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 18: Last Day

Omg our last full day in Japan!!!  We woke up early to eat at a restaurant that I read rave reviews about on a the blog called Migrationology. Luxury sukiyaki on a budget sounds amazing to me!

It’s a quick walk from the station, but it felt longer because of the crazy heat and humidity. 18 days in Japan and we still weren’t used to it. haha. We got to the restaurant pretty early. We were the first ones there!

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The outside of the restaurant looks like this.

While waiting for the restaurant to open, we took some pics hahaha. I also talked to this couple who were waiting too. They said they were from Singapore and I wanted to ask them if they knew Xiaxue (one of my favorite Singaporean bloggers lol) but I was too shy hahahah.

Inside the restaurant, before we were seated, we were shown a laminated piece of paper indicating that non-Japanese speakers without accompanying Japanese speakers would not be served. I gave the paper back and said “daijoubu” and the woman smiled and seated us. ACCOMPLISHMENT!!!!

Also when we were given a menu all I said was “4 sukiyaki lunch sets” cause I had no idea what I was looking at LOLOL. Everyone at the communal table ordered that. No pics of our food but you can see us eat it in the vlog! It was delicious and such a new experience for us since we had never eaten anything dipped in raw egg before. I am drooling just thinking about the melt-in-your-mouth beef! Even the rice was extra tasty hahaha

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My sister got a drink from the  vending machine on the walk back since it was soo hot and the water cups at restaurants in Japan are soooo small.

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We went back to Shibuya Station and then we walked to the Shibuya Mark City Hotel so that we could arrange for tickets for the shuttle to the airport for the next day. I asked the lady behind the counter for tickets and she said we had to call a number and order them through the phone.

I went back to the rest of the group and said I was tired of making all the arrangements and could someone please make the phone call? Since I had literally arranged every single thing for the entire trip.

Silence followed.

Then, excuses.

My cousin said his phone didn’t have service. I said that was fine, he could borrow my phone. Silence.

My brother just flat out refused to and said we could take the train. What the hell, I can’t manage our luggage up and down stairs in the train station. What’s more, my brother has a broken arm and wouldn’t be able to help my sister and I out with our luggage cause he wouldn’t even be able to deal with his own??

I was getting really mad because I felt like I was asking for ONE little detail that I wouldn’t have to do, and no one would step up. My cousin just walked away from us and no amount of asking was working on my stubborn brother. He said he just didn’t want to.

My poor sister grabbed her phone and called the number and spent thirty minutes talking to a Japanese man to try and get tickets. It took so long because he kept confirming with her to make sure he didn’t make a mistake. She said his English was good but he took a while to understand but in the end everything was taken care of. I was beyond grateful that my sister took this responsibility off of my plate but absolutely livid at my brother and cousin. I felt like they were so childish for having me prepare EVERYTHING on the trip for them without helping out with one phone call. But we got over it the Asian way, by just pretending it didn’t happen, and we walked to the grocery store in Tokyu Department Store to buy more fruit LOL. No video from this part because we were still getting over our anger hahaha my sister and I walked separately from the boys and ranted to each other about how they were being babies….hhahahaha ugh.

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Perks of having an apartment in Tokyo: You have a mini kitchen with knives and cutting boards hahaha. Peeled these peaches after slicing them and it’s really cool, the peel just slides right off the fruit! It’s like it was wearing clothes LOLOL. Japanese peaches…they’re amazing on a different level. If you’re in Japan, you better try them!

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We bought more donuts from the bakery too!

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That night we went to Family Mart and spent all the money from each of our Pasmo cards (and more in cash) on candy and snacks to give as gifts to friends and family. SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT MOREEEEE. The Mitsuya Cider candy was my mom’s favorite. The chocolate biscuits we gave to my uncle. I gave a bag of the Gudetama candy to my friend Christine and the DragonBall Z candy to Chris.

That night my brother and cousin went clubbing or something in Shinjuku. And my sister and I stayed behind and finished packing and cleaning up the apartment. Then my brother came back alone!!! Turned out they went to a club where the entrance fee was like 30 USD and my brother was like no way and left after he gave his phone to my cousin (so he could use it to figure out what train to take home and text us to come down and open the apartment lobby door for him). LOL. My brother helped us clean up and vacuum and then we went to sleep.

Vlog from this day:

Until next time,

C.


Places:

Yoshihashi Sukiyaki

Address: Japan, 〒107-0051 Tokyo, 港区Motoakasaka, 1−5−25

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

Tokyu Honten Department Store

Address: 2-24-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0002, 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).

 

 

 

 

Japan Day 16: Tokyo Disney Sea AGAIN!

AGAIN?! Why did we go to Tokyo Disney Sea again?! Because it was THAT awesome the first time, of course. There were still more shows to see and rides to ride and we just really didn’t want to miss out on anything!

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Our train schedule for that morning. We purchased tickets at the door this day and So also exchanged some money at the park. The exchange rate at Tokyo Disney is apparently usually really good!

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The must-see attraction we wanted to experience was Minnie’s Tropical Splash. We had seen it when we went before, but we wanted to wait and be in the main splash zone. So we waited. In the blazing hot sun and suffocating humidity. I am a delicate flower so I escaped to the air conditioned shops nearby so that I wouldn’t pass out. While I was embracing the freezing cold air inside, my sister texted me asking to buy my brother a sun shade cover hoodie towel thing.

Like half the people inside the Disney parks were wearing those to protect themselves from the sun. My sister and I had bought Elsa and Anna hoodie towels and were soooo glad that we did! My brother finally caved and wanted one too LOL. So which one did we get him??? Olaf??

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Winnie the Pooh!!! Omg so adorable right? Like a child hahahaha

He said that right when he put it on, he felt a huge relief. Our cousin didn’t want one even when we asked him over and over lolol I guess it was too expensive for him. Later on he said he wished he’d bought one on the first day we went to the Disney Parks so that he could’ve used it all three days. True! Next time!

Anyways the show was AMAZING. Even better the second time!! Because we were in the super splash zone we got completely soaked hahha. Make sure your phones and cameras are in plastic bags! We were all drenched by the end. My brother and cousin made good use of their snorkels…check the vlog to see how haha.

