“This wasn't a strange place; it was a new one.” ~ Paolo Coehlo
1.28.14 - 2.1.14
So ten years later I am finally getting around to finishing up my Japan trip. Just a side note I am trying really hard to get my time management skills honed so I will be making a very active effort to blog at least once a week. I have been very very very bad this year. It's April and I have only put up a post about the first half of my Japan trip. It's just pure laziness on my part. I beg your forgiveness, Now, hopefully I can make it up to you!
Ahem... so the end of my Japanese adventure. I believe I promised "Tokyo! Capsule hotels, Mt. Fuji, Miyazaki museums, Disneyland, and more!" Let's see if I can deliver!
Japan Day 5:
After the first few days of crazy travel going from Tokyo, to Fukuoka, to Miyazaki, to Nagasaki, back to Fukuoka, and then to Hiroshima, it is safe to say I was starting to wear out. Staying at the internet cafe was an experience that I can say I might do again. It was definitely cheap and it was at least clean. It wasn't the most comfortable thing in the world but there were rooms with more couch-like-beds available. KP and I got up around 6 am and we got ready. We walked back to the subway and KP told me we were walking through the famous Shibuya Crosswalk (if you Google it you will see hundreds of people crossing through the intersection. It's a little insane.) It is dubbed the "busiest simultaneous pedestrian intersection" in the world (not sure how accurate that is... probably pretty darn close though) but I can say this. It is not busy at all at 6 o'clock in the morning. I was actually a little surprised because I heard how early Japanese commuters will get started. Alas we were practically the only ones crossing the street to get to Hachiko Square.
I'm sure you've heard about the dog who waited for his master at the train everyday and still came and sat and waited even after his master had died? You know the one? That breaks your heart and makes grown men cry? Well we got to see the statue that was erected for Hachiko (the poor sweet puppy). I didn't even know it was there until we were passing and KP was like "oh hey, want a picture?" Um... yes!
Seriously... sweet sappy feeling could have rot my teeth.
We grabbed some stuff out of the subway locker we had rented and then made our way to the train to head to Mt. Fuji. Fuji-san is gorgeous and huge and you don't quite realize it until you are "there" and you are looking at this Behemothesque monster of a mountain in front of you. People who hike that thing are crazy.
This is the view from the train.
And this is the view from lunch.
I swear pictures don't do it justice. Not the ones I have anyways.
KP and I had made our way to Fuji-san for a fairly unconventional reason. I wanted to see Saiko-Aokigahara forest and she wanted to see the sunrise over Kawaguchiko lake. We hadn't even made it out of Tokyo by the time the sun rose so that didn't pan out but we still made it to the Saiko-Aokigahara Forest, aka The suicide forest. I have a macabre fascination with all things weird and this forest was a must-see for me when I went to Japan. I told KP I don't care what we do as long as I get to go to this forest.
We made it. Walking around it was fantastic. It's a beautiful forest and had a lot of small caves that bats like to inhabit. I wanted to go for a cave tour but it was closed that day.
We still hiked around for most of the afternoon taking pictures and seeing what we could see.
I tried to get as many "fantastical" looking pictures as I could.
Not gonna lie, I felt that at any moment I was going to stumble upon a bath house for spirits.
KP went down and broke off that icicle. After posing for some pics she handed it to be and it promptly fell out of my hand and shattered on the ground. Not one of my finer moments.
I also had a lot of fun with the filters on my camera. This tree was so colorful I had to take a picture.
And then I realized this
would happen if I used a "vivid" setting. Needless to say the second one is my favorite.
We ate at a small restaurant inside this strange little compound thing near the lake and forest. I ate Soba noodles and drank this amazing soda that you opened by popping the marble off the top. Crazy explosive but fun! And it tasted like bubble gum. You could practically feel the cavities forming.
I didn't get a picture of the soda?!?! What?!! Epic fail...
After lunch we walked around the area and bought some local produce. They were selling things like dried fruits, fresh milk, roasted sweet potatoes. Delicious. We bought this huge sweet potato and then sat down to wait for the bus to pick us up and take us back to the train station. After another long journey we made it back into Tokyo.
For the rest of our trip we stayed at a Capsule Hotel. If you haven't heard of a capsule hotel go look them up now! If you are a science-fiction nerd like I am it will be amazing because it feels like you are sleeping on a space ship. The beds are literally these little capsule like spaces in the walls, you pull a little curtain down and that's how you get privacy. There are two stacked on top of each other and then however many down the side of the hall. The bathrooms are on floor and a lobby/lounge area/dining room are on another floor. We only were in our "capsule" to sleep.
I didn't take a picture before we slept in ours so I stole a picture of a capsule that wasn't being used.
After our day of hiking at Fuji-San we just stayed at the capsule hotel for the evening.
And thus ended day 5.
Japan Day 6:
One of the things I love the most about Japan in general is Hayao Miyazaki. The man is a genius storyteller and a wonderful artist. His movies are some of my all time favorites. So no journey to Japan would be complete if I did not take the time to visit the Studio Ghibli museum.
