Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

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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!

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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!

Tokyo Diaries, Episode 2

Posted: July 6, 2013 in Japan
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We had landed, I had actually touched down in Tokyo’s Haneda aiport. I wanted to jump up and down for joy, I wanted to shout and dance but alas that was not to be so I played it out in my mind, including a happy dance and prepared myself for what would be the most life/ soul changing experience!
As we began our disembarking I realized we were not getting off the plane into a normal tunnel that connected you to the terminal, we were getting off right alongside it, my first chance to breath Japanese air. The air that hit me was cool, crisp and to my surprise clean (I was standing next to a jumbo jet in the middle of an airport after-all), how was that even possible? We were then led into a cute little mini bus and driven the 200 feet to the terminal were we did as all good Tokyoites do and got in line patiently to the left to await the escalator. For those of you that have never visited before it will seem quite strange that everyone is going to the left but as you make your way around the city you will realize how respectful and efficient it is (or you can be a horrid tourist and be completely oblivious to your surroundings and stand in the middle), however this new realization did take us a minute to fully absorb as our American tendencies wanted to creep back to the surface a few times.
Pleasantly immigrations and customs were completely painless, we had been super prepared for the worst and made sure we were totally organized down to all of our things being in convenient little packs, bags, and compartments. Fingerprinting, picture, a few questions and done, you get more scrutiny walking down the street in the US with a video game T-shirt on! Then finally we were done and ready to begin our adventure, at this point it was past 11pm and we had until midnight to get to our hotel or be stuck paying the insane cost of a taxi (after the trains stop the taxi costs can almost double), this was awesome, we were in a foreign city, with an unknown transportation system and had to get all the way to Tokyo Bay from the airport in less than an hour. Suffice it to say we didn’t make it but who cares I was in Tokyo! We had to make a quick pitstop in the smoking room of Handea (which for myself not a priority, but my poor significant other had just gone 16+ hours without a cigarette quite painlessly, so how could I say no). Smoking for the most part is not allowed in Tokyo but they have a very large smoking population so they have established smoking rooms, boxes, and sections, all over the city (even in places that you would never imagine) and I became obsessed with taking pictures of all of the smoking places we would see throughout our trip.
Once we were ready to try our luck with the rails I asked an amazingly sweet information counter clerk a couple of questions to ensure my ideas had been correct and that the plan that I had created back in the US would work, she confirmed my thoughts and gave me a cute little transportation map and sent us on our way (funny, I had several versions of this map already, including a digital one on our ipad, but this one went with me everywhere and I didn’t have the heart to toss it until I had returned to the states, it had by that time definitely seen better days). We had made it out of the airport complex and to the station that would lead us to another station and were taking an escalator down when I like a child was so mesmerized by my surroundings that I let go of my suitcase and oh my, it went tumbling down (like right out of a cartoon) making the loudest noises in this completely quiet and thankfully empty building. Although no one else aside from my other half had witnessed this atrocity I was totally mortified, I not even a few hours in Tokyo had shattered my quiet surroundings with echoed thuds! I didn’t have too much time to reflect on my blunder as we were rushing to catch the “shuden” (last train), alas we didn’t make it, we quite literally had just missed it by minutes, we even had a “salary man” rush by us with the “shark fin” hand that we would discover later meant move aside!
Since we had missed the “shuden” our only option was to get a taxi, now this would normally be easy and don’t get me wrong it is but there is the slight panic in my head at this moment that what if I say something offensive or ask him to take us to the wrong place, huge misconception is that alot of Japanese speak English although most know several words what I discovered was the biggest challenge is the pronunciation, there are certain sounds in our alphabet that are unknown to them and although they use alot of romaji (japanese spelt using the english alphabet) alot of times the way pronounce it is very different. As I walked up to the taxi the side door just popped open all by itself and the sweetest older white gloved gentlemens face appeared before me, he kindly accepted my less than fluent Japanese and escorted us on our way to Odaiba (Tokyo Bay). This choice of place to stay might seem odd as its not in the city proper, however these amazing artificially made islands (made to keep the “black ships” away in the time of the Shogun) had a 60ft tall glory that would grace our eyes every day! Our kindly white gloved gentlemen deposited us safely in what would be our home for the next 17 days. Finally we had made it, we where here in Tokyo, surrounded by all the things I had only been able to see in someone else’s pictures, now they were going to be my pictures!

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For anyone that has flown a long distance you can attest that it is extremely exhausting sitting in a flying sardine can. As you can tell I am not the biggest lover of air travel but I was willing to embark on an 18+ hour adventure to reach my destination, Tokyo! When I say 18+ hours that really doesn’t even come close to explaining it, obviously your adventure really begins the four hours before you have to be at the airport not to mention if your significant other is a “Lets plan for all the worst possible things that could happen” kind of person. So you can only imagine from that statement that my journey began five hours before my plane was supposed to take off, then there is the layover if you were unable to get a direct flight which is the majority of people traveling from the US, if you don’t live in California or NY, so here I am 9 hours into my trip and I haven’t even boarded the plane to Tokyo! Finally the moment comes and I am shocked… everyone was lining up, they were actually lining up to get on the plane! Patiently, quietly, lining up to board a 14 hour flight, this was the first of many experiences that I would have that made me know “Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore” and now that I am back and its all said and done my heart and soul are screaming for more. Once we boarded the plane and got through the worst part for me in a flight, the takeoff, I had time to really absorb my surroundings. The plane was very quiet, well as quiet as a 777 could be but that would not be the first time that I was taken aback by the lack of human sound. The flight was surprisingly pleasant aside from the lack of space, if you get all of the things you would need for the flight, electronics, toiletry bag, blanket, and pillow before you even sit down then you wont have to struggle and possibly elbow or throw something accidentally at an innocent bystander just to be able to get what you desperately have to have. Interestingly the food that was served throughout the flight was great! Shocking I know to say that airplane food not from first class or business class was actually good but it was and let me tell you boy do they feed you, I guess they figure it will keep you occupied if you cant sleep cuz every four hours the flight attendants would be passing by with drinks, food, snacks, galore. The other shocking thing was the flight path, being the cautious flier that I am I already knew that we would be flying far up over the US into Canada and Alaska. The part that I hadnt taken into account was the perpetual daylight that we experienced, throughought the entire flight we never hit night until we touched down at Haneda in Tokyo, at one point halfway through the flight I bravely opened the blind to what I did not expect was the most amazing sight of a snowy crest of sun filled mountains that I will possibly ever see (until my next trip to Tokyo, atleast). Then finally 14 hours later, no my entire lifetime later and I had landed, in Tokyo, the place that I have dreamed of for so long, what adventures were awaiting me, what misconceptions would be shattered, how would I be forever changed, I couldnt wait to find out!

Posted: February 12, 2013 in Pocket Quotes
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“What if everything you see is more than what you see–the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn’t? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it is really a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you’ll find many unexpected things.”

Shigeru Miyamoto