Sunday, February 22, 2015

Time to Go to Tokyo!

Our journey to Japan did not start out well. We woke up before the sun at 5 am and headed out at 5:30, which is ungodly early for a vacation. This meant no traffic and no crowds on the buses tho, so that was nice. We caught the airport railroad, but had to wait at a later station for a train that actually went to Incheon Airport. That being said, we arrived by 7, with plenty of time before our 8:40 flight. 

Or so we thought.

Turns out, it was a busy day to fly, and the lines for check in and security were super long and delayed by passengers checking in too early or not knowing how the heck to check in or go through security... eeesh. 

What that meant was that, because we had to take a shuttle to our terminal, we were late. Check in took over half an hour (we still checked in before the recommended time) and we headed straight to security, which took over an hour. We got on the shuttle (after running to it) at 8:37, and, despite our, er, polite requests, many Koreans STOOD IN OUR WAY AND DIDN'T MOVE BECAUSE WHO CARES THAT THE WHITE PEOPLE NEED TO CATCH THEIR FLIGHT UGH.

Seriously, if there's one universal rule of escalators and travelators, it's stand to one GD side. But noooooooo, we have to fan out across the whole thing. Waaaaamp.

We made it up the escalators to see a woman holding a final call sign for our flight. The gate of which was at THE OTHER END OF THE TERMINAL. Universe, WHY!?!?!?

After SPRINTING there with barely any breakfast (I think I had managed to grab a banana in my incoherent morning daze), we arrived a little late to our flight. After receiving many glares from other passengers, we were relieved to see that we weren't the last ones to arrive for our plane. Take that, angry passengers. 

Unfortunately, this meant we didn't get breakfast, which meant I couldn't take my motion sickness meds. In order to avoid getting ill, I cocooned myself on the flight.

to my friends' endless amusement, I see...

Thankfully, all was well until the descent, so I managed to get some pictures of our flight and first spotting of Mt. Fuji. And then I needed some deep breathing for our rocky descent. Still, I made it without being sick!

Excited now that we've finally landed

After AN HOUR at immigration, we headed to a cafe to get some food and then headed to our hostel. It was an awesome hostel with a great staff!

Super excited for our adventure!
Right near our hostel was Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temple, Sensō-ji, so we checked that out on our walk over to the Tokyo Skytree. It was a beautiful, yellow dust free day in Tokyo!

The temple area has lots of temples and shrines in it, and also STREET FOOD. Of course we had to try some!

ricecakes wrapped in meat

Sarah and Cesca showing off Takoyaki

it's round balls filled with lots of things

like octopus

Signs of spring!

excited about the tower


The weather was great so we walked all the way there

I was enchanted by most things in Japan

Tallest tower in the world and the second tallest

Unfortunately, it was rather crowded so we didn't go up yet. We checked out the shops there and then decided we were hungry for an experience we'd been waiting for since we spotted it near our hostel.

Only one thing could make us this excited



Turns out Japanese Denny's isn't like American Denny's at all. 

It's like, PRIME, nice, classy food. No mozzarella sticks or chicken strips here. Which is kinda sad, cause I could have gone for a grand slam. That is, till I saw the awesome menu.


I ordered a steak and it was glorious

We got pancakes with caramel and honey for dessert

It had been a long day, so we headed back to the hostel, where we had free "try Japanese drinks" tickets from the hostel bar.

They tried the sake

I had plum wine. Both were awesome

We also tried french fries from a vending machine
which were surprisingly awesome

And we decided to try lots of weird convenience
store food, like these pizza chips. They were
not super awesome.

Day 2 found us walking endlessly as we explored Tokyo.

We wanted a quick breakfast to start our day, and I'm of the opinion that there is nothing more fun than trying something familiar (like a fast food place) in a different country to see what's different. So we stopped at McDonald's and I discovered magic exists and dreams really do come true.

A worker kindly offered us an English menu and
I almost wept to see the number 8.

The most perfect breakfast

McGriddles are my favorite and I haven't
had one in nearly 2 years

So yeah, it was emotional

We met a shrine cat in the morning. He
posed for me

Old school toyota cab

Now, we were reminded that Japan, for some reason, operates like the UK, and therefore, the driving and general flow of traffic is the opposite.

They had a ton of helpful reminders

Honestly, for as crowded as Tokyo is, I didn't get jostled on the train once. I didn't get pushed on or off, or get elbowed so someone could stand near the door. People even apologized to me when they walked into me. This DOES NOT happen in Korea and was a welcome change. Aaaah so nice.


 Our first  real stop: The Imperial Palace (Gardens). The Palace isn't actually open unless you sign up for a tour months in advance. Oops. The gardens were nice tho.

The palace is close to the beautiful Tokyo Station.
It was another beautiful day

the Mt Fuji observatory. Presumably more
useful when skyscrapers weren't a thing

Sarah is always tempted to explore the off limits stuff

the weather was absolutely gorgeous

investigating strange fountains
It was very serene


After exploring the gardens, we headed back to Tokyo Station. In the basement, there's a famous stretch called "Ramen Street" where, you guessed it, they serve amazing ramen!

pre-ramen devouring

with some dumplings on the side

NOM NOM so good

Refreshed after some delicious ramen, we headed over to the Tokyo National Museum to catch up on some history. We looked at lots of Japanese artifacts like swords, armor, kimonos and other things.

