Thursday, April 10, 2014


I feel a bit like we've been caught up in a whirlwind--or should I say TSUNAMI? Life has been a little crazy and hectic with work and the job hunt and our trip to Japan!

We've been talking about going for years and decided, let's do it! We used the frequent flier miles we've been banking for 10+ years, stayed at a friend's parents' condo most of the time, and went for it. 9 days later we are back and I am in love.

I have so much to say about Japan and plan to say much much more...but I thought I would leave you with some of my initial first impressions.

1. The toilets. If you stop in the restroom at the airport it wont take long to learn you are in a new place. Toilets with multi-spray functions with adjustable power, driers, noisemakers (to mask any noises you make yourself), and even "powerful deodorizers." 

And yet, many of these same bathrooms failed to have handsoap and/or driers/paper towels. The women tend to carry around their own hand towels in their purses. Often in HelloKitty print.

2. Speaking of HelloKitty, (or Kitty Chan as they call her), she is everywhere! 

Even older women seem to gravitate towards the cutesy cartoony looks with cell phone charms, etc. Some of the Hello Kitty stuff was a crack up for me! Nasal strips?!? Ear cleaner? Most of the people I know using those wouldn't be very in to Kitty Chan...Then again, I found I was kind of a sucker for her stuff. What can I say, she's pretty cute. 

3. There are thousands of temples, shrines, castles throughout Japan. Some areas you can walk from temple to temple to temple. And a really big Buddha!

The hand gives you some perspective on just how big he is. 

4. Cherry blossoms. 

We were so lucky to have arrived in cherry blossom season. It made everything so beautiful. A Japanese man told me, "All Japanese LOVE cherry blossoms." I found they seemed as awed by them as I did as a first timer. I kept thinking, "You live here! This happens every year!" We ran into multiple cherry blossom festivals, they make foods with cherry blossom flavor, and have picnics in the park to "watch" the cherry blossoms. It is nice they take time to enjoy when they are living such a fast paced life. I even saw people taking pictures of blossoms floating through the air on a blustery day. They smelled, tasted, touched, watched and maybe you could even said, listened to the cherry blossoms. I can't blame them.

Hard to tell, but even McDonalds was decorated in a cherry blossom motif.

And sold cherry blossom items such as flavored shakes and cherry blossom teriyaki burgers.

5. Nara and Kyoto. Totally worth checking out these ancient capitals of Japan.  Nara was my favorite place we visited. Maybe partly because it was the first place we visited?

A girls college basketball team wanted our picture

6. Tokyo--my new favorite city! So many fun neighborhoods to explore, the people are so kind and polite, and wonderful people watching is eveywhere. I thought everything seemed novel and exciting. Even going to familiar places like McDonalds would yield a surprise (cherry blossom burger anyone?). 

The view from our place (too bad Tokyo Tower had already turned off for the night

7. Uniqlo

My new favorite store. Evidently you can find it in New York and California. Basically well made, fun, and inexpensively priced clothes (Chambray shirt for $18?) ! I read they have over 1200 stores just in Japan!

8. The food! After all, visiting Japan really is about the food. Unless Japanese food isn't your cup of (green) tea, then I guess you are out of luck!
My first Ramen shop! Perfect dinner at almost midnight.
This may have been a second dinner that same night (or rather, early breakfast?). Trying to squeeze in as many favorites as possible. Curry House.

Yoshinoya--you can find this in California

I wanted the real Japanese experience so went for the raw egg.
If you are looking for an exciting new destination, Japan should be high on your list! They have everything -- temples, beautiful nature, great food, kind people, and high tech toilets.

--er, but not always soap. Or paper towels.


Colt said...

super jealous! and excited for you. I want to hear more about your experience!

Denturist said...

Yeah Colt is right. Completely jealous from you. Please share more experiences of you here. Well loved those raw eggs. :)

Erin said...

Thanks guys! I don't think I have any more raw egg pics...I guess you'll have to suffer with more cherry blossoms...?