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.

IMG_4002

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!

IMG_4014

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

IMG_4010

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

IMG_4011

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

IMG_4013

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.

IMG_4015

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!

IMG_4018.JPG

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.

IMG_5628.JPG

Cold soba noodles for snack.

IMG_5629.JPG

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.

IMG_4022

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

LAX –> NRT: My flight to Japan!

I’ve always wanted to visit Japan. This past July, I flew to Japan for a three week-long vacation with my sister, brother, and cousin! It was our first time going out of the country and going on vacation with our parents. We didn’t know the language, save for what we picked up from watching anime. We didn’t sign up for any tours, and to save money we booked an AirBnB instead of an actual hotel for the entire stay.

I planned the entire trip, with a detailed itinerary of places to go and restaurants to eat at and made all the appointments for things we needed them for. I also did all reading of train schedules, and navigation when walking places. And of course I was the designated “person who will ask for help and directions when we need it,” because everyone else was too scared to use their limited Japanese. Do I sound bitter? That’s because it really took a toll on me for having all these responsibilities while on vacation. It stressed me out and made me annoyed at my travel companions for just standing around waiting for my instructions.

Anyways, more on that later.

IMG_2796

Boarding the plane at LAX to Narita Airport! Sorry it’s blurry.

IMG_2797

We watched movies and TV on this but nothing good was playing. It was a very long ride. I read the entire novel Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. It’s the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. Unfortunately, it was a disappointment.

IMG_2799

Our disgusting airplane food haha everything was bland except for the ice cream, which was too sweet.

IMG_2803

Airplane bathroom selfie! I had to make it smaller so that you wouldn’t scream at makeup-less me. Since it was a 12 hour flight, I made sure to moisturize my face often so my skin wouldn’t flake from dryness.

IMG_2805

These noodles were breakfast. Super salty to the point of inedible-ness. I should’ve been like my cousin Huy and bring my own food!!!!

IMG_2807

ARRIVAL!!!! Yes, after 12 hours of cramped legroom and tripping over my brother on my way to the bathroom, we made it! But once we landed we had to figure out what to do. We followed people and realized we had to fill out customs declaration forms. Then we exchanged money! USD –> Yen. The rate was 1.18 USD to 100 yen.

After that, we bought tickets to the limousine bus to take us to Shibuya Mark City, a bus stop near the AirBnB. It was easy because the girl spoke English! We waited for the bus, handed the people our tickets, let them take our luggage, and we settled in for our 75-125 minute ride.

Since it was summer, it was incredibly hot and humid. Like high 90’s with humidity of over 80%! We were drenched in our own sweat almost immediately after stepping out of the airport. The sweaty, sticky feeling lasted for our entire three weeks’ stay. It was not pleasant.

Things we noticed from the bus ride:

-Japan is very GREEN! Lots of leafy trees on the way to Tokyo

-Cars are so clean. We didn’t see a single dirty car our entire trip, actually.

-License plates have only a few letters and numbers on them. My sister saw a license plate that only said “..5” on it LOLOL

– Roads are super narrow!!

IMG_2809

In the AirBnB! With provided slippers that do not fit my brother’s feet. LOL

aa

Yay slippers. Actually only my sister and I ever used them haha.

We showered since we got really sweaty from our trek from the bus stop to our AirBnB while dragging along our luggage. Then we went to explore the city! My cousin Huy chose this adorable little restaurant for us to have dinner at. It’s called Spiral Kitchen. We walked down a spiral staircase into a tiny dining area that was surrounded by children’s picture books.

IMG_2814

After cleaning my hands with a cold towel that we were each handed, I ordered the clam vongole pasta. We had the sweetest waitress who was so happy to be able to understand our orders haha.

IMG_2816

My sister had this lobster cream pasta. It was really good!

IMG_2820

My brother ordered pizza. He’s a pizza lover. You might notice his left arm/shoulder is smaller. That’s because he broke it in the end of May in a freak accident.

IMG_2824

Close up of pizza..

IMG_2823

Spiral Kitchen staff pictures. So cute!

IMG_2826

My sister and I looking gross without makeup and being tired from our long flight lolol.

IMG_2828

IMG_2822

Shibuya at night!

IMG_2829

IMG_2833

IMG_2831

We went to Uniqlo after dinner. My brother bought some shorts.

IMG_2832

Cute tees!

And now for our vlog for this day, filmed on a GoPro Hero3:

Okay, that’s it for my first post about Japan! Thanks for reading. I know it was a short post but not much happened haha. Stay tuned for my next post about navigating the train system, combini (Japanese convenience stores), and….Tokyo Disneyland!!!!

Best,

C


 

Locations: 

ワイン食堂スパイラル キッチン (Spiral Kitchen), Italian Restaurant

 Address: 
Japan, 〒150-0043 Tokyo, Shibuya, Dogenzaka, 2 Chome−7−4, 戸崎ビル