Japan Day 3

by Koko on March 26, 2015 · 1 comment

in Travel, Uncategorized

This morning we got up early again. The jet lag is a killer, so we are all getting up at around 5:30 in the morning. When we got to the train station to start our adventuring, my mom and I rushed aboard the train that was about to leave without knowing we were leaving Steph and Kathy behind (the doors closed and they didn’t make it on). Panicked, we looked out the doors at them and took off down the line. I was the only one with a phone, but we hopped off at the next station and back on to their train.

IMG_4249

We took the train to Shimojima, which is a huge stationary store. It is sort of like Staples gone crazy- 6 floors of stationary, paper, erasers, pens, pencils, washi tape, etc. It was amazing. I got some great washi tape and gifts for my students.

japan3e

Then we headed off to Sensoji Temple, probably the most famous temple in Tokyo. There were tons of people- tourists and locals- heading up to the temple. To get to the temple, you walk down a long street called Nakamise Dori. It is filled with little tourist shops and people. Think mini kimonos, snacks, cell phone trinkets, etc.

japan3g

There are lots of rituals when you get to the temple. The first is to get a fortune. You throw in 100 yen ($1) and knock a box full of sticks until one falls out. You find the box which matches the stick and take out the fortune inside. If it is a good fortune, you keep it. If it is a bad fortune, you leave it at the temple, so you don’t take it with you. We asked for help from a young Japanese girl to teach us what to do.

japan3b IMG_4266

The next ritual is burning incense and wrapping yourself in the smoke for purification. You make a prayer and then approach the temple. Inside, you toss another coin and make another prayer.

japan3c

IMG_4260

After the temple, we walked around looking at all of the street food vendors they had. We saw some adorable kids (they love to pose!).

japan3a

We kept wondering the streets around the temple to find food and stopped at a small ramen shop for some incredible lunch.

japan3d

Then we headed to Asakusa. It is a huge street that sells baking and cooking supplies. Think pots, pans, knives, plates, pottery, and anything a restaurant would need (including plastic food that they use to showcase their dishes). It reminded me of downtown LA- SO much product!

japan3f

Tonight we grabbed skewers and rice from a neighborhood shop. Our neighborhood is SO charming and the cherry blossoms are days from blooming!

IMG_4309

Tomorrow is our last full day! The time is flying by.

{ 1 comment }

Japan Day 2

by Koko on March 25, 2015 · 0 comments

in Travel, Uncategorized

P1020083

This morning we woke up early and headed off to the Imperial Palace. We arranged for a guided walking tour of the grounds, which is highly recommended (to sign up and get approval, you’ll need to go to this website first). We had a Japanese guide and listened to pre-recorded audio for English translations. It was about an hour tour of the grounds, which are different than the normal gardens that are open to the public.

IMG_4209 japan2a

After the Imperial Palace, we headed to grab some food. We were making our way on foot for some shopping when we stumbled across a line of Japanese food trucks! We thought it would be fun to grab some lunch there and we were so glad we did. Grilled chicken bowls for all!

japan2b

After lunch, we stopped in Ginza to admire some high-end shopping. We went to Mitsukoshi, which reminded me of Harrod’s in London. Fabulous clothes, but the food was the best part. There was take-away food as well as a small grocery shop department. We were marveling at the $250 melon. Yes $250for ONE perfect melon. Could you even imagine?

IMG_4233

We made our way back to our AirBnb and walked two doors down for dinner at a small local restaurant. It is amazing to me that there are so many small neighborhood restaurants around Tokyo. The restaurants sometimes seat 6-8 people and serve the chef’s choice. We had FABULOUS food and were so impressed with the chef’s presentation and food.

japan2c

PS it is MUCH colder than expected here, so I’ve been wearing my thin jacket everywhere and my scarf as a headband when we walk along the street!

IMG_4200

Tomorrow is more exploring!

{ 0 comments }

Japan Day 1

by Koko on March 24, 2015 · 0 comments

in Travel, Uncategorized

IMG_4159

We have arrived!

After a 12-hour flight, my mom and I got off the plane to get our bags from baggage claim to get on our merry way. Only there was one problem: my suitcase was missing, but an identical one was still sitting at baggage claim. Literally every bad word I could possibly think of came to my mind. All I could think of was the fact that we were in a foreign country with no cell service and I was never going to see my things again. The Japanese airport attendants were beyond helpful and went to page the guy whose suitcase was there hoping that he hadn’t left the airport yet. For some reason I started walking around the huge baggage claim hoping I could see my bag. Miraculously I saw a hint of gold (my name tag) and I ran across the baggage claim to a man who was about to walk through immigration with MY bag and stopped him. I still don’t know how I found him in the craziness, but thank goodness I did.

japan3

Bag in hand, my mom and I waited for my Aunt and her friend to arrive and we were on our way. We rented an AirBnb in Yanaka (a lovely neighborhood). The house has Tatami mats and cots for sleeping (very traditional Japanese) and is on a quiet street filled with temples. We dropped our things, wandered around our neighborhood and grabbed some quick ramen and gyoza (YUM).

 

japan1

This morning we headed to Tsukiji Market for a tour of the fish market. It was overwhelming, but amazing to see all of the fish/produce/things in the market. The market is so active with prepping/selling/buying of fish that tourists are almost in the way of things.

japan2

IMG_4183

We ate the best sushi I’ve ever had at a small sushi restaurant near the market and then wandered around the market looking at the small shops for the rest of the day. I’ve never wanted a thousand rice bowls and sake cups more than today.

IMG_4192 japan4

japan5

Tomorrow we are off to the Imperial Palace!

{ 0 comments }

Tokyo Bound!

by Koko on March 22, 2015 · 1 comment

in Travel

Hi friends! I’m currently sitting in the airport lounge waiting for my flight to Tokyo!

tokyo

About 6 weeks ago, my mom told me that my aunt and her best friend were going to Tokyo in March. It turned out that they were going the exact week that I had Spring Break from school. After a few phone calls, mom and I jumped onboard their trip. And now we are here. I’ve never been to Japan and am beyond excited to explore.

IMG_4157

Since I had to fly from Atlanta to LA before heading from LA to Tokyo, I decided I was going to do a carry-on only. The weather is nice enough in Tokyo that I don’t need a jacket, so my lightweight Lululemon sweater is it (and if it gets chilly, I can always buy something!). Nike sneakers for walking (and I don’t care if they are “mom” shoes as Q told me), a pair of jeans and some button-down shirts and I am good to go.

I can’t wait to keep you posted on this fun trip!

PS this is my mom in Tokyo when she was exactly my age:

IMG_4152

{ 1 comment }