Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

Missing Tokyo

Posted: May 31, 2015 in Japan
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It is hard to imagine that it has been two years since I first set eyes on what I truly believe is the home of my soul. There are moments that it feels like it was just yesterday, I was standing in the middle of Akiba being completely awestruck, and yet at the same time, I am starting to forget. I can’t quite remember the smells, or the feeling of being surrounded by so many people, and at the same time feeling more free than I ever have before. I am starting to forget that sensation when I realized how truly silent the city of Tokyo actually is, which sounds crazy, but yet is so true. The moment amidst the chaos when you realize… wait this isn’t chaos at all, just a different kind of order. But what I will never forget and what is with me every day is how much I miss Tokyo!

My journey in Tokyo lasted almost three weeks, which may sound like a long time but in all reality is not! I barely scratched the surface of that amazing megacity, and I spend every day hoping that I can return soon. I should have been able to travel back to Japan to enjoy the Sakura this year in Tokyo as well as Kyoto but sadly, I had to postpone. The fact that I had to put off my trip was truly heartbreaking and at the same time makes my desire to return even more intense. I know I will return to the Land of the Rising Sun, my spiritual home, I just don’t know when.

Come along with me as I go back in time and revisit my favorite moments of that trip. Some of these images may be familiar if you have followed my Tokyo Diaries series, and some I have yet to publish. The Tokyo Diaries series is still a work in progress but is a project I have not forgotten and will most definitely complete.

Journey with me now… as I revisit some of my favorite moments…

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This was so impressive to see, and fortunately I stayed so near to this amazing life-size Gundam I got to see hime every day!

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So much fun and I even won an Evee of my very own!

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 Was so not going to miss a stop at a Pokemon Center. I had complete intentions of going again before I left, but somehow never made it back.

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Must have for any Gundam fan. Made several stops at both Gundam Cafe’s, the one pictured above is in Akihabara.

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So serene and beautiful!

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An oasis amidst the skyscrapers!

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For a brief moment, I thought I had been transported back in time.

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Nihonbashi Bridge

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All you heard was a quiet rustle as they passed you by. All that was left was the faintest fragrance of flowers when they were gone.

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Two amazing achievements!

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The most delicious food!

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I had waited a long time just to come and visit him!

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Only by being there can you truly understand.

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I became obsessed with these delicious little treats!

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These images barely begin to scratch the surface of my journey in Tokyo, and reflect but just a few moments that I will never forget.

I can only hope that I will be able to return soon and embark on experiencing all that this beautiful country has to offer. I will not rest until I have explored it all, and am counting the days until I can return! Stay tuned for more as I continue with Tokyo Diaries.

It has been a long time since I have completed an episode of Tokyo Diaries, and for those that were previously following along, I apologize. For those of you that are coming across this series for the first time, if you like what you see take a look at some of the previous episodes. I have struggled as of late to be able to find time to continue chronicling my adventures in Tokyo, but I feel that I should finally make that happen.

It has been over a year since my feet were on Japanese soil and there is not a day that goes by that I do not miss it horribly! We have recently had to cancel our upcoming trip for Sakura season and that has left me quite sad so I hope that continuing to revisit my last journey will help me in my sadness.

In our previous episode we had a chance to visit Senso-ji and take a trip back in time. This episode we will be going on a whirlwind tour of Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi Hills, Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree! I cannot even begin to tell you how exhausted we were at the end of this day!

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I love the fact that when you arrive at certain station throughout Tokyo, you are greeted with amazing art. This was what greeted us that day as we arrived at Shiodome station.

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Tokyo Midtown entrance upon arrival at the station.

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As you ride the escalator up to the first floor of Tokyo Midtown, you come across this amazing water fountain. It is quite impressive and literally takes up the entire wall.

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There is quite a bit of fantastic sculptures and architecture all over. This sculpture was in the center of a very large circular skylight, and you can see from the small child that it is a fairly large piece.

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I found the Konami store!

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This is what you see as you gaze up into the large water feature that resides in the middle of Tokyo Midtown outside.

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This is the same water feature as you see it from outside. You can see the Konami Card Game Station peeking out at you from the other side.

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I was awestruck at the beauty of this place. I think one of the things that amazes me about Tokyo is how much lush scenery you can find and how well they are able to combine steel, glass, and trees together without taking anything away from each one individually.

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Next stop, Roppongi Hills!

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Underground Passage… I’m there!

