Tokyo Trip Report: Part 3

Rob & I are headed on vacation again this week (squeeeee!!!) so I should probably finish up this Tokyo trip report. Here’s the scoop on our last day!

Friday, 2/20

On our last day in Tokyo, we headed to Kawazu, which is about 2.5 hours from Tokyo by train. Kawazu is known for their early blossoming sakura (cherry blossoms). Their flowering period is late February & March compared to late March & April in the rest of the country. Someday we’ll make it back to Japan for more cherry blossom viewing!

Even the train was decorated in honor of the sakura. Love it.

Rob is ready to go!

I picked out this Sakura latte at the convenience store to go with the theme of the day.

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Tokyo Trip Report: Part 2

Back to Tokyo!

Thursday, 2/19

Sebastian’s birthday! 🙂

We all did our own thing in the morning (I went shopping at Tokyu Hands – very important!) but we met up for lunch at… SIZZLER! LOL. It was across the street from our hotel so we’d been joking about going at some point during our trip. Sebastian’s birthday lunch was the perfect opportunity! It was better than I remember. Plus, the cheese toast was so NOMMY!

During the planning for our trip, we would randomly get together to discuss things to do. We happened to watch this video where the hosts visit Ishikawa Brewery while sake tasting in Tokyo. Since sake tasting was also on our wishlist, I got in touch with the brewery to set up our own tour of the grounds.

Our tour was at 3pm and since the brewery is about 45 minutes away from Shinjuku, we headed over there right after lunch.

The grounds of the brewery.

Our complimentary tour started in the storehouse. Oh man, when we walked in, the smell of alcohol was so strong. I don’t even like alcohol but it smelled so good!

Our guide walked us through the facilities while telling us about the history of the brewery. Above is a cauldron that was used to make beer during the Meiji period.

This is the spring water well that runs under the brewery’s sacred tree. Up until 50 years ago, this water was the main source for sake brewing.

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Tokyo Trip Report: Part 1

From Hong Kong, Rob, Rob & I flew over to Tokyo to meet up with our friend Sebastian for five days in this awesome city.

WE HAD SUCH A GREAT TIME. I want to go BACK! I don’t think I’ll ever tire of Japan.

Some highlights…

Monday, 2/16

Woke up early to head to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market for sushi breakfast. OH YES.

Instead of lining up at one of the more popular restaurants, we just randomly chose one that looked good.

AND OMG, IT WAS. The fish was incredibly fresh and oh so tasty. I think this meal ruined all sushi for me back at home.

Spent the rest of the day toy shopping. 🙂 We started on Character Street at the Tokyo Station, then headed to Hakuhinkan Toy Park in Ginza and ended in the Akihabara neighborhood.

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Japan Trip Report: Tokyo, Part 2

Annnnddd again with my unintended hiatus from the blog! Is anyone still here?! 🙂 I wish I could say that I was off doing fun things but really, I’ve had a tiring and emotional few weeks.

First, I was in San Francisco at the beginning of the month seeing a colleague and friend off on a new adventure. That was sad enough.

Then the following week I flew to Manila with my dad after learning that my grandma had passed away. I spent 4 very packed and emotional days saying farewell to my beloved Lola. She was 95 and had been in the hospital for almost a year so I’ve been preparing myself for this news for some time now. Although that doesn’t make it any easier to accept. She lived in the Philippines but when I was very little, she would spend extended time with us in California almost every year. I remember going to garage sales with her and coming home with piles of $0.10 books. I’m pretty sure my love of reading came from her. She also used to spend many afternoons making the yummiest filipino desserts — I wish I could remember the recipes now. They’re still some of my favorite sweet treats. I love you, Lola, and miss you very very much.

And finally on the other end of the emotional spectrum, last week Rob & I took a long weekend trip to our happy place, Vancouver. I tried postponing the trip but I’m glad it didn’t work out. It was so great to get away and detox emotionally.

So that’s what’s been going on with me this month… how about all of you? 🙂

I know it’s been 6+ months since this trip but I need to finish what I started so here’s the final installment of our Japan trip report…

Monday, November 19
Food is a very important part of travel for us. And we’re huge fans of Japanese food in particular. So we had a checklist of various types of food we wanted to try… tempura (check), okonomiyaki (check), ramen (check), sushi (pending)… and so on.

On our third day in Tokyo we headed to Kichijoji for steak at Steak House Satou.

I read about the restaurant on this travel blog and have been anxious to try it ever since.

It didn’t disappoint.

