Monday, November 14, 2011

Our Weekend Trip to Tokyo!

About two weeks ago, we realized we both had this past Friday off school.  We checked (just to see) how much plane tickets were to Jeju Island and Tokyo.  Plane tickets to Tokyo were cheaper, so we decided to go to Japan for the three day weekend.

Sometimes I read people's blogs and think, "Wow!  They have an awesome life."  And God has blessed many of us with incredible lives!  At the same time, please do not think we have a perfect life.  One area of our marriage that we are working on is communicating while traveling.  We did not argue the whole time we were in Japan, but we did not have an absolutely perfect trip with no bumps either.  I just wanted to throw that out there.  {Note: most of the work in our marriage about traveling needs to be done by me.  Good thing I am married to a great husband who takes care of me and triple checks the map just to make me happy even though he knows he is walking the right way.}

Not that you have a realistic setting, let me share the fun details of our trip!

Hello Kitty driving her own tour bus = fun, right?

Our Friday morning started pretty early.  We were out the door before 6:30, headed to the bus terminal (which is conveniently located about 10 minutes from us).  I love public transportation in Korea.  It is great.  We were dropped off at the door of the international airport in Gimhae.  Our flight left on time.  We I made epic wishes at 11:11 (to make it to Japan safely).  We enjoyed some sushi and kimbap for lunch (how fitting to eat sushi while flying over Japan).  It was rainy so we had a turbulent landing.  Can I just say that 2.5 hour flights are WAY better than 10 or 15 hour flights!?!?!  Love that we did not even change time zones.  We found our hostel, and then set out for our great Tokyo adventure.  Somehow we ended up two blocks from the hostel in a grocery store.  They had brats! (brots? brauts?  How do you spell that word?) And they had cream cheese that was SUPER cheap!  Yeah, so we spent some time walking around the grocery store discovering long lost comforts of America.  I tried to keep doing the money conversations to see what was cheaper than Korea and what was more expensive.  After we finally made it out of the grocery store with tomorrow's breakfast in hand (still talking about the brots), we found a cheap yummy place to grab dinner.  That was our super exciting Friday. Travel, rain, brots, and going to bed really early.

Stay tuned.  I promise Saturday is more exciting!

Saturday morning greeted us with warmer temperatures and clear skies!  {Thank you, Jesus, that we did not have to explore Tokyo in the rain!!!}  Our first stop was the Ueno area.  We went to the Yushima Tenjin Shrine first.  We wanted to see a Japanese shrine/temple to see how they compare to the temples in Korea.

Main difference between a Korean temple and a Japanese one, there is less red paint and more neutrals and gold paint.  

Also, I had read that there was a chrysanthemum exhibit at this particular shrine.  They even had life size "dolls" (If you are reading this and you know Iris, I am pretty sure the dolls were Iris' cousins.)  made from flowers.
I am not sure why the man is missing a huge patch of hair.  

And a cute bunny and bear too.

After the shrine, we visited Ueno Park.  I was so happy to see Saturday morning runners out and about!  We even saw some teenage girls running!  (Girls/Women/Females of all ages do not really run in Korea, they just walk.)
I wish I could have joined in on the running.  This would have been so pretty to run around!

We also went to a library on Saturday (we were not planning on this, but it was part of the walk from the park to the cemetery so we stopped by.)  It is not everyday that we can go to the International Library of Children's Literature.  By the time we made it to Yanaka Cemetery, I was ready for a break.  So we sat, stared at the tombs and guessed what the wooden sticks with Japanese writing on them could represent.  I think there are some famous people buried at this cemetery, but I can not read Japanese so there was no hope of finding them.  Plus I was hungry for some lunch.

Notice the large wooden sticks with Japanese writing.  Does anyone know what that is about?
We ate udon noodles in beef broth for lunch.  Udon noodles are nice and thick.  And they are carbs,  so what is not to like?  After lunch, we found the Sony Building.  If you ever go to Tokyo, you should find this place.  (It is free!)  You can walk around and try out new products about to hit the market.  Technology is amazing to me.  I can not begin to fathom how people invent this stuff.  If it was up to my inventing skillz, we would still be using fire.

Next we went to the weird area of Tokyo Kabukicho.  This neighborhood has a lot of arcades and interesting stores.  We happened upon a dance contest.  It was so cute to see the Japanese kids dancing.  They were so good!  We found a sushi conveyor belt restaurant near here to eat dinner at.

Entrance to the Kabukicho neighborhood
The sushi conveyor belt restaurant is a cool experience.  Basically there is a big oval bar.  The chef stands on the inside.  Customers sit around the outside.  As the chef makes sushi, he plates it, and sticks the plates on the conveyor belt (that is going around the bar).  Customers take whatever plate (or plates) that they want.  Your bill is determined by the number and color of plates you took.  I am not a huge fan of sushi, but we enjoyed the experience.  I think our total bill ended up being less than 10 US dollars.  I am so thankful that the sushi came with rice and wasabi!  It was a much better experience than this sushi experience.

And that was our Saturday.

We did a lot less on Sunday.  We started our day at Starbucks and then headed to find a Flea Market.  We were well prepared with a subway stop and a map.  After walking around (for a long time in my opinion) and trying different streets, we decided that flea market either moved or does not exist anymore.  So we decided to go to a nearby area that was supposed to have a lot of antique shops.  We got to the neighborhood and there were no antique shops (can you tell how this day is going so far?)  So basically on Sunday, we walked, and walked, and walked some more.  We could have taken public transportation to eliminate some of the walking but we are parsimonious {read: we are doing Tokyo on a budget.}  By the time we found some lunch it was time to head to Tokyo station to start our journey home.  We did do a little bit of survivor shopping before leaving.

When we got to the airport and saw the lines for checking in and security, I thought we were going to miss our flight.  But we did not have to check in any luggage and the security line went faster than I anticipated!  It was so nice to hear Korean after a weekend of hearing just Japanese.  I love seeing little ones tottering around and shrieking "Oma!  Ab-bba!"  Korean children are seriously the cutest children in the world.  My amazing husband and I are becoming experts at flying internationally.  The last 7 or so flights I have taken have involved the customs declaration forms et al.  I remember being so freaked out on our honeymoon when I had to fill in the forms on the plane.  I think I asked a question to my amazing husband for every line that had to get filled in.

Anywho, we made it through customs and found our bus back to Daegu.  (sometime I will blog about the miracle of the bus ticket but for now just know it was a miracle that we made it back.)  We got back to our happy little apartment around midnight.  It was a packed weekend, but I feel like we got to see a lot of Tokyo and experience some Japanese culture.

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