Japan Has So Much To Offer

After our trip, here are the things I’d like to bring back with me from Japan:

Manners.

Holy smokes, people in Japan are really courteous. There are so many things I wish North Americans could adopt. Manners would be number 1. Without so much as knowing more than two words in Japanese- Kon’nichiwa and Arigato- I survived with kindness.

Bidet.

This is AMAZING. Even in public washrooms- there are bidets. And sound effects to hide your indiscretions. And seat warming. And butt spraying! And more!!! Best invention ever. My bum hole has never been happier. Seriously. These things are awesome. It may be time to buy one for my home. A cold toilet seat isn’t nice first thing in the morning.

I just avoid the old style toilets in public.

Plastic bag holders.

Why aren’t these available more frequently in North America? These are amazingly handy. I think I could carry 4 bags of 2L colas in one hand using these. Don’t tell anyone, but I may have brought a half-dozen of these home.

Toy Capsules.

We must’ve spent a small fortune on these evil items. At 200¥ – 500¥ each: my family (wife included!) kept buying them. It all started one day at the train station at Akihabara. So many Capsule Machines!!! And the payout is much better than the claw games (or even the junky toys at our local malls). No wonder we couldn’t help ourselves.

Food.

Such tasty food. Rice and noodles and meat and eggs and sweets! Even the pre-packaged food from 7-11 is better than the Twinkies and hot dogs sold here. But wait- there’s more:

Cute Food.

Still talking about food- but oh so cute! It’s almost shameful to eat it. Small quantities of edible goodies that aren’t really mass produced need to be brought here. They’re so much fun and great for those Instagram photos!

Trains.

Ok, I work for a railroad, but the public transportation system in Tokyo is amazing.(Even the trains in Disneyland and DisneySea were awesome.) The train system in Japan was easy to follow along with and use. Only once did we get on the wrong train, but after a couple of stops, just got off and went the right way at no extra cost. Cheap and efficient public transportation. A must have for our province. It runs like clockwork- absolute perfection.

Note: When we returned home, my 20 minute trip from the airport cost me $7.85 to get into Vancouver. While most of our trips were under 310¥ (approx. $3.70). There ran on exact times- not an approximate time. And the trains go everywhere! (I don’t even get bus service near my home.)

Japan has lots to offer. Perhaps some things I can work on bringing home. Perhaps other things will come to fruition over time.

Sakura: The Beauty of Cherry Blossoms

The one time of the year I wanted to travel to Japan was in the spring. This was so that I could enjoy the Cherry Blossoms, aka Sakura. Here is a sample of them from around Tokyo during our visit:

Those first few images were from the Ueno Zoo and the walk from the train station to the zoo. The little mascot and rules were there to make sure everyone was respectful.

Everywhere in Tokyo had beautiful Sakura in bloom. We often stopped to take numerous photos. Especially our daughters, who enjoy their Photography Classes back home.

Our first day in Tokyo we went to the Tokyo Tower in the evening. It was our first glimpse of Cherry Blossoms. We took a bunch of photos while at the Zōjō-Ji temple.

We also went back to the temple on our last day as our final walk before taking our plane back home. It seems that the 12 days we spent in Tokyo had us seeing full blooms to a loss of petals. As if the end of our visit signified the end of the Cherry Blossoms.

Visiting Tokyo at Spring-break and over Easter was probably the best time to go. There was no need for a guided tour as Google Maps would point out the Cherry Blossom locations as well.

It made me miss the Cherry Blossom tree we had at our old house. Now that we are home- we are trying to figure out a spot to put a few on our acre that will get the best results.

A big cheers to all things Sakura that we enjoyed in Tokyo. Thank you Japan for sharing the beauty!

Tea and Travel Day

We traveled back home from Tokyo on an overnight flight. After checking out of our hotel room in the morning, we decided to do one last walk around the nearby Hamarikyu Gardens and enjoyed a tea ceremony.

It was a lovely and calm adventure in the park. Lots of beautiful Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) and high rises in the background. A perfect description of how the Tokyo lifestyle is.