We made sure to arrive right around opening (11am) because I had read online that lines are not uncommon since it’s a tiny restaurant on top of their own butcher shop. You walk up a very narrow and steep flight of stairs and are greeted with the most delicious smell of meat sizzling on the teppan grill. Trust me, it smelled fantastic.

Rob and I both ordered the Matsuzaka steak set that came with a salad starter and veggies on the side.

Oh man, it was INCREDIBLE. Definitely the best meal of the trip for me. SOGOODOMG.

After lunch we stumbled upon a Doughnut Plant in the Shinjuku station.

We were going to skip it since we’d tried it when we were in New York but I saw that they had green tea flavored donuts. I can’t resist anything green tea! YUM.

So our plan for the day was to do some sightseeing in Harajuku.

I just love the Harajuku station — so charming!
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Japan Trip Report: Tokyo, Part 1

I can’t believe it’s been 3+ weeks since my last entry! I wish I could blog more regularly — but as I get older, it takes more time for me to put each entry together. Plus, on weeknights after work, I am L-A-Z-Y.

Anyway, before I launch into the next installment of my trip report, I have to ask — is anyone else annoyed with Google for shutting down Reader?! I know it’s ridiculous but I read quite a few blogs and it’s so easy to keep up with all of them in one place. So far I’ve tried a few different potential replacements and haven’t found “the one” yet. LOL. Feedly has a sleek look but I’m not loving the magazine style layout. The Old Reader was my top choice because it’s pretty much a carbon copy of Google Reader but DAMN, it is SLOOOOOWWW. Bloglovin is my favorite so far but I wish blogs would get marked as read when I scroll through rather than me having to do that manually. UGH. Are there any other options out there that I should try?

Onwards with my Japan trip report! After leaving the Tokyo Disney Report, we headed into Tokyo Proper for the last 4 days of our trip…

Saturday, November 17
Sadly it was raining HARD on our first day in Tokyo. I was too busy trying to keep myself dry that I didn’t take nearly the amount of pics I normally would, hehe.

Our first stop was the neighborhood of Asakusa and the Sensoji Temple.

As you enter the temple, you first walk through the outer gate known as Kaminarimon (or Thunder Gate). Ugh, the rain.

From the outer gate, Nakamise shopping street leads you towards the main hall.

And that’s the main hall behind me.

From Asakusa, you can see the newly built Tokyo Skytree, which is the tallest building in Tokyo. With our limited time in the city, we didn’t have a chance to visit (I guess we’ll save it for next time :)).

It was so incredible to be walking around in this vibrant city!
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Japan Trip Report: Tokyo DisneySea

Ugh, daylight savings time. I don’t know why springing forward one hour affects me the rest of the week afterwards. I’m finally getting back to normal after a week of lack of sleep. And now my spring allergies have caught up with me. BLAH.

BUT the new Justin Timberlake album was released yesterday! WOOT. I downloaded it right away and currently have it on repeat. My favorite song at the moment is “Pusher Love Girl.” It’s AWESOME!

So in my last entry I revisited the time we spent at Tokyo Disneyland — and now we’re going to Tokyo DisneySea!

Thursday, 11/15 & Friday, 11/16
WOW is all I can say. DisneySea is the most picturesque theme park! It’s a real treat for the eyes at every turn and it quickly catapulted itself to my second favorite Disney park (after the original Disneyland of course).

The iconic Aquasphere is the centerpiece of the entrance plaza. It was so exciting to be here!

The park has a nautical theme and consists of seven different lands or “ports of call.” There is so much to explore at each of them — we spent 1.5 days at the park and didn’t get to see and experience everything (good excuse to go back :)). I don’t know that my photos can truly show how amazing the park is but I’ll try! Let’s start with…

Mediterranean Harbor! This is the entrance land and resembles an Italian port city.

First view of Mount Prometheus (the park’s iconic volcano) as you enter.

We decided to head right to explore the park counterclockwise (and avoid the huge crowd headed in the other direction – I’ll explain later).

The view above is taken looking back at Mediterranean Harbor from across the water.

Walking to the right brought us to Mysterious Island, which is located within Mount Prometheus and features a Jules Verne theme.

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Japan Trip Report: Tokyo Disneyland

I’ve been traveling for the past week and a half and now that I’m home, it’s taken me awhile to get back to normal. Rob & I spent Valentine’s Day weekend eating our way through Portland (pics to come someday) and then last week we were in San Francisco for work. I know I’m lucky to be able to travel but it’s pretty exhausting! Yeah, I know – first world problems and all. 🙂

Let’s back track to our Japan trip (I still have at least 3-4 more entries after this one — so bear with me).

Wednesday, 11/14

First day in the Tokyo Disney parks! We decided on Disneyland for our first day so that we’d experience something familiar to start.

