02.03.2012 0 °F
It has been absolutely freezing here (literally!), but we got very lucky last month with our trip to Japan. The weather was perfect and felt like we had traveled back to fall.
So after our lovely Korean Christmas, we headed across the pond a little ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Tokyo.
Here’s the rundown of what we did.
The Fab-5 left Mapo with our matching bows and enough luggage to cloth a small country, and headed for Shibuya, Tokyo.
We were a big hit at both airports with our headgear. We got lots of nods, smiles and ‘ohh wow!’ reactions which was fun.
Our hotel was in an awesome location, right in the heart of Shibuya, home to the largest crosswalk in the world! Shibuya is one of the more popular tourist areas and is a really buys area with a lot going on all day long.
Of course our first meal upon arrival had to be sushi, and boy was it oishi (delicious)!
We headed out the first night to explore our area. We befriended some locals and got invited to a really small, intimate bar where everyone chanted ‘USA, USA, USA’ when they found out where we were from! We made some friends and learned a few useful Japanese words. Everyone was extremely friendly and eager to chat with us.
The hotel provided these awesome sleeping suits for us. And yes, we did wear them every night!
We spent our first official day exploring the city. The subway map was an absolute maze compared to Seoul, but we managed to find our way around.
After wandering around some really cool neighborhoods we went to this park in the middle of the city that Gabrielle had read about. It was absolutely beautiful!! The fall colors were in full effect and it was so peaceful. We stopped to take our standard powerkick shots, and then wandered around the rest of the park.
The park was extremely quiet and calm and a great little break from city life.
As the day was ending we went to a different part of the city to see the Tokyo tower. It is an attraction that gives a view of the whole city. We had read though that it isn’t that great of a view, and that there is a building that is much higher, and gives a view of the whole city plus the tower. We went up the 50 some floors and got to see how huge the whole city really was.
Gabrielle and I had both read good things about the Tsukiji Fish Market. All the information said that it was best to get there by 4am in order to make sure you got to see all the action. The subway didn’t open until 5am, so we figured we would just go then and hope we got to see some of it. We followed the crowds and the smell of fish juice (lovely smell at 5am!) and found our way to the market. We didn’t really see much action, or any fellow tourists, so we kept wandering a little more. We finally saw an area that was busy and looked like the pictures we had seen. We wandered for a few minutes and saw some of the biggest fish I’ve ever seen, before we were politely escorted out by the market police!
Turns out we were there during the ‘buying only’ time. We did wonder why we were the only foreigners in there, and the only people not wearing galoshes! We did manage to get some pictures before we were kicked out though.
Using a saw to cut the head off
They haven't quite got on board with the friendly recycling yet....sorry Bellingham!
After our mini adventure at the market we treated ourselves to a nice sushi breakfast at 6am...yum yum!
And then we were off on our Disney adventure!!
We decided to spend a day at Disney Tokyo. It was exactly like Disney back home, but about a quarter of the size. They had all the same rides and critters. Before we went Gabrielle decided she wanted to try to get 10 character pictures throughout the day. We were off to a good start when we spotted these two right off the bat.
We hit a bit of a lull after that. We saw a few others, but they were pretty popular so we decided to wait it out. We went on some rides and wandered a bit, and then decided to try our luck in again. We found some chipmunks who were pretty popular with the youngsters. I became quite the creep trying to get next in line and bump some kids out of the way, like these little cuties!
I’m pretty sure I’m creeping in the background of about 50 pictures, but I can handle that. We didn’t see that many other characters the rest of the day so Gabrielle was a little worried we might not hit her goal. We decided to go back to the main gate to see who we found…and JACKPOT! They were all out there! We easily got our 10 pictures….even though we’re still not sure who the mice are. Maybe Fible and his sister?
It was also cuteness overload there! I couldn’t handle all the little ones running around. But my favorite was this little family. They were getting their picture taken in front of a New Year’s sign, and the dad was holding they poor little guy like this the whole time!
We spent the rest of our time exploring, celebrating and eating lots of sushi.
Here's to our 8th consecutive New Year's!
On New Year’s Day we decided to do the traditional Japanese thing and go visit a shrine. There was a huge crowd of people so we just joined in. Everyone was guided to the entrance of the shine, and then let in little by little.
Also not loving the long line!
Once inside everyone threw coins. We think it was to say thanks for the previous year. The smallest coin is about the same as $1, and everyone was throwing in at least 3 at a time. They sure got a lot of thanks this year!
After that we continued to follow the crowd. Everyone was getting their fortunes for the New Year. You shake a box and a stick with a number comes out, and then they give you a fortune depending on the number you get. We got one in both English and Japanese.
We had the people at our hotel translate it, and both of our fortunes were completely accurate and related to us perfectly! If you get a fortune you don’t like, you are supposed to tie it to a fence so it won’t come true. Luckily we didn’t need to do that and got a really neat souvenir out of it!
Sadly our time in Japan was over after that. I had heard lots of good things about Japan, and every single thing I heard was true. The people are extremely friendly, polite and considerate. The country has so much culture and tradition that is still alive, while at the same time it has a diversity and uniqueness to it that I really love. I have no doubt that I’ll go back one day! There is another post coming soon about more observations about Japan and Korea, so look forward to that!
See ya later!