A Week in Japan

Hello all! I’ve just gotten back to New Zealand after an amazing holiday in Japan. If you had asked me a year ago if I thought I’d be living on a dairy farm, visiting places like Tokyo, I’d have laughed in your face, but agreed it sounded pretty cool. Well now that’s my life and I love it! My cousin Colin lives in Tokyo with his wife and two girls and I took advantage of New Zealand being close (relative to New York) and visited them. I stayed in an Airbnb near their flat in Shibuya which is sort of the young, hip area of Tokyo at the moment. It was absolutely amazing.

Wednesday/Thursday

  • Hoped on a bus from my town in New Zealand and went up to Auckland to stay the night in an Airbnb
  • Woke up at 4:00am to catch my 6:20am flight to Brisbane. Today I officially stepped foot on three continents! Apparently New Zealand has recently been declared an eighth continent…
  • I flew with Quantas and the flights were easy, empty, and had remarkably good food for an airplane!
  • The international airport is an hour and a half from central Tokyo so after a long commute with Colin to my flat, I promptly fell asleep after traveling all day.

Friday

  • Woke up rather early thanks to jet lag and went to walk with Colin and the oldest daughter to school. I’ve always loved being in primary schools, not because I’m a child stalker, but because I love seeing all the art and school work on the walls.
  • Then Colin and I went up Mori Tower to see a great view of all of Tokyo. It’s amazing just how massive and sprawling the city is with lots of chunks of green spaces from various palaces and shrines.
  • We walked around for a bit then headed to Ueno which is kind of like the National Mall in DC. Big park with a shrine and lots of museums. Both of which we visited and after lunch Colin went back to collect from school and I stayed on to walk around more.
  • Felt pretty accomplished as I navigated the subway and got back to Colin’s flat for dinner and then sleep

Saturday

  • The day started with all of us bringing the oldest and her mum to a music lesson in Central Shibuya. Then Colin, the youngest, and I walked around and explored. It was a very wet day though.
  • We went to a big popular music store which had a really cool vibe inside, and we visited several famous department stores. They’re absolutely massive here in Tokyo and I could easily spend hours on one floor alone. Usually there are about 9 floors!
  • Met up with the others for a big Japanese lunch, which was delicious. It was Tonkatsu (fried pork) with rice and cabbage and miso soup as sides.
  • Then I split with the rest of the group and wandered around shopping in Shibuya for a while before heading back for dinner with everyone.
  • After dinner I went out into Shinjuku which is a big night life capital of Tokyo. Bright lights and people everywhere it was outstanding for people watching. Everything was mostly restaurants and bars so I didn’t go inside, just observed.

Sunday 

  • Sunday had a lazy start as everyone was fairly tired. After breakfast Colin and the two girls hoped on one bike (the bikes here are really cool with two child seats attached) and I went on another one. After a short ride we were at the Meiji Shrine which was somewhere I really wanted to visit.
  • The shrine was lovely and peaceful even though it was teaming with tourists from Japan and the rest of the world alike. The girls enjoyed running around too.
  • Then we biked on to Yoyogi Park which was really good and the oldest got to show me her bike skills on a child bike track which she had been waiting to do all weekend.
  • We biked home via Harajuku and I split to grab lunch and head into central Tokyo to catch a tourist bus tour
  • The tour was cool and we went up an observation tower,  visited the imperial park grounds, went to Asakusa and explored the market, and did a river cruise.

Monday

  • Today was the day I was most excited for, visiting Mt. Fuji! A little known fact about me is that I love the Charlie and Lola books. Ever since I read a line about mashed potatoes being cloud fluff from Mt. Fuji I’ve wanted to visit. That was twelve years ago, so it’s been a long time coming!
  • I left right when I woke up for the bus terminal and hoped on my Fuji tour. The guide spoke English and I learned a lot about not only the mountain but Japan and its culture as a whole.
  • It took two hours to get to the base of Fuji, which is only visible 30% of the time because of cloud cover. We got lucky and could see it from the bottom! We then drove up as high as vehicles can go to the fifth station. This is where climbers start their trip from but unfortunately it wasn’t climbing season.
  • We headed back down the mountain and stopped for lunch which was more Japanese style food. It was also nice except a bit too much seafood for my liking.
  • Then we crossed to the other side of the mountain and of course, the weather turned for the worse. This meant that our lake boat tour and cable car ride were shrouded in fog the whole time.
  • On the way home we got to watch sumo wrestling. There’s a big competition going on in Tokyo right now and our guide is an avid fan and explained it all to us.
  • The bus left us in Ginza which I explored for a while before heading home. Ginza is Tokyo’s version of fifth ave so it was full of stores I couldn’t even afford to go into.

Tuesday

  • Today was Disney day! I’d never been to any Disney Park before and if a girl can’t take herself when she’s on a gap year, when can she?
  • Now I’ve got nothing to compare it to, but I thought Disney Tokyo was pretty cool. I went on pretty much every ride and surprisingly my favourites were a Star Wars one and the Monsters Inc one.
  • I’m a pretty big Disney fan but my favourites tend to be the lesser known films so some parts of the park was wasted on me. It was a good day but I definitely think Disney is meant to be enjoyed with other people so I was left feeling a little lonely
  • I didn’t really take too many pictures because I was too busy watching everything. That’s how most of this Japan trip has gone actually
  • It was also tough because all the dialogue on rides or video clips was in Japanese, but it was really cool to hear popular songs like Part of Your World or I Just Cant Wait to be King in Japanese. It’s also cool that it’s a tradition to come in matching themed outfits with your friends so the people watching was excellent.
  • It was a very long and emotional,y draining day but I’m really glad I went!Wednesday
  • Today was my last day and it wasn’t even a full one! I did the school run again before heading out to explore Shibuya and Harajuku more. I absolutely loved this area of Tokyo and would recommend it to anyone.
  • I walked and wandered around for ages just taking in the whole scene.
  • Then back to my flat to pack up and visit the girls and say goodbye to everyone before catching the train to the airport.
  • Easy flights back to Auckland, except in Japan they tried to tell me my visa wasn’t valid to enter New Zealand. It was a terrifying few minutes, but got sorted in the end.

Overall it was such an amazing trip and I really want to thank Colin and his family for making it so! I loved being in such a different environment to anywhere I’ve been before and I found the new culture fascinating. Until the next adventure!

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Bonus picture of D “helping me unpack” but really just sitting in bed
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