This is the Disney Resort Line (aka monorail) that takes guests to the parks.

And this is the Disney Resort Cruiser that acts as a shuttle from the various on-site official hotels to the Bayside resort line station (so that guests can then connect to the Resort Line to get to the parks). Our hotel was across the street from the station so we never used it but I just loved the cruiser — it’s SO CUTE.

When I was planning our trip, I read numerous reports online that the Japanese are serious about Disney and arrive early to get into the parks. If you arrive even an hour after park opening, fast passes will be gone and ride lines will be hours long. This was NO JOKE. We woke up early to take the Resort Line to Disneyland well before the 9am opening and as we rounded the corner to the park, there were already lines upon lines of people waiting to enter. Oddly enough, the ticket booths had no lines because everyone was prepared and already had their tickets ahead of time like we did.

This was the crowd in our immediate vicinity waiting in line to get in to the park (can you spot Rob?). It was INSANE. But everyone was super organized and polite. I don’t even want to imagine what it’s like during high season.

Entering the park! SQUEE.

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Japan Trip Report: Travel to Disney

Last weekend was the annual Girls’ weekend with my BFFs. We spent it eating, shopping, eating and watching Downton Abbey. Over 2.5 days, we got through the first two seasons and this week I’ve been making my way through the third. Officially OBSESSED. 🙂

But I’m taking a quick break to write up this next installment of my Japan trip report. Our time in Kyoto had ended and we were heading to the Tokyo Disney Resort! Woohoo!

Tuesday, 11/13

Before checking out of the Westin, we visited the outdoor terrace again to check out the view in daylight. So lovely!

We found ourselves back at the Kyoto station to catch the shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo.

It was so fun to watch the trains arrive and depart. While we waited, we picked up coffee from the vending machines on the platform — I loved being able to get hot drinks too!

The trip to Tokyo was about 2 hours and 40 minutes and we were treated to views of the countryside as we sped by. But there was one sight I really wanted to see…

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Japan Trip Report: Kyoto, Day 2

The inner tween girl in me is squealing over this tour announcement. I know NKOTB went on tour a year or so ago with BSB but I was never a BSB fan so that appealed to me not at all (I was an *N Sync girl). But this upcoming tour is with BOYZ II MEN. I saw them (along with TLC and Montell Jordan) at my very first concert with my BFFs. So yeah. Special memories. 🙂

I know the Super Bowl is coming up but this is my favorite “bowl” — the Puppy Bowl. SO CUTE!

So back to my Japan trip report — and our last day in Kyoto.

Monday, 11/12

Japan has a FABULOUS luggage delivery service called takkyubin where you can send your luggage ahead to your next destination. Since we’d be taking the shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo the following day, we took advantage of the service so we wouldn’t have to deal with wrangling our luggage at the train station. All we did was bring our luggage down to the bell desk at our hotel where they took care of filling out the shipping forms for us. SUPER convenient and very reasonably priced too – maybe about $40 for 2 pieces of luggage (one large, the other carry-on sized).

After taking care of that, we started our day with Starbucks (I tried the nutty praline latte, which was a delicious seasonal drink) and a couple of waffles from Manneken inside the Kyoto station.


We took the JR local train two stops south to the Fushimi Inari Shrine.

The Inari station is so quaint looking!

Located directly across the street from the station, the shrine is dedicated to the Inari, the Shinto god of rice. It consists of a series of torii gates which are purchased/donated by individuals or companies. They range in price depending on the height, width and depth.

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Japan Trip Report: Nara

Life is getting back to normal — all the holiday decor is slowly getting packed away (yes, I realize it’s mid-January) and we’re trying to refocus on organizing and decluttering the house. Never an easy task since Rob & I both have messy pack rat tendencies. Wish us luck!

And today is my blog’s 11th birthday! CRAZY, right? I had no idea when I started this blog out of boredom back in 2002, I’d still be here calling this tiny part of the interwebz my home. WOW.

Anyway, here’s another installment of my Japan trip report — this time a day trip to Nara!

Sunday, 11/11

We woke up to rain. BOO! Not unexpected (we packed umbrellas) but annoying anyway.

Because of the rain, the Kyoto station was PACKED with everyone trying to stay dry.

Coffee came from Cafe du Monde again — still disappointed there are no beignets. I guess this means a trip to New Orleans is in order.

We used our JR passes again and took the subway to Nara, which is about 45 minutes away. Nara was the first permanent capital of Japan and is known for Nara Park and its many significant temples.

Upon arrival in Nara, we found that the rain hadn’t let up. And it was so overcast. GRRR.

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