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The first(ish) Japan post – out and about in Tokyo

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I’m still working on getting every single photo of the thousands that I took in Japan ready for public consumption, but I have to share how truly awesome our trip was.

First, I have to explain how we go about selecting vacation locales. Sometimes, I joke that it’s like the Olympics: we have to give all the countries an equal shot, and we welcome bids from all over. (Fine, there are no bids. But really, if places want to send me promotional materials– cheese, perhaps?– they are more than welcome.) In reality, GP and I do have a sense that the world is…well, enormous, and we only have so long (fine, the rest of our lives) to visit every place we want to see. This means that we try to take an international trip each year, and explore places closer to home in between. Since we’ve been together, we’ve been to Puerto Vallarta, Paris, Australia, London (and Blackpool!), Montreal, and Japan, with multiple trips per year to New York and Tahoe, a couple to Yosemite, and a fistful of visits to places all over the country for weddings. The point is, there’s a (sometimes intimidatingly) big world out there, and we sort of feel like we have  to see it all, while we have the means (physical, financial, etc.) to do so.

So, yes. Last year we decided that Japan would be our first foray into Asia, a continent that neither of us had visited before. The bulk of our stay would be in Tokyo, but we’d also make a side trip to the Mt. Fuji-Five Lakes area, to visit an amusement park (remember, I’m married to Dr. Roller Coaster) and take in some nature. Our airfare stalking paid off, and we finally booked our tickets for September. After some mysterious mechanical incident before our first plane took off, we ended up on a direct flight to Tokyo, rather than our intended stop-over-at-LAX route (score!), and after 11 hours and a couple sleeping pills, we were in Tokyo. We got through our first night’s dinner with a fair amount of pointing at a picture menu and nodding enthusiastically, and set out e-a-r-l-y the next morning to start sightseeing. Below is the view from our hotel room (we stayed in the Hotel Monterey Hanzomon and were pleased with the experience– it’s a Japanese hotel, of course, so nothing is very generously sized, but we enjoyed our stay).

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Our first stop? The Senso-Ji temple…

Inner gate and five-storied pagoda

Because we got up so early, we beat the majority of the eventual throngs that would gather at the shrine, which I think made it an extra-special first stop in Tokyo– it was so calm and quiet, exactly the perfect way to begin our (occasionally a bit more frenetic) trip. We also visited the Meiji shrine, though it was later in the second day– not quite as serene as the Senso-Ji.

Main gate to the Meiji shrine

Our hotel was within walking distance of the Imperial Palace grounds, on which are a series of pretty astounding gardens. For instance…

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And of course, Tokyo is brimming with people. From mini-festivals surrounding more moderately-sized shrines…

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To larger street festivals that seem to appear out of nowhere (yes, that is a McDonald’s you see in the distance)…

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To the (in?)famous Harajuku district, whose narrow streets are packed with teenagers who are so hip that it hurts a little.

THIS is where they keep all the people

And of course, it being September, baseball season was in full swing (pun totally intended). The Tokyo Dome was easily accessible, and it was simple to buy tickets (for face value, even!) online. The Yomiuri Giants may have lost that day (to the Chunichi Dragons, whose mascot, for some reason, is a koala), but we had a great time absorbing all of the traditions that the Japanese have created around baseball, from cheerleaders (yep, though they didn’t seem to be as, um…saucy? as those in the US) to rowdy cheering sections that rivaled college football.

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Oh, and something else we did while in Japan? Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. But that, friends, is another post. Say…tomorrow?

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About Megan

I read, I write, I drink wine while watching way too much tv. Let's be friends.

3 responses »

  1. I want to see more!

    Reply
  2. That sounds awesome! Can’t wait to hear about and see the rest!

    Reply
  3. Amazing! I’m totally with you on wanting to see as much of the world as possible. Andrew and I are set on seeing as much of the world as we possibly can.

    Reply

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