Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mainland Japan Trip Part 1 - Tokyo

It's a strange thing that we have lived in Japan for over 2 1/2 years now and have not once visited the mainland.  In fact, most people back home who don't know us that well actually assume that Matt and I live IN Tokyo... which couldn't be further from the truth - as you know if you've been following our blog for any amount of time now.  The truth is, we tried to take a trip up north last year - we had the plane tickets and hotels booked and everything - but the big earthquake and tsunami struck just weeks before our departure date, cancelling the trip.  This year, we attempted the trip a second time with definite success, planning our visit right during the incredible cherry blossom season. 

The first leg of our trip was spent up in Tokyo, where we got to experience the hustle and bustle, high fashion stores, unique architecture, and neon lights that seem to charactarize modern-day Japan.  In Tokyo, Matt and I walked a ton as well as rode on their complex subway system pretty much all over the city.  I absolutely loved how clean and modern the city was, and it was also my favorite city as far as architecture goes.  We saw so much in just the few days that we were there, even with the uncomfortably cold temperatures... did I mention that it was freezing there??  Maybe if we had just flown in from Chicago it wouldn't have seemed AS cold, but let's remember that Matt and I live on a sub-tropical island, and to us, it was really COLD... like boots, jackets, scarves, and I-wish-I-had-brought-gloves COLD!

Here are some of the highlights from our time in Tokyo:

Our view on the flight to Tokyo

LCD screen vending machines

Our teeny-tiny Tokyo hotel room

Our first dinner in Tokyo at the famous Gonpachi restaurant

The most delicious spicy shrimp ball

Cool observatory in the Mori Tower

Night view of Tokyo & Tokyo Tower from Roppongi Hills

The huge Tsukiji Fish Market

Huge pieces of fresh tuna

The market was not really for tourists, but we went right in there anyway!  You just need to be VERY aware of your surroundings - these vehicles driven by the Japanese fisherman were speeding all over the place, and they were not stopping for pedestrians!

More large (& frozen) tuna

Outside the crowded, touristy part of the fish market

Yummy egg breakfast at the market - this was like scrambled eggs, but sweet...

Mote around the Tokyo Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace and pretty bridge

From the Imperial Palace, we walked to the Tokyo Tower for some lunch

Overpasses on the streets of Tokyo

Loved this green building

Shinjuku district at night

THIS is Tokyo!

Sushi in Shinjuku

Us on the Tokyo subway

One of the most famous and busiest intersections in the world in Shibuya district - you can see the crowds forming on each corner!

Matt and I in Shibuya

The intersection from above

The main street in Harajuku district - Takashita Dori

We could barely move down it.  I thought it was fun... Matt did not:)

Outside Harajuku subway station... I think it is safe to say that Harajuku was the most crowded district we visited in Tokyo!

Crazy Japanese Rockabilly and street performers

Thousands of people having picnics in Yoyogi Park under the cherry blossom trees

Some interesting characters in Harajuku...

Yes, DEFINITELY the most crowded place in Tokyo:)

More to come from the second leg of our trip in Kyoto!


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