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Mori Tower

Sadly since we packed so much into this day we were not able to take the time to go inside, however we did explore the surrounding area.

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Louise Bourgeois’ giant spider named Maman.

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Water fountain that follows alongside Maman.

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Entrance to Mori Tower.

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In Tokyo it is disrespectful and basically not allowed to smoke in a random space. So they have strategically placed a bunch of “smoking areas” throughout the city and some are even in governmental buildings. I found myself being pretty obsessed with taking pictures of them all, and I dont even smoke! This was one of the ones with the best view of Tokyo Tower.

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View from the “smoking area”.

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There is a peaceful garden below the Mori Tower with a pond and lush green walkways, perfect for a picnic!

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Tokyo Tower was our next stop on this insanely busy day. Built in the 1950’s to resemble  the Eiffel Tower, although a little taller, this seems to be one of the most easily recognizable landmarks in Tokyo. Inside there are countless little stalls full of souvenirs and goodies that you cant help but want to take home. I did resist although in retrospect that was silly. The wait for the viewing platform was pretty long so we decided to go ahead and head out to our last stop of the day, Tokyo Skytree.

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As you disembark from the rail at Tokyo Skytree station you find yourself walking into a tall maze of escalators that will take you up into what I lovingly call the Tokyo Skytree compound.

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This is the site that greeted me as I rounded the corner after having arisen from the escalators.

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Completed in 2011, Tokyo Skytree stands 634 meters (2,080 ft.) tall and is surrounded by numerous shops and restaurants.

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Breathtakingly beautiful and awe-inspiring!

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I found another “smoking area”!

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Inside the shopping area I found a cute little Hello Kitty store.

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This is one of my favorite representations of Hello Kitty. There is something very classic and yet kawaii about Hello Kitty in a kimono.

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Fantastic sculture right outside the official Tokyo Skytree store.

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There is so much to look at and explore all around that by the time we decided to go get tickets for the observation deck there were none left for the day! We figured we would be able to come back before we left but sadly time escaped us and we never made it back so this is on the “To Do List” for our next trip.

This was such a fun-filled yet exhausting day, it is amazing that you could stay in Tokyo for a couple of weeks and still leave things undone!

Stay tuned until the next Tokyo Diaries!

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One year ago today I landed in “The Land of the Rising Sun” and there is not a moment that goes by that I do not wish that I was back there again. To this day, one year to the day later I am still amazed at how completely welcome and at home I felt in what is to me a foreign land, how at peace and soul-fulfilled I was the moment my feet hit the ground. Its hard to describe the sensation of feeling like you have finally found your home when everything around you is so completely different than anything you have ever known and yet at the same time there is a little voice inside of you that sighs and says, your here, your home.

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There were so many moments for me that made the breath catch in my throat and on a few occasions even made me cry. The sights, smells, sounds (sometimes the silence) and the people have forever changed my life and I am counting the days until I can return again!

As we continue along on my journey through the “Land of the Rising Sun” today we finds ourselves revisiting Asakusa and one of the places that I found myself having the breath being taken right out of me. This is the core of the historic Shitamachi District and one of the places in Tokyo where you can truly capture moments of the old Edo that thrived so long ago. This area mainly centers around the beautiful Senso-ji Temple which was founded in the 7th Century, although many structures were rebuilt after the 1923 Earthquake and then again after ariel bombings in the end of WW2 it is still an impressive site to behold and one I will revisit again!

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Beautiful mural I found as we arrived at our destination station! (Ginza Line)

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Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) gaurded by two Dieties, Fujin God of wind (right), and Raijin God of Thunder (left)

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One of the most recognizable sights at Senso-ji

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Beautifully carved underside of lantern

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Nakamise-dori, Pretty little stalls filled with all kinds of goodies from food treats to various types of souvenirs

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To ensure you are worthy there is a second gate Hozo-mon you must pass before you can reach the main temple

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Back side of Hozo-mon gate these 4.5m tall sandles were made by about 800 villagers from the Yamagata Prefecture

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Five story pagoda, a 1973 reconstruction of a pagoda built by Tokugowa Iemitsu

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Hondo (Main Hall)

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Incense cauldron to bring good health

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One of my favorites pictures I took this day!

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I didnt want to offend anyone but I felt moved to participate…

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Gorgeously crafted cleansing fountain

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Wood Painting above fountain

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View from top steps of the main hall

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Sight of Tokyo Skytree peeking in from above

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Some of my favorite shots taken on the surrounding grounds of the Temple

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“Bell of time”

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Just a rustle is all I heard and for a brief moment in time I forgot to breathe!

