We started our trip here by waking up at 4am in Boston planning on flying to Toronto and then on to Tokyo. Instead our flight out of Boston was delayed by four hours due to Air Canada computer problems. The best solution they came up with was flying us to Toronto where we stayed overnight at the Airport Marriott and then flying out at 7am (another 4am wakeup) on a five hour flight to Vancouver and then on to Tokyo on All Nippon Airways, another ten hours. We arrived here after traveling for 40 hours, only 20 hours late. Don’t feel sorry for us as we had plenty of sleep and plenty of “free” food and drink. We arrived in Tokyo well rested and ready to get to know our new home.
This was a welcome sight on our airplane screen. Sandy slept 6 hours of the 10 hour flight from Vancouver to Tokyo. Jim only 3 hours, because he had slept another 3 on the earlier flight.
Our Air BNB host sent a driver to pick us up for the 90 min ride to our accommodations which was in the Korean section of Tokyo called Shinjuku. It is considered one of the hottest, hippest places in Tokyo known for its nightlife and being gay friendly. The streets are packed with masses of people and tons of restaurants and convenience stores and shops. This photo shows our driver helping us cross the street with luggage in tow. Our Apartment is located on the top floor of the building you see in the center. It has restaurants on floors 1-5 and we are on the seventh floor.
Master Bedroom is a bit of a tight squeeze but comfy bed.
No bureaus or closets, just rods on ceiling to hang clothes. Good thing we are both neat and organized. We did have a small bedside table for our undies.😌
Yes this is the clothes washing machine outside on the balcony.😦
Japan is known for their multifunctional toilets that practically require a Master’s degree to use.🤓 It is also nice to have Mickey and Minnie Mouse looking down on us🙄
Now this is scary, God forbid you press the wrong button at the wrong time😩
Guest room. This bed has a wall on three sides of it, therefore the only getting out of bed for one of two is to climb over their bed mate.
However we do have another guest room as an option. This is a Tatami Japanese style bedroom which consists of a mattress on a tatami mat. We put one mattress on top of the other to make room for suitcase storage and space to hang coats. We only have the stalkers coming to Tokyo to visit so the more agile of the two may sleep here.
This is the view from our small front porch off of the guest bedroom. The closest train station is just past that train overpass.
This is the view from our small rear porch off of the master bedroom and also where the clothes washing machine is!
Springtime flowers are abloom here.
We walked about a mile and a half to the park nearest us called Shinjuku Gyo-en National Park and Garden to see the flowering trees. Above is a magnificent white Magnolia tree
This is a Stachyurus tree also known as Japanese Helwingia Pith.
There are several varieties of Cherry Blossoms and they bloom at various times in the spring. The one above is probably the first variety to bloom.
So thankful to be able to experience this bucket list item.🥰
Shinjuku Gyo-en National Park and Garden was originally a residence of the Naito family in the Edo period.
Kyu-Goryo or Taiwan Pavilion was a gift from Japenese living in Taiwan to commemorate the 1924 wedding of Crown Prince Hirohito. The building is a rare example of authentic Chinese style architecture in Japan.
There are many lovely bodies of water in the park to reflect the wonderful trees.
We left the park around 11 and walked to Shinjuku Train Station to pick up a Japanese SIM card for Sandy’s phone. Jim had already downloaded an eSIM prior to leaving home. The station was crazy busy but we managed to find the little hole in the wall where the SIM card had been ordered from. We then made it home by noon to meet guests for our afternoon adventure.
Jim’s cousin Kevin Ahn and wife Ai live in Tokyo and came with their children, Lily and Keitaro to spend our first full day in Tokyo with us. We are so fortunate to have this connection and they were so helpful in orienting us to the city and how to get around on the trains.
Shibuya Subway Station with just a few people on a Sunday afternoon.😲
It was frighteningly crowded so we held on to the children.
Hachiko Memorial is a popular meeting spot with a bronze statue honoring Hachiko, the famously loyal Akita dog who waited at Shibuya station everyday for his master, even after his death.
We took a moment to watch and film the crowds from the 3rd floor of a shopping Center.
Shibuya Crossing is best known for the incredible scramble that occurs every time the traffic lights turn red, stopping all vehicles in every direction to allow a huge wave of pedestrians to flood into the intersection for a few minutes. See the amazing videos above and below.
View of the crossing from above.
Tokyo is the largest city in the world. Greater Tokyo has a population of almost 40 million people and they all love food, they all love to dine out, and they all have expectation of quality. There is no better place in the world to eat and none so ready to embrace such a range of cuisine. There is just no competition. As you can see most people are still wearing masks inside and out.
Kevin and Ai brought us to a ramen noodle restaurant for lunch. It was messy for us but well worth all the slurping it took to eat it.
Spicy Miso Ramen with pork was Sandy’s choice.
The children wanted hamburgers for lunch but were gracious about having noodles instead so we could have this experience. Thank you to these adorable well behaved youngsters.
It was a tight fit around the table and hard to get a good picture.
Our waitress was kind enough to take a photo of us and thankfully you cannot see all the stains on Sandy’s jacket who found out too late that bibs were available.
It was such a special day to explore the streets of Tokyo with this sweet family.
After lunch we went to Yoyogi Park which is where Kevin and Ai met for the first time. Today there were two festivals going on. One for Thailand and the other for St Patricks Day.
It was so fun to see Japanese people doing Irish step dancing.
Every Sunday for 68 years Rockabilly Dance crews gather at the entrance to the park to perform 1950’s rock and roll music. Rockabilly was first popularized in 1955 when a cover of Bill Haley and his Comets song “Rock Around the Clock” by the Japanese singer Chime Era topped charts in the country.
Thank you to cousin Kevin and family for this memorable first day in Japan and we look forward to spending more time with you while we are here.
What a small world we live in. This is Melissa Conley who is a running friend of ours from Colorado who we found out is here and just finished running the Tokyo Marathon last week. We have made plans to get together with her and her husband this week. Well that wraps up our first day in Tokyo. We decided to get this blog out today despite being two blogs behind for NOLA as many of you were anxious to hear, see and taste Japan via our travels. It is rainy and blustery this Monday morning so we are just staying in. Going to The Park Hyatt New York Grill for an early birthday dinner for Sandy tonight. It is on the 52nd floor of the Hotel and has a great view. Sayonara for now 👘 🇯🇵.