Hello from Japan! In case you didn’t know, Dream-Ality Travels is thrilled to be working with JNTO and JTA for the next two weeks as we explore Japan and do what we can to help rebuild the country’s tourism. I first came to Japan last October and had such an amazing time – I am so excited to be back, to check out a few new cities and this time not be so clueless! I’ll be traveling up and down Japan and if things work out possibly going North to Sendai or Aomori. The itinerary isn’t quite set yet, but thanks to the beauty of the JR Railpass I have the luxury of deciding where to go last minute.
I have no idea how I managed to get up at 7am this morning. I think it was that pre-international adrenaline rush I get. Or maybe dread for the impending 14 hr flight. Whatever it was, once the plane took off I was quickly fast asleep. I was worried about being stuck in a center seat for one of the longest flights out there, but I flashed a few smiles and thanks to the amazing people at ANA I was moved up to a window seat in the exit row right before I boarded. Thanks, guys! It pays to ask nicely and perhaps look a little helpless. I felt giddy as I kicked my legs up in the air and didn’t have to bother anyone with moving when I needed to get up. I was quite possibly the happiest person in all of coach on that flight.
So here I am at the Khaosan Tokyo Kibuki, a sweet hostel that my sister recommended. The heated toilet seat in my room was a fantastic welcome back as well. I’m happy to be back in a social hostel setting, but tonight I must admit that I’m keeping my head down until I get a full night’s sleep and feel more like myself. I did take a fantastic stroll around the Asakusa area though which was surprisingly very peaceful for a Friday night. The above photo is of the Sensoji temple lit up. I’m looking forward to heading down south to Osaka tomorrow to meet up with Neetha! And on Sunday we are volunteering to help out with the typhoon recovery aid in Wakayama – cannot wait to share my experience with that.
Random tidbit: Because of my flight time and the direction I was heading, the entirety of my 14 hour flight over here was sunny. So weird.
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I’m thrilled to announce that I’m returning to Japan on a Dream-Ality Travels agency trip through Japan Tourism Agency and Japan National Tourism Organization! Its going to be a great opportunity to explore more of Japan and see places that I didn’t get to during my 5 weeks there in October.
Between going in search of snow monkeys, stalking cherry blossoms, watching a sumo tournament, or traveling to northern Japan to see the devastation, there’s so much I want to see and I don’t know how much I can fit in during my two weeks there. Any suggestions on places you’d like to learn more about, or things I have to do when I’m there in mid-March? The extensive food tour is already a given.
Cannot wait for more okonomiyaki
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So as I briefly mentioned earlier, the main reason I decided to revisit Tokyo was because Tim wanted to see one of his favorite trance DJs at a nightclub there. Club ageHa is this huge club that’s situated past a river to drown out the loud bass that plays all night. It had several different rooms with DJs playing different types of music. There were about 2,000 people there, and go figure some of the first people we meet are a couple of UCI kids that are studying abroad here. Oh Irvine, zot zot. Above & Beyond was pretty fantastic, and Tim pulled us up to front row center as soon as it began. This was Tim’s sixth time seeing them but he said it was by far the best one. Apparently the guys started out in Tokyo and the crowd was obsessed with them. Best part was that no one was pushing so we weren’t suffocated at the front, how often does that happen at shows?! We ended up leaving the club after 5am as the sun was coming up, even though other DJ’s had come on after them and the place was still bumping. Of course we got lost on the subway getting back and by the time we got back to the hostel it was past 7am. Good news is that 7am meant the start of free breakfast at the hostel so we headed straight for the kitchen. I’m sure everyone enjoyed watching two sweaty kids still dressed from their night out (and probably me with eye makeup down to my cheeks) walk in and grab some seats. Needless to say, we didn’t get much of an early start on Sunday. We had been wanting to have some GOOD soba for a while now and I did some research and found a really cool restaurant that was built in 1880 and is now hidden amidst skyscrapers. It was a super cute spot with a bamboo garden entrance and a really peaceful, chill ambiance. And the soba was amazing! So healthy and light and filling all at the same time. Great way to end our lazy Sunday, and our short but fun weekend in Tokyo.
Senso-ji Temple. Asakusa, Tokyo
Kando Yabu soba restaurant
Above & Beyond at Club ageHa
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I haven’t blogged as much I would have liked to these past two weeks. It was a bit of a whirlwind traveling with my parents: up and out rather early each morning to sightsee and taking lots of trains all over to different cities. In under two weeks we managed to visit Tokyo, Nikko, Kyoto, Shimoichi (where my sister lives), Hiroshima/Miyajima and Osaka. Phew! It was a lot, but if you ask my mom she’d say that we didn’t do enough. I had such a fun time seeing different parts, from busy streets of Tokyo to the picturesque island of Miyajima which is inhabited by tons of tame but hungry deer. Traveling with the parents was cool – and not just because we got sweet hotels (well of course that was a perk!) Japan is so different from Europe or other countries that my parents visit, and so it was a learning experience. There really isn’t much English around, most times you’ll find a sign that reads MAP or INFORMATION but then you can’t decipher places or streets because the only English was the title. Also, half the time we had to just guess about the food we were eating. We weren’t always right. Neefs has been a good tour guide, telling us all about the traditions and foods in each area and using her beginner language skills to translate whatever she can. She’s still learning but she still helped out big time! My parents left for home yesterday, even though my mom wanted to stay and backpack. It was fun having the family reunited again – that hasn’t happened for close to two years I think? And Neefs and I are both spending the holidays in home sweet home SoCal too.
Lake Chuzenji in Nikko
Kegon Falls in Nikko
Gion district in Kyoto
Golden Shrine and Imperial Palace in Kyoto
Right about now a plane has just landed carrying one groggy, clueless American boy: Timmy is in the house! Japan, brace yourself. I don’t know how I managed to convince my best friend to fly out and travel with me but it’s happening. It’s his fist time traveling internationally and I’m also clueless about Japan so this should be interesting. We’ll be backpacking together for the 2 weeks that he’s in town – I’m sure I’ll have lots of great stories to report back. :) We’re heading to the island of Kyushu tomorrow! I think, anyway – I still have yet to book tomorrow’s hostel. Goodbye sweet fancy hotels, its back to backpacking for meee!
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What the heck, I’m in Japan? Last week I was in Italy and this morning I was in NYC and now I’m here.
Japan has been very cool so far. What a different type of trip from Europe! I met my parents and sister in Tokyo this past weekend, and we spent a few days checking out the busy streets and exploring beautiful temples in the outskirts of the city. This morning my parents and I woke up at 3am (yes, you read that right) and went to the fish market. A friend of mine just recently told me about a show he watched on tv about it and how interesting it was, so I knew I couldn’t miss it. We got to see GIGANTIC pieces of fish pieces and witness some of the auction. After that, my dad and I stepped into one of the small sushi restaurants next door and had the freshest sushi I have ever had in my life. I’m a fan of eel but this eel was on a whole other level. So soft and delicious, and my dad commented on how it didn’t even have that fishy taste a lot of sushi has. I was very proud of my dad because he does not eat sushi, but there he was next to me eating squid and whatever else I put on his plate for him. Sushi at 6am – now that’s a first!
Tokyo Fish Market - 5:30AM
The freshest unagi I have ever had in my life!
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