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.
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.
I don’t remember what was in my sister’s crepe but damn look at her eyebrows. They look intense…lol
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.
Haru and Makoto hahaha
Rin!! He’s my favorite hahah.
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.
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.
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.
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.
He and Yoshi really bonded together haha.
It was so much fun to learn origami from them!
We had a lot of laughs together!!
Even the littlest one had lots of things to teach us…hahaha!!
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.
The youngest son, my cousin, my sister, me, my brother, and the elder daughter!! Isn’t she so sweet?!
There’s our host family and their students with us! This picture makes me so happy!
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!
Writing our goodbyes to each person!
We felt like famous people hehe.
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,
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!
Address: 1-6-15 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Address: 1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
|Kiddy Land Harajuku
Address: 6-1-9 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan