Japan Day 19: Goodbye Tokyo, Hello California

I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! It’s the LAST POST for my series from my trip to Japan in Summer 2015! And right now it’s Summer 2016 hahaha one year after. But I made it! Before I begin writing the actual post: To anyone and everyone who has read one (or even part of one haha) or all of my blog posts, thank you! I hope you enjoyed them and found them helpful in planning for your own trips. And thank you to my sister for filming and editing and captioning all the vlogs. I’m sorry I suck at video editing and couldn’t help you without making you mad…LOLOL.

So we woke up this morning really early with a plan in mind: Take a taxi or two to Shibuya Mark City, take the limousine bus to Narita Airport, and then fly home. I had tried booking taxis through online services but they were all in Japanese and so I asked the AirBnB lady to help me but she said they asked for bookings to be done 24 hours beforehand. She advised us to just flag down taxis on the street.

So that’s what we did. 7:30AM: me standing out almost into the street, frantically waving at the one or two taxis that drove by. Finally we got a taxi and we loaded it up with our luggage and told the driver the destination and then my cousin was the only passenger. He volunteered because with all the luggage, there was only room for one other person haha. My siblings and I walked to the hotel and met up with him. We had our backpacks on and it was a lonnggg hot walk. I never want to do that again omg.

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We were quite early for our shuttle so we just waited. And then the limousine bus was late. We got on and all immediately fell asleep. I stayed half-awake just in case we missed the stop at Narita Airport.

At the airport. My brother said that one person should watch the luggage at all times so I bought the largest coffee I could find and a chocolate croissant and a book and stayed watch. Then when my brother woke up, I told him about all the cool shops I saw while buying my coffee and my sister’s peach tea. So he got my cousin to keep watch and my brother and I shopped around!

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There was a Pokemon Center! LOOK AT THIS PIKACHU! It’s a ditto pikachu omg

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They only had children’s sizes in these Pikachu slippers 😦

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Cutest wastebasket ever. Wish I had the luggage space for this haha

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So cute I can’t handle it!!! Bye Tokyo!!

My brother bought a phone case that was made out of lacquer. Then my sister wanted to shop too so my brother went back and my sister and I shopped around and got lunch.

My sister got takoyaki and another peach tea.

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And I got a shrimp burger from McDonald’s! It was really good hahaha.

My cousin didn’t want to shop but when my sister and I got back from eating, the boys went to go eat too.

While waiting to board, my sister took all our yen and went to buy Pocari Sweat drinks and kitkats.

We took home like 6 bottles of Pocari Sweat hahaha. The kitkats we got were both regular green tea flavor and sakura green tea flavor. We try the sakura green tea flavored ones in the vlog!

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Can you guess what book I read on the plane?

Plane food. I have no recollection of what this was. I think maybe pork and rice.

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Cold soba noodles for snack.

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Salmon and rice.

ALMOST HOME!!!!!

Did you read my Tokyo Hair Makeovers post? Well I mentioned that my mom has never wanted me to dyed my hair. Lucky for her, I never really thought about coloring my hair. Until I went to Japan!! haha. After we got our hair done, we wanted to keep it a secret from my parents until we were reunited in person. So I had to keep telling my mom that our internet was so slow so I couldn’t send any pics, and phone calls were better than FaceTime….Oh man. I had to say that every single day practically! But it was worth it to see my mom’s reaction to our hair. The vlog is sooooo funny, I just crack up every time I watch it!! haha.

Anyway my cousin got picked up by his brother so we all hugged and said our goodbyes and then we went to meet our parents. I can’t describe to you the happiness I felt at seeing my mom and dad!!! It was sooo good to see them again! We missed them so much.

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When we got home my mom cooked us banh xeo, a Vietnamese dish that we all really like. It was soooo good to be eating my mom’s cooking again. Being home after a long vacation is a great feeling. My mom had changed the sheets on my bed too…it felt great to sleep in my own bed!

My trip was a long one and I felt like I changed a lot from it. I never imagined I would learn so much about the world, Japan, Japanese culture, and mostly myself, when I was planning the trip. It was my first time going out of the country, and my first time traveling without my parents. I really didn’t think about how living with the same 3 other people 24/7 for 3 weeks was going to affect me. I learned a lot about what kind of person I am and what I can and cannot tolerate, and how to react to other people. I learned to be aware in public spaces even when I am with people I feel safe around. I realize that there are so many culture differences between America and Japan and got to experience it firsthand (sorry for wearing an off-the-shoulder top…didn’t know that was low-key scandalous in Japan haha my mom approved it LOLOL). The whole trip was a learning experience that I really didn’t expect but am so grateful for. It might sound cliche, but I felt like I was a different person when I came home. I came home with a newfound appreciation for a culture that I have always respected. I came home wishing I could continue to not tip waitstaff HAHAH. I came home with a new family, and a better relationship with my siblings. And my parents too, even though they didn’t come along, my conversations with my mom and dad throughout the trip were full of advice and support that I could never thank them enough for.

After my trip to Japan, I want to visit again. I want to experience all four seasons of Japan. I want to see my Japan family and laugh together more. I want to eat more Japanese foods and fruits. I want to travel to Osaka and Nara and Kyoto. I want to have an onsen and ryokan experience! There’s still so much I want to do and I know I will visit again someday. I never knew how much traveling can open up your horizons and your view of not just the world, but of yourself. It may sound cheesy, but that’s really just how I feel.

Here’s the vlog:

Until next time,

C.


Places:

Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu

Address: Japan, 〒150-0043 Tokyo, Shibuya, Dogenzaka, 1 Chome−12−2 SHIBUYA MARK CITY 渋谷 マーク シティ 内

Narita International Airport

Address: 1-1 Furugome, Narita, Chiba Prefecture 282-0004, Japan

Japan Day 17: Foodie Adventures in Tokyo

Another super chill day in Japan for us! We started out the day heading to Omotesando to the famous Maisen Tonkatsu. I had wanted to eat there on the day we were getting our hair makeovers at NALU Salon but for some reason I didn’t see it even though they’re practically next door LOL.

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Yup, I took a picture of a laptop screen lol. Ugh I love the train system in Tokyo. It is so incredibly convenient and fast and punctual and cheap and I know it’s such a foreigner tourist thing, but the novelty of riding the train never wore off for me hahaha! It may be partly because I dislike driving?

We found Maison Tonkatsu quite easily. There are signs leading to the restaurant from the train station. We waited for a little while before we were seated. The restaurant is a lot bigger than we thought!

The menu is pretty extensive. We asked for the English menu.

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My meal!

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My sister’s meal!

I don’t have pics of my brother’s and cousin’s meals. My brother got his usual katsudon though. Theirs came with ice cream!! You can see in the vlog. All of us really enjoyed our meals.

Oh yeah, since we were nearing the end of our trip, we tried to get rid of all our coins by paying for the entire meal in coins…but they didn’t accept it LOLOL. Sad.

We walked next door to say hi to the hair-master Deji-san at NALU! It was great to just see him one more time and thank him for giving us beautiful hair before we went back to California.

Then I wanted to go to Omotesando Koffee. I had heard about it somehow and the reviews are really good. I only just started to appreciate the taste of coffee thanks to my then-coworker, Chris. Every day he drinks a black iced coffee and he would offer me some. And over time, I acquired the taste I guess? So I wanted to try this coffee place and enhance my palate haha.

The place is really hard to find even if you use a GPS/Google Maps. It is hidden, and it looks like a regular home. Well it basically is a home turned coffee shop. There’s a tiny minimalist sign that has Omotesando Koffee out in front though. And we saw a line forming out the sliding door so we knew we were in the right spot!

While in line, a fat white guy took a photo of my brother. He used his phone and the flash went off. I got really mad and wanted to confront him and tell him to delete the picture, but my brother said it was fine. He said it was probably just cause he has purple hair. I guess, but that’s no reason to take a photo of a stranger. He could’ve asked…we were speaking English so it’s not like he was afraid of us not understanding him.