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Then we went to rest and dry off.

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This cave area is near Journey to the Center of the Earth.

We got to watch the Big Band Beat show, which is like Mickey conducting a band. It was highly recommended to us by our Japan family but my sister was so tired that she fell asleep during it! The rest of us enjoyed it but it wasn’t as cool as we thought it was going to be.

I asked my cousin to pick a place for lunch and he chose a mexican place. It’s called Miguels El Dorado Cantina.

Then we got gelato!!!

I got Kyoho Grape and Melon flavors and my sister got Peach and Blueberry. We both got cones for the pic….but it got really messy cause it melted instantly. My brother got his in a cup and it was already melting all over him hahah.

We ate meat pies for dinner. Those things are bomb lol

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This automobile is so cute I had to snap a pic of it hehe

In the evening we watched a show called A Table is Waiting. It’s near the Rivers of America. I asked for help to find out where the show was located, but I had already walked right next to it…the cast member was like, “just sit down here” LOL.

The show was INCREDIBLE! We all loved it so much! It’s cute and funny and really well done! I highly recommend seeing it if you visit Tokyo Disney Sea. Part of it is in the vlog so you can get a sneak peek of what it’s like haha.

After that, we headed home for the night…

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Here’s the vlog:

Until next time,

C.


Places:

Address: 1-13 Maihama, Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture 279-0031, Japan

Japan Day 15: Exploring Shibuya

Omg okay so this day was dedicated to checking out the area around the apartment we were staying in. We slept in and went for lunch at the restaurant I had selected by researching online when planning the trip. We had walked there for dinner one night, but the line looked really long so we went to eat omurice across the street instead lol.

So today we came back and there was a line again but we waited and it didn’t take very long for us to get seated. The waitstaff took our orders when we were standing in line and we all just ordered what everyone in front of us had ordered. But we should’ve read the menu more carefully because there is an option for double portion. I think the boys would have wanted to get that instead of the regular lunch set haha.

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Gykatsu! There’s a couple different dipping sauces, all of which are delicious. Each person gets his or her own mini grill to cook their gyukatsu on. It got pretty hot in the restaurant from these grills despite the AC. My brother had to wipe sweat off his face with napkins LOLOL and we kept asking for the water pitcher to be refilled. But the food was really delicious! The portions were perfect for my sister and I but the boys said it was just like a snack for them.

After lunch, we really wanted dessert so we went to a cute little ice cream and fruits parlor in Shibuya. My sister and I split a sundae but the boys didn’t want anything.

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It was pretty expensive, like 1400 yen so around 14 USD but so refreshing on a hot day. Plus, the parlor is on the second floor so you can watch people cross the street at Shibuya scramble. 

Then we decided to check out the Tokyu Department Store. We walked there and split up. My sister and I went on every single floor and ended up purchasing rain boots for my sister and a pair of super comfy flats for my mom. We saw those cute backpacks that every child has in Japan and were shocked that they cost around 300 USD for one! They’re so cute!!

It was fun to browse but a lot of the things were out of our price range haha. We saw signage that had directions to a roof garden so we followed it. And the roof garden was small but really green and beautiful! Also on the roof was a little cafe and a plant nursery.

Hmm it was so hot, I wore just a men’s Airism undershirt that I bought from Uniqlo, but I wish I wore some real clothes so this pic of me in the roof garden would be cuter….hehehe.

Okay so I didn’t talk about this in my last post when the experience actually happened but a life-changing moment happened when we were guests of our Nagomi family. Our Japan mom peeled and sliced some Japanese peaches for each of us and told us not to share with her kids if they asked us (LOLOL). And we took our first bites and….OMG. It was the absolute juiciest and sweetest peach we had ever ever EVER tasted. We gobbled it down and were amazed– like we never knew fruit could taste so GOOD. We asked her why it was so delicious and juicy and sweet and she just told us that Japanese peaches taste like that. Each of us got a whole peach sliced up, and then she sent us home with a peach for each of us. T__T SHE IS SO SWEET! Thanks to her, we got to try Japanese fruit! And it is seriously fruit of the gods. Our cousin was like “now I can’t eat fruit back at home ever again” ahhaha.

 

 

So at the grocery store, we wanted to buy more Japanese peaches to add to our collection of peaches sitting in the fridge back in the apartment. So we purchased 4 more, plus an apple LOL. They cost 400 yen each if I remember correctly, so like a little less than 4 USD per peach. When we ate all the peaches later that night, the ones our Japanese mom gave us were a lot better. She probably got us gift fruit, the really expensive kind that are given as gifts in Japan. She is so thoughtful but it must have been really expensive because the gift fruit we saw had incredible prices. We saw a pyramid shaped watermelon for like 300 USD LOL.

Anyways, as a side note, I sent a really long email to my mom that night raving about the peaches and promising I would look up if I could buy some and bring some back for my mom and dad. Then I found out you can’t 😦 but my mom said it was good enough to hear my description lol. Later she told me she thought I was exaggerating until my brother and sister agreed with me that the Japanese peaches were like magic! hahaha

For dinner we decided to just grab some food from the food shops in the basement floor.

Meat skewers. The chicken meatballs were good but the beef was really weirdly soft and squishy and not good….

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Also we got yummy donuts from the bakery in the basement floor of the Tokyu Department store. Light and fluffy and not too sweet and no greasiness!

That was the end of our day! It was pretty chill but I liked just exploring the area.

Here’s the vlog:

Until next time,

C.


Places:

Gyukatsumotomura

Address: Japan, 〒150-0002 Tokyo, 渋谷区Shibuya, 3−18−10 大野ビル2号館

Shibuya Nishimura Fruits Parlor Dogenzaka

Address: 22-2 Udagawacho, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0042, Japan

Tokyu Department Store Shibuya

Address: 2-24-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0002, Japan

Japan Day 14: Tokyo Sky Tree with Our Nagomi Family

I am so behind on writing these blog posts! The vlogs have been on YouTube for weeks now and I have since traveled to more places that I need to catch up on, so I will do my best to crank out the rest of my posts on Japan. I can’t believe it has been over a year since our adventures in Tokyo!

On Day 14, we had planned to spend the whole day with the family we met through Nagomi Visit. We decided to check out Tokyo Sky Tree since none of us have gone there yet. We woke up early and had plans to meet at the train station connected to Tokyo Sky Tree, Oshiage Station.

And…it was our first time taking the wrong train. Hahah we were moving in the opposite direction. Oopsies. We corrected our mistake, though, and got on the right train and since I had given us extra time when planning, we were right on time.

It was really great to see our new friends again! We talked and walked through the shops and the kids showed us one of their favorite stores, Candy Show Time.

We got to try some of the fresh candy and watch them make it by hand!

It was both entertaining and delicious.

So cute!!!

There was a snack shop in Tokyo Sky Tree that had so many different kinds of candies and chips. My brother and I were so curious about everything that we would ask the oldest daughter what everything was. She is sooo smart, she translated everything for us. At one point though, I pointed to a package and told Sara that I loved pumpkin. She looked at me like I was crazy and said “That’s melon, not pumpkin.” Omg we all laughed so hard hahah. From that shop, our Japanese mom bought PEZ candy dispensers for the two younger kids and a Popin Cookin set for us to all do together at our house. My siblings and I got a bunch of the candy bentos you see in the video!

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Then we checked out the food court to buy some potato balls and deep fried shumai and then hopped on the train.

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It was really nice to get on the train and know for sure we were going the right way and when our stop was!

We ate ramen at a restaurant called Korakuen. There are a lot of Korakuen ramen shops all over Japan.

My sister’s ramen on the left, mine on the right. The oldest girl recommended me to get the ramen I ended up ordering. I think it was the sesame flavored ramen because I remember the sesame flavor was really strong!

We enjoyed our food a lot!! The two youngest kids got kids meals which come with a coin to get a toy from the gachapon machine in the restaurant haha. I wanted one too LOLOL.

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Our Japanese mom paid for our meals which was so sweet of her T_T

Oh I don’t remember if we did this before or after eating lunch but we walked to this Japanese supermarket and there was a 100 yen shop inside where I bought my Doraemon lanyard and some face masks. My brother and cousin bought some snorkels and swimming goggles haha…

Then we went back to their house where we did the candy sushi Popin Cookin set!

Since the instructions were all in Japanese, the oldest daughter read them and then directed us in English! It was so easy with her help!

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The sushi came out really cute too. Don’t they look just like the real thing?! Hard to believe these started out as just powder and water haha.

Then the kids brought their toys out to play with us! We had a blast and may have made a huge mess hahaha…

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The middle children lol

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Pokemon hehehe

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I LOVE THIS GIRL omg she is the sweetest and most gentle and so smart and I miss her like crazy!!!

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Man I still can’t believe my brother dyed his hair purple lol

 

tryna act kawaii haha

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:)))

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So many smiles!!

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Ahahha the littlest boy took these pics on his mom’s camera!

 

We had a delicious dinner of homemade yakisoba, onigiri, chicken wings, and corn. Everything was super tasty!

For dessert we had watermelon. Our Japan family explained to us that when they go on picnics, they blindfold the kids and take turns to whack the watermelon open with a stick??? Like a pinata! hahaha so they did a little demonstration for us. Watch the vlog cause that part is pretty funny!

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We also had a slice of sweet potato and apple pie that I bought at Tokyo Sky Tree cause it smelled so good!! And when we ate it, it tasted just as delicious. Japanese sweets are definitely not as sugary as American sweets. My cousin doesn’t like sweets too much but he really liked the pie. I have a sweet tooth, but the sweet potato and apple in the pie were super sweet and didn’t need any added sweetness that pie fillings usually have. Extremely tasty in a different way 🙂

After dinner we all just talked and played and laughed until we had to leave for the last train…The littlest boy kept asking us something in Japanese and we kept telling him yes and smiling and nodding until his mom told us that he was asking us if we were sleeping over T_T  She told him we had to go…and we all piled into the car and went to the train station.

We said our goodbyes and thank yous and hugged and shook hands and held back our tears. Our new friends were now our family members…and it was so hard to say goodbye to them!!! We had the best time together and experienced their culture in such a unique way.

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I am seriously so glad we went through with the Nagomi Visit and am sooo thankful for that website for bringing us together. Saying farewell was hard, and I still miss them a lot, but it’s not so bad because I email them once a week, and we send each other photos, and exchange gifts through the mail.

Here is the vlog for this day:

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Until next time,

C.


Places:

Tokyo Sky Tree

Address: 1 Chome-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida, Tokyo 131-0045, Japan

Candy Show Time

Address: TOKYO Solamachi, 1-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida, Tokyo 131-0045, Japan

Korakuen Ramen

2-16-6 Dogenzaka, Shibuya 150-0043, Tokyo Prefecture (not the same one we went to but it’s a chain so same thing)

 

 

 

 

Japan Day 13: J-World and Mutekiya Ramen

On the 13th day of our Japan trip, we returned to Ikebukuro so that we could spend the whole day at J-World! J-World, as described on its website, is an indoor theme park where you can “experience the world of JUMP anime!” The most popular JUMP anime are One Piece, Naruto, Dragon Ball, and Hunter x Hunter.

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We slept in again this morning haha and headed to Sunshine City, the mall where J-World is located. There’s an exit at Ikebukuro Station, Sunshine City Exit, that takes you pretty much right to where Sunshine City is. There are signs and everything on the streets to help direct you to the mall. Last time we took the Seibu Exit. Honestly, I am amazed that I remember all this stuff haha.

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Ticket to J-World! Each of us bought the Unlimited Attractions Pass, so we don’t have to pay extra for any of the games or rides. It cost 2600 yen and we each got a ~50 yen discount for some reason I don’t remember anymore 😦 I guess I’m not THAT great at remembering things lol.

Right when we walked in, we saw this room with projections of our favorite anime characters all around us.

We met Goku!!

All of us posed in the Dragon Ball Z space pod hahaha

I really liked this little photo area with the cardboard cutouts!

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I’m a Super Saiyan too, see my blonde hair hahah

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OMG my sister looks so dumb in this pic I have to post it

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My dumb brother lol

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Actually all these poses look better than mine with the same background thing. I’m not posting mine up here hahaha

We had a lot of fun taking photos of each other with the Dragon Ball Z stuff. All of us grew up watching it so it was pretty cool to see all the props!

Okay I thought this was just a scribble on the wall but I guess it’s not cause both the boys knew how to pose with it HAHA

All suited up in Saiyan armor!

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Only the purest of heart can ride the Flying Nimbus hehe

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We got to see what level we scored on the level checker device.

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I am on Vegeta’s level wowowow

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Ahahahhaha we laughed so hard at my sister’s level

The Dragon Ball Z part of J-World was super fun. There’s this one attraction where you do the kamehameha thing and it looks like you’re actually shooting it! And then there’s a game where you have to win all the dragon balls and then you can summon Shenron!! The game was all in Japanese so it was kind of hard to figure out what to do…but we figured it out! In the vlog for this part though, you can see us kinda freak out when we think we accidentally left the game without getting to make our wish using our Dragon Balls LOL. Oh there is also a trivia game! Again, all in Japanese. I got one correct HAHAH but probably I would have done the same even if it was in English lol

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There are no drinks allowed in the theme park, so we left to get drinks from Family Mart conveniently located in the mall. My sister and I both got these sparkling peach drinks. So good!

The Thousand Sunny cannon actually shoots! and you can aim it hahah

Then we played the One Piece game! We had to help Dr. Chopper get some ingredients so he could make medicine for Luffy hahah we got these adorable Chopper backpacks to carry and he talks to us throughout the game, telling us to hurry up haha.

Our wanted posters!!

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I literally have 10 multiples of this picture on my phone hahahha…

Just call us Usopp!

There was also a little story-type ride for One Piece, where you board a little “boat.” It’s a 360 degree “spin ride.” We enjoyed it because it was sooo cute seeing all the familiar scenes of One Piece brought to life. There’s also a One Piece carousel but we didn’t go on it…to be honest I wanted to ride it though LOL

OMG THERE WAS ALSO A HAUNTED HOUSE. It was Naruto themed and it was so freaking scary! The lady told us to pair off and for some reason my sister and I were partners even though we are both scaredy cats hahahah we should have each gone with one of the boys wtf but they had already gone off before us!! So my sister and I slowly ventured into the dark hallway but we could hear screams of other people and yells from the boys and we kept getting scared of something jumping out and grabbing us!!

We turned the corner and there was a bend where you’re back out of the darkness, and the lady who gives us instructions said to us, “Ganbatte!” and smiled and gestured for us to keep going but my sister and I were terrified but hysterically laughing at the same time and we both said “LET’S GET OUT OF HERE!!” So we climbed over and got out and waited for the guys to finish the haunted house HAHAHAH

J-World also has a little carnival area where you can play games. You exchange money for tokens and pay for games with those. I played the only HxH game, Hisoka’s Card Throwing game. I lost 😦 I really wanted the keychain so my brother tried to play for me but he lost as well. But I got two stickers from it hahha.

After J-World, we walked over to Mutekiya Ramen because I read online that it was a must-try. We found it pretty easily and it’s actually really close to Ikebukuro Station. We waited in line for about 30 minutes. We got split into two groups, so the boys got seated first and then my sister and I got seated. I think we all ordered the regular ramen, which is like 790 yen/appx 7 USD if I remember correctly, but there’s an option to get the large bowl (extra broth and extra noodles) for free. There is an English menu that you can ask for.

There’s fresh garlic cloves and a garlic press that you use to squeeze garlic into your ramen. I highly recommend doing this hehe

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You see this ramen?? YOU ARE LOOKING AT A BOWL OF MAGIC. The broth is insanely thick and fatty and soooo flavorful and rich. The pork is super soft and is super fatty as well so it really melts when you bite into it and once you do, you can taste the savory goodness and the sheer goodness of the roasted edges omggggg and the EGG!!! THE EGG IS SO GOOD wtf it’s salty and the yolk is perfectly cooked so it’s like silken eggy goodness that adds an extra YOM factor. And the noodles are thick and springy and have a little “bite” to them and with the chewy menma (bamboo shoots) and the hit of fresh garlic, IT IS LITERALLY MIND-BLOWING RAMEN. IT IS SO GOOD. IF YOU ARE IN TOKYO YOU HAVE TO EAT THIS RAMEN!!! IT’S SO FUCKING GOOD OMFG. I have DREAMS about this ramen. After one bite, I can never eat ramen in the states again cause it will never ever taste as good as Mutekiya. If you think I’m exaggerating….go ahead and try Mutekiya. You’ll have no choice but to bow down to its god-level ramen.

When my sister and I each took our first bite we just freaked out. And we slurped our way down to the bottom of the bowl and raved to each other about how damn good it was omg!!! I can’t recommend this ramen enough!

Since we put our names down as a party of four, even though we sat separately from the boys, it was paid as one bill and so my brother paid it for all of us when they finished first and then they went next door to some discount store? And then when us girls finished eating, they told us we didn’t have to pay and I got really confused until they explained that the boys had already paid for us haha. Like I’ve said before, it was easy to understand/be understood in Tokyo because the people we encountered had a pretty good grasp of English speaking and understanding. Maybe we just got lucky!

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I think I got pineapple ice cream from 7-Eleven that night hahah.

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My sister got chocolate ice cream!

While we were eating ice cream and just talking, my sister just started laughing uncontrollably for the longest time. My brother and I are used to how unpredictably weird each of us can be so we just waited for her to regain her ability to speak clearly but it TOOK FOREVER for her to control herself and when she finally did, all she was able to gasp out was “there’s a cat” until she kept laughing even more omfg!!! My brother, cousin, and I were all SOOOO CURIOUS to know what was so freaking funny and finally my sister said she would take a photo and show us….

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HAHAHHA HERE IS THE PICTURE OMG DO YOU SEE THE CAT???? DO YOU??? Once she told me to tilt my head, I saw the “cat” too and then my sister and I both laughed our heads off for about 10 minutes. I’m not even kidding WE WERE DYING hahahah I thought my sister was going to have an asthma attack. When the boys looked at the picture, they saw the cat too but they didn’t think it was that funny for some reason. Boys are stupid LOL.

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The luggage pocket in which the “cat” was hiding hahahahhahaa I AM LAUGHING ALL OVER AGAIN OMG

Anyways that was the end of our day spent in Ikebukuro! I really recommend J-World if you are a fan of either DBZ or One Piece but if there are any other JUMP anime that you hoped to be represented in the park, you might be disappointed. There IS a gift shop but there was literally no merch at all for HxH 😦 Still, I’m really glad we went! And especially glad that no one objected to my choice in dinner that night because Mutekiya was SO DELICIOUS it made me feel like my world had been expanded a little bit more. I guess that can sound kind of stupid but don’t judge me till you have tasted it okay!!!

Here’s the vlog for this day:

Enjoy watching our adventure!

Until next time,

C.


Places:

Sunshine City

Address: 3 Chome-1-1 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo 170-0013, Japan
J-World TOKYO

Address: Japan, 〒170-0013 Tokyo, 豊島区Higashiikebukuro, 3−1−3

 

MUTEKIYA Ramen

Address: Japan, 〒171-0022 Tokyo, Toshima, 南池袋1丁目17-1

 

Japan Day 12: Pokemon Mega Center

Actually this day started off really slowly. I told everyone I was going to stay in the apartment all day today. Everyone got ready and my brother really wanted to try Freshness Burger because we’d been walking past it every single day. So my brother, sister, and cousin went down to get some food. When they were there, my sister texted me pics of the menu so I could decide what I wanted to eat. haha…spoiled LOLOL

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I remember getting a burger and fries but from looking at this menu…I have no idea which burger I picked. They all look good hahahh

After we ate, I felt a lot better, and so I decided I could make it out today. I got ready and we headed to the Pokemon Mega Center!

I always searched up multiple schedules because I was always scared we would miss a train!

Walking there was pretty nice actually. Ikebukuro is a really lovely place! We walked through a square and got to hear cicadas again lol. Actually we got lost looking for the Pokemon Mega Center. I didn’t realize that it was inside a mall and the mall was connected to a hotel. So we were walking around and then Google Maps told us we were there. So I suggested to go inside the hotel and ask for directions.

We walked into the hotel and I asked a woman behind the counter, “Excuse me, could you give us directions to the Pokemon Center?”

LOOOL IT SOUNDS SO STUPID TO SAY THAT OUT LOUD. What, did I think I was in a video game or something hahah I need to heal my Pokemon?!

To give the woman credit, she didn’t laugh or anything. She just repeated, “Pokemon Center…” while typing on her computer and then taking out a map and telling us where to go. Her English, like most people’s that we encountered in Japan, was completely understandable. We were really grateful to her help!! Because thanks to her, we made it into the mall, which is called Sunshine City (ummmm super cute name wtf)!

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I just love how Japan just has giant Pokemon hanging from the ceilings of malls and it’s totally normal.

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The Pokemon Center! There are signs all over the mall to help people get to the store. The store is pretty big, there are lots of these statues everywhere and tonsss of really cute Pokemon merchandise!

Me and my sister with the shiny Charizard!

Me and my brother with Lucario and Mewtwo. I bought that Pikachu plushie that I’m holding in this picture. My parents thought I was crazy for stuffing that into my luggage. BUT IT’S SOOO SQUISHY I LOVE IT!! I think it was around 3,000 yen.

While walking around the mall, we saw J-World which was one of the destinations on our must-see list! J-World is an indoor theme park, with the theme being anime and manga from Shonen Jump, I think. Again….as One Piece AND Hunter x Hunter  and Dragon Ball Z fans, we were pretty stoked. We grabbed info packets and decided to dedicate a whole day to spend at the park, so we would return the next day to go to J-World!

Sunshine City has a whole store that’s dedicated to Studio Ghibli! We weren’t able to get tickets to the Ghibli museum so this is the next best thing hahaha.

I think we took these Gudetama photos outside a Sanrio store.

 

Lol my sister was super excited because she’s a huge Gudetama fan.

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After we finished shopping, we met up with the boys to eat dinner. We chose to eat at a tonkatsu place called Tonkatsu Wako. My brother ordered an egg and tonkatsu bowl. He let me have a bite and it was sooo good!

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My set meal! It came with a coke! and everyone can get unlimited refills of rice and cabbage but none of us did lol.

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Here’s a shot of my meal where you can see the chawanmushi (silken egg??). It’s so creamy and light! We all enjoyed our meals.

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After dinner, we headed back to Shibuya Station, and on the way back to the apartment we got our ice creams of course haha.

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Japan found a way to package and serve soft serve ice cream that tastes good without sacrificing texture. For like 100 or 200 yen omg TAKE MY MONEYYY

At the end of the day, I was pretty glad I swallowed my annoyance and went out. I spent most of the day with just my sister and it was super chill and relaxing. She navigated us when we needed to find where Sunshine City was, and I felt a lot better not having at least that responsibility on me. And I felt like I saved the day when I suggest to go inside the hotel to ask for directions LOL.  We were all super excited to go to J-World the next day too! Yay for mood brighteners haha

Here’s our vlog about the Pokemon Mega Center:

Until next time,

C.

P.S. The next day is all about J-World and we had such a great time playing the games and seeing the attractions! We also have life-changing ramen hahah


Places:

Sunshine City Prince Hotel

Address: 3 Chome-1-5 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo 170-8440, Japan
Sunshine City (Mall)
Address: 3 Chome-1-1 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo 170-0013, Japan
Pokemon Mega Center Tokyo
Address: Japan, 〒170-0013 Tokyo, 豊島区Higashiikebukuro, 3−1−2 サンシャインシティ 2F
Tonkatsu Wako
Address: Japan, 〒171-0022 Tokyo, Toshima, Minamiikebukuro, 1 Chome−28−2
J-World
Address: Japan, 〒170-0013 Tokyo, 豊島区Higashiikebukuro, 3−1−3

Japan Day 10: Shopping in Odaiba

So we’d already been to Odaiba before, when we went to Joypolis on Day 8. While we were walking to the amusement park, we passed a few malls. So we decided to come back and get our shopping on in Aqua City and Diver City, two water-themed named malls on the man-made island of Odaiba.