I want one

Afterwards, with our feet tired and aching, we met up with a friend of Sarah's who graduated from IC a year or so before us. She, thankfully, helped us find a good sushi place. 

It was great. We went out for a drink after, and I got an awesome cranberry and plum wine drink. We also got a free side dish with our drink, which is something that Korean people complain about. With Korean meals, you get a ton of free side dishes. In Japan, you have to pay extra, which is something that apparently offends many Koreans to their core (not all of them, but I've met some pretty vehement protesters of the no side dish system)

Ha, free dish.

It was great to meet Sarah's friend. We had lots of discussions about Japanese culture and the differences between Japan and Korea. If this trip taught me anything, it's that I know way more Korean than I thought. Being stuck basically with no knowledge of the language was difficult in Japan, and I had a great appreciation for the fact that I know enough Korean to ask questions and get around, when in Japan, I literally had no clue how to ask the most basic things, or read anything. 

If you would have told me years ago that those crazy blocks of squiggles that make up Korean would have looked like words to me, I wouldn't have believed in. But in Japan, I found myself longing for even Korean menus or signs, just so I could read and recognize something. Crazy, right?

After a nice long chat, we all decided it was time to head back and rest up for our last day in Tokyo.

We arrived back near our hostel to make a horrifying discovery:

Sarah was incredulous. Starbucks was closed by like 9:30.

Day 3: Tokyo

Because we hadn't reserved tickets early enough for the Ghibli Exhibit (and we'd seen one in Seoul), we decided it was for the best, since it gave us more time to do some other things in Tokyo.

We headed back to the Skytree early enough to actually get a decent spot in line! Yay!

Catbus and Totoro on top of Tokyo!!!

That's not scary or anything

the glass floor piece was SO CROWDED cause it was TINY

Ces hates elevators

OMG we're so high up

After our fantastic view of Tokyo, we stopped to get Sailor Moon charms. Because duh.

Cesca and I got twin phone charms. Sarah
got the blue one. Fraternal triplet charms!

The seats were so comfy we were soooo happy!!!

Next, we headed over to the trendy part of Tokyo and saw the big crosswalk from Lost in Translation.

Sarah and Cesca cross with like 1,000 other people

we also found the statue of the dog that waited for it's owner
every day for years after he died

We headed to the anime/manga/gamer central, Akihabara, for a fun experience!

Yup, we went to a maid cafe

complete with cute food, adorable chants
and girls dressed as maids who call you

I can't describe in words how awkward, hilarious, adorable and fun this whole experience was. The maids were adorable, they had fun chatting with the customers, there were lots of rules in place to keep the pervy old men from touching the maids, and our maid was super adorable, so when we got to choose one to take a picture with , we all chose her. 

If you go to Japan, try one out. You won't regret it.
though it might be the strangest thing you do ever.
We also stopped at a few manga stores just to look and fulfill some freshman year dreams

We headed back to our hostel to gather our things, but not before stopping at the shrine/temple one more time in the night time!

The shops in the area were closed, but their doors were so pretty that we had to stop and take some pics

We caught a few stores just before they closed

We stopped at a little fortune telling things where you shook a stick and found your matching symbol to get a fortune. 

I got a pretty good one!
Sarah and Cesca, sadly, got bad ones. After a few tries, Ces got a good one, but Sarah pulled the same bad one 3 times and we decided that it was time to quit or we'd get cursed or something. We headed to our hostel, gathered our things, and headed to tokyo station to catch our overnight bus to Kyoto!

Saw this on the way. HA

Waiting in an empty parking lot that barely passed for a
'bus station'
okaaaaay Tokyooooo.
I was certainly sad to say goodbye to Tokyo, even with it's moderately confusing subway system. We figured it all out like champs, cause we're awesome like that. I'd love to go back to so many places someday... I still can't believe I got to visit Tokyo!!!!


Phew! That was a long one. I realized about halfway through that this was going to be a suuuuuuuuuper long post, but I was too lazy to split it into more than one. Sorry. Thanks for sticking with me this far, if you did!

The next few posts will be up in a few days, if I have some free time after work to edit them. We didn't spend nearly as much time in each other place as we did Tokyo, so the posts won't be as mega long~

I'm off to work tomorrow, lamenting that I'm back in the land of the yellow dust (seriously, the levels are almost TOXIC right now. Looks like I'm gonna have to suck it up and ride the bus if I don't want lung cancer...) I'll try and update more about our awesome trip soon!


I'm currently listening to a song from the drama I'm watching besides Hyde, Jekyll, Me. The other drama is called Kill Me, Heal Me, and although I can't stand the lead actress, the story is compelling enough to keep my interest, largely due to the main actor. Like HJM, the main character has D.I.D., but his manifests in like 7 personalities. This one is more of a medical melodrama, whereas HJM is pretty much a rom com, so they're quite different. I'm enjoying both thoroughly, and listening to both OST's. 

Right now, I'm listening to KMHM because I just caught up on this week's episodes. Both dramas are awesome. Check them out!

Again, I'm really into ballads, hence I'm stuck on this song. It represents the lead's pain, asking the girl not to love him because he can only give her pain while his heart is torn and broken like it is from this 'unspeakable secret.' Gosh I love it. 

More from me soon!!!!

1 comment:

  1. I love that the corgi was in a stroller, like its little legs couldn't handle life.