My sister and brother got a frozen mocha or something. IT WAS SOOO GOOD!!! super coffee and chocolatey flavored, the whipped cream was so fluffy and sweet! No icy taste or texture at all.

I got a plain black iced coffee. It was smooth and strong and perfect. I was surprised that a coffee noob like me could taste the difference between this and a Starbucks iced coffee. Or maybe I just imagined it haha. Anyway there’s only one guy who runs the entire coffee shop at Omotesando Koffee.

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There were little toasted pastries for sale too but we didnt try them.

Actually, Omotoesando Koffee has closed permanently. Apparently, the house needed repairs that would have cost too much for the owner, so it’s no longer open for business. There is another location in Toranomon, though, and I will include the address for that location in my “Places” at the end of this post. I feel lucky that we were able to try this place out before it closed! I loved feeling like I stumbled upon the coffee shop (we almost walked past it), and it was a new experience to walk into a traditional Japanese house! And of course, watching the guy make the coffee with so much precision and passion was interesting too!

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After our coffee break, we headed to Tokyo Tower again because my mom wanted more of the Japanese doorway hangings that we bought her (I think they are called “noren”) from the little souvenir area on the second floor of the tower.

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And we saw our friend the monkey again!!! He is such a smart and cute little monkey!

Inside Tokyo Tower, I spent hours shopping for souvenirs for friends and family. I don’t remember everything we purchased, but we got our grandpa a sake set for decoration, a samurai shirt for our dad, wall hangings for our mom, keychains for friends, white chocolate mochi for my employers and co-workers, a set of decorative chopsticks for the people who wrote letters of recommendations for me, sling backpacks…and more. omg. So if you want to get people souvenirs, I think Tokyo Tower is a really good place to go! They have everything there!! And the people there are super sweet and friendly. One elderly woman complimented us on our Japanese, she was shocked when we said we were Americans haha. So cute.

Then we headed back to our apartment to set our things down and rest before dinner. My cousin really wanted to treat us all to yakiniku, which was really sweet of him! So he asked me to find a place nearby.

We couldn’t figure out the name of the restaurant we went to because it’s in Japanese characters only?? haha but it’s in the same plaza thing as Mos Burger on Dogenzaka in Shibuya.

OH JUST KIDDING I TOOK A PIC OF THE NAME OF THE RESTAURANT OMG well it’s too late to put it in the vlog now lol

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Wow I am so smart for doing this lol. Anyway we ate here cause it’s like 2 minutes walking from our apartment! We took off our shoes and they put them away for us right when we entered. We were seated and we ordered food!! Our cousin was so generous he told us to order everything we wanted including drinks and appetizers! So we went a little crazy hehe

My siblings and I got chawanmushi! It’s got seafood in it and it’s really light and fluffy egg custard that is steamed. My sister also got peach juice, and my brother and I got lemon sodas (me without alcohol though hehe).

The dinner was super crazy fun…It was definitely one of the best dinners we had just because we were laughing so much and eating so much. The quality of the meat was super good. My cousin and brother ordered SO MANY PLATES OF MEAT. The waiter was like, AGAIN?!? HAHAHA. One of the waiters was really really cute and my sister and I totally freaked out about him haha. He looks like Usuke Devil, a bishounen who’s like, Instagram famous hahah.

After dinner we stopped by combini to get some ice cream of course.

The macadamia nut one was mine and the green tea was my sister’s.

Here’s the vlog:

Until next time,

C.


Places:

Tonkatsu Maisen Aoyama Honten

Address: 4 Chome-8-5 Jingumae, 渋谷区 Tokyo 150-0001, Japan

Hair Salon NALU

Address: 4 Chome-9-2 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan

Omotesando Koffee –> Toranomon Koffee

Address: Toranomon Hills Mori Tower, 1-23-3 Toranomon, 港区 Tokyo 105-0001, Japan

Tokyo Tower

Address: 4 Chome-2-8 Shibakoen, Minato, Tokyo 105-0011, Japan

Hannadaidokokoro Dougenzakaten (yakiniku)

Address: 2 Chome-29-8 Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0043, Japan (this is the address for the same plaza it’s in).