I texted my mom to tell her I missed her and my dad and my rabbit, Killua. So she sent me a few photos of Killua.

It made me laugh and miss my mom and bunny even more :’)

We headed off to Tokyo Teleport using the JR Line! Each day I appreciated the convenience of the Japanese trains. I loved simply scanning my Pasmo card and hopping on trains that would take me to my destination with less than 10 minutes of walking. Train stations have English signage everywhere and every staff member we asked for directions spoke English well so it’s not intimidating at all. Although the stations are huge and crowded and we often got lost, we were always able to find our way around.

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I tried to take a photo of my sister in front of the train. It was a fail HAHA

Once we got off the station, we walked towards Diver City. The first thing we saw in the mall was a Starbucks. My sister wanted to try the seasonal “Peach in Peach” flavor frappuccino.

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She tried to order the venti size but they told us that it only comes in size tall haha.

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Her shirt is so funny. I think she bought it in Harajuku.

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Lol this pic is blurry but my brother looks kind of scary…

We walked towards this cute Sanrio store where everything was Hello Kitty! I bought myself some custard filled cakes. There were three flavors of custard: vanilla, chocolate, and green tea. They were fresh and warm…

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…and super cute and delicious!

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My sister and I in H&M.

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I bought a pair of heels here that were a dusty rose color for only 10,000 yen, a baseball cap for 50 yen, a scarf, a pair of tights, and two headbands. My sister bought a pair of casual lace up shoes and some athletic socks. He and my cousin split from us girls when they figured that they weren’t gonna buy anything from the store, but then my brother texted me and said that there were One Piece statues on display in the mall and to come see and also take pics of him for him hahaha. (His phone camera died from Tokyo Disney Sea during the Minnie’s Tropical Splash show).

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ASL 🙂

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err sorry didn’t save this pic without the Snapchat caption lol

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Luffy!

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Chopper!

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Lol can you spot my brother in this pic?

So as to not have a super pic heavy post…

So cool! A lot of people were taking photos with the characters.

It was so exciting to just show up at a mall and see our favorite characters in front of us, life size.

There was also a pop-up shop with One Piece merchandise, my brother got a shirt for 30,000 yen. If I remember correctly it’s a Fire Fist Ace shirt.

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Really cute One Piece socks that I regret not buying ;_;

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LOL my eyes are Beli, just call me Nami-swaaaaaaan!

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So we all went to the gourmet food court and decided to eat ramen.

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This ramen was pretty tasty! Look at that egg!

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The texture of the yolk was soooo creamy and jelly-like.

Waiting for my brother and cousin to try on pants at H&M. He and my brother didn’t fit anything…so they didn’t buy anything though. haha

We checked out a bunch of souvenir shops, a Samantha Vega shop, a grocery store…

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We ran into a Hello Kitty cafe and I had to get something!

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So cuteeee!

I wanted to go to Sanrio Puroland but this is an adequate substitute I suppose! haha

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I bought this drink just for the photo op and so I must make the most of it!!

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Okay last one I swear! hehe

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I don’t know anything about Naruto but I had to take a pic with him and Sasuke. They’re brothers right? I asked my brother that and he just laughed lolol

Haha so cute. He’s actually read Naruto unlike my sister and me.

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Here’s my brother with his real family: Naruto, his wife, and their baby Burrito hahahah

 

This huge Gundam was outside of Diver City omg.

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To see how big it was watch the vlog!!

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We stopped by Baratie Restaurant to get dessert. The staff remembered us, probably because of my brother’s crazy hair haha.

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Merry!

Siblings with Merry.

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I got a Bon Clay cake!!! IT IS SO CUTE I CAN’T STAND IT!!! AHHHHHH

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The tears T_T Not only was it adorable, it was also delicious!

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It was almost too pretty to eat…IMG_5218.JPG

My sister didn’t choose to get anything but she took photos with my dessert and then Instagrammed it LOL.

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My brother got a Devil Fruit dessert. My cousin opted out, like my sister did..

Next, we went to Aqua City Mall.

So Aqua City had these lockers that you put 200 yen into (2 USD) and you can store stuff in there until a specific time (I think 11pm). I didn’t know how to use it and lost my money cause I didn’t take the key out of the locker at the right time!!!! I was SO sad and my sister kept telling me not to think about it. But I was still sad so to stop myself from being sad, I went to the information desk and asked them to help me and the woman there was spoke English and she was so kind and helpful and she helped me use the locker so I didn’t lose my 200 yen!!!! Yay!!!! It was great not having to carry heavy shopping bags around all day at Aqua City.

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The mall had a SIM card vending machine. My cousin was essentially without a phone because he didn’t have T-Mobile like the rest of us. T-Mobile has free international service and data. I told him about this vending machine but he didn’t seem interested.

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There was a Shounen Jump pop-up shop that had some beautiful color manga displays!

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My sister…

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Since it was Shounen Jump that means…HUNTER x HUNTER! Super exciting because Hunter x Hunter is my second favorite anime of all time, after One Piece, and this was the first place that I saw selling HxH merch! I do a random-chance picking of HxH keychains. Watch the vlog to see which character I get! I also bought some clothes that have some of the significant One Piece scenes on them. My brother got a DBZ trashcan and a DBZ backpack haha.

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A devil fruit!!

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I wonder what power it will give me if I eat it!! I would totally take the risk cause nothing is as dumb as the Jacket-Jacket fruit. Or the Flag-Flag fruit HAHAH

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The mall is like a cruise ship! So cool right? Appropriate for me to be wearing my Sperry Topsiders, eh?

We went to eat dinner in the mall’s food court because my brother wanted to try Burger King. I had mentioned in an earlier post that my brother had seen an ad for some special new kind of pie they were offering. So he tried the infamous Samurai Burger and got the pies. His reaction is pretty funny (see vlog). My cousin got Burger King too.

