Day 4 Tokyo Disney

We had originally planned on visiting Tokyo Disney on Sunday, but with rain in the forecast, we decided to go today instead. Tokyo Disney has two parks (Disneyland and Disney Sea) and a resort. We got tickets to Disneyland. The park is all decked out in Halloween decorations. So cute. 

The first ride we queued for was Star Tours, one of my personal favorites. About 45 minutes later we actually got to ride the attraction. Holy lines Batman! or as Diego puts it “the Line Game”. Next up was Space Mountain I was dreading this. I had promised Diego I’d go on Space Mountain, my first roller coaster. The 80 minute wait was hell. Finally we got on. I shut my eyes and screamed my head off. Needless to say, my first roller coaster and my last. Never again! 

Tokyo Disney serves all of Asia. There were many Chinese and Filipino tourists. The Pooh attraction had a constant 2 hour wait! After a day of being a kid, we rode Star Tours one last time and headed back to Ueno.

After some rest, we walked to Taito City for Yaki-tori. At a restaurant we sat at the bar and watched the cook grill delicious pieces of organ meat, skin and other skewered juicy goodness over open charcoal. We had chicken heart, liver, rump and skin, oyster wrapped in bacon, shitake, quail egg, chicken wrapped asparagus and a side of cucumber in sesame oil. I washed it all down with hachimitsu umeshu (honey plum wine). For those who know me, I love to try new and sometimes strange food. Today I was able to sample ray fin, dried then grilled. It’s got a really fishy taste and is extremely chewy. Not mu cup of tea, but not that bad either.

earthandanimals:

sizvideos:

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It’s Mama swan protecting her baby! She doesn’t know the guy is just trying to help.. but then she’s like “Oh.. my bad. Thanks!!”

brianmichaelbendis:

Talk nerdy to me SNL skits 

(Source: randyscouse, via dauntingwalnut)

shanology:

zombikki:

WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME

(Source: iwouldfookthat, via richard-freaking-armitage)

Day 3 Tokyo (Ueno/Meguro/Baseball)

Today was my dream day in Tokyo. We started by exploring Ueno park and visiting the zoo. While we waited for the zoo to open, we wandered into the Tokugawa Shrine. 

Ueno Zoo was rated one of the top zoos in the world and on my bucket list. Although I didn’t find the zoo itself all that awe-inspiring, the selection of animals, some of which I’ve never seen in person, was a nice feature. Among those animals were the Aye-Aye (my personal highlight), Slow Loris and Japanese Giant Salamander (which we now have at the National Zoo). You could tell they have spent time and effort trying to update the exhibits moving away from traditional caging to habitats. The zoo is moving in the right direction. The signage I found really well thought out and depicted the right messages about the animals. Also I may have taken too many Capybara photos…

After the zoo we headed to Meguro. We ate lunch at a small joint by the station then walked 15 minutes to the Meguro Parasitological Museum. Awesome right? Well it really was! Specimen jars filled with parasites and a gift shop! The museum features a 8 meter long tapeworm. So awesome.

We left Meguro and split up. Diego went to our hotel to pick up our baseball tickets and I went to Skytree in Asakusa, the second tallest building in the world and home to, you guessed it, another mall. At Skytree I picked up an Abe Giants shirt from the Giants home store then met back up with Diego at Ueno. 

Jingu Stadium feels like a AAA park back home. Typically you sit by your team. For us that meant sitting on the third base line by the Giants dugout. Each team has a cheering section, much like the Yankee’s Bleacher Creatures, but more intense. The game itself felt more advanced than AAA but not yet at the MLB level. It was great to see a baseball game in Japan though and I’m happy we got to see the Giants (my favorite NPB team). However, they lost in Yankee-esque fashion (runners in scoring position, stranded). 

Day 2 Tokyo (Mitaka/Shinjuku)

Today we had reserved tickets to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka outside of Tokyo. Ghibli Studios is the creation of Hayao Miyazaki, a famous Japanese animator and storyteller. We took the train all the way out and took the local Ghibli decorated bus direct to the museum. The museum is built in an old English style with vines crawling around the outside. The exhibits depict the magic of animation and Miyazaki’s inspiration and production process. 

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We decided to walk along the river back to the train station. The museum is located in a lovely village and during our walk I had some massive nature dork-outs. Cicadas were everywhere. Beetles and dragonflies were hanging by the river. 

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When we arrived at the station we decided to try Japanese McDonalds. Back in Tokyo we headed for Shinjuku, the site of many shopping centers in the city, especially popular among the youth. At the top of one department store called Odakyu, we found a great traditional Japanese restaurant. We were the only foreigners. Great sashimi, although I had no clue what everything was.

