Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

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…


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!


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


 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.


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




So serene and beautiful!


An oasis amidst the skyscrapers!



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


Nihonbashi Bridge



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.



Two amazing achievements!



The most delicious food!


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


Only by being there can you truly understand.


I became obsessed with these delicious little treats!


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!


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.


Tokyo Midtown entrance upon arrival at the station.


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.


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.


I found the Konami store!


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


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.


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.




Next stop, Roppongi Hills!


Underground Passage… I’m there!


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.


Louise Bourgeois’ giant spider named Maman.



Water fountain that follows alongside Maman.



Entrance to Mori Tower.


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.


View from the “smoking area”.


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





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.


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.


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


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


Breathtakingly beautiful and awe-inspiring!


I found another “smoking area”!


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


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


Fantastic sculture right outside the official Tokyo Skytree store.


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!


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.


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!


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


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


One of the most recognizable sights at Senso-ji


Beautifully carved underside of lantern


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


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



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


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


Hondo (Main Hall)


Incense cauldron to bring good health


One of my favorites pictures I took this day!


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


Gorgeously crafted cleansing fountain


Wood Painting above fountain







View from top steps of the main hall


Sight of Tokyo Skytree peeking in from above


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
















“Bell of time”



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


Deliscious bowl of ramen to refill our exhausted selves!


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


Must have all of it!


Night view of Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower


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.


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.


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


Tameike-sanno Station







This monkey holding her young depicts the shrines protection against miscarriages



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


Tunnel of Torri



Rock Garden that bordered one side of the shrine


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



Miniature Bamboo Forest


Just outside of the Nishi-Ginza


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


Out of the serene and into Ginza


Always such amazing trees everywhere!



Had to go inside…



Top floor of Mitsukoshi


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



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







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


Much needed and quite tasty curry after an exhausting day!


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



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


Worshipping Ladies beautifully dressed


Sake Barrels wrapped in straw


Inner Entrance


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


Inner Sanctum




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



Takeshita Dori


My favorite 100 yen Shop!


Unexpected Surprise… Evangelion Store!





Protest March outside of Harajuku Station



Area Surrounding Harajuku Station





So fun!!!


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


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!

Our second full day in Tokyo was easy to decide where we would go! Akihabara, the mecca of anime, manga, electronics, and otaku alike and a place we would visit alot during our trip to Tokyo. Before we could enjoy Akiba I neede to make a pitstop first!
Pokemon Center!!!!!!
I was so like a kid in a candy store! My only regret was being that it was only my second day I wasn’t ready to commit to any purchases yet and due to running out of time in the end we never made it back but alas a must do on our trip in 2015!Definately worth the visit for any Pokemon fan.
On to Akihabara!There are many exits form the Akiba station you can take but no matter which one you use you will be taken aback by the amazing energy and buildings that are as far as the eyes can see (Especially beautiful at night!)

I was mesmerized by the lush green trees that lined the streets, they seriously looked fake!

As i said throughout are trip we visited Akiba numerous times and it never got boring, seriously though we barely scatched the surface too as there is so much to see and do from shops, eateries, game centers, and pachinko parlors to name a few but here are some of my favorites.

Of course! There are only two (this one is the original)

Not necessarily the best meal I would have but had to do it none the less!
It was so hard to fit this all in one pic. This place was amazing, it put all Western electronic retailers to shame!

Literal rows of Gashapon inside Yodobashi
The true life of Akiba emerged as the day turned into night!
Each floor was a different shop and its also home to the Good Smile Cafe, I would later realize that one of the shops inside would prove to be one of the best rental box stores in Akiba (great place to find otaku goodies that individuals are selling).

During my trip I learned that UFO catchers are dangerous!
Gem found down a narrow side street.

Best pachinko parlor!

Super Potato (retro gaming mecca)

Even the stairs are better in Tokyo!

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!

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!

Awhile ago I posted that I would be taking a much anticipated trip to Tokyo, well Im back. You might be saying to yourselves Whoa, we missed four months of prep… The last few months leading up to the trip were hectic and frenzied and honestly I was very much living in the moment and enjoying every second of life that was taking me to a destination that I have been dreaming of for a long time! Now that I have returned I will be taking you along for the journey as I relive the most soul lifting experiences that I have had so far in my life. Stay tuned for upcoming posts…IMG_1200