So late last month, I finally got around to visiting one of my must see places to travel before I die.
The land of the rising sun.
Now I kinda regret why I waited this long. I mean, I have always been a fan of anything Japanese. I think I had this notion that Japan is super expensive and that I won’t be able to afford going there, but I’m so glad that I made the jump. It’s worth every cent. What made this trip even more special was that I got to share this amazing experience with my mom and my cousin.
Our first stop was Tokyo.
We were supposed to meet my cousin at Haneda airport the same day. She was flying from the Philippines, but unfortunately got illegally detained in South Korea airport due to some lost in translation problems with the immigration officer. To make the long story short, we ended up having to buy another flight from Korea to Japan just so they’d release her and give her passport back. All this was happening while we’re still at the airport and I was thinking that this was not a good way to start our trip. For some reason I was totally zen like. I think because I was with my mom and if I show her that I’m worried or panicking, she’ll probably lose the plot. Then again, deep inside that was just me refusing to let anything ruin our trip.
We ended up arriving at our hotel past midnight already. I wanted to try all the quirky accommodations in Japan so I booked this capsule hotel. I didn’t tell my mom we were staying at this kind of place, so her reaction was kinda funny when she found out. At first she didn’t like it but once she saw the bathroom she changed her mind. I have to say, it was definitely a fun experience.
We stayed in Shinjuku area and our hotel was just walking distance from the main train station so going from one place to another was pretty easy. Actually when you look at Tokyo’s subway/railway map, it looks really crazy and overwhelming but it’s actually one of the easiest to navigate. I only ever got lost once (but I won’t be sharing that story here).
I didn’t want to do major sightseeing without my cousin and luckily I scheduled our first day in Tokyo to mostly just checking out popular shopping areas. Mom and I ended up going to Ginza and Shibuya and decided to start our food and shopping trip.
I scheduled to meet with one of my Japanese friends in Shibuya and I don’t know how we found each other from amongst the crazy crowd but I’m glad we did because I had no idea where to find this ramen place that I researched.
Here’s the deal. I have a strange relationship with noodles. I only ever eat instant noodles, and even when it is instant, it has to be a particular kind of noodle and I have to cook it myself or I won’t eat it because I’m weird like that. But ever since I got hooked to watching Naruto, I’ve developed this craving to eat ramen, like a proper ramen, and not just in any place, it has to be in Japan. So I ended up researching this hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Kiraku Ramen Noodle Place, that’s been serving ramen for over five decades apparently.
Anyway, I’m so glad I got to share my first ramen experience with Satomi and my mom. I didn’t like the noodle because it was too thick for my liking but the broth was delicious and the pork was really tender and tasty. It was a massive serving though and well worth the price.
Satomi took us to a couple of shops in Shibuya afterwards and I was basically restraining myself from buying all the cute stuff that was staring back at me, pleading for me to buy them.
The struggle was definitely real.
Later on that night, after saying our goodbyes to Satomi, Mom and I went back to the airport to pick up my cousin. Her eyes were still pretty swollen from all the crying but all the stress disappeared when we got reunited. I knew in my heart that things will just work out in Japan, and it did.
The next day, after badmouthing Koreans because of what happened to my cousin, we ended up eating at a Korean BBQ in Shinjuku. Lol!
Oh and I timed this trip for when these pretty flowers are in full bloom.
Our hotel was also just walking distance to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Aside from the sakura’s, I was also enthralled seeing a traditional Japanese garden for the first time. I’ve always liked bonsai’s (I actually grow one) so to see a bunch of them was quite lovely. I felt very much at peace.
A trip to Tokyo is not complete without checking Akihabara (well for me anyway). You see I’m what some people will call an Otaku haha. I know I’m way too old to still be obsessed with anime’s and manga’s but I don’t give a flying kick. I will forever be a fan. So I basically lost my shit when I was checking out the shops in Akihabara. I was so excited I got lost going back to the hotel.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t buy a lot of stuff because they don’t have any subtitled/dubbed (anime) or english translations (manga) versions. I bought two magazines as souvenirs though.
I wanted to stay longer in Tokyo but alas, we had to move on to our next destination, and so our Tokyo trip ends and our Mt. Fuji adventure begins next chapter.