I’ve never been to the far West – no not California – but so far West that it became East, as in Asia! So a couple of my friends and I decided to celebrate our birthdays in Tokyo, Japan! It’s always been a dream and I was excited to make it a reality. The flight was 12 hours long from Dallas but being in business class made it bearable with lay flat seats and plenty of food and entertainment.
I decided to stay at a hotel in one of the popular districts, Shinjuku. Thankfully I had a family friend who is in the Navy stationed in Japan. He and his Japanese friends were able to show us all around the city and beyond which made the trip even more enjoyable. We didn’t have to worry about getting lost or knowing where to go. A lot of the signs were in English so it wasn’t an issue even on our own.
It was wonderful to experience the Japanese history and culture. I am used to diverse faces in America, but to see a crowd of hundreds of Asians crossing the busy intersection of Shibuya Crossing was quite an experience. I also was shocked to see the American influence on the younger generation. Walking along the streets in the Shibuya district I witnessed a rap battle in Japanese! The club scene was all American hip hop – amazing to see everyone singing along and dancing to songs that we listen to at home. That goes to show that we all have something in common, even all the way across the World. Check it out here or in the video below:
We hit all of the top hot spots and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment!
Check out my cellphone footage in the here or the video below (Scroll for professional pics below!)
This shrine was founded in the mid-17th century. Hanazono Jinja nestled in the heart of Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward, Hanazono Jinja is a small and unobtrusive structure that, according to Fodor’s, just happens to be one of the most historical shrines in Japan. Constructed in the Edo period by the Hanazono family, this Inari shrine—a shrine dedicated to Inari, the androgynous god of fertility and worldly success—is a favorite place for businessmen to pray for successful ventures. (wikipedia)
Of course a girl must do her shopping! I picked up cool trinkets and gifts from this marketplace.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
This shrine is the most important Shinto shrine in the city of Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It is the venue of many of its most important festivals, and hosts two museums.
The Great Buddha of Kamakura
The Great Buddha of Kamakura is a monumental outdoor bronze statue of Amitābha Buddha located at the Kōtoku-in Temple in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. The bronze statue probably dates from 1252, in the Kamakura period, according to temple records.
Verny Park in Yokosuka
French technologist, Francois Leonce Verny came to Japan in 1865 and worked as a specialist for the manufacture of steel and shipbuilding until the new Meiji government took over the project. In appreciation for Verny’s great achievements, Yokosuka built a beautiful park next to JR Yokosuka Station. The park was named Verny Park and includes a small “Verny Commemorative Museum”. In May, it is filled with the sweet aroma of roses. Sitting on a bench, you can see American and Japanese warships at anchor in Yokosuka Bay. The reclaimed land that helped lay the foundation for Japan’s modernization 150+ years ago can also be seen from the park.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku is often visited by tourists for its free observation decks which provide good panoramic views of Tokyo and beyond. The 243 meter tall building has two towers, and each houses an observatory at a height of 202 meters. It had been the tallest building in Tokyo until it was overtaken by the Midtown Tower in 2007. Here are some amazing views from one of the observation decks.
Tokyo Imperial Palace
The Tokyo Imperial Palace is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan. It is a large park-like area located in the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo and contains buildings including the main palace, the private residences of the Imperial Family, an archive, museums and administrative offices.
Sensoji Temple is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan. It is Tokyo’s oldest temple, and one of its most significant.
Tokyo Skytree is a broadcasting, restaurant, and observation tower in Sumida, Tokyo, Japan. It became the tallest structure in Japan in 2010 and reached its full height of 634.0 metres (2,080 ft) in March 2011, making it the tallest tower in the world, displacing the Canton Tower, and the second tallest structure in the world after the Burj Khalifa
Overall, this was an amazing trip. I feel very blessed to travel around the world to learn and experience other cultures.
As you may know from my trips, not everything is peaches and cream. On the day of our flight back home, we totally got lost in the train station, ran late to the airport, and missed our flight!!! We had to wait all day in the airport to catch the next flight, which meant that we missed our amazing business class seats and got separated in coach for 12 hrs!!!
But thank God we made it back home in one piece.
Until next time, Sayōnara!