After 5 months of living in Asia, I finally decided to travel somewhere when Hong Kong’s latest three-day holiday weekend opportunity arose. First holiday destination: Tokyo, Japan! Visiting this city came as an easy choice as two of my best friends that I studied Cinema with live there. I knew that I would see them sooner or later since I am living so close now. To add to the holiday weekend, I also took two extra vacation days from work to give me more time to see the sights and wander.
I landed in Narita, which is a two-hour train ride from Tokyo. But it was a welcome journey, as the ride consisted of remarkable scenic views that make up Japan’s countryside. I wish now I would have taken photos of the ride or had gotten off at one of the stations, but at that point I was just in pure awe at the beautiful sights and lost in the excitement of being in a country I’ve been wanting to visit for so long. After some time, I finally arrived Shinjuku, the part of Tokyo in which my hotel was located.
One of my friends was already waiting for my in my hotel and immediately asked if I wanted to say The Amazing Spider-Man. Normally, I would scoff at the idea of going to the movies while traveling, but after a 5 hour flight and a 2 hour train ride combined with my general geekiness, I could not say no. So we bought the tickets and headed to a spicy ramen joint for dinner before the movie. I immediately learned that in Japan, you order your ramen via a sort of vending machine. After one makes their food and drink selection, tickets are issued from the machine for the customer to give to the server. After we did that, I was quickly served no doubt the spiciest ramen in my life. It was just terrific!
Next day, I met my other friend at Shibuya Station in front of the statue of Hachiko the dog, the famous dog who waited at the exact same station everyday for his master to come home from work and continued to wait everyday 9 years after his death. Since it is a famous meeting spot for people in Tokyo, it was pretty cool to be apart of that tradition. Once I met my friend, she told me of her plans for the day, which first included us heading out to Asakusa and the famous Sensō-ji temple.
Afterwards, my friend from the day before met up with us and we took a pretty awesome boat ride down one of the canals. We had originally planned to rent some bicycles as everyone in the area were practically riding bikes up and down the paths along the water but for some reason the rental place we came across was closed.
Off topic note: I noticed bicycling a major part of Tokyo life, so much that people even ride through the rain. I noticed how much of it is part of their daily life when I had to transfer trains in the beginning, when I was taking that two-hour train from Narita to Tokyo. I had to get off at a small town between trains and everyone was riding bicycles. I LOVED THIS.
After the boat ride, we wandered around for somewhere to eat and ended up at a random ramen shop. And that’s where it happened: I ate the greatest bowl of ramen in my life so far, destroying every ramen restaurant I’ve ever eaten in Los Angeles or Hong Kong. UGGHGHGHGHHGSJLFLSJFLSFKFS:K:FS
Once the delicious meal was done with, we headed to Harajuku, home of Japanese goth girls and lots of cool shops.
Around that area, we checked out a very traditional place called Meiji Shrine. My friend taught me the proper etiquette before entering (at certain points people are supposed to bow. The main entrance calls for two bows, two claps and a third bow before entering). Once inside we donated some money to be able to make a wish and even bought some wooden pieces to write our prayers down on and hang upon a tree. This whole experience was the highlight of my day.
I have lots more photos from other days during the trip and I will put up in my second Tokyo post later this week. For now here’s a picture I took from inside one of the stations that make up Tokyo’s Yamanote Line. Everyone always loves a good blurry train photo, right?