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I got chicken curry and my sister got a Hamburg steak with fries and rice.

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I think hers was the best haha.

We also got ice cream!

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Hokkaido Melon flavor–subtly sweet and just like the real thing.

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I love Japanese desserts.

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It was time for us to head back to Shibuya! We walked back to Tokyo Teleport Station and went home.

Watch our adventures in Odaiba in our vlog:

 

Until next time,

C.

P.S. The next blog and vlog will be about the One Piece Theme Park in Tokyo Tower! If you’re a One Piece fan you will see that that place is pure HEAVEN!


Places:

AQUA CiTY ODAIBA

Address: Japan, 〒135-0091 Tokyo, Minato, 台場1丁目7番1号

Phone:+81 3-3599-4700

Diver City Tokyo Plaza
Address: Japan, 〒135-0064 Tokyo, 江東区Aomi, 1−1−10

Baratie Restaurant

Address 台場2-4-8 フジテレビ本社屋 7F Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Located In Fuji Television

Phone +81 3-5500-5843

Website http://op-bt.com/

 

 

Japan Day 9: Harajuku and Nagomi Visit Host Family

This day started off pretty slowly. We woke up pretty late and reached Harajuku around 12pm and the first thing we did was get some famous Harajuku crepes! On the recommendation of Yoshi who was our tour guide during the kimono rental, we lined up at Marion Crepes.

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My crepe was filled with strawberries, chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream. It was really good but really too much for just me to finish it all. I ate all the insides but not all of the crepe hahah.

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I don’t remember what was in my sister’s crepe but damn look at her eyebrows. They look intense…lol

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In a random shop on Takeshita-dori hahaha I HAD to take a picture with these cardboard cut outs of the characters from Free! Iwatobi Swim Club.

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Haru and Makoto hahaha

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Rin!! He’s my favorite hahah.

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We had lunch at Koi-Taco. Takoyaki! Octopus filled balls of batter and topped with kewpie, takoyaki sauce, bonito flakes, nori, and gold dust.

Address: 2-16-6 Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0043, Japan

We shopped for quite a bit in Harajuku. My sister and I went into La Foret, a pretty big mall. We were attracted to it because there were people with megaphones shouting out about the sales. So we went in and found a ton of cute things! There was one store where EVERYTHING was 1000 yen! I bought a backpack and my sister got a sweater for my mom. At the other stores in La Foret, I ended up getting a phone case for myself.

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Isn’t it cute haha it’s supposed to look like a perfume bottle. and of course C is my initial!

We met up with the boys, who had been shopping with each other. My brother bought three One Piece shirts. One is for himself and the other two were gifts for his friends. He also got a Mario hat for his other friend hahaha. And he also got a Dragon Ball Z t-shirt for himself. My cousin hadn’t gotten anything yet.

We went to Kiddy Land again together and my cousin got his brother a Japanese pagoda puzzle thing made of wood. And he got his friend a huge Batman figure.

Selfie with the Stormtrooper and Darth Vader statues inside of Kiddyland! After this we headed back to Harajuku Station to go to the train station where our Nagomi Visit family would pick us up so we could have dinner with them!!!

SO what is Nagomi Visit and how does it work? I heard about the program from one of my favorite food blogs, Just One Cookbook. The author of JOC made a post on Facebook that was sharing information about a program where you can have meals with local Japanese people for a small fee. I checked out the website and people seemed to have amazing experiences!

I was so excited that I signed up and made a profile immediately. In my profile I mentioned that we’re from California and how we’re big fans of Japanese culture and food and that’s why we visited Japan. The way it works is that you pick whatever dates you’re free to have a meal. Then you indicate which meal you’d prefer to have, lunch or dinner. The fee is 3500 yen per person (35 USD). I paid for all of us: myself, my sister, my brother, and my cousin. I said anywhere 30-40 minutes from Shibuya was good for us.

And I waited three days and checked and saw that I had a few matches. I chose a family with three kids: two girls and a little boy! Their family photo in their profile was adorable and won me over. I was so excited! Actually when I told my siblings about it, my brother was skeptical. He said “Go into a stranger’s home and eat with them? That sounds so awkward.” My cousin was even more against it than my brother. He said it sounded dangerous. Thank god for my sister! She supported me and defended me and told me that she was excited too.

To say I was disappointed in the boys’ reactions was an understatement. It got even worse when we arrived in Japan and it was the day of our Nagomi Visit. My sister and I were really enthusiastic but my brother and cousin were expressing doubt and it was getting kind of annoying. I just KNEW it would be great fun because I was already communicating with the mother of the family through email and already I could tell she was just as excited as I was for us to meet and have a meal together! Even when I told the boys about how sweet she was in her emails to me, their attitudes were totally annoying. My sister and I knew that the second we met the family they would have a great time.

So call me a psychic because we all had the most wonderful time of our lives with Tami and her family!!! It was the highlight of our trip!!!! I can’t find the words to accurately describe how much we enjoyed ourselves. We laughed so much and learned so much.

Since it was a dinner appointment for our Nagomi Visit, it was supposed to be at 6pm. Through e-mails, Tami gave us careful directions on where to meet her husband at a train station about ten minutes away from their home. She would be at home teaching an English lesson to her children and some children in her apartment complex. We arrived at 4:38pm and thanks to her careful and informative directions, we found her husband easily. It was helpful that he had a sign that said “Nagomi Visit” on it as well! I think he may have been surprised with our appearances because my Nagomi Visit profile had photos of us when we had black hair….and we showed up, two blonde Asians and a purple haired punk in a tank top hahahaha!!! The little boy was there and he was definitely scared of my brother, it was really quite cute and funny.

