting learning of the day:

1. Japan is crazy about their photobooths.  (Apparently Japan is only 1 of 3 countries who have a MAJOR obsession with them).  Basic premise: pay some money, take a series of funny pictures, and then digitally jazz them up with funny backgrounds, icons, etc. They come printed out as stickers. Super fun.

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Sunday (last day):

Only had about 3 hours before we had to catch a train back to the airport.  So we walked to Ueno Park.  It’s a massive park (think Central Park in NY) that houses shrines, three museums, and a zoo.  It was a beautiful sunny day – perfect for exploring the park.

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Interesting learning of the day:

When in doubt, get your ramen to go!  We wanted one last bite of Japanese culinary goodness before we left…and that’s literally all we got.  We had about 5 minutes to scarf down as much delicious ramen noodles as we could, and then SPRINTED to catch our train back to the airport.  Phew…made it with three minutes to spare. :-) 

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