Anthony & I spent 2 weeks in Japan during the month of October 2015. Usually near the end of our intl trips we always come at peace with the realization that it’s almost over. Everything is okay and we don’t mind going back home to the daily grind. This time around we had the hardest time coming to terms with the fact that we were leaving Japan! We had an I.N.C.R.E.D.I.B.L.E. time and are already thinking about going back soon. Perhaps this year? 😉
For the last few trips that I blogged I organized each entry according by day. Because we spent a full two weeks in Japan, we took our time exploring all the districts of Tokyo and going back and forth between them. We also made our way to Yokohama, Osaka & Kyoto. On some days we did touristy things and on others we took a laid back approach by just eating, stopping by Sega, shopping and/or wandering around. I most likely won’t have 14 blog entries since some days were more exciting than others but I’ll include all the highlights from our trip! Plus it will be a good way for me to think about what I want to do again the next time I’m there.
If you know me, I love detailed itineraries. No. OBSESSED with detailed itineraries. When we went to Italy in 2012, I made this crazy itinerary for each day we were there with activities, potential restaurants to be eaten at (with names) and tourist sites to be visited all with dedicated time slots. Of course I knew we weren’t going to follow it exactly but I love having an itinerary to refer to “just in case.” I think that’s where my 20% type A personality kicks in. Plus, it’s an excellent way to research a city and get me excited for an upcoming trip.
With that said, every trip no matter big or small there is an itinerary. Even when we go to Vancouver, BC for the day (which is only a 2-2.5hr drive from Seattle), there is an itinerary. For Japan, I was so busy with work and house projects that I barely did any research. It was a big shocker, yes to you and to me. My aunt even joked that I probably already had my itinerary LAMINATED weeks before departure. Smh.
After our Japan trip, I’d say my “travel style” has changed and for the better. I now prefer a good mix of laid back with some busy days where it’s go-go-go. Sleep is important too. I don’t mind sleeping in before setting out for an hours long adventure. Working full time and then going home to work and juggling a small home remodel got really stressful so our trip couldn’t have come at a better time.
The flight from Seattle to Narita Int’l airport via ANA airlines was only 10 hours 22 min nonstop. It was our first time flying ANA air and I have to say it was a pleasant experience! The customer service is top notch and the cabin meals served were pretty tasty. I liked that we were given an option of a Japanese or Western meal choice. For snacks they handed out rice crackers instead of the typical pretzels or peanuts which was a nice “Japanese” touch and so tasty!
We arrived at Narita around 3pm. After going through customs & immigration then picking up our luggage, we were out the door and in line to buy our NEX train tickets. Conveniently the NEX offered nonstop service to Shibuya where we were headed to check into our airbnb. With so many signs in english and attendants all around, we were able to figure out where to buy tickets and where to catch the train easily. It reminded me so much of Paris since that’s where we used a train system for the first time ever. So efficient.
Already feeling the jet lag, I was slowly falling asleep on the train ride to Shibuya. Anthony had already passed out next to me and after falling in and out of sleep, I finally rested my eyes. About an hour later we finally made it into Shibuya! The power nap helped with fatigue and we were ready to explore once we got off the train. We took the West exit (South gate) out of the station, crossed the bridge and made our way to the airbnb. By the time we arrived in Shibuya it was a little past 6pm. We are finally HERE and we couldn’t believe we were actually in Japan!! The rush & excitement of the very first time I step foot into a new city is always the most memorable for me.
Just a 5 minute walk from Shibuya station we finally found our airbnb. We retrieved the key, got settled in, unpacked a bit and then set out again to find a place for dinner. Deciding on sushi we decided to walk around until we saw a place that looked appealing. We walked back toward Shibuya station to the Shibuya crossing. We couldn’t believe we were actually crossing the Shibuya crossing after seeing pictures of it all over the internet, in our guidebooks, youtube videos, and really every time you look up things on Japan.
We had walked around for an hour amazed and in awe of all the billboards, lights, advertisements, sounds, music and all the people commuting during rush hour. It was insane but thrilling to be lost in a sea of people. I would never say I like large crowds but in that moment at that specific time there it was just something so magical and unforgettable.
We made our way through different alleys filled with shops and restaurants. Anthony spotted a fried chicken street food stand and you know we hit that up. We got in line and got a small order then made our way to the different condiments. It was a good snack before dinner since we were starving and hadn’t eaten anything since around 2pm on the plane. While we were enjoying the fried chicken, we saw a conveyer belt sushi place just across the shop and it was filled with locals. We realized it was Genki sushi and not wanting to walk around anymore since we wanted to eat we decided to have dinner there.
We got to experience a different kind of conveyer belt sushi that evening. We made our own green tea with hot water provided at our seat through a little spout and matcha powder. We ordered sushi using individual touch screens. When our sushi orders were ready, it was sent along a conveyer belt that shot straight down to our table vs the ones we’ve been to in Seattle that have plates going round and round on the belt. Once we retrieved our plates on the belt, we pressed a button saying we received the items and then the train shot back to the kitchen. It was pretty neat! The fish tasted fresh & delicious and we left with happy tummies. Yeah, yeah it’s Genki and it’s a chain is probably what you’re thinking. Haters gonna hate! Jk. It was a fun experience and Genki is a Japanese chain originating from there so it is a bit different than what you’d get say in Seattle.
After dinner, we continued to walk around. Still feeling a bit jet lagged and tired with droopy eyes, I was ready to go back and hit the hay early. Anthony who was somehow super energized wanted to keep walking so I just told myself let’s do it so we can burn off some calories. We made our way to Sega and played one of many no probably thousands, no more like millions of claw machines during our time in Japan. They’re so addicting and fun and the toys are way better than I’ve seen here. We won quite a few things which I’ll talk more about in my next few posts!
After arcade fun, we were finally ready to call it a night and made our way back to the airbnb. At 10ish lights went out and we were up again at 3am ready to start the day….
My next post will be about our FAVORITE ramen place, Asakusa and our outing in Sumida. 😉