We introduced ourselves to Yoshi and then he led us to his car. We all got in and the little boy sat in between my brother and I. My cousin was supposed to sit in the passenger seat but he forgot that the passenger seat is on the left side in Japan and he tried to sit in the driver’s seat HAHAHA. I think he gave Yoshi a bit of a shock when he tried to do that! It was a good laugh. Yoshi drove us to his home and it was a quiet ride. I was a bit nervous just because I really wanted everyone to enjoy themselves. And we spent a lot of time looking out the windows because we’d never seen this side of Japan before! You can see a bit of it in the vlog (we cut out about half of the trip though, to respect the privacy of the family and their home), but the scenery was really beautiful. The buildings and alleys and streets are so different from California’s that we were speechless!

The streets are so narrow, you can see in the vlog when we squeeze past two cars in a road that looks like it’d barely fit one car, let alone two! Yoshi’s driving is impressive. I would need so much practice to learn how to drive in the streets of Japan haha.

When we arrived at their apartment complex, Yoshi parked the car in this super cool parking garage thing. And we went up the elevator and into his home. We took off our shoes and met Tami and all the children, including Tami’s students! It was so great meeting her and she was SO welcoming that I could tell that my siblings and my cousin were comfortable and excited and their fears and nervousness were gone in the second they saw her big smile!

It’s so hard to describe what happened next. It might sound like nothing special, but being welcomed into a stranger’s home and meeting their kids and seeing all the food they cooked for you…it’s an experience that touches your heart. Tami had asked her students to each bring a special Japanese dish.

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Some children’s mothers cooked food that are Japanese comfort foods, other mothers had made special dishes.

This sweetheart is showing us photos of her sister and her performing onstage. They love to dance!

Tami and Yoshi cooked okonomiyaki together and served it to us. Everything we tasted was absolutely delicious, right down to the special Japanese pickles and puffed snacks they offered us.

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Everything was super yummy!!

We sat at a table and said “Itadakimasu” together with them. We told them how things tasted to us. We talked about getting our hair dyed and going to Disneyland and Disney Sea. We told them about the weather in California. And each little girl read an index card about the food their mothers had prepared for us. Tami told us about how she hoped we would like everything. She gave us advice for what shows to see when we would go back to Disney Sea. She talked about her own experiences when she studied abroad in California when she was about my age.

Dessert was Japanese fruit punch with cider!

My cousin pouring the cider into everyone’s bowls.

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He and Yoshi really bonded together haha.

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It was so much fun to learn origami from them!

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We had a lot of laughs together!!

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Even the littlest one had lots of things to teach us…hahaha!!

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He’s such a cutie!!

My sister showing off her masterpiece…in progress.

My brother was struggling because his broken arm made it difficult for him to do the folding. Good thing he had some very patient teachers!

The little boy was walking around taking photos on Tami’s camera hahaha so we got these amazing shots. All the photos of the Nagomi Visit experience were sent to me by Tami! She was so kind to send take most of the pics and send them over.

We watched her son perform the “pianika” for us. We had never even heard of that instrument before! We watched one of her students demonstrate how to play with a kendama (see the vlog!!). All of the kids gave us an origami lesson and gave us the beautifully folded products with lovely messages written on them. I still have them today. I hung the two clovers on my bedroom wall next to my mirror and the medals hang from my bookshelf. We had so much to talk about and we laughed soooo much together! There are quite a few funny moments in the vlog but that was just a fraction of the laughter we shared together.

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The youngest son, my cousin, my sister, me, my brother, and the elder daughter!! Isn’t she so sweet?!

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There’s our host family and their students with us! This picture makes me so happy!

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You can see me holding the origami clover they made for me. They also wrote messages to me on it in English! They are soooo smart! Probably because they have a great English teacher!

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Hahahha

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Writing our goodbyes to each person!

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We felt like famous people hehe.

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Tami and Yoshi’s family was so welcoming and such amazing hosts that we felt so much gratitude towards them. We had the most amazing time with them at their home and were so happy we were able to have that experience! I highly recommend a Nagomi Visit to anyone who visits Japan. It’s something that gives you a deeper understanding of the country and you can make new friends at the same time as enjoying a delicious meal that was cooked for you with love.

We tried not to overstay our welcome but it was difficult to say no to playing with such happy and friendly children! Eventually we said our goodbyes (the kids asked us to “sign” some colored paper so we all wrote our goodbyes to them. It felt like we were celebrities signing autographs) and Yoshi drove us back to the train station and we went back home. The whole trip back to Shibuya, we were talking about how much fun we had. My brother and my cousin were laughing so much when just remembering the cute and silly things the kids did! And my sister and I were so touched to have met such sweet people. They gave us gifts of origami and okonomiyaki flour and candy and chocolate biscuits and Hello Kitty stickers because we mentioned how much my sister and I like Hello Kitty.

After our visit, I emailed Tami to thank her and her family for everything they did for us. And I asked her if we could spend one more day together with them. And she said yes! So we made plans to see each other again in a few days. We spent the entire day together and it still wasn’t enough time! I won’t say too much here but it was even more fun than this day, which is saying a LOT.

And today we are still in contact. We email each other weekly and send each other photos. Tami has given me advice and told me about her experiences when she was my age about different things that come up. My siblings and I are planning to visit her and her family in a few years and I can’t wait! Her oldest daughter and I are pen pals. We write each other letters and my siblings and I made Valentines for her and her sister and brother. We also sent them gifts for Christmas.

It was the best feeling EVER to get these photos of them opening our Christmas gift! We were so happy they received it in time and to see their smiling faces was awesome!!

Getting an email from Tami is always the highlight of my day. Often I stop and think about how lucky we are to have met Tami and her family. The whole experience is one I will never forget. I will always always always think back at our Nagomi Visit with feelings of happiness and friendship and love.

Please enjoy our vlog about Harajuku and our Nagomi Visit!

Until next time,

C.

P.S. Our next vlog is when we return to Odaiba to go shopping in Aqua City and Diver City! There are some really cool things that the malls have to offer so I’m excited to write about it!


Places:

Marion Crepes

Address: 1-6-15 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan

Phone:+81 3-3401-7297

Laforet Harajuku

Address: 1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan

Phone:+81 3-3475-0411

Kiddy Land Harajuku

Address: 6-1-9 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan

Phone:+81 3-3409-3431

Nagomi Visit

https://www.nagomivisit.com/

https://www.facebook.com/nagomivisit/?fref=ts