Before heading back on our plane to Vancouver, we also decided to do a late afternoon lunch with one last traditional Japanese meal.

Cold Udon with Fujisoba beef. This was a slightly spicier meal than I expected (should’ve noticed the wasabi on the edge), but the beer was chilled perfectly to wash it down.

After lunch, we made our way back up towards Tokyo Tower. We stopped to visit the “Care Guardian Deities of Children“. The little stone statues with red hats and windmills dedicated to the safety of children and a memorial to miscarried and stillborn children.

We finally ended our day with a dessert from a market tent and a beer outside the hotel. Many crazy memories were made. And a big thank you to the people of Tokyo for such wonderful hospitality.

I wish we didn’t have to leave. We are ready to start planning our return.

Monday Funday In Tokyo DisneySea (Day 2)

We nailed this entire vacation and had a ton of fun doing it. We also did more than expected with a couple impromptu events- Hello Kitty Cafe and a Rickshaw Ride to name a couple. So we earned an extra day to either wind down or do something else. The family voted for a second day at DisneySea!

We woke up at 05:00am and made our way to the train at 5:45. All of us excited, and a bit loopy from an early start. We made it to DisneySea early enough to get a better spot in line and buy the tickets.

As soon as we entered, I rushed over to Toy Story Mania to grab a FastPass. At 08:30 our FastPass was for 18:15. And moments later, they were all gone. We then lined up for Tower of Terror for almost 2 hours. The line was moving slowly, so I ducked out and grabbed a FastPass for the Indiana Jones Ride (which again ran out quickly). When I returned- my family had already made it on the ride. Dang. I missed out. But at least they had a great time on it.

Our day was just filled with silliness. We skipped around the park, smiling and laughing all day long. Occasionally getting on the Steamliner and Electric Trolley and wandering back and forth across the park. I think we ended up in the Lost River Delta and the Mysterious Island a few more times than we should have.

We ended our day with a viewing of Fantasmic. After it ended, we ran to Mysterious Island once more to get in line for one last ride on Journey to the Center of the Earth. My son wanted to shut the park down. In line, I made a fan club of young men who kept wanting to get a picture of me with them. It was a lot of fun.

The train ride back to the hotel- my son was sleeping. At midnight we finally hit our beds. It was the longest day we have had in Tokyo, but so much fun. We are going to miss this place.

Easter Sunday in Tokyo

Easter isn’t something that I usually celebrate. Our kids are growing up and hunting eggs doesn’t happen. In the past we have given them a few board games or video games. No hunt this year- this year we are in Tokyo.

The beautiful pastels and Sakura have made for a wonderful Easter Weekend/ Spring Break. So we enjoyed a Ruby KitKat today in lieu of cheap chocolate eggs. Needless to say, they are very tasty (for a single stick that cost about $4.50 CAD).

In the afternoon, we headed out to the Pokemon Mega Center. Our son is the big Pokémon fan, but we all kind of like it. Lots of Pikachu and stuffed animals at the store. He was off like a kid in heaven and rushed around like a crazy person checking out all the merchandise. He was looking for an elusive Mudkip souvenir, but wasn’t having much luck. After we left, he named every Pokémon that was on the walls of the outside of the store.

While there, we were treated to a mall performance of Batten Show Jo Tai. I had not seen a performance in a mall before (I remember them being huge in the 90’s). I also didn’t realize that so many grown men were into teen J-Pop stars. The first song was a heavy metal style J-Pop and the crowd was head banging along with the girls. As outsiders, we were very amused by the whole experience.

We needed to have a nice dinner, so I found us a Japanese BBQ restaurant: Gyu-Kaku (it also happened to be above the Ramen place we frequented a few times this trip). We decided to do the 90 minute all-you-can-eat meat extravaganza. MEAT! MEAT! AND MORE MEAT!!! So many delicious flavors of beef and pork. By the end, we were stuffed.

It was an Easter Sunday to remember. (Besides just being in Tokyo!)