You have to buy the tickets ahead of time so thankfully one of KP's Japanese friends bought the tickets for us and we just paid her back. After a nice lunch of yummy pizza with more friends we headed to Studio Ghibli, oOn a bus with Miyazaki paraphernalia all over it. I may have squealed when I saw my first soot ball on the ceiling.
See?? Aren't they adorable?
You aren't allowed to take pictures inside the museum but they said nothing about outside. It's every Miyazaki fan's dream place.
This was inside the bathroom (all the windows had some sort of movie scene behind them throughout the museum so I couldn't help myself. I had to take an illegal picture. Shhh, don't tell.)
My favorite Miyazaki movie is "Castle in the Sky" so I may have stood in line to take this picture twice. Love these robots!
They didn't try and stop anyone from taking pictures outside of the museum so I took that as concession and snapped away. Soot balls!! Spirited Away, eee!
The bus stop outside the museum is mirrored off of Totoro's bus stop.
So much Miyazaki love!!!!
After we left the museum we headed back to the capsule hotel. I didn't want to call it a night quite yet so I headed out again to find Tokyo Tower and take as many touristy photos as humanly possible. Part of my Japanese experience was to live out as many adolescent anime adventures as possible. Miyazaki? Check. Next stop Cardcaptors! Haha, there's a part where one of the characters keeps dreaming about a shadowy person on the tower... I'm a slight nerd deal with it. ANYWAYS I had to find Tokyo Tower because it's, you know, a landmark... but more because I watched that anime when I was little.
I found it!!
And the obligatory selfie. Woot.
After my excursion to find the tower was successful I headed back to the hotel and thus ended day 6.
Japan Day 7:
The last full day in Japan was spent on in the most magical place on Earth! Disneyland!! I really want to try and hit all the Disneylands in the world... two down at least 3 to go! We started as soon as the park opened. We bought a normal day pass for Disneyland but because the main park was closing early we were given a special discount ticket for Tokyo Sea (kind of like California Adventures). Walking around we pretty much did exactly what you would at Disneyland in California.
Not gonna lie I was a little disappointed at how everything was so similar. I mean, I get it, it's Disneyland. There is going to be a formula but I was hoping for some Japanese flair.
I did get to ride Pirates of the Caribbean and hear the story in Japanese! And of course we hit the top rides: Splash Mountain (where we befriended the other girls in our boat by making mouse ears during the picture with them!), Haunted Mansion (Japanese ghost stories??), Tea Cups, It's a Small World (I don't know about any of the other Disneylands but I noticed there was a distinct lack of Korean representation on this ride... coincidence? I think not.), Space Mountain, Star Tours (C3P0 in Japanese... weird!), Buzz Lightyear's Space Blasters!! ( I totally owned KP on this game), and lots and lots of eating. They have popcorn stands everywhere throughout the park and they are all flavored differently. We passed your normal salt and pepper, butter, cheese, but we ended up trying honey, chocolate, apple cinnamon, and corn portage. There were others like Miso and one more that I can't remember now. We also saw people with popcorn that was red but we never did find out the flavor or where it came from.
At four we headed over to Tokyo Sea. We were pretty tired by now but we walked around, saw the sights (I would go again just for the views, Tokyo Disney is super pretty!! It is a mixture between Vienna and old Spanish/English explorer days and late 1800s New York. Imagine that if you can.
We ate dinner (yummy pork ribs and corn soup), explored the Explorers of the World exhibit (played with the universe, sailed some remote control explorer ships, and took some pictures in a flying machine), then decided we would ride one ride before heading out. (KP had a dinner with friends and I was exhausted and didn't really care to walk around Disneyland solo.)
We decided on Journey to the Center of the Earth (mostly because it was right there). Worst decision ever. The wait took almost two hours and the ride lasted less than a minute. However we did end up playing some random games with the Japanese guys behind us. The wait definitely took me back to grade school. We killed time by playing ABC categories, hot hands, the dot-line game (you draw a bunch of dots and connect them with lines, whoever makes the most boxed wins), and MASH. Then we realized that the guys were entertaining themselves by copying what we were doing so the became a game.
After that ride we hopped back on the train and headed back into Tokyo. I did a little shopping before heading back to the Capsule Hotel. I really wanted to find some anime memorabilia (preferably Sailor Moon or Cardcaptors) but I didn't make it to the huge Anime area while it was still open.
The next day was just getting up, packing up, checking out, and heading to the airport.
It was a great trip. I didn't get to do everything I wanted to... oh well, one of these days I shall make it back to Japan and do all the things I missed this trip.
All in all it was a very memorable trip and I am so glad I had a good friend to share it with. KP is a great travel buddy and I am super jealous of her post-Korea adventure she is on right now.
And here are some pictures of our Disneyland adventure!
Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum!! Plus some characters from Disney.
Our mouse ears!
Woot! Woot! You would have got a kick out this Uncle Charley!
Thanks for all the memories Japan!
Until the next time!