I arrived on Dec 31. My New Years Eve was spent dancing the night away with my long time friend Takeshi, his girlfriend Yumi and his highschool friends (now in their 40′s and all look amazing). We went to his friends bar/lounge which he DJed R&B, classics and Soul music all night long. A great way to bring in the new year! On New Year’s Day I had a traditional Japanese meal with Takeshi’s family. That was good times. I enjoyed myself and being in the presence of some real Japanese culture. And celebrating with lots of love and laughter. And food. We had a traditional Japanese New Years Day meal of Ozoni and Osechi. And sent well wishes and prayers at the Senso-ji temple. To bring in blessings for 2015.


Unfortunately that night I got really sick. A fever, sore throat, cough, the works. But we trekked it out to Tochigi anyways. How can I turn down a volcanic hot springs! The water flows from Mount Nasu Dake. And is very therapeutic, refreshing and recharging to the mind, body and soul. Well needed in my life. We spent a few days there. It was snowing because we were on a mountain. But so serene and peaceful. So beautiful.

Then back to Tokyo! I then stayed 5 days in the city center of Roppongi at a capsule hotel which also had a 24 hour spa with sauna, hot tub and heated stone room included. All for $30! This definitely helped me get these toxins out of my system. I was definitely in the mix. The neighborhood is full of clubs, lounges and restaurants. Very vibrant. And a beautiful view of the Tokyo Tower. I explored Shibuya & Shinjuku (lots of shopping culture). Harajuku (observing crazy Harajuku girls fashion and delicious sweets). Watching the Harajuku girls in Harajuku was also a treat. They look like dolls. Or anime characters. It was fun to watch life life cartoons walking around. And definitely cheered me up from being sick the first 4-5 days. I always love anything animated with vibrance. And the sumo culture! It’s very aspiring for these young men to train with discipline and strength. I tried to spar with one. But on a serious note…they welcomed me into their sumo beya with smiles and all. Gentle giants.

On the night of the full moon I went to the Hyatt to watch the sunset and the full moon rise. It was incredible. A full moon over Tokyo. Gorgeous.

The Shibuya scramble crossing was also very interesting. When the light is green the pedestrians from all 4 corners just walk. Intertwining one another. Dodging and diving to get across the street to whichever side they are aiming for. It’s exciting to watch.
I also met up with my friend Keiko, whom I met in Van City a few years back. We went to the fish market and had some fresh sushi right from the fisherman. It was quite the sight to watch them doing their craft. And all the abundance of fish. We then went to a traditional Japanese Kabuki play. Which was amazing. The costumes, the face paint, and characters were something out of a ancient movie. And the body language of the actors was quite funny too. Loved it.
The last few days I took a ride to Kyoto. It is the ancient city where their are shrines and temples throughout. A very humble city. I enjoyed it. Unlike Tokyo, it was simple and people were less pretentious. More of a laid back vibe. I really liked the energy of this city.
I strolled around Oi River and climbed Mount Arashiyama to visit the snow monkeys AKA Japanese Macaque. They live on the mountain. And amazing these creatures are! I spent the day watching, observing and playing with them. And capturing images of them the best I could. I love monkeys. Of all countries. I always try to visit my cousins. I am fascinated by them. And they always make me smile. I then wandered through the Bamboo Forest of Kyoto. There is a saying…For the wandering traveler writing letters back home, to include a bamboo leaf is to say, “I am fine, I hope that everyone in the family is enjoying peace.”

The last day in Kyoto I spent going to the ancient shrines and temples. Then I went to Gion and spotted a few geisha girls wandering the area. It was a beautiful day with a lot food to feed my soul…back to Tokyo!

My last night in Tokyo, Followed by watching the sunset fall behind Mount Fuji while eating my last Japanese meal. And of course I had to go to a b-boy/b-girl competition. I have to see some Japanese Hip Hop culture while I was here. I always love to watch dancing…of all genres.

 

I have been wanting to come for many years now. But I’ve always heard it was so expensive. When in fact, it’s not. It may be the most expensive place in Asia. But coming from North America it doesn’t compare to the prices we are used to.
Firstly, the food is amazing. I’ve always loved Japanese food. But when we speak about fresh fish this is the freshest you can get. I’m not one to eat all kinds of seafood, let alone raw. But I’ve had my share. And I tried some new things ch I liked and some not so much. But generally Japanese food is healthy and light. And I loved it. From the sushi, to yakitori, ramen, soba to udon, tempura, yakiniku. And the sweets! So much delicious sweet goodness out here. Great ingredients. Great quality. The big girl in me really comes out once I pass a Japanese bakery. Yummy.
I had the chance to explore Tokyo, Tochigi and Kyoto. The cities are so clean. And there are no garbage cans anywhere. Shows and proves how clean a society can be. I barely even saw any litter on the ground. Anywhere!
There is a vending machine with beverages on every corner though. Hot, cold, sweet, sour…you name it. I thought this was amusing. 
Alsothe abundance of tea is well to my liking. And green tea everything! Cookies, ice creamEven Kit Kat. Yummy.
Even some restaurants you must order through a vending machine, which then dispenses a ticket which you give to the people preparing your food.
There is also a McDonalds on nearly every block. I got tired of seeing the Golden Arches everywhere. LOL. And Starbucks.
And people still smoke everywhere. That’s the one thing about Asia…second hang smoke. Cough.
The toilet seats are pretty hi tech which you’ve probably heard. They heat up and spray your ass with water. Some have music. Or an flush noise button (didn’t understand that one). But all in all, the Japanese like their asses clean.The subway systems are very convenient. And actually cheaper then the New York subway system. With options to get daily passes too. Taxis are a little more pricier. And a lot of people ride bicycles. And don’t lock them!
There are 13 million people in Tokyo. But such a well organized city.
The people are very reserved but keep very busy. Working 10-12 hours a day for the norm. Hard working.
Tokyo is very fashionable. And most women are walking around in heels and fake eyelashes. Women are dressed very feminine. And the men are dressed very well. Whether it be in business suits or urban attire It is a very stylish city. And they love to shop. And business men are often found laying in the streets once they get too intoxicated. They sleep on the street to sober up before going home. LOL. I find this really contrasting to their reputation of being shy and timid. Just like any other big city. The beauty of the nature and rich history is what really caught my attention. Ancient temples. Mount Fuji. The snow monkeys in their natural habitat. The culture differences and similarities.

My experience in Japan was incredible. I spent 12 days in the country and I was blessed to experience and explore a lot of history, beauty, tradition and culture. I find the Japanese people to be very warm and the some of the most polite people in the world. And also very creative and intelligent. The history of this island is deep. From the emperors to the war. The tsunami’s and the earthquake. A lot to discuss with the local people. I am very lucky and grateful to have been show so much love and hospitability. Thank you Takeshi, Yumi, Keiko, Shuji and Yoshi! So much gratitude! What a beautiful place. With beautiful people. And a rich history of ups and downs. I love Japan.

Peace and Love from Tokyo! XO

 

Everything I write has been based on my personal experiences and thoughts. I would love for you to explore this gorgeous country for yourself and tell me your thoughts and feelings. I hope I bring some inspiration for you to visit Japan. And to love life! I love you! Goku raku sama desu! Next stop…Burma also known as Myanmar!

Love

~J

 

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