When people asked me, “Why, Japan?” I replied, “Why Not?”
I’ve always been one for new experiences and adventures.
In November 2017, after about a 13.5 hour flight, I arrived at Narita International Airport, on my honeymoon together with my husband, heading to the capital city, Tokyo. I was out of my comfort zone, not expecting a vacation but rather, an adventure. I was on my way to celebrate a new perspective and chapter in our lives, while figuring it all out as a team, learning and growing as one. I consider myself a somewhat traveled woman in my thirties, having traveled in Brussels, London, Italy, France … I do think Europe and the United Kingdom are somewhat familiar to me and since this wasn’t my husband’s first time out of the country, we felt pretty confident that together, we would be able to make memories of a lifetime in Japan with learning available at every inch in one of the most populous cities in the world, after all, we were two American tourists in over 38 million people!
With much anticipation and the unknown ahead, we were in Asia, the Earth’s largest continent. I researched as much as I could prior to our trip, months in advance, soaking up the many customs and traditions to ensure I was adapting as a “local.”
Of course, the travel books could never possible explain everything you will encounter on your trip (and why would you want them to? The spontaneity is part of the experience!), but a travel read I highly recommend is Lonley Planet (Tokyo), this guide was informative, easy to follow and most helpful at times in such a big city like Tokyo. A BONUS is they have a pocket size version that can fit in any travel purse or travel backpack making it an easy to read resource for quick tips while on the train or busy streets. Even a few language pointers that will help you communicate! Although I was a tourist and the Japanese language was and still is very unfamiliar to me, I made sure I learned and embraced the basics, equipped with my manners and an open mind to learn to help guide me make my way through Tokyo. From bright neon lights beaming to the various street vending machines filled with options for hot or cold “to-go” coffee cans, I politely said, “excuse me” to make my way through, with Arigatou gozaimasu ありがとうございます “Thank You” almost ten times a day.
The city of Tokyo, beyond fascinating and nothing like it, filled with skyscrapers, I wanted to take the next weeks and soak up everything with a crisp and vivid memory not to forget a thing! Day 1, I was still adjusting to the time change with some jet leg catching up to me upon arrival, I was now traveling in the future, about 12-13 hours ahead of the United States. Exhausted, I did not want to blink and miss a thing.
We walked towards our hotel (near the district of Shinbashi), we found ourselves on foot in an area called Chiyoda-Yurakucho directly in front of the famous “Godzilla” statue. Picturing “Godzilla” to be a huge monster, that comes out of 16 story buildings in the movies and then admiring how small the statue was in real life, (certainly wasn’t expecting this little guy!) I was slightly disappointed but impressed all at the same time. Quirky yet fun, it was a nice way to kick-off the adventure in Japan.
“Lawson’s” became my quick best friend. Convenience chain stores called “Lawson” surround the streets of Tokyo. From cough drops to shampoo to quick bites like ‘Onigirazu’ (small rice sandwiches in a triangular shape) this store had it all.
Day 1 ended with sipping on-the-go “Bubble Tea” while walking the bright and busy streets and taking it all in. No tour guide, just us, in one of the largest cities finding our own way with “Godzilla” joining us for the adventure!
Why not, try something new? A new country, new perspectives, new cultures, new languages and new company to surround yourself with?
Peace, Love, Gelato,
Peace, Love, Gelato,