Welcome back dear friends and apologies for the delay in postings…. also pardon for the half camera half iPhone photos in this post. Someone, without mentioning names, cough-cough Mrs. B, forgot to pack extra batteries. Unthinkable, right? OOpsie…
Over Thanksgiving, we had the opportunity to visit Tokyo, Japan. What an amazing experience, seriously wayyy too short, but definitely another one of the most memorable things I will have experienced in my 20’s.
Japan is such an incredible place, even after all the country has been through in the last few years, it just fascinated me. Getting the opportunity to experience another Asian culture first hand was just indescribable, both peaceful and yet shiny and bright disarray, both enchanting and eccentric, both clean and cluttered. As we zipped around Tokyo, I felt as if our minds and eyes were on constant overload, a very familiar feeling from when we first landed in South Korea to live.
We landed at Narita International Airport, took the The Narita Express or N’EX to our hotel in Shinjuku, where we check in at the Shinjuku Prince Hotel. Nothing fancy, perfectly simple, conveniently located in the center of Kabuki-cho, one of Japan’s best entertainment districts, not to mention only a 5-minute walk to and from the Shinjuku subway station. We highly recommend it!
Because we’ve lived in South Korea now over two years we have had our fill of Korean food, we were on the hunt specifically for Japanese cuisine. We feasted on Yakitori (焼き鳥) AKA grilled chicken on a stick, absolutely delicious, at TORIGEN HAMAMATSUCYOUTEN 鳥元 浜松町店! Of course we had gyoza/Pot stickers, and spicy ramen from UMAUMA HIKARIETEN うま馬 ヒカリエ店. UmaUma is a Hakata-style ramen noodle shop of long-standing (since 1953), seriously slurp worthy! We indulged on Japan’s longest-running crêpe shop, Marion crêpe, that started life as a food truck in 1976 and offers over fifty mouth-watering combinations to include curry tuna. We ate wasabi ice-cream and drank the most delightful banana cream lattes, and honey loaf. Just when you thought we left out one of the most important foodie items….we absolutely knew we could not leave Japan without savoring some fresh-cut sushi from Sushi Kyotatsu すし京辰.
We walked, and walked, and walked… all over the Shibuya, Harajuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo, and Roppongi area. We took in all the sights and sounds offered in each area. The most notable and most memorable being the Meiji Jingu Shrine, the teenage girls all dressed up like human baby dolls in the Harajuku market area, the busy and largest pedestrian scramble, the bright twinkling night view from Tokyo Tower – Japan’s version of the Eiffel tower, the volcanic Hakone mountains via cable car, the Owakudani Valley, literally called Hell Valley where an ancient crater with sulfurous hot springs have steam rising from crevasses in the ground, took a pirate ship across Lake Ashi, and drove up Mt. Fuji. Oh and throw in a very fast ride on the bullet train too! Whew!
At Hell Valley the smell of sulfur was pretty pungent, however we didn’t let that stop us from getting our hands on the black eggs. These hard black boiled eggs are believed to add 3 years to your life per egg eaten. We love life so you know we each ate two eggs! Who wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to add 6 years to your life? I’m not kidding when I say these eggs were some of the best hard boiled we’ve had!
Even though the weather was perfect, we were not able to hike any of Mt. Fuji. The mountain is only open for hiking during two summer months, July and August. The guide we had told us that we were very lucky that our view of Fuji was so clear. We also lucked out and were able to drive to the 5th station because the weather permitted. We munched on Mt. Fuji melon pan or pineapple bun! The bread was freshly baked in front of us and they sprinkled some cocoa powder and confection sugar on top, which made a nice sweet-bitter contrast mmmmm. We then watched the sun set behind the mountain, truly magical and quite a way to end our adventures in Japan.
Planning a trip to Japan? Check out the locations:
Shinjuku Prince Hotel
1-30-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo Prefecture 160-8487, Japan
TORIGEN HAMAMATSUCYOUTEN 鳥元 浜松町店
Kure Grinding Wheel Building 1F, 2-1-5, Hamamatsucho, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 105-0013
UMAUMA HIKARIETEN うま馬 ヒカリエ店.
Shibuya Hikarie 7F, 2-21-1, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0002
1-6-15 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (東京都渋谷区神宮前1-6-15)
Sushi Kyotatsu すし京辰
Narita Airport Terminal 1, No.3 Satellite, 3rd Floor Tokyo, Japan
Meiji Jingu Shrine 明治神宮
1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo Tower 東京タワ
４-２-８, Minato Tokyo 105-0011, Japan
Volcanic Hakone mountains
Owakudani Valley “Hell Valley” 大涌谷
Mt. Fuji 富士山