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Deliscious bowl of ramen to refill our exhausted selves!

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Quick pit-stop on the way back to the hotel in Odaiba

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Must have all of it!

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Night view of Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower

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Just in time to catch our friend’s night time show, at the end of another amazing day in Tokyo. Even now almost a year later I am still awestruck and am truly counting the days until we return!

Our next adventure in Tokyo took us to Akasaka and a visit to Hie-Jinja. The present site of this Shinto Shrine dates from 1659, although the shrine was destroyed in 1945 and later rebuilt in 1967. My main obsession with visiting this shrine was the amazing tunnel of Torri that I just had to be able to pass through. As you follow us on our journey we will also be stopping along the way in Ginza, the Nihombashi Bridge and then to refuel and replenish at a delicious little curry restaurant on the outskirts of Akihabara.

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This kind of became one of our morning rituals, we devoured those tasty little danishes almost every morning on a bench just outside of our hotel.

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One of my favorite sites that I got to see every day!

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Tameike-sanno Station

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Hie-jinja

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This monkey holding her young depicts the shrines protection against miscarriages

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These amazing lanterns were displayed all through the outer grounds of the shrine

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Tunnel of Torri

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Rock Garden that bordered one side of the shrine

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Absolutely love the clash of modern and old in this water/rock garden outside of a Hotel at the base of the Shrine.

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Miniature Bamboo Forest

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Just outside of the Nishi-Ginza

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Of course I had to hit every Sanrio shop that I could find!

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Out of the serene and into Ginza

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Always such amazing trees everywhere!

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Had to go inside…

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Top floor of Mitsukoshi

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Surprising find that shares the top floor with its very own solar panel array and garden too!

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Nihombashi Bridge (Japan Bridge) dates back to the Edo period during which all distances were measured from this point.

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Great little place to stop and rest our feet alongside the Nihombashi Bridge

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Much needed and quite tasty curry after an exhausting day!

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And although not a drinker, I gotta say this became another one of my favorites treats after a long day of adventuring!

Our adventure continues in Tokyo and with each passing day I realize what I think I have known all along…
Its going to be so difficult for me to leave the Land of the Rising Sun!
On this day our journey began on a visit to the Meiji Shrine and Harajuku where I lost myself to the splendors of what I believe most travelers love about Tokyo, the inspiring class of new and old melding seamlessly together. So let me take you with me on a journey of my favorites moments of the day…

Harajuku Station

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Entrance to Meiji Jingu (this was quite emotional for me to be standing underneath)

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Worshipping Ladies beautifully dressed

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Sake Barrels wrapped in straw

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Inner Entrance

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Ritual Cleansing (I cant begin to explain how crisp the water felt, truly leaving you feeling cleansed)

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Inner Sanctum

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Pathway just outside of shrine (for the briefest of moments, I felt I had been transported back in time)

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Takeshita Dori

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My favorite 100 yen Shop!

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Unexpected Surprise… Evangelion Store!

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Protest March outside of Harajuku Station

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Area Surrounding Harajuku Station

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So fun!!!

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Kiddyland (surprisingly I bought nothing, kinda regret that now)

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This was a very exhausting day for me, I still cant believe that I was there, and I feel like there was so much on my list that I missed. We even went back to Harajuku again before we left and its still on my list to go again when we return in 2015!

Tokyo Diaries, Episode 5

Posted: January 29, 2014 in Japan
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Our trip to Tokyo this past summer was full of beautiful and amazing sights and on our third full day we decided to venture to the neighborhood of Ueno. It is home to the famous Ueno Hill where the Tokugawa shogunate made their last stand against the emperor in 1868 and it is also the sight of the largest postwar blackmarket (Ameya Yokocho) where you can still find some of the best deals on numerous goods. With the gorgeous Ueno Koen (Ueno Park) and its numerous museums, art galleries, and temples I knew it would be a fantastic day!
So follow me on a journey through my third day in the awe-inspiring city that is Tokyo…

Ameya Yokocho
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Tomb of the Shogi-Tai Warriors
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Kiyomizu Kannon-Do
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Pathway of Tori leading to smaller temples and shrines
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Oasis surrounding by a Metropolis, Home to Benten-Do
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Monster Lantern from 1631 (said to be only one of three in Japan)
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Toshogu Shrine
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Flame of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
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Stay tuned for Episode 6…