This past Saturday marked exactly two years since my best friend, Laura, and I hoped a jet and spent two weeks in Japan. We spent the first week exploring Tokyo, the last week we spent with one of my lovely couples who I’ve become dear friends with. There are so many times I’m pulled back to our adventures in this city; spring time usually is the culprit. As I begin to see our apple and pear tree begin to blossom, I can not separate the memories of witnessing a whole country who celebrates this moment every year. Cherry blossoms in Japan are to die for. And we were so lucky to land just in the hight of the celebrations.
The first morning we woke up at 4 am (oh jet lag). To our surprise the sun was beginning to rise. SO… we took advantage of a completely quite city and went on a run. This happened for the first 4 days of our trip. And I loved those mornings! What we were able to take in and see was so memorable, and it was a wonderful way to see Tokyo that made it feel like home.
Both Laura and I had spent several years living in Chicago. We know city life. We know how public transportation worked. We understood the basic etiquette to city living and exploring – one of those things is you didn’t want to come across as a tourist. Unfortunately our very tall, fair skinned Westernism gave it away and many locals would want a picture standing along side of us (Laura more than I. I think it’s because she is taller).
We learned that the street addresses for a business is ridiculous to actually understand let alone find. For two days we were searching for some specific restaurants… it was insane. Once we cracked the code of how the street addresses worked, we came to find a couple of those places were no longer in business (sad days). The areas in Japan we visited and explored were Nihonbashi, Mitsukoshimae, Shinjuku, Roppongi, Atsugi, Lake Yamanaka, and Enoshima. Laura was a pro at attempting to saying a word in Japanese and being so close if not spot on. I was a pro at navigating, always knowing where we were in reference to our Hotel. I also could memorize the visual of Japanese words by making stories out of each symbol (One of our bus stops was: a man praying + a stain glass window + a toilet). The combination of the two of us made our daily adventures pretty seamless.
A few of the places we visited and recommend to anyone are: The Imperial Palace (they don’t let you go in. BUT the area around the moat is beautiful), Ueno Park to the Cherry Creek Festival, Yogi Park and the Meiji Shrine, the National Art Center in Roppongi, Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens, an Yokohama baseball game, the Island of Enoshima along with it’s dark black sand beaches on the main land, Lake Yamanka with it’s beautiful Mt. Fuj view, and authentic expensive sushi (I wish desperately I remembered the name of the one we went to!).
Places to stay: Hotel Villa Fontaine in Nihonbashi Mitsukoshimae, The Hundred Stay Hotel in Shinjuku, and The Shinjuku Washington Hotel (don’t say there if you don’t need to).
Here is a glimps of our trip through the lens of my iphone. Can’t wait to go back.