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Day 1 Tokyo (Imperial Palace Gardens/Akihabara)

September 3

After arriving at our hotel in Ueno last afternoon, we fell asleep. We had been traveling for 20 hours and were exhausted. So today was our first chance to properly see Tokyo. We turned on the TV and happened on a report about mosquitoes and a recent Denge Fever outbreak in Tokyo. Didn’t think anything about it. We started to walk from our hotel, down a back street by the Ward Office to the Ueno metro station. We headed for the Imperial Palace Gardens. once there it was like entering heaven. The sounds! The overwhelming sounds of the late summer insects were like music to my ears. Cicadas everywhere. We were luck to spot a few beetles, butterflies and various other insects before the hoard of mosquitoes came. Decent-sized, white-spotted mosquitoes began their attack, not flinching as your hand came down upon them. After 30 or so bites, I called it quits. 

We decided to head to Akihabara for some geek time. Akihabara is the electronic and gaming capital of Tokyo. It can be very overwhelming at first. The lights, music, people, sounds, movement…everything. We played some UFO catcher machines, similar to the US claw games found at Arcades. There are places with 2-3 floors of these machines. At 100-400 JY a try, we got some nice stuff. 

My personal obsession in Akihabara is the Gashapon capsule machines that have figurines, toys, stickers, cards…etc…There were even Japanese Nature animals and microbes! We hit up Super Potato, a retro gaming store and Cospa, a cosplay/anime store. For lunch we stopped at a ramen join. You order from a machine and then take a seat in a room that seats about 2 dozen.

We spent most of the time at Club Sega, a large arcade filled with UFO catcher machines, gashapon and tons of video games. It’s like Dave & Busters on crack! I found some games I enjoyed although I had little to no clue what I was doing. There was a Gundam game where you entered this pod and were fully surrounded by screen and sound like you were really piloting a MS Gundam Suit. Pretty cool. 

On our way back to the hotel for some R&R, we hit up 7-11. Now 7-11 in Japan is not your 7-11 in America. It’s more like Wawa, but better. We asked about Giants tickets and were pleasantly greeted by a wonderful English-speaking woman. She was so friendly and helpful. $45 for top tier tickets! Mind you they play at the Swallow’s stadium, not Tokyo Dome. Once it got dark, we ventured back out to explore. We walked a short ways to Taito City and wandered through the food and clothes stalls. We found another small arcade and hung out there for a bit. Getting hungry, we went to Go Go Curry, a familiar chain to us in NYC. It’s been a great first day in Japan, I can’t wait for the rest of the trip!

Newark to Vancouver to Tokyo

September 1-2

Sitting here on the plane to Vancouver, it still hasn’t hit me: am I really going to Japan? Rewind a couple months… My father and I were supposed to visit Korea to have a reunion with my biological family. When plans fell through on both ends, my wonderful boyfriend suggested a trip together. He know I was disappointed about Korea and we both had the travel bug. We decided on Tokyo, a dream for both of us. Thanks to a great bundle on hotel and flight, we booked the trip and started getting excited, building the hype over the summer. Both he and I are video gamers, anime watchers and manga readers. I studied Japanese language with a private tutor and babysat a Japanese family for a number of years. We both have friends living in Tokyo. I’m quite excited to see my high school friend who moved back to Japan. 

Present…Reality might not have hit me yet since we are on a very familiar 7:25 am Vancouver bound Air Canada flight out of Newark. However today it is being operated by united, making us dish out $100 for an extra bag, pay for in-flight media and forcing the ever so unfriendly and unhelpful Terminal C employees on us. Not to mention the cramped 737-700. Seats are narrow and belts are short. The flight crew, however, are nice and take-off was smooth. 

Hours later…This is a long flight. Still writing from a plane, this time from the beautifully 2013-refurbished 767-300 Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Tokyo. This is officially the longest flight I’ve been on since I was 5 months old. I’ve already gone through Captain America: Winter Soldier, Lego Movie, 300: Dawn of an Empire, Frank, X-men: Days of Future Past, Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky and Maleficent. We still have 5 hours to go. Despite being tired I have to admit reality is starting to hit. Being surrounded by Japanese and hearing the language spoken around me…I’m really going to Japan! I wish I could sleep in any position, but alas, I’m in no such luck. The flight has been smooth and comfortable…Can’t wait to land though. I think I have time for two more movies…now what to watch?

Tags: travel japan

Blog on the Way

For those waiting for my Tokyo travel blog, I apologize. I have been having problems uploading from my laptop. I will need to wait and upload from my boyfriend’s laptop at a later date. Check back soon. I hope to have them up shortly.